Category Archives: Uncategorized

Let’s stop reinventing the wheel and #BeOpen to sharing our work

Guest blog by Linda Lapere, Lecturer in Education at the University of Dundee.

As someone who has worked in education for 19 years I am familiar with many different forms of online learning and web-based materials but had never heard of Open Education. When I saw the hashtag #OpenEd I was keen to find out more.Linda Lapere #BeOpen

In education, we are traditionally extraordinarily good at reinventing the wheel which thankfully, is slightly reducing in the digital age we are now living thanks to a multitude of educational websites. However, many of these operate as businesses, charging educators either for downloading their resources or accessing their website. I see Open Education as a means of embracing equality in education. Firstly, we are all professionals and can surely evaluate the usefulness and quality of resources independently as not everything which is online will necessarily be correct or appropriate for your learners. Secondly, not all educators can afford the subscriptions some websites are charging (some are more than your average gym membership) so again this levels out the playing field. I always find it interesting that education is one of the few professions where teachers spend their own money on resources – do doctors buy their patients drugs? Thought not.

Open Education means that all educators have access to free resources which can be edited and reused as you see fit. This can save us all time both in researching concepts and what the current research is saying as well as the time it takes to create these resources. Often laptops and pcs provided by educational establishments have restricted access to either certain websites or software sometimes making it difficult to create the kind of resource which would benefit your learners. It also requires a certain amount of skill to produce some of these resources such as video editing, enhancing graphics or creating interactive presentations and unfortunately we do not always have these precise skills.  However, if this kind of material, particularly videos or interactive resources are already available through Open Education it can only benefit those in education.

I feel the challenges with Open Education are encouraging this sense of community amongst those in education, both current teachers and our students as well as the huge range of possibilities for its use. Let’s stop reinventing the wheel and sharing our free expertise instead to help others in the profession!

 

This guest post from Linda Lapere is published as one of many celebrating Open Education in the run up to the OEPS final event, The Promise of Open Education at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Monday 11th September. Sign up for the event 

Share your views on Open Education with a #BeOpen selfie

Join the online conversation with your thoughts on open education using hashtag #BeOpen. Experienced practitioners, policy makers and those who are new to using or creating open educational resources are all encouraged to get involved and share questions, knowledge, challenges and ideas. We welcome contributions from those in all sectors from education, charities and private business as open education is accessible and beneficial to all.

 

 

Simply download a #BeOpen selfie board, tweet your thoughts on open education, and tag @OEPScotland in your #BeOpen photo.

Exploring barriers to participation in open, online learning

The 38th Annual CALRG conference started on 14th June 2017. During the afternoon session OEPS presented ‘Exploring barriers to participation in open, online learning’.  Across the three-years of the project our work with partner organisations has enabled us to develop a deeper understanding of barriers to participation and to consider how the literature on widening participation correlates with that on digital participation, access and literacy.

The presentation shared our learning on these issues including the key barriers to participation identified during our action research:

  • Online platforms that look / feel like a university
  • Vast quantity of information available
  • Perception that online learning means individual learning
  • Past negative experience of online learning
  • Limited digital literacy
  • Distinction formal learning v. everyday self-directed learning

We also explained our participatory design, co-creation process for developing in new open educational resources and presented two case study examples of how we have incorporated these practices and findings into free open courses hosted on OpenLearn Create.  We made suggestions as to why other institutions might find participatory design of open educational resources useful and how the barriers to widening participation in open, online learning might be addressed including through contextualised pedagogy, focusing on learners, using trusted gate keepers / facilitators to engage learners, providing opportunities to share social learning and make connections between existing skills /digital literacy and online learning.

 

The slides for the OEPS presentation can be accessed on Slideshare.

All the presentation slides from the CALRG conference, conference papers and poster presentations are available on the CALRG website.

 

Pic credits:

‘Promise of open education’, by Anna Page, CC BY NC SA 4.0

‘Tackling barriers’, by CALRGatOU

 

What does open mean beyond releasing content? #porousuni

Guest blog by Sheila MacNeill, Senior Lecturer (Digital Learning), Glasgow Caledonian University. Originally published on 5th May on her blog HowSheilaseesIT.

I’m really looking forward to the Porous University Symposium being held at UHI, Inverness next week.  The event is fundamentally an opportunity to create some space to create/extend conversations around open-ness.   There are no formal presentations or papers instead:

the symposium will be structured around a number of short provocations that address specific questions or issues, followed by break-out discussion and opportunities to further explore and synthesise the thinking that emerges.

In the spirit of open-ness here is my provocation. It’s much more about stimulating and continuing an already rich dialogue. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comments and will incorporate them into the discussion, or tweet using #porousuni.

What does open mean beyond releasing content?

This blog post from Alan Levine gives a helpful definition of the differences between porosity and permeability.

when you say porosity it really means just the volumetric measure of open space. If you want a metaphor, maybe this is measure of “openness” in terms of 5Rs.

But when you say permeability you are talking about the ease of moving something through that space, and while the amount of space is a factor, others influence whether that can happen. Specifically that could mean if the spaces are well interconnected, like pathways, like networks? Maybe that is practice or pedagogy?

So in terms of the porous university maybe we need to be focusing on the permeability of people (staff, students, the wider community) and the ways we navigate through university spaces, both physical and digital.

So what does open porosity actually look like in practice? Is it about formal (licensed) open content and infrastructures or is it human processes, practice and connections?

During April there has been quite a wide-ranging debate on the definition of open pedagogy facilitated through the Year of Open. Should it be defined and aligned only to the 5Rs of retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute? Does using the term pedagogy actual create more exclusion? Is open practice far more permeable, inclusive and powerful?

In these challenging times open has to mean more than content it has to be building and sustaining open networks and connections. However, is an obsession with licensed content, our academic discourse(s), our research outputs actually narrowing the opportunities for open education outwith the academy?

Recommended viewing/reading.

 

This post was originally published as one of a number of provocations at the Porous University event OEPS co-hosted with the Learning and Teaching Academy, University of Highlands and Islands.

It was published on HowSheilaseesIT under Creative Commons License . It is republished under the same CC BY NC SA licence.

 

Open doesn’t work.

So, that’s the attention-grabbing headline out of the way…

But the evidence is in the numbers. Despite some incredible Open Educational Resources being available, they are simply not used as much as they should; The Open University has enviable retention rates, but only when considered as *distance* education retention rates, far lower than proximate universities; open online courses, the dream of so many liberal practitioners, have some of the poorest retention and success rates of any type of learning and teaching. Ever.

Just making stuff ‘open’ does not work.

It’s not a new argument – being open ensures that only those who are aware, able and capable can actually make use of it. When it is merely open, it is the culmination of a neoliberal wet dream, ensuring a greater filter is placed on social mobility than if explicit characteristics were the determinant. Ironically, the open movement has become a coopted centrepiece of the neoliberal movement – it is possible to claim we are open whilst actively ensuring only some get through.

Conversely, an educational elite utilises ‘open’ to claim scaled benefits through student-centred learning, usually through demonstration and single inspirational examples. It often relies on a techno-progress paradigm of ‘always open’ digital engagement – everyone contributes and is happy to do so leading to amazing things. The technology-as-progress-narrative is heavily utilised and pessimistic voices are not allowed. Normal, ordinary and non-aspirational are not represented here. Again, the open movement is coopted in the construction of this dream.

This provocation claims that the word ‘open’ is the underlying problem – open, on its own, is not enough and never has been.

If open worked, people would be using libraries regularly and successfully.

If open worked, people would be using open courses regularly and successfully.

If open worked, we wouldn’t even be having this ‘conversation’.

And that’s because there is no such thing as ‘open’ in itself. It’s a descriptor and qualifier – a word that describes and changes things it’s attached to. To see that in action go back to the original ideas behind the OU again:

“…to provide education of University and professional standards for its students and to promote the educational well-being of the community generally.”

That was the blank cheque. The vague dream – nothing more. The hard reality required decades of work to ensure both the academic quality as well as the scalability to do what administrators in universities keep forgetting is needed – engage in a form of teaching that allows, promotes and develops learning through personal development.

The model the OU evolved used open as a qualifier – not as a dream or ethical stance. It was a practical, teacher-y thing to do and became known as Supported Open Learning.

In other words, it was realised very early on that open is not enough. You can’t just open doors and say “here’s a bunch of stuff, I’ll be back to subject you to a terrific examination later in your life!”. In fact, simply being open and doing nothing as you allow students fail is arguably worse than being closed (I won’t cite the literature on this because it will make you cry).

Open has to be supported properly because there is not one type of student when you serve a general population. Outside a normal self-selecting university population fraction, a huge range of learning and teaching is required – this is the population for whom normative education is more likely to be less effective.

And that’s before we consider supported open pastoral care, general learning development, additional educational needs, outlying academic communities…

Open education isn’t something that exists in and of itself (except to further the ideologies outlined above).

So I agree with, and give the last word to, @sheilmcn on this: open is something you do.

 

Guest blog by Derek Jones, Lecturer in Design, The Open University.

This post was originally published as one of a number of provocations at the Porous University event OEPS co-hosted with the Learning and Teaching Academy, University of Highlands and Islands.

Awareness of OER and OEP in Scottish Colleges – Survey Results

The Open Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) Project conducted a survey to find out about the level of awareness of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) among college staff in Scotland. In total 236 valid responses were collected in a seven-week period from February 1st, 2016 to March 20th, 2016. The survey was distributed in 24 Colleges, and responses were obtained from 16 of them. However, most respondents came from 5 institutions, making unadvisable any conclusion that these results are necessarily representative of the sector as a whole.

Key findings

  • Awareness of open educational resources (OER) among educators in Scotland’s colleges is very low
  • Awareness of CC licenses is lower than public domain or copyright (but awareness of all license types is higher than awareness of OER in general)
  • Most educators share teaching materials via their institutions VLE but few share them openly online
  • Quality and accuracy are the most important factors influencing educators’ choice of teaching material
  • Lack of awareness and not knowing how to use OER are perceived as the highest barriers to adoption of OER
  • Staff who attend CPD opportunities are more likely to engage with OER and OEP

Recommendations

  • Efforts to raise awareness of OER and OEP among teaching staff in Scotland’s colleges need to be scaled up
  • Opportunities for development around the use of OER in the curriculum (and especially the affordances and limitations of open licenses) should be provided
  • Colleges should consider the possibility of ‘opening up’ their VLEs, and establish how to best support and encourage their teaching staff to share resources openly

The full interim report is available for download following this link. We have also shared the anonymised survey data under a CC BY license on FigShare.

The infographic below highlights some of the survey results.

OEPS workshops in September 2016

This month is a busy time for the project with ten workshops scheduled between now and the end of September. The majority are learning design events. Two of the design workshops involve the Equality Challenge Unit and a consortium of universities and colleges. The aim is to produce an open course for teachers that supports efforts to increase the number of young women choosing to specialise in STEM subjects. Later in the month we will meet with staff from The University of Strathclyde to work on the first stage of planning a open CPD course for pharmacists. On the theme of teacher CPD we are also facilitating a first stage design workshop for a project aimed at producing a Scots Language course.

However, the design workshops are not simply aimed at OER production. We will also be using participatory design methods to help Unite the Union and the Poverty Alliance think through student centred approaches to the curation of free online resources. In addition we are meeting with members of the Learning for Sustainability network to think through the links between open practice and the specific needs of educators in this inter-disciplinary area with a view to designing a workshop or workshops for a wider audience.

Towards the end of the month we will be running our ‘Thinking about Open’ workshop for the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness and the College Development Network in Stirling.

Pete Cannell

 

New OER courses launched

One of the aims of OEPS project is to explore good practice through the co-development of exemplar OER courses. Two courses were launched in May. ‘Understanding Parkinson’s’ is a collaboration with Parkinson’s UK. It brings together the clinical and practical knowledge of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network with that of people living with, and caring for, people with Parkinson’s to produce a practical and useful course for health and social care professionals. The second course, ‘My seaweed looks weird’, produced in partnership with the Scottish Association for Marine Science at the University of the Highlands and Islands, takes recent research on global seaweed and makes it freely accessible to students and industry across the globe.

Pete Cannell

OEPS project team