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OEPS Final Report launched!

The core message of the final report from the OEPS project is that innovative practice that puts students first can ensure that open education breaks down barriers to participation in education.  The report is published today (Monday 11th September) to coincide with the ‘Promise of Open Education’ Conference at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth.

The report provides evidence and case studies from across the Scottish sector.  It highlights the potential of working across boundaries, an approach that enabled the OEPS project to co-create fifteen new free, open online courses with organisations like Dyslexia Scotland and Parkinson’s UK.  OEPS found a high level of interest in the use of these online courses in the informal education sector with almost half of the organisations involved coming from the third sector, trade unions or employers.

The OEPS project was concerned with developing good open educational practice that supports widening participation and social justice.  Working with organisations that support non-traditional students provided the team with valuable insights into the barriers that online learning can present.  The report links to a range of reports and guidance material designed to help educators, course designers and widening participation practitioners enable the barriers to be overcome.

The report highlights innovative practice from across the Scottish sector but suggests that more needs to be done to provide a policy framework that can embed this practice in the mainstream.  It suggests that wherever possible educational materials should be released as open by default.

The report stresses the value of institutional collaboration in the use of open educational resources and recommends that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council consider systems, support mechanisms and policies that can facilitate and sustain such partnerships.

The report is essential reading whether you’ve never heard of open education before or whether you are a seasoned open educator. We encourage everyone to read the OEPS Final Report.

 

Pete Cannell

OEPS Co-Director

 

This post 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. Join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’. We are livestreaming on the day via Periscope and there will be a Twitter chat in the afternoon using #BeOpen and @OEPScotland.

Farewell then, OEPS. What comes next?

Guest blog by John Casey, Senior Learning Technologist, City of Glasgow College. Originally published on 6th September on his blog Geronimo’s Cadillac.  

 

OEPS, (Open Educational Practices Scotland) is coming to an end, it was a 3 year project funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and operated by the Open University in Scotland – see . It was a refreshing departure from the norm of ed-tech projects in that set out to work with ‘not the usual suspects’, i.e. not the ed-tech scene, much to the ire of some faces in that scene. Instead it concentrated on working with community and third sector groups. I attended some of the meetings and found them useful and encouraging. The SFC is to be commended on funding the initiative and should engage in a longer term, more sustained funding and intervention activities in the area of open education. For reasons why, read on.

The OEPS project did not really impact much on the FE scene, which was a shame as further education has a lot to gain from open educational methods. I was discussing this with the OEPs team at one meeting and one of the useful metaphors that we came up was the notion of our educational institutions being ‘digital gated communities’. With FE being the most locked down and isolated, especially after the recent ‘reforms’ that have cut funding and left largely traditional approaches to vocational in place with the odd gesture to using technology. It’s much the same in HE (except with more money), with a democratic deficit in accountability in how these publicly funded institutions work. Open education could, and should, challenge their existing pedagogical, epistemological and economic models – might as well be ambitious! It could be used as an ‘educational design laboratory’ for Scottish education to experiment in. Without such civic and democratic initiatives from outside our educational systems will never change and improve. Indeed, if we look at history we can see that it was such actions that moved education forwards in the 19th and 20th century. Without such initiatives, we are in danger of falling prey to the perfidious discourse that permeates much of the ed-tech scene – presented as a kind of super shiny Ted Talk on a loop – which seems to fill a local and national policy vacuum and paves the way for privatisation. Here is a link to an excellent takedown of these ideas.

 

This guest post from John Casey 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 or join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’. 

 

Awareness of OER/OEP in Scotland: Preliminary Findings

At the end of 2015 and early 2016 OEPS ran two surveys to find out about the level of awareness of OER and OEP in Scotland. 19 HE institutions and 16 colleges were invited to complete a questionnaire based on research conducted by OER Hub and Babson Survey Research Group. Beck and I presented the preliminary findings at OER16, with one major caveat: the results can only be considered indicative and not representative of the current state of OER/OEP awareness in Scotland, since the bulk of answers comes from only four HE institutions and five colleges –namely University of St Andrews, Scotland’s Rural College, Open University in Scotland, Glasgow University, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Glasgow Kelvin College, New College Lanarkshire and West College Scotland. Ahead of the interim report to be published in the summer, here’s a brief summary of what we discussed in our presentation, a couple of ponderable points:

Not surprisingly, awareness of OER is low in Scottish HE and even lower in the college sector (see slides below). However, when asked about their awareness of licensing mechanisms, the percentages of those who say they are aware of Creative Commons is actually higher that the percentage of those aware of OER (!). In very similar fashion, YouTube is the most popular repository of educational resources, well ahead of OER repositories such as OpenLearn or Jorum, but again use of open repositories does not equal awareness of OER/OEP. Finally, Scottish educators share mostly via their institution’s VLE but seldom openly online; can we encourage conversations to make VLEs more open?

Featured Image: Aware by Nick Fullerton, CC BY 2.0

Introduction to OER and OEP workshop

Our first workshop introducing open educational practices to FE in Scotland was held at West College Scotland (Paisley campus) in August, just before the new academic year began. The workshop was targeted to the Health & Social Care department. It introduced OERs to participants and explored the possibilities for open educational practices in a college environment.

At the start we asked the participants to indicate what they already know about OER. As anticipated, most could think of examples of learners and their own use of free resources (Wikipedia! or YouTube) even if they did not register it was an OER. Familiarity with specific OER relevant to their area of teaching was lower, they did not know about them, where to find them, and thus didn’t use them. Nor had they been involved in writing new material in the form of open or online resources. The feeling in the room was they did not know about Creative Commons Licences and what they enable.

Ronald Macintyre gave a general introduction to OER, Creative Commons licencing and the sharing and reuse of resources.

Pete Cannell explained the background of how the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project came about and what it aims to achieve.

Anna Page demonstrated three sites where OER can be found – OpenLearn (OU free resources), OpenLearn Works (a sister platform to OpenLearn for anyone to use for sharing OER) and Re:Source, an open repository service for the college sector in Scotland.

Derek Goldman showed the free OU course on OpenLearn ‘Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland’ which has recently been updated and could be useful for Health & Social Care departments at Scottish colleges. This included playing some of the video and audio extracts which illustrate real situations in health and social care in Scotland.

Once we had introduced the concept of OER and open educational practice along with some “real” OER sources, we explored with the group how they envisaged OER might support their work. Many of the issues they raised will be familiar to anyone engaged in Open Educational Practice. We can raise awareness but will that increase use, collaboration and engagement in producing and using OER?  OER is great but who has the time, and how do we and students realise the benefits? Big questions, and not for us to answer, luckily several participants said they would examine the OER we had highlighted and will come to the OEPS project with more questions and maybe some answers.

Slides from the workshop can also be found in the OEPS Scotland Dropbox folder at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kvs603s0hd3w0b4/AADtpmPMDKrE9JAHLrofjit3a?dl=0

Anna Page and Ronald Macintyre