Blog Archives

‘Supporting collective learning’ course launched

The latest OEPS open educational resource (OER) Supporting collective learning in workplace and community settings is now live. The course will support anyone involved in organising informal learning in the workplace or in community settings, for example Union Learning Representatives, support workers, volunteers with third sector organisations or people with similar roles in their workplace or community. The course explores how groups of learners can use free online courses. The course draws on the experiences of the OEPS project in working with a wide range of informal educators in using open educational practices and resources.


Wordle‘, created by Pete Cannell at, licensed as Public Domain CC0

Commenting on the launch of the course, OEPS Co-Director Pete Cannell, said: “We’re delighted to launch this course which pulls together the good practice of many informal educators across Scotland. Open courses like this one enable individuals who can’t access college/university to engage in learning at a time, place and pace that suits them, this in turn widens access to education and if they want, can be a stepping stone to formal education. We’ve openly licensed this course so it can be shared, adapted and rebranded by other organisations such as unions and charities to use in their own ways without copyright restriction which we hope will widen its reach even further.”

Preliminary findings – evaluation of a pilot cohort studying Understanding Parkinson’s

Figure 1: Screenshot of a reflective exercise relating to a case study featuring video ofSteve Peat

Figure 1: Screenshot of a reflective exercise relating to a case study featuring video of Steve Peat

Understanding Parkinson’s is a free openly licensed online course developed by OEPS in partnership with Parkinson’s UK.  The course is aimed at front line health and social care staff, many of whom will be working in the residential care sector.  We are currently analysing data from an evaluation of the experience of a pilot group based in the Western Isles and distributed across a number of workplaces and community settings.

In an extended discussion of some of the preliminary findings of the evaluation, Ronald Macintyre from the OEPS team notes how combining qualitative evidence from personal experience with analytic data provides for a richer picture of the learner journey and sheds light on issues which are not accessible through analytics alone.

You can download Ronald’s discussion of the preliminary findings at:

Using Open Online Learning to Support Practice

Figure 2: Grouping and Ranking Learning Experiences: medication, the individual and family were most salient issues. Learning online receded into the background

Figure 2: Grouping and Ranking Learning Experiences: medication, the individual and family were most salient issues. Learning online receded into the background

A short case study about how Understanding Parkinson’s was created can be found on the OEPS hub at Building an OER in partnership – Understanding Parkinson’s.

You can view the video featured in figure 1 at What is the impact of Parkinson’s on people’s daily life?

Pete Cannell

Open Pathways to Higher Education

by Pete Cannell (OEPS project)

Open Pathways to success

Open Pathways to success

Online repositories hold a huge range of educational materials that encompass learning objects, video, audio and structured courses. The range of choice can be a deterrent for experienced learners and is even more so for those who are tentative and lack confidence.   Complexity and choice becomes a barrier to the effective use of open educational resources (OER) in widening participation. In this context a new initiative by the Open University in Scotland is really welcome.

Open Pathways builds on a similar scheme developed by OU colleagues in Wales to support journeys from informal to formal learning. The materials are available as a hard copy pack and online on OpenLearn and are aimed at non-traditional students interested in engaging with education. The approach is quite simply to show how informal learning opportunities can lead to more structured access study and then on to formal accredited higher education modules and qualifications.

There are three broad pathways identified:

  • Arts and Languages
  • People, Work and Society
  • Science, Technology and Maths

Each pathway contains carefully curated options for informal learning using free open courses through to access modules and then on to accredited modules at SCQF level 7.   The aim is to give learners confidence about where to start and a sense of structure to support progression.   Within the three broad pathways there is still considerable flexibility to choose options that are of interest and relevance. The materials include simple tools that encourage a reflective approach to study and to negotiating within, through and between pathways.

Many non-traditional learners make the transition into education with the encouragement and support of a trusted intermediary. The initiative also aims to support individuals who play this ‘trusted advisor’ role to develop skills as ‘open learning champions’ and the materials include a dedicated guide which explains how Pathways can support them to advise and encourage potential leaners in ways which make use of social context and peer support.