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.
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.
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?