Blog Archives

Women in OER

On International Women’s Day 2016 OEPS wanted to celebrate the contribution of a few of the women with whom we have been lucky to work since the project began. Whilst this isn’t a comprehensive list and it would be remiss if we didn’t also note that there are substantial contributions from other genders too, these women are all making a mark on Open Educational Practice.

Laura Czerniewicz gave a fascinating and thought provoking keynote at #OEPSforum2 in March 2015 in which she challenged people to think about open educational resources in the global south and the contested environment in which open education sits. This is due to financial barriers to knowledge set against earlier cultural traditions of sharing. So much of the open educational resources and open educational practice world has been focussed on openness in the context of the global north – in other words those with ready access to the internet and higher educational opportunities. In contrast the ’global south’ often lack the facilities which make it easy to access online open educational resources or exchange open practices and the cost of educational materials often makes education beyond the reach of the poorest in society.

Laura is the Director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town. She has been involved in the OpenUCT Initiative supporting local scholars utilize innovative scholarly communication approaches and encourage them to publish more about their work and share their practice.

Also at #OEPSforum2 Lorna Campbell presented a workshop on the future directions of the ‘Scottish Open Educational Declaration’ in which she discussed the formation and development of the declaration and the aspirations for developing it further so that spirit of the declaration could be more widely adopted. It has already been used to raise awareness of open education within individual Scottish institutions and policy.

Lorna is the EDINA Digital Education Manager and OER Liaison for Open Scotland at the University of Edinburgh. She has many years’ experience of educational technology and interoperability standards, focussing on open education. She leads the Open Scotland initiative and is co-chairing the OER16 Conference in Edinburgh with Melissa Highton.

Allison Littlejohn is a key voice in shaping OER. Her keynote at #OEPSforum3 in November 2015 outlined the guidelines she developed with Nina Hood on ‘Learning open Educational Practice’. Allison reflected on how people come to know about and understand OER and then to embed open educational practice. Alison highlighted the challenges and opportunities which OER bring for educators and learners alike.

Allison is a Professor of Learning Technology at the Institute of Educational Technology and Academic Director of Learning and Teaching at the Open University. Allison’s vision is of cross-boundary learning which will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience across sectors and disciplines in order to transform the way people learn.

Josie Fraser is passionate about ensuring access to education for everyone and how open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) can help achieve this aim. She wants the OER world to find ways to make education more accessible to everyone. She is giving the keynote address at #OEPSforum4. on 9th March 20

Josie is a social and educational technologist and has worked with a wide range of institutions, promoting digital literacy and supporting staff to understand, use and create open educational resources.

These are just a few of the inspirational women who are leading the development of open educational resources and open educational practice. However there is a wider question of what open educational resources and practice can do to promote gender parity? Women and girls are often more disadvantaged in relation to access to, participation in and accruing benefit from education. However access to education has been shown to help in addressing issues such as early marriage and pregnancy, gender-based violence and in achieving social and economic outcomes not just for women and girls but society as a whole. Yet education is a basic human right, protected by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and a myriad of other international (and often domestic) laws.

Open education has the potential to widen access to education for women and girls, enabling them to access global thought leaders and subjects that might not be available to them locally. It also provides a platform by which women and girls can share their own knowledge and experiences. Open education isn’t just about the use of online open resources, it can equally be the women’s collective who self-organise to run education classes or to share knowledge with others in their area on an open basis, or the group of women senior managers who have an open action learning set or who use open educational resources to develop their leadership.

There is a role for open education to contribute to closing the gender gap now, to ensure that all genders are treated equally, to facilitate women and girls achieving their ambitions, to challenge discrimination and bias in all forms, to promote gender balanced leadership, to value contributions equally, and to create inclusive and flexible cultures. How will you #PledgeforParity to address the gender gap?

By Rosemarie McIlwhan and Anna Page


#OEPSforum2 – Lorna’s blog post about her workshop

Lorna Campbell has kindly allowed OEPScotland to reblog her post about the Scottish Open Educational Declaration #OEPSforum2 workshop, which was published on OpenScotland on 30th March 2015.  She has also provided a useful overview of Laura Czerniewicz’s keynote in this post.

OEPS Forum and ways forward for the Scottish Open Education Declaration

Earlier this month I went along to the second Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Forum where I’d been invited to present an update on the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

OEPS Update

The event began with an update from the OEPS Project team outlining their progress in supporting a network of open education practitioners, developing a Scottish open education hub, collating case studies and supporting the development of new content and practice. There was considerable discussion as to the role of the hub, which has been revised following discussions at the first OEPS forum. Although the hub will facilitate aggregated OER search, it will focus more on being a community hub for open education practice. For a comprehensive update on OEPS progress, the project recently published their first report here: First OEPS Project Report.

An international perspective on opening educational practices – Laura Czerniewicz

Undoubtedly the highlight of the morning, was Laura Czerniewicz remote presentation from Cape Town on international perspectives on opening educational practices. Laura spoke about how openness and the internet have reconfigured the post traditional education landscape and presented a series of case studies from South Africa. Laura went on to suggest that open education exists in an extremely contested and complex environment. In Africa there has been some scepticism about open education as it is seen as an extension of the commodification of knowledge, however Africa has a strong narrative culture of sharing which can be harnessed to encourage the sharing of open education resources and practice (Jane-Frances Agabu, National Open University of Nigeria). One of the most interesting and challenging points Laura raised in her presentation centred on the legitimacy of piracy as a means of sharing educational content in the face of rising text books costs.

“Is it unethical to want to be educated or is it unethical to charge so much for books? To have to pay that amount when you can’t afford it?”

A valid question indeed.

Towards the end of her talk Laura also discussed the potentially valuable role of open education policy, although she also cautioned:

“Policy is great, but policy without budget can be problematic.”

This is certainly a point I would agree with.  In order to make an impact, policy ideally needs to be backed up by adequate resources and funding, however this also begs the question of how to support unfunded policies that emerge from the community such as the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration – the way forward

In the afternoon I presented two workshops on future directions for the Scottish Open Education Declaration, (slides from these workshops are available here). The second draft of the Declaration was published by Open Scotland in December 2014, after receiving a small amount of very welcome funding from the OEPS Project. Shortly afterwards, the ALT Scotland SIG forwarded the declaration to Angela Constance, the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.  Although Open Scotland has not been in a position to actively promote and disseminate the declaration recently, primarily due to lack of funding, it was evident from participants at the workshops that there still seems to be real appetite across all sectors of Scottish education to continue taking the Declaration forward. Several participants said that they had found the declaration useful for raising awareness of open education within their own institution and for triggering discussions about open education at policy level. The Scottish Funding Council also appear to see some merit in the Declaration and during discussions with workshop participants and members of both Open Scotland and the OEPS Project, we were able to identify several steps to take the Declaration forward.

Evidencing the Declaration

While the Declaration may have some value as an aspirational statement of intent, clearly it will carry considerably more weight if each point can be evidenced by examples of existing practice in Scotland and further afield.   Examples of existing practice could be crowd sourced and collected via the Declaration Comment Press site and collated from evidence gathered by the OEPS Project.

Evidence of Impact

In order to highlight the value of both open education and the Declaration at government level it would be useful to be able to provide evidence of positive impact.  Assessing the impact of open education initiatives is always difficult as quantitative measures have a tendency to miss the bigger picture and, arguably, the ethos of open education.  Gathering qualitative user stories and case studies is likely to be a more useful way to provide evidence of the impact of the Declaration. The case studies being collated by the OEPS Project will hopefully be of particular value here, but continued efforts should be made to gather user stories from across the sector.

Harmonising the Declaration with current policy

When the first version of the Declaration was drafted in early 2014, we made a conscious effort to ensure that it tied in with Scottish Government policies and strategic objectives. Clearly the policy landscape has changed over the last twelve months and it would be useful to revisit the Declaration to ensure that it supports current policy particularly with regard of formal and informal learning, social inclusion and widening access.

Engaging Universities Scotland

A number of bodies and agencies have been identified that could potentially provide valuable support for the Declaration, one of which is Universities Scotland. Although an encouraging number of university colleagues have already made valuable contributions to the declaration, it would be beneficial to engage senior managers to ensure that open education is supported at policy level across the higher education sector.

Engaging schools, colleges and the third sector

It is important that the Declaration represents all sectors of Scottish education; therefore it is critical that we find routes to engage not just higher education but also schools, colleges and the third sector. We would welcome suggestions from colleagues as to how to raise awareness of the Declaration and encourage engagement with open education across all sectors of Scottish education.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration is an open community draft and we continue to encourage all those with an interest in open education in Scotland and beyond to comment on the document here

This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License CC BY

#OEPSforum2 – Keynote by Laura Czerniewicz

Pete introduces Laura

Pete introduces Laura

The highlight of #oepsforum2 on Thursday 19th March 2015 was the presentation by Laura Czerniewicz on “An international perspective on opening educational practices“. Laura is the founder and Director of Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at the University of Cape Town and has worked in the field of educational technology at the University of Cape Town for over a decade. Laura’s slides can be found at

Great timing for Laura's keynote

Great timing for Laura’s keynote

After Laura had made her presentation there were lively discussions at each table. We are pulling together some of the notes from the discussions and aim to publish them shortly – if you were in one of the groups and would like to add a personal reflection please email with your comments or the link to your storify, comment on this blog post or use #OEPSforum2 on twitter.

listening to and tweeting Laura

listening to and tweeting Laura

The groups identified specific questions for Laura, which we sent to her during the session:

  1. Can you explain the perceived relationship between piracy and open educational practice?
  2. Is there government and strong institutional policies around open educational practice in South Africa?
  3. Recognising open education for a university – do universities recognise OER in their accreditation – are they looking at this in SA?
  4. OER would be useful if it filled a gap – give us a flavour of that conversation and who was involved?
  5. Contested landscape – your South African view – is this different from our view in the Global North?
  6. What is in it for the academics – they are focused on research and grants?
  7. How can we get people to feel participation is relevant – recognition as accreditation?
  8. Could you say more about policy context / enablers / drivers in South Africa context?
  9. How did you get senior management buy-in at UCT?

Laura rejoined us (via Skype) with her responses to some of these questions. If you have notes on Laura’s replies and/or personal reflections on her responses it would be great if you could share them.

If you are on twitter you can see some of the responses to Laura at #oepsforum2

Bookings open for the OEPS Advisory Forum 2

Book now for the OEPS advisory forum

Bookings are now open for the second Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Advisory forum on Thursday 19th March 2015 at the Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA.

Highlights of this free one day face to face event include a keynote by Laura Czerniewicz, an update on OEPS project progress and a series of interactive workshops during the afternoon. The forum will enable you to explore the latest developments in open educational practice and pedagogy, discover how the OEPS project can help your organisation and how you can get involved. It will also help you build your network of open educational practitioners.

Professor Laura Czerniewicz is the founder and Director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at the University of Cape Town and has worked in the field of educational technology at UCT for over a decade. She will be joining us via Video Conference.

Please book your place via the Event link on Eventbrite.

The twitter hashtag for this event is #OEPSforum2

Accommodation: The event is free.  Should you require overnight accommodation, Stirling Court Hotel is offering a reduced rate for Advisory Forum attendants at £59.00 per person per night, based on single occupancy of a double en-suite room with breakfast. To book a room, please call Stirling Court Hotel on 01786 451666 or email and quote reference number 121111.


9:30 am Registration, networking with coffee/tea
10:00 am Welcome and update from the OEPS project team
11:00 am Keynote address and questions: An international perspective on opening educational practices by Professor Laura Czerniewicz
12:15 pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 pm Parallel workshops 1:
1a. Exploring Openness
1b. Open, collaborative and sharing practices in Scottish Further Education Colleges
1c. The Scottish Open Education Declaration
1d. Open Education – does it work in practice?
2:00 -2:15 pm Coffee/Tea/changeover between workshops
2:15 – 3:15 pm Parallel workshops 2
2a. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
b, c and d repeated
3:15 pm – 3:30 pm Interactive plenary session

Workshop Descriptions

Parallel workshop 1a: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Exploring openness

(Beck Pitt and Bea de los Arcos, Researchers at The Open University)

Description: Come and try out an OEPS workshop session and explore different ways of being open! Working together to think about what kinds of practices are open we’ll be exploring examples of openness in this interactive session.

Audience: Open to everyone but those who are interested in finding out more about what open educational practices (OEP) and open educational resources (OER) are may benefit from this most.

Parallel workshop 2a: 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

(Beck Pitt and Bea de los Arcos, Researchers at The Open University)

Description: This structured session will be a chance for participants to consider the pros and cons of reuse. We’ll discuss concerns about reusing resources, debate about the challenges to reuse, share successful stories of reuse, but also identify those areas in which support is needed.

Audience: Open to everyone, both experienced in and newcomers to openness.

Parallel workshop 1b and 2b

Open, Collaborative and Sharing practices in Scottish Further Education Colleges

(Joe Wilson (CEO) and Gerry Dougan (eColleges) from the College Development Network)

Description: Joe and Gerry will give a brief outline of current practices and platforms within Scotland’s FE Sector, looking at sector specific barriers to a more open practice. These will inform a discussion on what is needed to enable open practices within the sector and a broader exploration on how to enable open educational practices more generally.

Parallel workshop 1c and 2c

The Scottish Open Education Declaration

(Lorna Campbell, JISC CETIS Assistant Director, University of Bolton)

Description: This workshop provides an opportunity to find out more about the declaration and to consider how it could be useful in your institution or organisation. The latest draft of the declaration developed by the Open Scotland network can be found at

Parallel workshop 1d and 2d

Does ‘open’ really work in practice?

(Amy Woodgate – Project Manager, Online Learning Special Projects and Stuart Nicol – Educational Design and Engagement, University of Edinburgh)

Description: A workshop to highlight the resources required and potential gains from reusing and repurposing open content, drawing on the experiences of the University of Edinburgh and collaboration partners. The session will comprise of presentations, lively discussion and practical workshop elements to identify how OEP could evolve to encourage greater use.

Key questions:

  • What are the benefits of repurposing open content?
  • What are the costs/implications?