Blog Archives

OEPS Summer Newsletter out now!

It’s been a busy few months! To help keep you up to date with all the project’s activities and what we’ve been up to, we’ve just published our summer newsletter.

So what’s new?

Don’t delay, catch up with all the news and download your copy today!

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Photo credits: featured image is “All His” by Scottish Dream Photography and is licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

#OEPSForum4 Online Registration is now open!

The online registration for #OEPSforum4 on Wednesday 9 March 2016 at Stirling Court Hotel, Stirling is now open. The event is free of charge and lunch will be provided.

To register for this event and find out more about parallel workshops, please visit our event on EventBrite:

Eventbrite - OEPS Forum 3

#OEPSforum4 Programme

Wednesday 9th March 10:00am – 4:00pm, Stirling Court Hotel, Stirling University

Programme

Time Programme
10:00 – 10:30 Registration, Posters and Networking
10:30 – 11:15 Keynote

Keynote contributions from Josie Fraser (Social and Educational Technologist) www.josiefraser.com

11:15 – 11:30 Introduction of our workshop sessions
 11:30 – 12:30 Workshop A (for everyone to participate): Designing a strategic approach to increase the use of OER and OEP in Scotland
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch, Posters and Networking
13:30 – 14:30 Parallel workshops (session 1)
  1B) Using OER – what does good practice look like?
  1C) Changing culture, changing practice
  1D) Open education and digital engagement through a widening participation lens
14:30 – 14:45 Break
 14:45 – 15:45 Parallel workshops (session 2)
  2B) Using OER – what does good practice look like?
  2C) Changing culture, changing practice
  2D) Open education and digital engagement through a widening participation lens
15:45-16:00 Closing Plenary

Everyone takes part in Workshop A: Designing a strategic approach to increase the use of OER and OEP in Scotland

This workshop presents an opportunity to discuss the strategic drivers, barriers and challenges to the use of OER and OEP within the formal and informal learning sectors. It is an opportunity to share experiences of OER and OEP and to consider what more could be done strategically and practically to increase their use. The workshop will contribute to the development of a draft strategic framework for OER and OEP in Scotland.

You will have the option to choose two out of the other three workshops :

Workshop B: Using OER – what does good practice look like?

This will be a participative facilitated session that will provide the opportunity for open education practitioners from the formal and informal sectors to speak about their experiences of using OER and for everyone to ask questions, discuss and analyse the characteristics of good practice.

Workshop C: Changing culture, changing practice

#OEPSForum3 identified that one of the key challenges for OER and OEP is not just about changing practice but is also about changing institutional culture. This workshop will focus on how we can change institutional and organizational culture and will discuss some of the challenges in making use of Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices in your context.

Workshop D: Open education and digital engagement through a widening participation lens

Learning takes place in a world that is permeated by digital technology. How well do we support the development of the basic skills that are required for participation in this world? How well do we understand the relationship between the skills for participation and the literacy skills required for effective learning in further and higher education?

Open Educational Practices hub website launch

OEPS hub home

OEPS hub home

We’ve been building the Open Educational Practices website this year and launch the beta site at the #OEPSforum3 on 5 November 2015 in Glasgow. You can find it at http://www.oeps.ac.uk/

The site provides an encouraging and engaging place to learn more about open educational practices. It will enable users to:

  • understand about OER and OEP
  • Find useful OER
  • Provide tools to share open educational practices
  • Have a place to deliver their OER to the public

The site has a number of features and further developments are planned. Features include:

  • Guidance introducing users to OER and OEP concepts as well as good practice
  • Open educational practice case studies
  • The OER search
  • OEP communities
  • News about OEP
  • An events calendar for workshops, OEPS advisory forum, webinars
  • Showcase OEP projects which may be hosted elsewhere
  • Links to OpenLearn Works platform where users can create and share OER

The guidance and case studies are grouped in two sections – using open educational practices and create your own, with a set of articles in each section. More articles and case studies are planned, so what is displayed on the site so far is only the start.  The OEPS project team are keen to welcome article contributions or suggestions, so if you’ve got ideas for articles you would like included, please get in touch via oepscotland@gmail.com and help build upon the advice and guidance to create a richer resource of open educational practices knowhow.  This is the beauty of collaborative, shared open resources and practices and the OEPS site aims to foster, promote and model good practices for the benefit of everyone.

The search is a custom Google search to enable users to search the site, the communities on the site and many external sites and repositories for open educational resources. Currently the ‘other site’ search aggregator is picking up OER from over 200 known OER sites however there are plenty more out there so if you know of good OER sites please get in touch via oepscotland@gmail.com so we can ensure that the search picks up OER from those sites too.

Anyone can create a community space on the site for their group.  The community feature enables users to join a community which is discovering and exploring the relevance of open educational practices for its needs.  Members can use their communities to share useful links to resources, discuss open educational practices (in their community Google forum which is embedded into the community space on the site), blog about their emerging or established open educational practices and embed a relevant twitter feed.  It isn’t yet possible to comment on community blog posts (this feature is coming soon) and we also want to offer the option to create a forum using the site software (Drupal) if communities don’t already use a Google group for online discussion.  We do have a list of other potential features to include, however we would like users to visit the site, create a profile, set up or join communities, follow other users, read articles and case studies, feedback on the existing functionality and tell us what additional features are needed before we decide on further developments.

Once you have visited the Open Educational Practices site, read some articles, created a profile and joined a community please complete this short feedback questionnaire to help us improve the site for everyone.

 

 

OER15 OEPS developing OER with partners

By Anna Page (OEPS project)

The conference theme for OER15 was Mainstreaming Open Education. The OER movement is coming of age; however awareness of the benefits of OER and open educational practice is still patchy or non-existent in education and beyond the sector. As Cable Green explained in his keynote at the opening of the conference the OER movement still has a lot of OER infrastructure work to do to reduce barriers to education, transform teaching and learning and enable open practices so that OER can truly realise its potential.

OEPS poster at OER15

OEPS poster at OER15

Origins of OEPS

The overriding theme of the OEPS project is the use of OER at large scale to help transitions between the different parts of education and to widen participation, particularly with learners and creators of OER who are not in the traditional bounds of the academy. Our poster gave a snapshot view of this which Pete Cannell explored in more detail during his presentation. In his talk at OER15 Pete explored the origins of OEPS. It stemmed from the Scottish Government policy of encouraging educational institutions to work together with outside partners for mutual benefit. From 2007 onwards partners started asking the OU about OpenLearn and free resources for learners, which excited their interest in producing OER of their specialist materials. However in almost every case revisiting them a few months later revealed they had made little progress because they didn’t know how to go about creating good engaging OER without support. These partnerships which the OU in Scotland pursued brought skills and knowledge from outside the academy and resulted, in some instances, in the co-creation of material with professionals and students. These weren’t large scale initiatives and compared to the wealth of resources the OU was making available on OpenLearn, small individual resources produced with partners was big news to the partners in their contexts, especially when the materials produced went on to influence other sister organisations.

OEPS poster for OER15

OEPS poster for OER15

Open Practice Partnerships

A major strand of the OEPS project involves supporting over 40 partners as they explore OER and OEP, the barriers they face and the good practice they can share. Pete highlighted working with Union Learning Reps (who act as intermediaries between learners and organisations but are often poorly resourced), Parkinsons UK, who have some good hardcopy materials for their face to face accredited workshops but cannot deliver these on scale and the Glasgow University Wellcome Trust funded ‘End of Life care’ programme which has a large community online but no mechanism for sharing the material that people really need in a structured way. He also talked about working with Lomond and Trossachs National Parks, their work with SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and the dissemination model which OEPS is helping them develop. Partners are very enthusiastic, and bring context, skills and knowledge which is really valuable.

Open Badges

Pete mentioned that the OEPS project is investigating the use of Open Badges. There are already five badges associated with the project (attached to materials hosted on OpenLearn Works, some of which have been developed in partnership between the OU in Scotland and various caring organisations), with more planned in the near future.

OEPS online hub

An online hub for open education practice is being developed as part of the project with the primary focus being on guidance, exemplars and communities rather than creating another repository of OER, though the hub will have a search function which helps users find good OER for their needs by searching many repositories. Pete explained that the hub will sit on top of OpenLearn Works, an OER sandbox and repository site where anyone can create OER. OpenLearn Works was developed by The Open University to complement its OpenLearn site and the OEPS project is inspiring further developments including better user guidance for the site.

Science OER in schools

OER15 OpenScience lab pilot in schools

OER15 OpenScience lab pilot in schools

In the other presentation from the OEPS project (Open Science happens somewhere: exploring the use of Science OER in schools), Dave Edwards explained how, following discussions with Education Scotland, some OpenScience lab resources had been brought into two classrooms in rural Scotland, in a pilot to explore the extent to which these online experiment tools could help overcome some of the very real problems faced by small rural secondary schools when delivering the Science curriculum. For these schools their remoteness means that visiting local universities is impractical, their budgets for lab equipment and materials are constrained and access to the internet is often interrupted because of telecoms infrastructure problems. Additional constraints also included the desire for the pupils to be able to access materials online from home computers but that in some cases no home computer was available.

Following discussions with the teachers about the OpenScience lab tools, it became apparent that the tools in themselves were not sufficient in a secondary school context. The teachers, who knew the curriculum and the capabilities of their pupils, needed wrap-around materials to help prepare the pupils for the tasks, which would give the pupils a different perspective during revision of the topics they had previously covered in class. The pilot team used existing OU OER to prepare this material and it was uploaded to OpenLearn Works behind a password, as a couple of the images used had not been cleared for open use in the short timescale available.

The project team visited the two schools when the resources were being used to observe how the pupils and teachers reacted to the materials. For the Polymerase Chain Reaction experiment, the pupils worked through the preparatory materials, ran the experiments, collected and interpreted data, discussed their interpretations with their teachers and tried ideas out. For the Analysing pesticides in the environment using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, the series of lessons involved the pupils in revising concepts of structural formulae and valencies, learning about mass spectrometry, developing their own hypothesis about how pesticides might be distributed in a tidal bay, devising a sampling plan, collecting data, matching spectra to library data, calculating concentrations and interpreting the results. In both topics these were sophisticated experiments and complex tasks.

Dave reported that feedback from the pupils showed that they saw this as a ‘normal way to learn’ (though they didn’t always like online learning, as Ronald Macintyre mentioned in tweet during OER15), it was convenient, they gained an understanding about experimental work and the equipment, it generated plenty of discussion and they were able to access it from home. It seems from this small pilot free open experiments can be made more accessible to pupils by wrapping them in a VLE-based learning journey.

Open Scotland declaration

There was also a session (Common Ground – an overview of the open education landscape in Scotland), run by Lorna Campbell, about the Open Scotland Declaration which unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend because of parallel session clashes. The OEPS project is working with Open Scotland to develop a strategy for wider buy-in of the Open Scotland Declaration in the longer term; the OEPS project funded the second draft of the declaration.

OER16: Open Culture will be held in Scotland during April 2016, with Lorna Campbell (CETIS, University of Bolton) and Melissa Highton (University of Edinburgh) as co-chairs. The conference themes will offer plenty of opportunity for the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project to share progress, findings, experiences and good open practices being developed in partnership across Scotland.

OEPS weekly update – 13 March 2015

Pete met with Third sector partners and continued to work on ideas for developing support for practitioners and researchers in specific community contexts. He also attended the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning 2015 conference in Glasgow and presented a paper ‘Lifelong learning and partnerships: rethinking the university in the digital age’.

Ronald has been running a well-attended series of events in Lomond and the Trossachs National Park working with communities using our free online course on setting up rural businesses, putting finishing touches to papers for OER15, finalising a report on Open Science in Schools (a blog post will be forthcoming), and developing a learning design workshop with Glasgow University End of Life Studies team.

Anna continued to compile the ‘How to use OpenLearn Works’ guide which, once published on OpenLearn Works in April, will make it easier for those who are not familiar with Moodle to create and upload their OER to the platform, which currently lacks comprehensive user guidance. The OEPS hub development will commence shortly, following requirements gathering, user story writing and search option investigations. The hub will be built using Drupal.

Caroline and Maggie were busy finalising arrangements for OEPS Advisory Forum#2 in Stirling on Thurs 19th March (#OEPSforum2). It’s shaping up to be a really interesting day with a great turnout. If you’ve not yet signed up, read more about the event at https://oepscotland.org/2015/02/13/bookings-open-for-the-oeps-advisory-forum-2/.

 

OEPS hub workshop at the advisory forum

by Anna Page, OEPS project team

Andrew with a group discussing OEPS hub user stories

Andrew with a group discussing OEPS hub user stories

We ran a workshop on the OEPS hub at the advisory forum in October 2014 as part of the requirements gathering exercise for project objective C ‘Development of an online hub to encourage and share best practice in open education’. In early project team meetings and a brainstorming session we had come up with some features of the hub and I had worked these into a series of user stories. Andrew Law (Co-director of OEPS) and I decided to use the workshop as an opportunity to get user feedback from potential users on the user personas and stories to help us identify the priorities for development.

We thought that the main user groups will broadly be Practitioners (practitioners/providers/researchers) and Learners (browsers/informal learners/students). Some user stories were relevant to everyone, some more important to practitioners and some for learners. We asked each group to discuss the user stories amongst themselves from the perspective of Learner or Practitioner, make notes and try deciding if they were high, medium or low priority. Each group gave a brief summary of their discussions and asked questions.

I had explained earlier during the OEPS project team panel session that the existing OpenLearn Works platform http://www.open.edu/openlearnworks/, which provides a free public space for people to run their own free learning projects, will be further developed to fully support the OEPS hub. Planned features include adding content on good open educational practice including case studies, clearer guidance on creating and uploading OER and improvements which support communities and organisations to make the most of OER (which will include improving the user profile features, better search functionality and a recommender tool). Other important features include making the platform mobile friendly, interoperable with other platforms and technologies and support for alternative formats. The workshop gave a little more detail about these aspirations and naturally triggered plenty of questions.

commenting on the draft user stories for the OEPS hub

commenting on the draft user stories for the OEPS hub

What became clear from the discussions at both workshops was that people needed reassurance that the hub will not be just another repository (which most wouldn’t find, especially if their default search tool was Google) when there are plenty of OER repositories available already. Existing repositories are not necessarily known about by those new to OER and therefore some might be suffering from low usage.  Instead the hub aims to introduce people to the concept of open educational resources, how to use OER in practice and connect users with each other. It also aims to re-aggregate search of existing OER repositories such as JORUM, Re:Source and Solvonauts. This means the hub will need to facilitate the building of strong supportive communities of OER users and provide those communities with sandpit space for them to experiment with OER. People were very concerned that the OEPS hub would not be a silo, instead it needs to be a pool of connectedness and some people saw it as a node rather than a hub. Others cautioned us to ensure that the development of communities supported by the OEPS hub will need to come from grassroots development and growth, because such communities are likely to be much more successful than top down initiated communities. The concept of a sandpit space for practitioners was embraced.

Doug making good points about the OEPS hub

Doug making good points about the OEPS hub

OEPS hub workshop discussion group

OEPS hub workshop discussion group

One group pointed out that we had missed a persona group who have the ability to make considerable contributions to the hub – the learning technologists. This user group may want to contribute tools and code towards the further development of the hub to benefit both learners and practitioners, possibly via a learning technologist community space in the hub.

The recommender tool concept was extended – in one workshop it was pointed out that a star rating wasn’t sufficient for users whose primary goal is to find or recommend good OER – there needs to be a facility for people to feedback on how an OER had been used and what people are doing with it. This wasn’t explicit in the recommender tool user story, though had in fact already been identified as necessary functionality by the IT analyst. Most teachers would evaluate the quality of a resource before using it themselves, so finding a trustable practice-based resource which others had used successfully in their particular context was really important to them, and community building would help inform their choices of OER.

Feeding back views on OEPS hub user stories to Anna

Feeding back views on OEPS hub user stories to Anna

High priorities for the OEPS hub which emerged were:

  • Provide good trustworthy search facilities coupled with a recommender tool which guides user choice of OER they find via the search
  • Host online events to stimulate discussion, using targeted marketing to different community groups so it isn’t just the ‘usual suspects’ involved in discussing OER
  • Publish good case studies of OER and OEP
  • Provide comprehensive user guidance and good open educational practice (this would be targeted for the different user groups of the OEPS hub)
  • Mobile optimisation is essential
  • Provide information about how and why OER applies in a Scottish context, why are we investing in it
  • Provide space and guidance for practitioners to put their OER or experimental OER because a significant percentage of users are unlikely to have access to an institutional space for creating and sharing OER

People were less sure about the updates needed to the existing profile functionality, unless this development was integral to the community building feature of the OEPS hub and were keen to allow users to login using a third party profile.

For the perspectives of two people who attended the OEPS hub workshops, see http://lornamcampbell.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/thoughts-on-oepsforum14-and-the-battle-for-open/ and http://dougbelshaw.com/conferences/2014/10/13/oepsforum14/

The project team are discussing the outcomes of the OEPS hub workshops as we work towards the first IT developments to bring these aspirations for an OEP community space for Scotland into reality.