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Impressions and Thoughts Post #OEPSForum3

By Ronald Macintyre

OEPS Forum 3

OEPS Forum 3

Any record of an event where your main function is to keep time is likely to be imperfect and impressionistic. However, even as we head towards replacing imperfect human memory with digital memories I still think there is a role for forgetting, for a recollection system that seems to highlight the frequent and the exceptions. So here are my recollections of the day and the main themes.

The problem of alignment on came up frequently. At the moment it is not clear where openness sits, it is partly a function of the multiple interpretations of open, from the affordances of the learning objects (licence or design) to questions around conceptions of openness based on ideas around equity and social justice. These multiple interpretations make it difficult for people to see where it fits. For example, is being open about; international strategy, outreach strategy, marketing strategy, (dare I say) a Widening Participation Strategy. All but the final one came up frequently through the day, and the question was about alignment, about ensuring whatever function being more open served it would only serve that function if it was appropriately aligned to the strategy of the organisation. Inside these conversations about how to and what openness enables for organisations and absent presence was the sense of what it might enable for students. The alignment needs to match the resources capabilities and aspirations of the organisation, otherwise they will not be able to embed open practices. However, there is also a need to think about how well aligned those are to the wants and needs of students. Perhaps we need to ensure the student voice is much more clearly articulated and physically present at future events.

World café session

World café session

One thing that was noted more than once was how silent everyone was, few questions, and I agree with the comment that we had a lot to think about, big challenges to rise to. I also think it relates to this question of matching the internal and external environments of each organisation. As organisation look to align openness with these internal and external drivers they develop their own sense of openness, and in the end I think we each create openness in our own image. It is only right, but the diverse communities that came to the event, might also have contributed to a reluctance to “speak out” to place a mark in an uncertain landscape. For me those diverse readings of openness worked in the small groups, but not in the open floor session – lesson learnt.

However, one question that arose for me at the end of the day is – are there basic ideas or principles we ought to adhere to within open educational practice, and related, what is the role of policy. Where and how does bottom up and top down meet, both within the individual institution and within the broader education landscape. A couple of anecdotes here. In one of the two workshops the OEPS team ran in the afternoon one participant talked about getting his institution to sign up to the OpenScotland declaration, something which was clearly on folks minds. The nature of the OpenScotland declaration, the evolving nature of OEP and the culture within the Open Community (indeed one of key qualities) is the acknowledgement things are in a constant state of becoming.  The individual wondered how you would ever get the management to sign up to an agreement that was not fixed – jokingly noting management are likely to dismiss this with, “lets see what our lawyers say”. A clash of culture. Amusing, possibly, disappointing, definitely.

The second also come from an OEPS workshop, someone from one of the Scottish Ancients noted with dismay that the socio-economic profile of OER users was just a symptom of a wider malaise in Widening Participation, HE providers seems to be getting worse at this and the focus on younger learners was welcome but risked neglecting those who need a second chance. I know, I am sharing depressing anecdotes about clashes of culture and education providers reproducing inequalities through outreach programmes. But I think tensions are bound to arise, we will not change anything if we do not accept it is not all good news.

Allison Littlejohn's keynote speech

Allison Littlejohn’s keynote speech

This is a somewhat fractured account of the day, impressions and bits of questions, I am not going to attempt to draw this together into a neat package at the end. Instead I want to close with some thoughts about what Allison Littlejohn said about how individuals and organisations develop their understanding of OER, from learning about the objects and the licence and how to share, to embedding these in practice and reflecting on the implications for the educator and the learner of changes to educational practice. It is when the questions of objects, affordances, and licences become tacit, become routine that educators and organisations can start to explore what it means for them. I have probably tweaked Allison’s words to my own ends here, but you can read the “real thing” here. So how we do step up as education providers, producing things, doing things is part of it, but as someone noted at the end of the day if all that was achieved by a focus on OEP was making things they would not be satisfied, what we really needed to do as a community was look at how we manage and enable individuals and organisations to change.

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

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 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 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.



#OEPSforum3 posters

These are some of the posters which will be presented at #OEPSforum3 on 5 November 2015 in Glasglow:

Growing Skills: meeting the digital needs of online learners at RBGE – Cathy Shields, Jane Robertson and Lorna Mitchell, Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh

Development & Evaluation of University of Glasglow Biology pre-entry summer school – Dr Avril Edmond & Dr Mary McVey, University of Glasgow

25 years of embracing and fostering openness in education – Ildiko Mazar, European Distance and E-learning Network, UK

Open Educational Practices and Widening Participation – Lindsay Hewitt, The Open University in Scotland

Why and how the Open University provides free learning – Patrina Law, The Open University


#OEPSForum3 Online Registration is now open!

We are holding the third OEPS Forum on Thursday 5th November 2015 (9:30 am – 4:00 pm) with lunch provided between 12:30-13:30 at 200 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RQ. 

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

Eventbrite - OEPS Forum 3

The forum is open to everyone however it will be of particular interest if you want to find out more about Open Educational Resources (OER) and effective practice in the use, reuse and reversioning of OER, or if you are already working with OER and have experience and ideas to share. The third OEPS forum has a focus on the use of OER in widening participation in further and higher education and on the links between informal and formal learning. The morning keynotes from Patrina Law and Allison Littlejohn will address these issues and you can discuss and debate them in the interactive World Cafe session.

In the afternoon there will be a series of workshops which will be run twice (you can choose 2 of the 5 to attend):

  • Exploring openness
    By Pete Cannell and Ronald Macintyre (OEPS team) – this is an introductory workshop for anyone who wants to find out more about Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practice. We’ll look at some of the basic ideas and concepts that underpin open education and also explore some of the ways in which it opens up new possibilities in both the formal and informal education sectors. Audience: Open to everyone but those who are interested in finding out more about what open educational practices (OEP) and open educational resources (OER) may benefit from this most.
  • Research and Education Space
    By Richard Leeming (External Relationship Manager) and Mark Macey (Education Engagement Manager) from the BBC. This workshop provides an opportunity to find out how the Research and Education Space uses open digital technologies to deliver better digital learning experiences much more efficiently. The session will comprise presentations, discussion and some practical workshop elements to identify how the project could evolve to encourage greater use of resources being made available from museums, libraries, galleries and other organisations to schools, colleges and universities. More details can be found on the website: The workshop is open to everyone but those who are interested in finding out more how this project can help education at all levels and those interested in developing platforms may benefit from this most.
  • Harnessing technologies and open educational resources to widen access to Strathclyde
    By Stephanie Mckendry (Widening Access Manager) & Aidan Johnston (Learning Technology Adviser), University of Strathclyde. Having recently launched their third MOOC, ‘Caring for Vulnerable Children’, Strathclyde’s Education Enhancement Team have worked together with the institution’s Widening Access Team to explore ways of harnessing these courses to facilitate access to further and higher education for participants who may be new to learning. This workshop will report on that work in progress, discussing the opportunities and challenges that have emerged so far as well as the wider potential to utilise technologies and open educational resources in access. The workshop will be suitable for those involved in widening access/participation to FE/HE, schools or community outreach, learning technologies, admissions and recruitment, public engagement.
  • Students as producers of open learning
    By Natalie Lafferty, Head of Centre for Technology & Innovation in Learning, University of Dundee. This workshop will provide an overview of how students have been engaging as co-producers of open learning resources at the University of Dundee School of Medicine. There will be an opportunity for participants to consider how they can engage students in open educational practices in their own teaching programmes and explore some of the issues and ground work that needs to be covered to best support and get the most out this engagement. This workshop will be of interest to anyone wanting to engage learners in developing open online learning resources. It will also be more widely applicable to individuals wanting to engage colleagues in developing open educational resources.
  • Co-creating OER through widening participation partnerships
    By Lindsay Hewitt, The Open University in Scotland. This workshop explores the way in which widening participation partnerships between the university and third sector partners provided the basis for the co-creation of a series of OER courses designed to support transitions into work and into higher education. The workshop is open to everyone but it will be of particular interest if you are interested in the use, reuse and reversioning of OER.

We are looking forward to seeing you on 5th November 2015.

 9:30 – 10:00

Registration, Posters and Networking

10:00 – 12:30

Keynotes and Interactive World Cafe with OEPS Update

12:30 – 13:30

Lunch, Posters and Networking


13:30 – 14:30

Parallel workshops (session 1)

1a) Exploring Openness

1b) Research and Education Space

1c) Harnessing technologies and open educational resources to widen access to Strathclyde 

1d) Students as producers of open learning

1e) Co-creating OER through WP partnerships 

14:30 – 14:45



14:45 – 15:45


Parallel workshops (session 2)

2a) Exploring Openness

2b) Research and Education Space

2c) Harnessing technologies and open educational resources to widen access to Strathclyde 

2d) Students as producers of open learning

2e) Co-creating OER through WP partnerships 


Closing Plenary

Call for #oepsforum3 posters

The next OEPS forum takes place on 5 November 2015 in Glasgow.

We are interested in poster submissions that cover the use of OER or open practices in the context of widening participation and transitions. We understand widening participation in a broad sense to include material aimed at groups who are under-represented in formal higher education and at the use of OER in non-institutional settings such as the workplace. Submissions concerned with educational transitions may also have a widening participation focus although this is not essential. We are interested in transitions from informal to formal learning, from education to work or work to education, from school to college or university and from college to university.

If you have an idea for poster and you’re not sure it fits the criteria please do send us a short resume to and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

General submission guidance

Poster Proposal

Your poster proposal should include a brief abstract of no more than 200 words (including up to 6 references), emphasise the unique value of the work and summarize the results, issues or contributions being presented.  The full abstract is required by 1 September 2015.

Visual impact

Posters should be eye-catching visual representations of the topic or subject: they can include graphics, tables, charts, concise text and/or images.

Printed poster size

Recommended size is A0 (84.1cm x118.9cm) portrait or A1 (59.4cm x 84.1cm) landscape.  Posters should be single sided.

Design and printing

Please arrange to design and print the poster for display at the OEPS forum.  We will be in touch before the date to give you information about delivery of your poster to the venue.

Creative Commons Licence

Copyright – we will share your poster on the OEPS website along with the abstract so please only use images and material that can be shared by Creative Commons licence – please ensure your poster carries a Creative Commons licence.

Electronic version

Please provide a PDF version of your poster which will be uploaded to – you are welcome to provide a URL of a site where you are displaying the poster. Send your PDF of the poster to by 2 November 2015.

You are invited to #OEPSforum3

As part of our mission to facilitate best practice in Scottish open education, we are delighted to announce the 3rd Opening Educational Practices Scotland Forum on Thursday 5th November 2015.

The theme of our 3rd forum will be Opening Educational Practice and Widening Participation.

Further details of the programme and how to register will follow soon, however in the meantime please put the date and venue in your diary:

Thursday 5th November 2015

200 St Vincent Street Conference & Events Venue, Glasgow G2 5RQ

The twitter hashtag for this event is #OEPSforum3

Please email if you would like to be added to our mailing list for #OEPSforum3 registration details when they become available.

Call for posters!

During the day we are planning a networking and poster session.  We are looking for posters that explore good practice in widening participation through open education.  If you’d like to submit a poster please get in touch by the end of July 2015 to express your interest at   Further details to follow soon on poster size and format, submission deadline, etc.

The purpose of the Forum is to:

  • explore the latest developments in open educational practice and pedagogy
  • provide insight into practical ways to get started, deepen or enhance your understanding of OEP
  • share the project’s progress, plans and findings
  • explore how OEPS can help you and your organisation – and how to get involved in the project
  • enable participants to build their own network of open educational practitioners

 We do this by:

  • Bringing together leading practitioners
  • Providing workshops on leading edge topics as well as introductory sessions for those new to OEP
  • Encouraging groups from organisations to come to the forum to learn together
  • Building time into the programme for participants to network
  • Facilitating sessions where the project can learn from participants’ knowledge and experience

We’re looking forward to welcoming you on 5th November 2015.