I attended the mini conference ‘Open Badges: what, why and how’ at the University of Dundee on 19th June. Dundee is working with the Universities of Abertay and Aberdeen, under the aegis of the QAA Scotland Transitions Enhancement Theme, to explore the use of Open Badges. The focus of the project is on transitions from university to employment and the use of badges to recognise employability skills through extra- and co-curricular activity. The University of Abertay already has some really interesting experience of using this approach with their LLB students. The conference also included presentations from Grainne Hamilton on her work at Digital Me and Doug Belshaw who looked at the future of Open Badges in a talk titled ‘Open Badges in Higher Education: 2.0 infinity and beyond!’.
Still on the theme of transitions the Open University’s suite of Badged Open Courses (BOCS) on OpenLearn. There are now seventeen available. The majority are concerned with supporting transitions from informal to formal learning. However, the latest addition to the collection is ‘Succeeding in postgraduate study’ aimed at supporting the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study. Whilst this free, openly licensed course was written by the OU, it will be of interest to colleagues across Scottish higher education and applicable to any student making the transition to postgraduate study in Scotland. The selection of Badged Open Courses on OpenLearn Create also continues to grow, including the OEPS collection.
We are delighted to announce that How to make an open online course is now live. It is a new badged open course which explains how to design, structure and produce your own open online course. It was written by the Free Learning Team at The Open University and includes sections by the OEPS project team. How to make an open online course complements the OEPS course Becoming an Open Educator which was released in September 2016 to focus on how to find open resources, how open licences work, the benefits of using and remixing OER and how they might influence the course you create.
How to make an open online course guides you through the practical steps to take in building a course including planning the course, how it might be hosted online, the use and reuse of free content, what sort of assessment activities you might want to include, social learning and the important steps you need to take before you publish your course. It prompts you to think about what consider to as you compile content, it also discusses the writing and editing process.
When the OEPS project began, these two courses were proposed as key tools to help those discovering the benefits of using OER for widening participation in higher and further education. As the project has progressed and we work with partners to help them create their own OER for their particular contexts we have reflected on processes of course creation. We have focussed especially on how a course can be created in collaboration between universities and organisations or those unfamiliar with how to produce meaningful online learning materials and this experience has been incorporated into these courses.
The Open University has plenty of expertise in creating good quality distance educational materials to support students, more recently in online settings both for formal courses and for the informal courses and resources hosted on OpenLearn. The OU Free Learning team, who commission all the free open courses hosted on OpenLearn, including the highly successful OU Badged Open Courses, have compiled How to make an open online course to share this knowledge in an accessible way to anyone who wants to try building their own course.
The OEPS project team welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions on how this new badged open course or Becoming an Open Educator makes a different to your open educational practice. Please contact us at (oepscotland [at] gmail.com) or tweet using the hashtag #openeducator about your experience of using these two courses to guide your course building activities.