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How I became involved in Open Education, or how I was doing it all along and didn’t know……

Guest blog by Marion Kelt , librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Like most things in Marion world, my involvement in Open Education kind of grew on me like a fungus! It turned out that I had been developing, building and sharing resources for years, without realising that this was Open Education in practice!

It all started when I was working as a Subject Librarian and I was fairly new to the wonderful world of web page building. I found myself all alone one Summer with 500 nurses to train in CINAHL searching! I didn’t have time to get a video together, and resources like Camtasia were not commonly available. For ages we had been using the usual worksheets with screenshots for small scale practical training. This was fine but I needed something to take care of the (I nearly said Dothraki hordes) larger groups of students.

So, I had an idea. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow use the worksheets as the basis for an online training session. I started to play around on my PC, and before I knew it, I had a split screen tutorial using frames. It was pretty primitive compared with what we can produce now, but I was very proud of it! Funnily enough, at the same time, the inHale project came up with the “guide at the side” set of tutorials! I found myself at eLit presenting my system at the same time as them! Small world…..

Anyway, roll forward a few years and we were still using what we now called the 24-7 database tutor as a backup for our practical sessions. We found that our students preferred the human touch, but were happy to have the online resource as a fall back option.

I started becoming aware of the world of OERs, which were then called RLOs (Reusable learning objects). However, even though I had built one, I somehow didn’t make the connection. I somehow thought that RLOs had to be on a larger scale and part of a formal project, it took me a while to understand that our wee online tutor was actually one of these mysterious objects! In the words of the immortal Homer Simpson, D’oh!

So, I was happily playing away with my tutorials, updating them and adapting them for use with a few different databases, when we got a new Librarian. Debbi Boden brought with her a resource called SMILE. This was an information literacy and communication skills training course. Guess who got the project to adapt it for use at GCU! I used a variety of OERs to add to the content and folded in our group of database tutorials.

As part of that project, I fell in with the copILot group, which aimed to promote the use of OERs in information Literacy training. This was a lot of fun and we ran several training courses round the UK – one of our key aims was to take training out from London, so we held events in Cardiff, Guildford and Glasgow. This group ended up being subsumed into the larger Information Literacy Group of CILIP.

I was still updating and adding to SMILE when we decided to share it, the Dreamweaver files are available on edShare at but we have since updated it and made it mobile friendly, you can see it as part of our main library web site at

SMILE had a “big brother” package known as PILOT which was aimed at postgraduates and post-doctoral researchers, so I got another project to update these files and tailor them to GCU use. We originally made this available as Dreamweaver files (available at or you can view the newest, mobile friendly version on our website at

Along with the development work on these OERs, I got interested in how institutions were going about sharing and licensing them. When I talked to our staff, they said that they were not sure where they stood with regard to official policy, as this seemed to vary by school or department. It became clear that we needed an institutional policy. The need for this was underscored by our edShare@GCU project. This aimed to implement a new multimedia educational resource repository to take over from the hardware and software developed as part of the Spoken Word Project. This involved scoping requirements and an audit of the files already developed and used at GCU. The policy and multimedia repository were developed in tandem, and we now have the GCU institutional OER policy (free to download and repurpose from ) and a fully functional edShare system which is in turn indexed by Google.

We were so proud of this project, that we attended meetings and talked about it quite a bit! Toby Hanning and I have appeared in some OEPS case studies and have presented at a variety of conferences. However, there has been no time to sit back and relax! Now the real work of training and advocacy has begun in earnest. We have added impetus due to our various remote campuses and the need to develop and deliver high quality multimedia teaching resources.

Along with providing our users with the means to store and share resources, we also need to back this up with clear advice on copyright (not everyone’s favourite topic!) and Creative Commons licensing. This got us thinking further about a way to provide online copyright guidance. We got together a working group and have produced a prototype version of the GCU copyright advisor. You can try it out yourself here This is not a finished version, as we still have snagging to do, but we have had to put it on the back burner while we implemented a new library system over the Summer!

We have also shared our “working out” with flowcharts and scripts available here . Not content with that we created a short movie about the project which you can view at

So, it turns out that OERs are a bit of an octopus thing, tentacles spread everywhere, and once you start seeing connections and possibilities, you can get quite carried away with it all! That is what has happened to me, I have evolved from a Subject Librarian to my new (ish) post as Open Access and Research Librarian. I am now officially tasked with promoting OERs across GCU (and beyond!)

I have many presentations and articles on our OER projects at GCU. Listing them out here may not make thrilling reading, but you can find them all listed under my name on edShare. Enjoy!


This guest post from Marian Kelt 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. Sign up for the event or join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’.


Pic attribution: ‘Brigham Young University faculty survey seeks to advance open education through academic libraries‘ by OpenSource.Com, CC BY SA 2.0

Learning for Sustainability workshop

[Walk in] Patrick Geddes Steps, Patrick Geddes was an Edinburgh based architect, planner, and early green thinker often cited as the source of the term “Think Global Act Local”.  Image Source, Jones Bob, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

[Walk in] Patrick Geddes Steps, Patrick Geddes was an Edinburgh based architect, planner, and early green thinker often cited as the source of the term “Think Global Act Local”.
Image Source, Jones Bob, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

OEPS and Learning for Sustainability Scotland will be running a workshop on the 3rd of March at the University of Edinburgh. The purpose of this workshop is to explore the role of free open online learning material in supporting the work of Learning for Sustainability (LfS) practitioners in Scotland. The idea of the workshop arose out of a meeting in late 2016 which a range of LfS partners attended.

At the meeting we were all struck by the overlaps in our approaches to educational practice. On the surface there is a view that questions of sustainability and open education are questions about practice itself, and about changing practice. Our sense of educational practice as something social and situated, and then broader sense of values, a commitment to equity and social inclusion informed our both of our approaches at a deeper level.

It is always pleasing to spend an afternoon with people to who share similar questions about educational practice, but in the end one is left wondering – So What?. In this case ‘So What?’ resulted in a Task Group to explore the questions, see the invitation to join the Task Group and the forthcoming event.

During the day we will – very briefly – share some experiences of working with free and open and our thoughts about those overlaps. However, most of the day will be given over to discussion and exploring the opportunities and challenges around free open online learning materials and to support learning for sustainable development

If you are interested in joining the discussion then we look forward to seeing you on the day, here is a link so you can book your place.

Ronald Macintyre


Peer Reviewed Publications and Presentations

We have recently updated the links under the Resources Tab on this site. There are now up to date lists of peer-reviewed outputs from the project via two tabs, Publications and Presentations. Our intention from the beginning has been to ensure that project outputs are publicly available and all the listed papers link to either the full text or a Power Point presentation. Topics include discussions of Open Educational Practice and updates on the evolution of the project, widening access and OER, working in partnership to develop open practice, participatory design and educational transitions. The two must recent publications include a paper on barriers to engagement from a widening participation perspective:

Revisiting Barriers to Participation, which is available in HE: Transforming Lives through life-wide learning; and an overview of the first year of the OEPS project

Cannell, P., Page, A. and Macintyre, R. (2016) Opening Educational Practices in Scotland, Journal of Interactive Media Education

These lists will be updated on a regular basis.

Pete Cannell


Emporium of Inspiring Ideas

The OEPS team contributed to the finale of the College Development Network’s Emporium of Inspiring Ideas on 17 June. We spoke to college staff about the use of open resources in the curriculum. The OpenScience Laboratory is an initiative of The Open University and The Wolfson Foundation. The online laboratory makes interactive practical science accessible to students anywhere and anytime the Internet is available. The laboratory features more than a hundred investigations based on on-screen instruments, remote access experiments and virtual scenarios using real data. As a project we are particularly interested in how free open resources like Open Science Lab are used in practice in the classroom and in the pedagogy and support that teachers and students require to get the best out of these resources. In 2015 we have a report of a pilot project using the OpenScience Lab resources in Scottish schools.

We discussed the findings of the pilot project and what we’ve learnt more generally about good practice in the use of open resources in specific teaching contexts. The college staff we spoke to were unfamiliar with OpenScience Lab and the use of free openly licensed resources in the classroom. However, there was a lot of enthusiasm for thinking through how this kind of material can be used in college settings. We are looking forward to continuing this discussion at a workshop hosted by the College Development Network in the early autumn.

Pete Cannell – for the OEPS team



How can open educational practices and openly licensed resources support transitions?

Ronald Macintyre and I, on behalf of the OEPS team, attended the 2016 Enhancement Themes Conference on Student Transitions on the 9th June.  These notes outline the content of our presentation.  The slides are available on the OEPScotland slideshare site.

We began by explaining that Opening Educational Practices in Scotland is a three-year project funded by the Scottish Funding Council and led by the Open University in Scotland.  The project is tasked to develop increased understanding of design, production and use of OER and OEP in Scotland with a particular focus on widening participation and transitions.

Before looking at transitions we gave a brief introduction to Open Education Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) and noted that they are becoming an increasingly important part of the educational landscape.  The range and scope of free, openly licensed courses is increasing rapidly.

In the course of the project we have been developing our understanding of the relevance of OER and OEP to educational transitions. While some of our observations are relevant more generally, we focused in the presentation on transitions from non-formal or informal learning to formal learning at college or university.  We then considered three connected ways in which OER and OEP are relevant to discussion of transitions.

The first starts from a student focus.  Individuals making educational transitions do so in a world where digital technology has become ubiquitous.  For some, a prerequisite of engaging with education is the acquisition of basic skills for digital participation.  Many more will have experience of working with digital devices and tools such as Google and YouTube.  They begin the learning journey that comprises their personal transition with a set of digital life-skills, assumptions and expectations.  These are valuable and important, but not necessarily sufficient to operate in digital learning environments.   Some of this experience will have been mediated through the availability of free and openly licensed material – although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have explicit knowledge of ‘open education’.   On course, in institutions, students continue to engage with digital resources.  Acknowledging, understanding and influencing their behaviour is increasingly important for educators.

We argue therefore that good practice in supporting transition into formal education needs to acknowledge and value existing digital skills.  Success and retention in formal education requires sustained support for the development of digital literacy skills appropriate to learning in further and higher education.  A core part of digital literacy is an awareness of OER and issues relating to the use and sharing of openly licensed material.

Our second point concerns the impact of openly licensed materials on curriculum development.  Educational institutions are often perceived as the custodians of ‘content’.  But if good quality content is freely available, what then is the role of the college or university?  We’ve explored some of the issues that are raised in a paper ‘Lifelong learning and partnerships – rethinking the boundaries of the university in the digital age’.  In that paper we argue that in a as boundaries are reconfigured the role of the university in developing pedagogy and student centred supportive practice is heightened.  We note that OER and OEP is already having an impact outside the academy, as third sector and other organisations concerned with non-formal learning, start to use OER and students acquire new types of credentials in the form of Digital Badges.

Finally we note that open education has been heralded as opening up new possibilities for widening participation.  In practice, however, the use of OER and OEP in lifelong learning has been relatively limited.   The OEPS project has worked with partners to understand why the promise of OER has not yet been fulfilled.  Some reflections on this can be found in ‘Revisiting Barriers to Widening Participation in HE’. There have also been very few examples of OER courses being reversioned or remixed to address the needs and context of different learners in a lifelong learning context.  One exception to this is ‘Caring Counts’, an OER developed at the OU in Scotland, which has its origin in a course designed to support refugees and migrant workers into education and employment. This was then reversioned on two occasions, once to meet the needs of Carers wanting to make the transition into education and again to meet the needs of professionals working for Carers’ organisations.  The advent of new and more user-friendly authoring tools, which allow educationalists to edit, modify and add to openly licensed courses has the potential to enable low cost reversioning of good quality OER to suit specific widening participation groups.   Sharing and developing resources across and between institutions becomes possible.

In conclusion we suggest that:

OER can help support learners and fill missing steps on learner journeys and/or in curriculum that aims to support transitions.

It’s necessary to accept OER and OEP are part of learner journeys; openness is pushing into HE through learners’ experience, and we need to support and develop learners’ ability to use these resources.

OER and OEP have the potential to reshape the development of curriculum, to help providers reach out, allow communities and learners to reach in, to create curriculum relevant to learners and their context.


Pete Cannell and Ronald Macintyre (for the OEPS project team)







#OEPSforum4 story

We have created the #OEPSforum4 story on Storify – see

Learning in the workplace – supporting football apprentices

by Pete Cannell (OEPS project)

Ross County vs Livingston. Source:

Ross County vs Livingston. Source:

During the 2014/15 football season the OEPS project piloted the use of OER to support the education of football apprentices using a group-based workplace learning model. The basic model was well established but had previously made use of accredited modules.

Learning in the workplace – supporting football apprentices with the academic component of their apprenticeship’ is an evaluation report covering the running of the initiative from 2009 to 2015 produced by the OEPS team.  The report includes a short evaluation of the OER pilot which reflects on the strengths, weaknesses and potential for development of open educational practice in this rather specific setting. The remainder of the report provides context and commentary on the wider issues of providing education in a workplace and professional setting to young adults.

OEPS weekly update – 6 March 2015

This is the first of what we plan to be weekly updates on the project’s partnership and outreach activity. Normally we’ll cover the last five days but this time we thought we’d include the previous week too!

In the week beginning 23 February we had a number of discussions about using open educational materials to support democratic participation in Scottish society. We’ll be pursuing these in the coming months. Pete Cannell had an initial meeting with the Poverty Alliance and joined a discussion organised by Scottish Union Learning where we shared ideas about the development of Open Learning Champions with project workers from some of the main unions in Scotland. We also hosted the regular meeting of the OEPS Steering group where we reported on the progress of the project to date, including the plans for the OEPS hub website. A written report will be published on this blog shortly.

Ronald was putting the finishing touches to a report on the work we have been doing with rural schools in the Highlands using OER and OpenScienceLab, in part prompted by the upcoming deadline for OER15 where we are presenting on Wed the 15th of April, and partly so that we can assess what worked within the pilot and look at the next steps.

Ronald was also at the Scottish Union Learn Everyday Skills conference running a workshop to explore how we might encourage digital participation through and for education, it was a very insightful event and we learnt a great deal about how to support Union Learning organisers. It was a rich conversation and you can find more at the twitter hashtag #sules15

This week Pete met with the E-Learning Alliance and Pete and Ronald started discussions on how to produce an OER version of gender equality materials produced by the Teacher Education in Malawi project. Pete’s also developed a draft of a workshop and materials to support the development of Open Learning Champions which we will revise and refine following feedback from all those involved.

Looking ahead we have preparations to make around a series of workshops in Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, where we will be running a series of events in communities throughout the park using an enterprise OER Rural Entrepreneurship Scotland to structure a series of sessions exploring some of the complex problems facing remote and rural communities

Preparations for the OEPS Advisory forum on the 19th March are well in hand and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone who has signed up for this free event. We have space for a few more people to join us, so if you haven’t already booked your place, please register via Eventbrite. You can choose 2 of the 4 afternoon workshops to participate in as well as the project update and the keynote by Professor Laura Czerniewicz in the morning. For more information including workshop descriptions and the programme for the day, please read the Advisory Forum 2 blog post.



Photos of the OEPS advisory forum 2014

A selection of photos of the OEPS advisory forum and project launch:

OEPS advisory forum photos on Flickr