This is the final post on the OEPS blog before it transitions to an archive. As such I’d like to use it to reflect on the big themes that the project set out to address.
I joined the project following more than a decade of work in the Scottish widening participation scene and recent experience of exploring the use of open educational resources with organisations that support non-traditional students attempting to gain access to further and higher education.
OEPS was distinctive in foregrounding social justice and widening participation but I think I underestimated the challenge that this presented. The Open Education movement grew out of a belief that educational material should be a public good. And this belief has informed developments over nearly two decades. However, at the start of the project it was clear that there were very few points of contact between the Learning Technology and Widening Participation communities in Scotland. Although the latter community was beginning to grapple with issues of digital participation, knowledge of the affordances of open education or indeed of the existence of OER was very limited.
So for the project bringing people together from a range of different backgrounds was critical and we prioritised this in organising events and in targeting possible partners. We’ve written more about this elsewhere and the final project report provides a useful summary of this engagement.
As we developed a network of partners it rapidly became clear that, while the language of open education and the technicalities of open licensing were not well known, a broad range of organisations and individuals were grappling with the social consequences of digital technology. In the OEPS final report we note that
‘… in the last ten years there has been a historic shift in the way that society uses digital technology. Ownership of smart digital devices has grown rapidly. An OFCOM report published in 2015 found that 66% of UK adults owned a Smartphone, up from 39% just three years before. This has had an impact on culture, communication and self-directed learning. However, the links between digital engagement and the digital literacies required for learning are not straightforward. In 2009 the JISC report on Learning Literacies in a Digital Age noted that learners in general are ‘poor at deploying their digital skills in support of learning’. This remains the case for young people entering higher education direct from school and evidence collected during the OEPS project suggest that this is also the case for non-traditional students.’
It’s widely accepted that good practice in supporting students from a widening participation and student retention perspective should be part of the mainstream rather than an add on. Taken as whole I would argue that the experience of the OEPS project suggests that this is also true of good Open Educational Practice.
At the outset we were concerned by the skewed demographics of participation in Open Education, which suggested that historic inequity was being reproduced or even accentuated. Looking at open education through a widening participation lens, and working closely with non-traditional learners and with the organisations that support them, helped us develop valuable insights into the way that stubborn and persistent barriers to educational participation are expressed in digital environments. Digital technologies open up new possibilities and new barriers for students. In developing exemplar open courses with a range of partners the OEPS project provides evidence that these barriers can be overcome. Much more work is needed in this field but critical to success and at the core of good practice are a number of simple issues:
- Developing practice that puts student experience and student context at the centre.
- Understanding the challenges that non-traditional students face.
- Making the maximum use of co-design – involving practitioners and students in the process of making or remixing course material, study approaches and assessment.
- Maximising opportunities for social interaction and peer support in course design. Material delivered online can be used in a whole range of online and face-to-face blends.
- Holding firm to a belief that technology can support education but that it’s a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Taking all this on board in a consistent way would be a big step forward. Although not the whole story since, as Maha Bali outlined in her presentation at the final OEPS event, open is always mediated by power and privilege. I would argue that in the digital world that potential students inhabit addressing these issues is a necessity and not a choice if we are to meet the ambitious widening participation targets set by the Scottish Government. But if we can get it right the advantages will accrue to all our students.
 Learning Literacies in a Digital Age, Beetham et al, 2009 https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614200958/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/briefingpapers/2009/learningliteraciesbp.aspx#downloads
The core message of the final report from the OEPS project is that innovative practice that puts students first can ensure that open education breaks down barriers to participation in education. The report is published today (Monday 11th September) to coincide with the ‘Promise of Open Education’ Conference at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth.
The report provides evidence and case studies from across the Scottish sector. It highlights the potential of working across boundaries, an approach that enabled the OEPS project to co-create fifteen new free, open online courses with organisations like Dyslexia Scotland and Parkinson’s UK. OEPS found a high level of interest in the use of these online courses in the informal education sector with almost half of the organisations involved coming from the third sector, trade unions or employers.
The OEPS project was concerned with developing good open educational practice that supports widening participation and social justice. Working with organisations that support non-traditional students provided the team with valuable insights into the barriers that online learning can present. The report links to a range of reports and guidance material designed to help educators, course designers and widening participation practitioners enable the barriers to be overcome.
The report highlights innovative practice from across the Scottish sector but suggests that more needs to be done to provide a policy framework that can embed this practice in the mainstream. It suggests that wherever possible educational materials should be released as open by default.
The report stresses the value of institutional collaboration in the use of open educational resources and recommends that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council consider systems, support mechanisms and policies that can facilitate and sustain such partnerships.
The report is essential reading whether you’ve never heard of open education before or whether you are a seasoned open educator. We encourage everyone to read the OEPS Final Report.
This post 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. Join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’. We are livestreaming on the day via Periscope and there will be a Twitter chat in the afternoon using #BeOpen and @OEPScotland.
We are delighted to launch the next course created in partnership with Parkinson’s UK. ‘Parkinson’s palliative and end of life care’ is aimed at health professionals working with people with Parkinson’s. The course aims to encourage early conversations about advance care planning, and the need to make decisions about treatments which people may or may not wish at the end of their life. The course explores the role of the multi-disciplinary team which may be involved at this stage in a person’s life and looks at each member’s role in supporting and managing the person’s physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs (and those of their carers) throughout this journey.
The course highlights the importance of people with Parkinson’s understanding the condition’s trajectory and the possible impact in the advanced stage so that they can make informed decisions in advance about what they would like to happen towards the end of their life and to consider any involvement of their relatives/carers.
This course is part of a suite of courses by Parkinson’s UK which address key issues for people with Parkinson’s, their carers and the health and social care professionals working with them. We are delighted to be able to support Parkinson’s UK to create this course as an open course which means it can be reused or adapted by others or embedded in other courses provided that the original authors are attributed. This ability for others to reuse and adapt the content was a key attraction for Parkinson’s UK, and they hope that health and social care lecturers will integrate the materials into their courses. This would substantially increase the support for health and social care professionals and therefore for people with Parkinson’s.
Guest post by David Porter, CEO, eCampusOntario.ca.
This blog is a remix of a remix. A good thing in my view.
Since 2013, I’ve built upon a presentation that Clint Lalonde of BCcampus created and titled Beyond Free. The original was licensed CC BY-SA, and I’ve since added to it and updated and localized its message to suit different audiences. It remains a winner that consistently inspires instructors to rethink their practices and take a leap into the open realm.
The great thing about Clint’s original presentation was that it stated five great reasons to use OER, beyond the simple, “because it’s free” mantra. What he did in Beyond Free was to build upon the five freedoms (permissions) expressed by David Wiley in his now famous baseline definition of open content. Clint added context to those theoretical freedoms in a way that demonstrated real practice and conveyed a message of possibility to even the most reluctant open educator. The five reasons to move beyond free remain a great explanation for the open education community, and the original presentation remains a reusable and remixable template for anyone to use. Thanks, Clint.
I’m going to reprise those five great reasons in a shortened prose format. The graphic presentation version has many benefits and far more illustrations than appear here. Here are five benefits (reasons) to use open resources and open practices.
There is no better way make resources your own than to develop them yourself. But a close second is to exercise the provisions of Creative Commons licenses by clicking on the license logo and reading the plain language provisions of the human readable deed. No letters to authors needed, just acknowledgement of the creator with a straightforward citation. A simple, practical, generous starting point to customize an existing learning resource.
Benefit #2: Access to customized resources improves learning
Studies, journal articles, and research papers are pointing out what might seem obvious: when you have access to free and open learning resources at the start of your course or program, you’ll likely be successful in your studies. No financial pressures, no workarounds. You are able to concentrate on your course and give it your full effort from day one. More detailed studies are beginning to investigate the effects of localized and customized resources versus the generic textbook approaches aimed at a broadly defined population of learners. I expect localized versions of case studies, illustrations that reflect your culture, and images that engage students because they are relevant to their experience will all contribute to better open resources.
Benefit #3: Open provides opportunities for co-creation and more authentic resources
Terry Greene at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario has been engaged in a co-creation project with peers over the past year, soliciting exemplars and advice from seasoned veteran educators to provide a sourcebook for new faculty and instructors who will need support and guidance as they take on their teaching responsibilities.
The Open Faculty Patchbook: Patching Pedagogy Together, for Each Other is a contribution space by faculty for faculty, and carries on open invitation to educators to contribute their authentic experiences and advice for a new generation of higher education instructors. A printed copy of the current “patchbook” was given to new faculty at their orientation session in August 2017. It is a work in progress. Help build it.
Benefit #4: Collegial collaboration helps build the commons
My colleagues at BCcampus are pioneers in the use of “sprints” and professional networking among institutions to quickly and purposefully build team capacity and open resources for learners through collegial collaboration. They’ve done it all:
- How to turn a great idea into an open textbook in just four days
- The Great Psychology Testbank Sprint offers new OER for instructors
- Four ways librarians are essential to the future of open textbooks and OER
Research, teaching and service are three key principles that guide higher education institutions. Many institutions have experimented with freely available courses in the form of MOOCs. But few have actually done so with freely available open resources and a mechanism for gaining credit through a challenge exam or prior learning assessment and recognition.
OERu.org is a consortium of 30+ higher education institutions from around the globe who have come together to prototype alternative pathways to recognized credentials for learners. The OERU.org partners are working together to provide courses from their own institution as contributions to a first-year program of study that will invite learners to participate in university level courses and also apply for assessment leading to credit towards a certificate, diploma or degree.
Every piece of content, software, and infrastructure supporting the OERu is open source or openly licensed. OERu.org is a demonstration of openness in support of the service mission of its institutional partners. OERu partners walk the open talk.
Open education is more than freely available, openly licensed content resources. It is also about people, like-minded educators who see the benefits of rethinking the status-quo, and who are willing to see what will happen when we bring teaching and learning into the open.
David Porter, CEO
This guest post from David Porter 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’.
‘The promise of open education’ conference is the final event of the OEPS project. It will take place on Monday 11th September in Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. Further details about the event will be made available soon, however please save the date in your diaries.
The Porous University set out to reconceptualise university. Does it need to have boundaries, could those boundaries be porous or even non-existent? What would this look like? Why might this be desirable? Over two day these and many other questions were considered. There are many tweets, Periscopes and other social media from the event on #porousuni sharing emerging ideas.
After the event the discussion and thinking continued across many of the participants’ blogs including:
- Sheila MacNeil (@Sheilmcn): Initial thoughts from the Porous Uni and More leaking from the Porous Uni
- Keith Smyth (@Smythkrs): Situating digital space and place within the Porous Uni
- Fred Garnett (@fredgarnett): Some ideas about making universities open to communities
- Jennifer Jones (@jennifermjones): And a wee film about the event and a Storify of the tweet
In addition to the The-Porous-University-Symposium—Provocations, for us some further provocations came to mind:
- If the promises implicit in OER’s 5Rs are to be realised there needs to be a major shift of focus from technical standards for interoperability to simple practical methods of obtaining content for use, development of simple tools for remixing and support for sound pedagogical frameworks.
- Generally speaking HE is failing staff and students by not thinking through the digital literacy skills that are needed in a world or ubiquitous smart devices and openly licensed content.//
- Open approaches could transform curriculum development but only if there is a rethinking of what kinds of academic labour is valued and what kinds of systems underpin collaboration and sharing.
- There is a disconnect between the academy and the informal learning sector that requires new models of partnership and engagement.
What do you think?
Open Education Week 2017 runs from 27th-31st March and is a celebration of the global open education movement. Featuring inspiring initiatives, organisations and people around the world that further open education, OE week offers a myriad of activities, webinars and information to help you connect with and find out more about the impact and benefits of openness in education.
As it happens, the OEPS steering group meeting will take place on 28th March, mid-way through Open Education Week. The OEPS steering group includes five higher education institutions dedicated to furthering open education in Scotland. To celebrate and showcase their work, and that of other organisations they partner with, we thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the exciting open education activities happening across the Group.
University of Edinburgh
- The University of Edinburgh are hosting a number of events as part of OE week. Find out more about the use of open educational resources (OER) at their three pop-up events.
- Head on over to the Open.Ed website for a range of guides, resources and information on OER at Edinburgh.
- Read some of the OEPS case studies about the University of Edinburgh’s open practices. These include a look at how they are embedding open practices in Creating a culture of open and a closer look at the benefits of Wikipedia for learning and teaching in Collaborating to build “a city of information literacy, a city of Wikipedia”.
University of Glasgow
- OEPS have developed a number of case studies with University of Glasgow colleagues including Openness at the University of Glasgow which looks at the promise, impact and process of developing MOOC and Open access and flipped learning at Glasgow University focused on educator created open access videos and their role in a flipped learning context.
- And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming OER Global Determinants of death and dying.
University of Highlands and Islands
- Does your seaweed look weird? If so, you need the open course My seaweed looks weird which was joint produced by UHI, OEPS and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
- Read Steering Group member Frank Rennie’s paper OER (open educational resources): e-tips which reports on the impact of two e-textbooks and associated OER produced by educators at UHI.
- Come and explore “openness, space and place” in HE at UHI on 8 and 9 May 2017. The Porous University is now open for submissions and bookings … don’t forget to mark the date and get involved!
University of Strathclyde
- See how OER and MOOC can contribute to widening participation in HE in the case study Joining the dots: Widening participation at the University of Strathclyde.
Open University in Scotland / Open University
- Access the OU’s open educational resources and courses on OpenLearn or learn how to use open courses via the Open Pathways to Higher Education.
- You can also create and host your own open educational resources for free on OpenLearn Create and you can access other organisations’ resources there too, for example NESTA and the Rockefeller Foundation; World Vision Ethiopia and UNICEF; The Social Partnerships Network; TESS-India and TESSA.
- If you want to read more about some of The Open University in Scotland’s open education initiatives read Building confidence: The impact of open course Caring Counts.
- Find out more about the OU in Scotland’s Open Learning Champions event and Open Learning Champions network or even get involved.
Opening Educational Practices in Scotland
- OEPS has co-developed a range of open badged courses including Understanding Parkinson’s with Parkinsons UK and the forthcoming Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice with Dyslexia Scotland in partnership with Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.
- We’ve also produced a number of badged open courses, from Becoming an open educator which looks at how openness could enhance your teaching to How to make an open online course (in conjunction with the OU Free Learning Unit) which guides you through the process of creating this type of OER.
Want to get involved? You can browse the wide range of activities that individuals and organisations are hosting around the globe on the Open Education Week website, and don’t forget if you do participate, host your own event, want to share a resource or idea and join in the conversation use the hashtag #openeducationwk. If you tweet any of our activities or resources, please include @OEPScotland and let us know what you think!
OEPS is presenting at the annual Association of Learning Technologies Conference (ALTC) on 6 September 2016.
The presentation shares our experiences so far of working in partnership with external organisations to create OER and enable them to explore open educational practices in the process. The OEPS project has been adapting the existing tried and tested Open University course production models to partnership collaboration.
The full abstract and references can be found below in a downloadable PDF and the slides are available on slideshare.
Caring Counts is a self-reflection and planning course developed with and for carers. Working with carers and carer’s organisations, The Open University in Scotland has developed a badged free online course to support carers to reflect on their caring journey and identify the skills and abilities they have gained and continue to gain in their caring role.
The course features the stories and experiences of a range of carers from very diverse backgrounds and caring circumstances, who share their lives in text and on film. Users have the option of completing a series of quizzes to gain a digital badge marking their achievement in completing the course.
This course is for carers of any age and at any stage in their life or caring role, it is flexible and adaptable to fit into your training and support programmes.
As well as helping carers recognise and value their skills and experiences and suggest opportunities for learning and other ideas for personal development, the course includes detailed information about career planning for those thinking about employment, or those thinking about returning to work and/or study that they may have had to put on hold.
Learners can gain a Caring Counts digital badge which recognises their learning through completing online quizzes that lead to a digital badge that acknowledges successful course completion. Digital badges are a useful way of demonstrating participation and recognising informal learning.
The OU in Scotland are working with a range of partners at national and local levels to support carers and carers centre staff to make full use of the course as well as to develop professionals’ knowledge and understanding of carers’ experiences.
You are welcome to explore the course and share details about it with others, or talk to the course team about opportunities for training and development and how they might be able to support you to make the best use of this free online resource.
Caring Counts is available at www.open.edu/openlearnworks/course/view.php?id=1688
The Open University supports carers in a range of ways, which you can read about in this leaflet designed for carers http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/LearnDevDist/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/OU_Carers_2014.pdf – the OU in Scotland are sending copies of this leaflet to carers centres across Scotland.
The Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project is pleased to welcome you to our blog. OEPS aims to facilitate best practice in Scottish open education. It plans to enhance the Scottish tertiary education sector’s capacity and reputation in developing publicly available and licenced online materials, supported by high quality pedagogy and learning technology.
Funded for 3 years by the Scottish Funding Council, this project provides an opportunity for the higher education sector in Scotland to build on its collaborative ethos and establish a support network for best practice and innovation in developing open educational resources (OER).
There is a great deal of activity already going on in Scotland but it is often fragmentary and is not widely recognised or understood. OEPS plans to build on existing work and resources, acting as a catalyst for developing a strong Scottish identity in Open Educational Practice. OEPS will contribute to the new QAA Scotland enhancement theme on transitions. It will also facilitate working across boundaries to develop new forms of engagement between higher education and third sector organisations, unions and employers.
The opportunities opened up by online resources raise important questions of equitable access and social justice, as use and participation is not automatic just because OERs are available. The open educational practices (OEP) around development, use and reuse of OER can be more important than the content. Working in partnership with organisations in the workplace and community settings, OERs can be used flexibly to offer new pedagogically sound models of learning and make them more accessible.
High quality online content is necessary but not sufficient for OER to contribute to widening participation. We will focus on practice and how can we make effective use of content, for widening participation, transitions and supporting social and economic priorities. OEPS will attempt to model the principles embedded in the Open Scotland Declaration, and it also aims to bring communities of practice together. This means joining learning technologists with widening participation practitioners, linking both to educational developers and all concerned with enhancing student learning.
The project is organised around six themes: widening participation, rural sustainability, transitions, schools, cross sector and economic priorities. It has eight primary objectives which include sector wide analysis; events (awareness raising); online hub and development test bed for Scottish OER; targeted new or reworked content; quality, accreditation and badging; developing the concept of ‘open’; developing an evidence base and evaluation of economic models.
Work is being initiated across all these themes, including:
- The creation of a space in OpenLearn Works that will provide a sandbox for development across the sector.
- Exploration with HEIs and sector wide bodies into developing new materials and practices in the areas of energy, sustainability, marine science, NHS and Social Services. These discussions are at various stages of maturity but are likely to involve both the creation of targeted content and partnership work to improve take-up of existing content.
- The launch on June 9th of a new, badged OER for Carers, created in partnership with carers and carers organisations. This is the first badge carrying the imprint of the OEPS project (it will be available in the early summer).
- Development of additional material for the Self Directed Support OER produced by the OU with support from the Scottish Government.
- The launch of a new OER on rural entrepreneurship and plans to pilot approaches to working with SMEs in the Highlands and Islands and South West Scotland.
- The production of a series of Badged Open Courses (BOCs) on using OER, widening participation and employability which will be available to the HE and FE sectors for use and re-versioning.
- Production of a scoping report on the state of play with OEP in Scotland.
- Development over summer 2014 of a series of good practice case studies that will be shared through a variety of media including the OEPS website.
We welcome your comments and contributions to Opening up Educational Practices in Scotland. You can email us at OEPScotland@open.ac.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation by responding to this blog.