Blog Archives

New OER courses launched

One of the aims of OEPS project is to explore good practice through the co-development of exemplar OER courses. Two courses were launched in May. ‘Understanding Parkinson’s’ is a collaboration with Parkinson’s UK. It brings together the clinical and practical knowledge of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network with that of people living with, and caring for, people with Parkinson’s to produce a practical and useful course for health and social care professionals. The second course, ‘My seaweed looks weird’, produced in partnership with the Scottish Association for Marine Science at the University of the Highlands and Islands, takes recent research on global seaweed and makes it freely accessible to students and industry across the globe.

Pete Cannell

OEPS project team

OpenLearn Works to OpenLearn Create

One of the World Cafe sessions at the #OEPSforum3 on 5 November 2015 featured the open platform which the OEPS project is helping develop further.  This is a brief summary of redesign and further development planned for the open platform:

OpenLearn Works (OLW) http://www.open.edu/openlearnworks/ draws on the Open University’s expertise to facilitate good online pedagogy and open educational practice. OLW is a Moodle platform that allows the creation and delivery of educational content for free. The guiding principles are:

  • That content is available openly and for free to all users (learners and creators) of the platform (unless it is hosted in the closed VLE sections of the site, where other criteria may apply).
  • That the site provides space for users to publish, reuse and repurpose content and comprehensive guidance on how to do this.
  • That content published on OLW should be released under a Creative Commons licence.
  • That the site should promote and share good open pedagogical practices to support users creating OER and learners using OER as a service to users.
  • There is no advertising on the site.

OpenLearn Works enables capacity building for those developing and delivering free and publically available digitally enhanced learning. The site is both a place to:

  • Develop capacity (academy, toolkit & repository) and to
  • Deliver product (courses, resources, product library sub portals)

The site provides free OER hosting facilities for those who don’t have access to an appropriate VLE for their courses, so is ideal for experimenting with ideas and creating courses across institutions or organisations.

Hosting courses

The following hosting options are currently available:

  • spaces for users to set up their own open courses,
  • project spaces which can either be set up by external users (basic functionality) or by the OU (with enhanced features such as badges and OU structured content)
  • a portal facility (which requires design and some IT development to reuse the basic template for new portals)

The following additional hosting options are planned and are currently being piloted:

  • closed spaces for password enrolment for closed cohorts administered by OU or external organisations who need VLE space for their or OU content which is adapted for their CPD purposes

Current functionality

Users can create open courses on OpenLearn Works which can include textual content, images, embedded or linked video and quizzes using core Moodle. The platform has tools for collaboration when creating a draft course (editing, curating and contextualizing materials). There are tools for learners to collaborate with each other when studying a live course such as blogs, forums, interactive glossaries and polls. The platform supports Open Badging which are Mozilla compatible and mirrors the facility on OpenLearn for issuing badges automatically via course completion criteria.

Future developments

OLC creating open courses

OLC creating open courses

OpenLearn Works will become OpenLearn Create (OLC) to more accurately reflect the open course creation facilities it offers. It is proposed that the redesigned OpenLearn Create will have the following enhancements and improvements to existing features:

  • Mobile responsive design
  • Easier to use interface for creating and updating courses which have a logical flow and navigational structure
  • Improved routes and guidance for remixing and re-versioning OER content found both on OLC and on other OER sites
  • A choice of Creative Commons licence options for publishing content (currently only one open licence option or all rights reserved are the only choices)
  • An improved user profile encompassing course creator and learner elements
  • Course user statistics and data dashboard for reports and analytics
  • Digital badging configuration by the course creator (currently digital badges are set up by OpenLearn Works managers) and Statement of Participation template for course creator’s own branding
  • Improved OER search facilities
  • Exportable formats (for those wishing to study a course offline) or to export to another VLE platform
  • Generate alternative formats (for accessibility purposes) from material uploaded to OpenLearn Create
  • Further configuration of multiple language support for administration menus and correct text alignment
  • Further configuration of the peer assessment module
  • RSS/XML feeds of collections of course materials for display on other websites
  • Plugin additional appropriate tools and resources
OLC creating reversioning courses

OLC creating reversioning courses

We are seeking views on the proposed developments for OpenLearn Create at the #oepsforum3 and welcome comments on this blog post about the platform.

An invitation to feedback! Community review our course on open practice

Screenshot of OpenLearn Works (contains image: Alan Levine "Life is Sharing" CC-BY 2.0)

Screenshot of section 1.3 on OpenLearn Works (contains image: Alan Levine “Life is Sharing” CC-BY 2.0)

by Beck Pitt (OEPS project)

I am pleased to announce that a draft of the project’s course on open educational practices (OEP) is now available for review! In a nutshell the course aims to explore and foreground OEP in part through practical advice on the use of open educational practices (OER) whilst simultaneously highlighting examples of best practice and ideas for your own context. The course has been developed to cover the fundamentals but also provides additional material for further exploration in the Further Reading sections.

For the next three weeks (until 26 November 2015) you have the opportunity to feedback on the course and let us know whether it meets your needs, those of your institution and if not, what can be improved. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

The badged four-part course will be openly licensed, available on OpenLearn Works and will launch in January 2016.

Why community review? 

Quite simply in order to make the course better and more relevant for YOU and your colleagues. Previous experiences of this type of open peer review have been incredibly useful: receiving a certain amount of community feedback was essential for the first iteration of the OER Hub’s Open Research course to go ahead.  Being open about the course’s development (e.g. regularly blogging about the course’s development) was also important and reflected the Hub’s own open practices. We had excellent feedback from fellow facilitators and interested parties both via this channel and elsewhere which really helped to tighten up the course structure, content and delivery mechanisms.

What’s involved? 

Reviewing the course could just involve browsing the content quickly or a more detailed read… there’s no obligation to read everything! We’re interested in all types of feedback; from general impressions on what’s covered through to suggestions for additional content and corrections.

  • Does this course look useful and relevant to your and your colleagues?
  • Would you use the course material? If not, why not?
  • Is material covered in sufficient detail? Is there something missing you’d like the course to cover?

We welcome comments on this blog post, comments directly on the material (click on the header links below to go to the relevant Google doc) or even just a vote on our poll (although ideally we’d love to know why too!). I will be monitoring feedback and responding periodically during the three week review period.

So what’s in the course and how is it structured? 

Each section of the course has an accompanying reading list to enable a ‘deeper dive’ into material and each section also has an accompanying activity. These are still work in progress so haven’t been included; however, you can see a sample reading list at the end of the Course introduction and Part One document. We are also in the process of picking out good examples of best practice to include in the final version.

All the content is available below on Google docs and you can comment directly on the material. Or if you would prefer, please comment in response this blog post.

Course introduction and Part One

  • 1.1 What do we mean by “open”?
  • 1.2 Open Educational Resources?
  • 1.3 The Practice of Open Educational Resources
  • 1.4 Open Licensing

Part Two

  • 2.1 Why open educational resources (OER)?
  • 2.2 Where can I find OER?
  • 2.3 Attributing a resource
  • 2.4  The ‘open’ in open licensing

Part Three

  • 3.1 Exploring Open Practices
  • 3.2 Remixing OER
  • 3.3 Why openly license my own material?
  • 3.4 What do I need to consider when creating an OER?

Part Four

  • 4.1 What license should I choose?
  • 4.2 How can I share my resources with others?
  • 4.3 Measuring Impact
  • 4.4 What next?

What isn’t included in his draft of the course? 

As above, please note that best practice examples, some further reading sections and activities for each section are pending.

And last but not least, our course is currently lacking a punchy title! All suggestions welcome : )

Looking forward to hearing from you and thanks for your anticipated input! 

Finding good resources for Work-based learning

By Anna Page (OEPS project)

OU Social Partnership Network logoUnion learning representatives (ULRs), Workers Education Association (WEA) tutors and other workplace learning facilitators may find a new free online guide useful to help them signpost learning opportunities in the workplace to colleagues. The OpenLearn Learner Guide for Social Partnerships Network helps facilitators develop skills to find relevant resources in OpenLearn which can be shared with work-based learners.

OpenLearn contains over 11,000 hours of materials including more than 800 courses, interactive resources, videos, academic blogs and podcasts in a range of subject areas. It has several useful features to support online learning. The new guide provides familiarisation with OpenLearn opportunities in a step-by-step format and offers a badge for anyone who completes all the activities.

The new OpenLearn learner guide has been developed by the Open University’s Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships (CICP) and is hosted on OpenLearn Works, which is a free Moodle platform where anyone can create Open Educational Resources to share openly.

You can find the OpenLearn Learner Guide for Social Partnerships Network at http://www.open.edu/openlearnworks/learnerguideSPN

Explore OpenLearn at http://www.open.edu/openlearn

Create and browse OER in OpenLearn Works http://www.open.edu/openlearnworks

Strengthening open educational practices in 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[1] produced by the OU with support from the Scottish Government.
  • The launch of a new OER on rural entrepreneurship[2] 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 oepscotland@gmail.com or join the conversation by responding to this blog.


[1]http://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/social-care/social-work/foundations-self-directed-support-scotland/content-section-0
[2]http://www.open.edu/openlearn/money-management/rural-entrepreneurship-scotland/content-section-0