Blog Archives

OEPS Final Report launched!

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.


Pete Cannell

OEPS Co-Director


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.

OUT NOW! Becoming an Open Educator open course

We are pleased and excited to announce that our open badged online course Becoming an Open Educator is now live on OpenLearn Works! Focussing on how free and open might change your approach to teaching and learning, the course is aimed at educators, facilitators and administrators across all sectors. The OEPS team collaboratively developed the course and the lead author was Beck Pitt. An earlier version of the course was openly peer reviewed.

During Becoming an Open Educator you will discover how to find open resources and their benefits and consider whether they change the relationship to the content you create. You’ll also reflect on your own practice and what ‘open’ might mean for your own context. Who might use any open educational resources you create and what do you need to consider to ensure your resource is visible and re-useable?

The course also explains how ‘open’ licences work in supporting open sharing and reuse and is full of lots of best practice examples of open practice and suggestions. The course includes a series of quizzes which count towards a digital badge. If you read through all the material in the course you will receive a Statement of Participation.

Head over and check out the course! If you like what you see then please don’t forget to tell your colleagues and spread the word.

If you are interested in exploring different ways you could reuse the course content with your peers, colleagues or/and students, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would also welcome any thoughts, comments and suggestions you have and would love to hear from you if the course has made a difference to your practice. Drop us a line (oepscotland [at] or tweet us and use the hashtag #openeducator when tweeting about the course.


Image credits: “Life is Sharing” by Alan Levine is licensed CC BY 2.0 

OEPS workshops in September 2016

This month is a busy time for the project with ten workshops scheduled between now and the end of September. The majority are learning design events. Two of the design workshops involve the Equality Challenge Unit and a consortium of universities and colleges. The aim is to produce an open course for teachers that supports efforts to increase the number of young women choosing to specialise in STEM subjects. Later in the month we will meet with staff from The University of Strathclyde to work on the first stage of planning a open CPD course for pharmacists. On the theme of teacher CPD we are also facilitating a first stage design workshop for a project aimed at producing a Scots Language course.

However, the design workshops are not simply aimed at OER production. We will also be using participatory design methods to help Unite the Union and the Poverty Alliance think through student centred approaches to the curation of free online resources. In addition we are meeting with members of the Learning for Sustainability network to think through the links between open practice and the specific needs of educators in this inter-disciplinary area with a view to designing a workshop or workshops for a wider audience.

Towards the end of the month we will be running our ‘Thinking about Open’ workshop for the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness and the College Development Network in Stirling.

Pete Cannell


New! OEPS Flyer Hot off the Press

  • Want to help promote OEPS?
  • Need a succinct outline of what the project aims to achieve?
  • Looking for a printable summary of the project?

Look no further! We are pleased to announce the launch of new flyer which summarises the project, the OEPS take on open educational practices and gives an overview of some of our key outputs such as the OEPS Hub and the OER we have produced with organisations such as Parkinson’s UK and SAMS.

OEPS flyer p1
OEPS leaflet p2

The flyer is also now available via our About page.


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)







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

Awareness of OER/OEP in Scotland: Preliminary Findings

At the end of 2015 and early 2016 OEPS ran two surveys to find out about the level of awareness of OER and OEP in Scotland. 19 HE institutions and 16 colleges were invited to complete a questionnaire based on research conducted by OER Hub and Babson Survey Research Group. Beck and I presented the preliminary findings at OER16, with one major caveat: the results can only be considered indicative and not representative of the current state of OER/OEP awareness in Scotland, since the bulk of answers comes from only four HE institutions and five colleges –namely University of St Andrews, Scotland’s Rural College, Open University in Scotland, Glasgow University, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Glasgow Kelvin College, New College Lanarkshire and West College Scotland. Ahead of the interim report to be published in the summer, here’s a brief summary of what we discussed in our presentation, a couple of ponderable points:

Not surprisingly, awareness of OER is low in Scottish HE and even lower in the college sector (see slides below). However, when asked about their awareness of licensing mechanisms, the percentages of those who say they are aware of Creative Commons is actually higher that the percentage of those aware of OER (!). In very similar fashion, YouTube is the most popular repository of educational resources, well ahead of OER repositories such as OpenLearn or Jorum, but again use of open repositories does not equal awareness of OER/OEP. Finally, Scottish educators share mostly via their institution’s VLE but seldom openly online; can we encourage conversations to make VLEs more open?

Featured Image: Aware by Nick Fullerton, CC BY 2.0

Mapping OEP in Scotland: Your Stories

Haven’t checked out the OEPS Hub in a while? Don’t miss the opportunity to browse the latest additions, including a growing number of mini-case studies of best practice across the sector, with advice and tips from people who are experimenting and developing open practices and initiatives across Scotland, as well as a variety of perspectives on openness. Case studies recently released include:

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in an interview to date; it’s been great to capture your thoughts and experiences. If you enjoyed reading these, and would like to talk with us about your own open practices and what’s happening where you are, please get in touch!  You can tweet me @BeckPitt or contact the OEPS project.


Photo/Picture credits (from top left): Natalie Lafferty (via Twitter), Lorna Campbell (via her blog, CC-BY 3.0), Stephanie McKendry (via her Strathclyde profile), “Open, Open, Open” (CC-BY 4.0 International, Beck Pitt), “Life is Sharing” (CC-BY 2.0, Alan Levine)