As Pro Vice Chancellor of Nottingham, Professor Alan Ford welcomed us to his campus and offered us an overview of Nottingham’s extensive open work. Nottingham is a large research and teaching institution with 2 overseas institutions, one in China and one in Malaysia.
U-Now launched in 2007, joined OCWC in 2008, and now offers many channels under the umbrella of Open Nottingham. Open publication and open source tools such as Xerte and Xpert have been developed under this umbrella. I can respect a professor who has used Xerte, as he has , and he assures everyone it is both quick and easy. Nottingham was a very early adopter of YouTube. edu and their iTunesU, joined in 2010, recently reached 1 million downloads and views.
WHY is Nottingham open? Professor Ford cited altruistic reasons such as social responsibility, a wish for excellence in education (academic practice, learn from others), and promotional reasons such as branding the university. Also, with Nottingham’s internationally-located campuses, the cost of sharing of materials across campuses is high so open channels help to keep costs down.
At this point, 70a% of the University’s schools are engaged with OER, and they have created an OER course for all staff, as well as an optional module on PGCHE, to encourage new staff engagement with openness.
In wishing to roll out OER awareness to students, especially internationally, Nottingham has found that Chinese students are particularly open to using open materials! (This dovetails with a finding from my own iTunesUReach project in which I learnt of a Chinese app consisting of CC lectures from iTunes U with added Chinese subtitles!) Their students’ union encourage OER use as ‘extra help with your degree.’ Prospective students are offered open learning materials under the title: ‘Experience our teaching’. It only makes sense that prospective students might wish to sample what learning is on offer at that university.
Nottingham are now moving into book and ebook publication — iBook, epub. This is especially due to a wish to encourage sustainability – non-paper reading material. Another driver is interdisciplinary study which can’t fit into timetables, but may be creatively and openly be taught online. And MOOCs are next. Of course!
Professor Ford offers Martyn Poliakoff as the shining star of Open Nottingham, with 13 million hits on his YouTube channel, a 90% retention rate for subscribers which is unusual on Youtube, and that is 10,000 more subscribers than Chelsea’s football site. Professor Ford sees how the number of fans drawn to the Poliakoff Chemistry videos indicates that there is still more room for creative, open science teaching online.
Professor Ford concludes by assuring us that he is actually registered for this conference and invites us to speak with him about whatever open topics we might wish to discuss with him. I will say that this is unusual, and I could sense the professor’s excitement and openness to open.
Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester