Professor Alan Ford – Opening OER13

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.

Professor Alan Ford, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham

Professor Alan Ford, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham


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

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About tbirdcymru

Educational Designer, School of Medicine, University of Leicester Research and implementation of innovative educational technology solutions at the higher education level since 1998. Currently working on curriculum design and mobile learning within the first UK Medical School to use iPads for learning at the undergraduate level. Recent funded research projects include EU-funded eMundus open educational practice project and evaluation of University of Leicester FutureLearn MOOCs, social media use by teachers and pupils, open education, open educational resources, e-books and e-readers, iTunes U in learning, webinars and multimedia. Particular interest in supporting researchers to digitally network and share their research, and in using VLE/LMS plus personal learning networks and social media to bridge the gap between students, and between student and tutor in distance learning contexts.

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