Author Archives: lornamcampbell

Lightning Talks #abs50 #abs73 #abs77 #abs112

Title: Writing in Booksprints

Presenter and authors:  Phil Barker, Lorna M. Campbell, Martin Hawksey, CETIS and Amber Thomas, University of Warwick.

Session: LT50, #abs50

A booksprint is a facilitated, highly structured intensive writing process.  This booksprint ran for two and a half days, involved four people and was facilitated by Adam Hyde.  The aim of the sprint was to produce a synthesis and summary of the technical outputs of the UKOER Programmes  Once a chapter is written it’s passed on to another author, not for editing but co-creation.  The initial author does not “own” the chapter.  During this sprint each chapter was re-written by three authors.  The team used Booki.cc open source authoring platform to facilitate the collaborative writing. Booki is much like other collaborative writing applications but incorporates additional tools for ebook creation.   By the end of the two and a half day sprint the team had written a 22,000 word book.  Some of the authors were concerned that the quality of the writing would be compromised but this does not seem to have been the case. Colleagues who have read and reviewed the book have all responded positively to it.

Phil Barker - Writing in Booksprints

Booksprints are ideal for people who have a shared conception of a topic and want to present it together, or alternatively want to present different aspect of a topic.  The content has to be material that is already known to the authors. This is not unlike the situation lecturers are in when they are producing course materials.  Booksprints could be an excellent way to produce educational resources as it’s an inherently open approach to content production.  We talk a lot about sharing educational resources but we don’t talk nearly enough about sharing the effort of creating those resources.  In order to produce really high quality resources we need to share the task of content creation

Into the Wild – Technology for Open Educational Resources can be downloaded free from CETIS Publications.  A print on demand edition is available from Lulu.

For further information on booksprints, see booksprints.net


Title: Libraries, OA research and OER: towards symbiosis?

Presenter: Nick Sheppard, Leeds Metropolitan University

Session: LT73, #abs73

Leeds Metropolitan University have established a blended repository to manage both their research and teaching and learning resources, including OERs. They have been involved in a number of JISC funded projects including the Unicycle UKOER project.  The blended repository was originally based on Intralibrary and they have now implemented Symplectic.  There has been considerable emphasis on developing research management workflows.

Open access to research is changing dramatically in light of Finch and role of institutional repositories and there are synergies with Creative Commons potentially being mandated by Research Councils UK.  Nick also referred to Lorcan Dempsey’s recent posts on “Inside Out” libraries, which focus on the changing role of institutional repositories and libraries.

Nick Sheppard - Closing the institutional UKOER circle

Leeds Met have worked closely with Jorum and Nick said that he believed that the new Jorum API is a game changer which will allow them to close the institutional OER circle.


Title: Why bother with open education?

Presenter and authors: Viv Rolfe & Mark Fowler, De Montfort University

Session: LT77, #abs77

De Montfort have undertake a huge body of OER work since 2009.  OER is incorporated into the institutional strategy for teaching an learning and OER is also is part of  the De Montfort PG cert course.

Despite this, when the team interviewed senior executives about OER, none could name any major institutional projects.  They saw the marketing potential of OER but didn’t appreciate the potential of OERs to enhance learning.  There is a distinct lack of buy in from senior staff and a lot of work is needed to change their mindsets.

Viv Rolfe

Student researcher Libor Hurt undertook a student survey on attitudes to OER.  28% had heard of OERs. OERs are used to supplement lectures and for informal learning.  They are seen as being good for catching up with complex subjects but are less used to study for assessments. Students overwhelmingly share stuff with each other, usually through facebook and e-mail. This is naturally how students work now and could have a major impact on OER down the line.  Students also loved producing OERs, lab videos and quiz MCQs.  However while students are happy to share within the university, they are less happy about sharing their OERs with the public, or those that are not paying fees.  Institutional strategies need to be mindful of this and need to communicate that universities are not giving away whole courses, they are just sharing some of the best bits.  Only a few students cited plagiarism concerns as a reason not to share.  From a student perspective, there is a real tension between paying fees and sharing OERs

It doesn’t matter if everyone in the institution isn’t sharing, as long as there are enough to get momentum going.  However it is important to get senior managers on board, OERs need to be enshrined in institutional  policy.


Title: Taking care of business: OER and the bottom line

Presenters and authors: By John Casey, University of the Arts, Jonathan Shaw & Shaun Hides Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University.

Session: LT112, #abs112

Talking about open in a closed education system is a lightening conductor for many thorny issues – power, control, ownership, identity, pedagogy, technical infrastructure, cultures, policy, strategy and business models.   The OER space is a very productive but scary space.

Media is about coproduction and teaching is itself a form of media production.  Coventry fell into open learning with the #Phonar and Creative Activism #creativact courses which opened up their classes.  Rather than having courses led by individuals, they now have teams of people all thinking and operating in different ways. Professional partners have also shown an interest in participating in these courses.   They are thinking about how they conceive the design process of teaching, and are working with students and professional partners to let content evolve.

Shaun Hides - consequences of oer

OER is a political problem, you need to lobby senior management. OERs don’t just open up content, they change institutional practice.  There are many unintended consequences and we need to deal with new educational and economic models of co-production.

Students and OERs: Exploring the possibilities #abs125

Presenter: Toni Pearce, NUS Vice President (Further Education)

Session: Keynote #abs125

Toni presented an insightful and thought provoking keynote based on the results of a wide ranging survey of student attitudes and online behaviour, which will be published later in the year.  The keynote was very well received and generated considerable positive discussion at the conference and on the twitter backchannel.  These are just a few of the points Toni raised.

The NUS is a political organisation interested in the expansion of educational opportunities, social justice and social cohesion.  What are the benefits of open education for groups that are excluded from traditional education? Students are not a homogenous group and some are better positioned to gain advantage from open education than others.

Students are conservative in their use of OERs.  Many do use OERs but they are more likely to use them if they are used as part of course or recommended by lecturer. “Traditional” students (i.e. young students in full time education) are very firm about the value of face to face learning and will defend lectures to the death. Lecturing is not an out of date mode of teaching, though podcasting and video captures of lectures is becoming increasingly popular.

Students appreciate the convenience of OERs, they are used to access content at home and revise topics.  OERs are primarily used as a labour saving device, not to change how students learn. This is not transforming education; it is just making it more convenient.  OERs have not unsettled traditional hierarchies of knowledge.

A small number of students use OERs before entering HE to learn about HE institutions and the experience of higher education.  More structured support is needed to facilitate this transition. 

In determining the value and reliability of any resource, look is important.  Students tend to equate look with value.  If a resource looks professional, it is regarded as being reliable.

Students struggle to find appropriate OERs, the volume of resources is overwhelming.  Some students bemoaned the failure to develop the equivalent of Dewey Decimal classification for online resources (!), though clearly this is not a viable option. Students lack sophisticated search skills, they need support to situate their use of learning resources in the context of developing their knowledge.

Students often share resources on twitter and facebook, which many find easier to use than VLEs.  Sharing is a relationship for cyclical advantage, not altruism, and students will keep resources to themselves in order to gain competitive advantage. Few students create their own OERs or adapt existing resources.  While they are happy to use OERs created by others they are unlikely to create their own resources due to concerns they would be co-opted by others. It is also concerning that some students believe that people who are not registered to education institutions should not have access to resources.

Current students are not the key audience for OERs. Education has a tendency to leave you with a desire to keep learning forever.  OER has the potential to expand access to learning and make education more widely available to those excluded from traditional educational institutions.  There is a widespread belief that OERs can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning experiences.

Students place great value on being able to work together with other students.   Technology can be isolating despite access to more and more resources and technologies that support collaboration.  Students worry about the lack of learning community and value traditional study environments.  Communities give us the assurance that others share our experiences. We can accomplish more as a community than alone as individuals.  Our identity comes from the communities that we are part of, which is why web 2.0 social applications can be so effective. The biggest opportunity for OERs is to create communities of education for those that do not have them.

Education is about collaboration not passive consumption but students have little interest in structuring their own learning journeys.  However we are moving into unpredictable territory and students need to take control of change.

Will institutions be able to continue offering OER for free? Openness sits uneasily beside marketization and competitiveness and increasing fees will only exacerbate this. No one quite knows what to do about MOOCs.  Should we try to control the growth of MOOCs or should we let them proliferate?  Opinions are becoming very polarised, but maybe it’s all hype like the Internet bubble.  However MOOCs are important because they have started a public conversation about educational technology and part of that conversation has to be about whether openness will be swallowed up by privatisation and competition.  We need a balanced thoughtful discussion about the future of education.