Author Archives: Nick

CoPILOT: supporting librarians in sharing their teaching material internationally #abs16- Nancy Graham & Jane Secker


Abstract available at

A number of presentations and conversations, both real and virtual, throughout the conference suggest there is an increasing emphasis on the role of libraries and librarians in OER (I was disappointed not to be able to attend Gema Bueno-de-la-Fuente’s session “Academic libraries and the OER movement: the need for awareness, understanding, and collaboration” as it coincided with my own lightning talk “Libraries, OA research and OER: towards symbiosis?“). and Nick Shockey, the closing keynote speaker also identified it as a major theme of the conference.

This was a workshop with Jane Secker and Nancy Graham who had hotfooted it from the LILAC conference in Manchester (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) and began with a little background from DELILA, an institutional project to adapt digital and information literacy (IL) resources to OERs and to make the material available though Institutional Repositories. It identified the potential for librarians to be key advocates for OER as well as identifying a range of challenges when adapting existing resources (e.g. issues around embedded third party content). DELILA also conducted a survey of academic librarians which indicated there was plenty of “closed” sharing happening with a willingness to share openly but an uncertainty of how to go about it – full report available from

Librarians as advocates

Jane and Nancy asked us to brainstorm reasons for sharing IL resources, there were in fact several librarians present in the session and the main ones identified were that core material is relevant across institutions, making it well suited to reuse; information literacy concepts are core to all librarians (though it is useful to share different approaches to the same concept) and IL resources (and the act of creating/adapting) are also useful for new information professionals. The strength of the librarian network also make it ideal for OER which, as we have found throughout ukoer, is most effective when supported by a close-knit community.

In addition to extending a collaboration with UNESCO that had begun with DELILA (and who are themselves very keen to explore synergies between OER and information literacy), a CoPILOT committee was formed in November 2012 with the remit to support UK librarians in sharing openly and to explore further how IL resources might work as OER. In addition there is a mailing list at and wiki at

Outputs of CoPILOT include 250+ members of the mailing list, 19 links posted to English, Spanish, German and French IL resources, a report, case study and post-project survey and a strategy for sharing IL OERs which is currently being finalised.

A final brainstorming session asked us to consider “How can we make this happen?” considering the pros/cons of using online communities and:

  • Building librarian OER advocacy role?
  • Online activities to encourage participation/contribution
  • Comms channels
  • Other Community of Practice functions
  • Face to face events
  • Support from international organisations

Notes drawn from the discussion include:

  • Good to have case studies of how materials were used, reused, adapted
  • Problem with engagement – email is more direct than visiting an online community
  • Time saving? Suggestion that this is perhaps a red herring and impact is crucial to sell to senior management (e.g. it will improve everyone’s teaching resources.)
  • Build in metrics of use and impacts (discussion of how difficult this can be; can be informed by the wider OER community and Jorum, for example, will very soon incorporate usage metrics –
  • Open practice and tracking OERs (DOIs, Webcite)
  • CoP – useful for people working at a distance. Hard to find time to devote to a CoP in day to day work.
  • Resources need to be at right level
  • Badges attached to using CoP

(Personally I am an advocate the immense value of open practice; no doubt preaching to the choir here but if you haven’t already, set up a blog and a twitter account and if you find, adapt, reuse IL – or any other OER – blog about it, post links on Twitter!)

I’m off to join

Open academic practice in action: research to teaching and back again in the OpenLIVES project – Kate Borthwick #abs110


Abstract available at

I’m putting any attempt at objectivity aside for a moment to enthuse that OpenLIVES is a truly exciting project that really demonstrates the limitless potential of OER!

For a start it has a clever acronym (not always a reliable guide to a project perhaps!); “LIVES” is for Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres. A collaboration between the Universities of Southampton, Leeds and Portsmouth, the project has numerous strands with its starting point the digitisation and open publication of research data derived from stories and other ephemera pertaining to (mostly) Spanish emigres (e.g. child evacuaees during Spanish Civil war / Franco regime) and the subsequent development of OER based on the material. OERs and related open practice would also be embedded in ongoing teaching with an emphasis on research, teaching and students as producers. See, even from that short synopsis it sounds awesome!

Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres; Research data – stories, ephemera pertaining to emigration

Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres
Research data – stories, ephemera pertaining to emigration

Obviously this material is very personal though Kate suggested there were no real issues around permission – people gave their stories freely because they wanted them to be heard though the project has naturally been careful about how the material is presented; it is vailable from HumBox with licence information embedded on all resource components and carefully contextualised – – indeed, in the process of OER creation the context around ephemera (e.g. interviews) was always of central importance and student involvement was very high.

Each lecturer used material in different ways, in translation classes developing Spanish – English synopses, for example, or embedding into practice to teach research skills, comparing reported experience with media and historical accounts. The variety of activities and learning outcomes from such a rich, contextualised data set is huge.

Student feedback was very positive and the project gives the lie to the idea that if students/teachers all have same OER, they will all have same learning experience.

“We were a little bit of everything at the same time: transcribers, translators, proof readers and editors. We are really proud of the result!” Students at Southampton who worked on the subtitling project.

“I have really enjoyed the OpenLIVES module as it has given us, the students, an opportunity to do our own primary research and genuinely engage with the issues we are studying. Having more academic and creative control over our own education is extremely stimulating and motivating.” Final year undergraduate at Leeds

I for one will be exploring OpenLIVES further.

Sharing @ 100%? – arguments for a less selective approach to reporting OER activity – Chris Pegler #abs119


Abstract available from

The consensus (on Twitter anyway) was that the opening keynote of #oer13 was pretty good. NUS president Toni Pearce spoke engagingly about the student perspective of University education in general and OER in particular and Chris Pegler introduced her session by acknowledging so…but emphasising that the educator’s view is (or should be?) different.

We were also warned that “there will be groupwork” and Chris evoked sharing and the open landscape asking “who are we open with?”, identifying that open behaviour tends to become ever more restrictive in concentric circles away from the creator:

Who are we 'open' with?

Who are we ‘open’ with?

Then came the group work where we were asked to “Talk to 1-2 other people nearby. Identify  some resources which you would be happy to share at one of the very local levels. Think about whether you are also happy to allow remix at these levels”.

As a non-pedagog I did necessarily feel qualified to contribute to the conversation on the same terms as my group (although I am committed to sharing sometimes half baked ideas of my own). There was some discussion of “value” – would this resource (complete or not) be of value? – also of context, just releasing stuff – unfinished – into the wild is of limited use unless the community can continue the “conversation” – this my own sense of blogging from a technical/infrastructural perspective – like the conversation in this room, open dissemination allows us to “converse” and formulate our own perspectives.

Trust is key (not to mention time and motivation), not only in one’s community to accept your contribution to the conversation in the appropriate spirit but also faith in oneself. Confidence that comes with practice.

More group discussion (good pedagogy!)…What would it take to share more widely and what are the barriers? What are your concerns? Some tweets from the session include:

Chris brought the session to a close by emphasising that immature outputs can offer valuable insight that may be lost in more polished material; in addition there is a potential dissemination bias if we over select our outputs. By way of example Chris cited candid mid project meetings of the ukoer programme. The final reports of those same projects did not capture the vibrancy of mid project meetings when live projects were exploring their still developing outputs.

Final question: Trust or Time? Both?

Final question: Trust or Time? Both?

At the end of the session, answering a question, Chris conceded that the “100%” of her title was a little mischevious. Rhetorical. Impossible (and not necessarily desirable) but ultimately, open is as open does and if we are continually aspiring to “showcase” resources we are missing a huge and valuable learning experience.

The ecology of sharing: synthesizing OER research – Rob Farrow #abs67

Abstract and documentation available from

Rob Farrow began describing the OER Research Hub with the question “How should we research openness in education?”. A philosopher by background Rob has reservations about an implicit aspiration to a scientific “lab model” when measuring the impact of OER. Like a real ecosystem it is messy and impossible to control more than a handful of variables; you would not seek to examine an entire natural ecosystem in one go and so it is with OER.

The broader education ecosystem, of course, is changing and Rob elicited the “evidence gap” that exists related to the widespread adoption of OER; benefits and barriers. There are complex relationships between diverse elements and there needs to be a flexible, holistic approach. The ecology metaphor also recognises the lifecycles implicit in OER projects and the resources themselves.

It is not easy to identify if it is the openness making the difference rather than, say, simply being digital so the OER Research Hub has placed openness at the heart of research aiming to collaborate and share data across projects rather than silos of data. It builds on the previous research of OLnet – – and comprises structured metaresearch (lit review, case studies), consistently applied research instruments (that can be reused by other projects), access to records of student retention and performance to measure impact and research focused and synthesized through hypothesis testing:

OER Research Hub - research hypotheses

OER Research Hub – research hypotheses

The project collaborations are clustered across the four areas shown in the diagram below. In each sector there are two collaborations and a further fellowship with the project aiming to achieve breadth across the different core sectors of education and in the less formal structures that are growing around OER.

Research Hub clusters

Research Hub clusters

Anticipated outcomes are a greater transparency and openness of impact studies/data and the fostering of a fellowship across the community to provide the most complete “global” understanding of OER impact with better understanding of what works and why, helping us all to navigate the barriers.

A mantra to summarise the Research Hub would be that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and the goals are best met by collaboration and sharing.

OER on staff profiles?

A quick introduction, an inevitable plug for my lightning talk at the conference next week and a question for the community.

So, I am Nick Sheppard, Repository Developer at Leeds Metropolitan University. I also sit on the committee of UKCoRR (UK Council of Research Repositories) and on the Jorum Steering Group. I am particularly interested in potential synergies between Open Access to research and OER (and Open Education more generally) and my lightning talk (at 11.00 am next Wednesday!) is entitled Libraries, OA research and OER: towards symbiosis? (see here for full abstract)

And the question:

Are you aware of examples of OER included on staff profiles at UK HE institutions?

Off the top of my head I am only aware of Bebop at the University of Lincoln* (HumBox also incorporates nice user profiles but that is subject based rather than institutional, not sure about EdShare?)

* “the Bebop plugin has provided a way for staff to publish a curated list of their teaching resources, which can be displayed on their official Staff Directory profile”

It is increasingly important for research staff to have an online profile that lists their research outputs (and ideally links to an accessible version of the full text) so why not OER? Perhaps there are lots of good examples of folk doing this, if you know of any please let me know!