Author Archives: tbirdcymru

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.

Promoting open practices with the UK PSRB/subject associations in medicine #abs46

Claire Cunningham of ASME presenting the "Promoting Open Approaches' project

Claire Cunningham of ASME presenting the “Promoting Open Approaches’ project

The ‘Promoting open practices’ project, led by ASME (the Association for the Study of Medical Education), is examining the policies, practices and processes in several organisations (including ASME, the General Medical Council, and the Wellcome Trust) with the intention of adopting open approaches and sharing good practice through the development of individual case studies.

Victor Oatway shared the common Issues they found amongst the organisations: limited knowledge, some had never heard of CC, it’s not easy to consistently identify the owners of materials, educators not knowing how the materials can be used (comparing paper, hardcopy, electronic versions of douments). Often, the print version of a document had different information than the online electronic document. Takedown policies were rarely posted on sites. Even those working on the project found themselves asking “Is this document even from ASME?” But on the plus side, there was an enthusiasm to make resources available, and a desire amongst staff to make changes, together. New staff training is seen as the way forward, toward the project goal of creating overall open policy for the members.

Having recently seen for myself some of the difficulties navigating locked-down medical online networks and resources, I’m beginning to see that sheer convenience is probably the most significant driver toward openness in the medical field particularly.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

Reaching out with OER: the public-facing open scholar and the benevolent academy #abs11

Leigh-Ann Perryman and Tony Coughlan presented an engaging look at the notion of a public-facing open scholar, an academic with digital skills and open practice, joining in with a community in order to share knowledge, materials, and be a general help.

Dr Leigh-Anne Perryman shows some examples of public-facing scholars (but are they open scholars?)

Dr Leigh-Anne Perryman shows some examples of public-facing scholars (but are they open scholars?)

In 2012 Tony began collating open material for the voluntary sector and distributing them on the Facebook page CYP Media. But this seemed limited, and he began to look deeper into this issue. He found a very active online child welfare community which had been operating since 2003 on a completely anonymous basis. He spent time reading until he felt he could understand their needs and he shared open resources which could meet some of those needs. Using a framework for understanding community, he found that this community’s ‘creative capability’ was already very well developed and he helped best by joining in the conversation and himself learning how they discovered resources already. Tony learnt about many new sources of information he hadn’t known, from group members. He also found that the anonymity created a level playing field.

Among the implications of this case study: being a public-facing open scholar is likely to take a lot of time. Listening to needs includes learning about culture and interaction modes. A public-facing open scholar may need to explain how resources relate to community needs.

Leigh-Anne and Tony concluded that public-facing open scholars have the potential to extend the benefical impact of OER, to prompt institutions to release new OER to meet the needs of people outside HE, and to help communities. BUT: are academies benevolent enough to let them do these things?

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow

Wikipedia Education Program: open educational practice on a global scale #abs70

Martin Poulter a volunteer for Wikipedia, presented a passionate defense of the idea and practice of writing articles for Wikipedia, as digital literacy and open practice. In fact, the sort of skills required to successfully write an article on Wikipedia — digital literacy, critical thinking, good review practice, and it helps to be a pedant — are not far away from the skills we hope any HE degree student would demonstrate and learn.

Martin Poulter of Wikipedia

Martin Poulter of Wikipedia

Martin advocated incorporating the writing of good, well-researched and well-referenced Wikipedia articles into a course as a form of assessment, allowing students to research, write, post, and defend their own work on some stopic. Wikimedia offers to come in and help with this process — hence, the Wikipedia Education Program. Martin made a compelling case for this sort of incorporation of open educational practice into formal learning and it made me wonder why I don’t write more Wikipedia articles myself.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester

Reflection through transition: the role of OERs in bridging informal to formal learning #abs106

Lindsay Hewitt from Open University in Scotland presented on ‘The Reflection Toolkit’ – a five hour self-study unit which aims to get the user started on thinking about themselves, who they are, what they want to do in their present situation, and how they can work towards doing what it is they want. The platform LabSpace (a subset of OpenLearn as I understand it) was used to build the toolkit.

Lindsay Hewitt of Open University in Scotland on using OER to widen participation in higher education

Lindsay Hewitt of Open University in Scotland on using OER to widen participation in higher education

How is it being used? Glasgow Caledonian Uni’s ‘Caledonian Club’ — community engagement initiative. even to primary schools and feeder nursery schools, has rolled out a 5-week course on reflection which is hoped will open up learning opportunities for local parents and carers. The course is built around the reflection toolkit. I love the idea of open learning materials and open practice being key to widening participation in practical ways such as this. Check out the reflection toolkit here.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

What do teachers need for sharing and creating knowledge circa OER? #abs87

This paper, presented by researcher Beatriz Carramolino, described work on Share.TEC, which I understand as a web portal searching many European-and-beyond repositories of learning material — some open, some not — especially suited to teacher educators. Share.TEC was created in hope of providing a simple way of finding and reusing digital content useful to teacher educators. Beatriz described the attention given to the search facility, searching not just on the usual things such as format (video, sound, whatever), but also on language and on pedagogical qualities. Share.Tec also allows for groups to be formed, and also a section called ‘My Contribution’ encouraging the sharing of resources.

Beatriz Carramolino presenting on Share.TEC

Beatriz Carramolino presenting on Share.TEC

Beatriz told us that only 52% of the resources were OER, the rest were not only not openly-licensed, they also require payment. An important finding of her research is that most users of Share.TEC take but do not share back, a common situation with online environments that have attempted to encourage sharing. Beatriz also told us that overall they concluded that not enough attention had been given to the design of the portal to encourage community.  Apparently, it is not enough to include a facility to form online groups. Another finding was that teachers were not putting tags on their materials. Tags and other metadata seem to be the boring bit, the part for someone else to do, but they are really just as important as the item itself.

Building a community around the give and take of OER has, to my eyes, only worked well in a few places. HUMBOX is a good example — humanities educators share and take material in a trusted environment in which they know each other to some extent. YouTube allows for discussion and a form of community. But I cannot really think of any others. If you know of other examples of good community forming around open materials, please let me know in the comments!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

T n T – sharing practices between two different scale OER developments #abs61

Theresa Connolly and Teresa Connolly both presented on this project, and so I simply couldn’t help myself thinking of this presentation as T ‘n’ T. OpenLearn, the platform of open courses developed at the Open University and focused on the HE community, was originally funded as a 2-year project, but many more years later is still going strong. ORBIT, a Cambridge project, drew from existing teacher practices, encouraging teachers to edit and craft and create. VITAL was a wiki project, providing educators with access to free, innovative and dynamic teaching resources as well as peer-to-peer networking opportunities.

Theresa Connolly and Teresa Connolly discuss large OER projects at the OU

Theresa Connolly and Teresa Connolly discuss large OER projects at the OU and Cambridge

OpenLearn informed VITAL, which supplied re-crafted materials to ORBIT and adapted OpenLearn pro forma. As the two Ts worked on these projects and worked together, it became clear that as in a community of practice model, these open projects and their stakeholders influenced each other freely. Often those who ‘practice openly’ benefit as much as those who receive the ‘products’ of such projects.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester

Digital Futures in Teacher Education – locating digital literacy practices in the open textbook #abs96

Anna Gruszczynska and Richard Pountney presented on the Digital Futures in Teacher Education project, the full story of which is told in the Open Textbook they developed. The open textbook they developed is WordPress-based and very attractive and friendly to use. The key to the open textbook is ‘the thinking space’ which allows for sections to be downloaded and added to. The intent is for both teachers-in-training as well as those providing education to teachers to make use of the textbook.
photo
The ‘meadow’ in the slide is a representation of digital literacy ideas which were being addressed during the project, reflecting the supportive and collaborative on digital literacies as part of teacher education reflected in the project. The meadow and the open textbook are OERs, and the project encourages sharing of the idea of creating open textbooks generally.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester

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

OER13 pre-conference tweets

We are now only a few hours from the start of OER13, and I’m feeling quite excited! At the end of OER12, when Jonathan Darby gathered a group of us and suggested that we begin working on OER13 even though there was no official money to do so and we would have to do everything as volunteers, I had my doubts that such a thing could be pulled off. But here we are on the eve of the conference — with a venue, keynotes, presenters, posters, and most of all delegates.

We are hoping to record and make available all presentations. At the same time, we will be blogging on presentations, right here on this blog.

I thought it appropriate to include here the tweets discussing OER13, for a taste of things to come. Follow the link below — and hopefull see you in Nottingham! –Terese Bird, University of Leicester

[View the story “OER13 Conference” on Storify]

Happy Open Education Week 2013!

Open Education Week is this week — 11-15 March 2013. Well, actually, some of the events began this past Sunday the 10th March. I have not checked out Open Video Sudan yet — that was one which began on Sunday — but it sounds fascinating and seems to be running each morning. I presented in a webinar that we did in Leicester yesterday: New global open educational trends: policy, learning design, mobile — along with my three colleagues Professor Grainne Conole, Dr Ming Nie, and Bernard Nguyubwatsi. Click here if you’d like to see the presentations and recording.

I would urge anyone interested in open education, and in the future of education in general, to check out join in the Open Education Week 2013 offerings. Open Education Week is organised by the Open Courseware Consortium. A big thank you to Igor Lesko for his hard work to coordinate and present and administer this year’s offerings!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester