Tag Archives: oer13

OER13: reflections on Doug Belshaw’s keynote address

I should probably start with a disclaimer: I am a strong supporter of open practices, but I am not an activist. My reflections on Doug’s entertaining keynote should therefore be interpreted in that light.

Doug’s keynote at OER13 began with a discussion on types of ambiguity and trajectories. It’s not entirely clear why the audience would be keen to be exposed to this discussion, but it appears that the bottom line was that it is not possible to define “open” in a way that satisfies everybody and that OER belongs in the “creative ambiguity” area.

The focus then shifted to Open Badges (OB), including the rationale behind the Mozilla Foundation’s support of OB. We were taken through the ‘anatomy of a badge’. Not surprisingly, metadata was referred to several times. A badge, Doug argued, constitutes evidence, trusted credentials, somehow captured explicitly in the metadata associated with the badge. Badges, he said, prove things outside of your community: they are a form of recognition and a way of representing yourself and your facets. There’s more to one’s transcript than silo-based qualifications. Badges are explicit by nature and provide a means of ‘jailbreaking formal education systems’. They encourage learner sovereignty and allow non-traditional pathways, Doug argued.

The next part of the keynote focused on web literacy standards. The Mozilla Foundation aims to create a web-literate planet, a generation of ‘web makers’. For this purpose, Doug and others have been working towards a web literacy learning standard, built with the community: an open learning standard for web literacy. People should be able to ‘earn badges around the web’. The OB approach, in the presenter’s view, should be seen as a platform for innovation.

The concluding part of the presentation was about ‘changing the world for the better’. OER and associated OEP are on the cusp of shifting from creative to productive ambiguity. The ‘Learning Registry’ could be a platform for innovation.

I confess that I left the session with as many doubts about OB as I went in with, but perhaps with more concerns. Some of the audience’s questions at the end illustrated similar concerns, and elicited some worrying statements, such as ‘you can award a badge for anything’ and ‘awarding an OB for trying’. In this context, the usual questions about these approaches became evident once more: would you hire someone whose “evidence of achievement” is presented to you in the form of open badges? Does packing a badge with metadata mean that everyone can see (and rely on) what and who is behind it? Does a badge give evidence of any form of achievement or, more importantly, competence?

An example was given of a group of people who apparently ‘provide trusted credentials for the small things they do’. Really?

Explicitness, trust, openness, opportunity, innovation and value are key works associated with OB. Those words can be compared and contrasted with other terms, such as too easy to get, mean very little, prove nothing, unreliable, a distant second best, don’t change much. Although there was a lot of passion, no persuasive argument was made (assuming there is one) to address such queries and concerns with evidence or authority. Who underwrites that trust and those credentials? “The community” is not a valid response, I’m afraid.

In sum, I was far from convinced. Doug referred to his own PhD research several times during the presentation. Indeed he used it a lot in his discussion of theories of ambiguity. Would he be where he is today solely on the back of his open badges? Probably not.

Alejandro Armellini
4 April 2013

Notes from the facilitated discussion on the Experience theme, day 2

So, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have.

So, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have.

Many thanks to everyone who came and took part in the stimulating and wide ranging discussion in room B52 on the experience theme. Despite the room being a very formal lecture theatre we managed to have some interesting exchanges about how we might encourage academic practices amongst our colleagues (I hesitate to use the word open or transparent as I don’t think they reflect the direction the discussion took).

Special thanks to Professor Megan Quentin-Baxter for taking the following (almost) verbatim notes:

Problems and practice and the implications for practice.

I feel a bit like an interloper in the conference discipline – media department archaeology etc. – I don’t come from this world. Whatever this world is.

The questions that are here are about the world of educational development and practice.

Computers will be interesting when they disappear.

OP will be interesting when it disappears.

In accordance with what Pat was saying earlier on then.

I am sort of outside of this comunity as well. Twitter, copyright. We need more education. Not too frightened of it.

There is that kind of education for us and for our students. What should they be doing. What should we be doing.

Staff development and cpd. JIS legal has been doing very good stuff.

SH had been doing stuff like that in Ncl for the last 6 months or so. But you only get the people who know that there is a problem to be solved.

In my experience obstacle s is time. You need tie to take understand things. What it meants to be CC licenced. As authoritative as it comes and with good intentions. I edont have this time

Is it time or fear? Both but time is most important. I am working part time and I am at capacity. If you make it official then people don’t engage you have to make it part of everything else that you do.

Embed it in other activities such as other staff development. Julian I don’t know how you get through to the lone academic who has done it for years. Lots of other people out there. I am at a loss to know how to spread this wide. Nuanced to us. You have to kjnow a  lot. Enganced learning, open learning, you have to think differently. They don’t get it and link it over there because they don’t get it.

Anna – open educational practice. Same as when we tired to get people to use computers. Lots of things to learn. You have to make it ubiqiutious.

Sean if they are brilliant at what they do (staff) does it matter computer slide projector, engaging students.

How can students help? Students putting pressure on academics.

Getting students to engage has been important with oer was difficult but I am on Twitter and I tweet OERs to them they are rubbish at using Moodle but they are using resources. They are not very good at demanding – we have to tell them and they are interested but they are not proactive. I talk to students about what my role is at the beginning of the first year so that they know more about me.

Is it a lack of understanding of OERs? It is not the student’s job – students think that they are doing your work for you.

A quality issue if it doesn’t ?

Student will look at stuff again.

With the issues of OER there is a concept there is an empahsis on asking students to create their rown learning pathways. Homogenisation. Competitive environment.

Students are paying a lot of money (England, international). Client relationship. We had the issue recently of providing moducless

Have we managed to embody exciting new pedagogies in oers/moocs?

Spreading open practice – danger that evangelism can lose critical faculty

Where is open? What is open? Less about pedagogy and more about learning

Cant provide models because it would make it too easy for students to complete the assignment. Reluctance because students have travelled that path.

Networking – people. Research

Hang out in the same places. We know this. There is no obvious way of marking ourselves out. Pages that you create on resources. I am an open academy. Some Badges. – Not a lot of ways to identify

Signed up a year ago (OER pledge) a paper and nothing has happened.

We have to go with everything that has happened. Showcase of use of something for a year institution recolonizing by some … no factors need to be

Some kind That is what we have to change for the students to create the context. Pedagogy. Some desire if you took x student and tll them the outcomes that have have to achieve and then the evidence that they have to produce.

If we take away the open, leaving changes in practices. What makes good practice. Better practice. I started out when everything fro the OU was in print. Programmes on the BBC. What happened before it was recorded. Correspondence. Difficult to say that the students viewed that time as better or worse than it is now. Technologies are available and used .

Online conferencing in1988. 2005 before the policy that all courses should have some sort of online presence. How long it takes for change to happen.

The question from me about where the openness is helpful is that people in the OU and across the sector. How do you inculcate the sharing part of practice.

You have to get that activity recognised.

Recognise that type of activity. You have to have a recognition and reward system. MOOCs. Might make us look good. Books as MOOCS but you share books.

Transparency. Always using things in different ways. Very open about what they want to do. The technowizz is not transparent. Transparency with colleagues. Try to sell the benefits of saving time by being transparent. For the students to sell it to them. This looks flashy and weird it might not work. Students might be talking about

Why am I paying for this? Massive transformation – in our old world we had control but we are now in the situation where what we produe might be duplicated 1000 times. You can’t build value systems around.

The opne agenda is getting from that old situation to a new situation. If you tell people that they can only get that info from that place that one place then they will find answers elsewhere. Drop in the ocean. How it makes you think about being in a teaching sigutaiont. Terrible basis for going forward.

MQB noted the look on the face of Vice Chancellors  who were lensing forward thinking well if all knowledge is on line then what is the role of the university? One conclusion was that we would have to teach our academics to teach.

Growth in the content agenda.  Bookshops libraries. Chalkboards. Taking down the notes and transcribing them. I

There has been more emphasis on the creation of resources rather than the creation of learning experiences.

Using content and rich media. One animation, cost of multiple animations and economies of scale. What is best use of funding. Why redraw something if you can use the original.

Quality of resources, quality of lecturers. Are we prepared to keep paying 100times more for something. Universities .

Changing perceptions of student.

Fragmented practices.

Top down directives are needed.

Early days for us including elearning.

Change of universities.

Not as fast as what goes on around it.

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

Libraries and the OER Community #abs30

Gema’s slides from her presentation

@gema_bueno presented on how librarians and libraries are involved in the OER Communities.

I’m not a librarian, so I tweeted to ask if any library has an OER policy. Obviously Nottingham has Open Nottingham, and Leeds has an OER policy, but I am not explicitly aware of a library with a commitment to OER as a policy (perhaps Open Michigan).

How well the classical librarian skill set suits OERs and OER promotion – and also assessing the quality of OERs. This could be seen as similar to books, but I assume lecturers do much of the book vetting and quality assurance.

Are librarians also the people to be promoting licenses and discussing copyright issues directly? Classically OER production might not involve librarians, and then librarians may be outside the OER loop.

Gemma suggested a structure for librarians to get involved – the slogan being “from containers to content to context” – suggesting librarians cataloging both their own institution and the world’s OERs – but would steps such as this need institutional, professional or national bodies to co-ordinate this work?

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

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


Abstract available from https://www.medev.ac.uk/oer13/119/view/

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.

Nie, M (2013) Open education policy research: a snapshot from the POERUP project #oer13 #abs47

Dr Ming Nie presented the outcomes from the POERUP project (Policies for OER uptake) at the OER13 conference at Nottingham University, UK the 26th of March 2013 (work done by Ming Nie, Gabi Witthaus and Grainne Conole). POERUP is funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, partners include: The UK, The Netherlands, France, Italy and Canada. POERUP  build on earlier OER project as OPAL and OLnet and has so far produced country reports and case studies, they have made an inventory of more than 100 OER initiative, with 11 country reports and with 15 minicountry reports in a Wiki and they will produce 7 in-depth case studies and 3 EU-wide policy papers.


POERUP is carrying out research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. POERUP aim to convince decision-makers that in order to be successful with OER, they will have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one’s own country, region or continent, beyond the educational sector they look after. POERUP aims to study the end-user–producer communities behind OER initiatives. By comparing in-depth European case-studies to selected non-European ones they will refine and elaborate recommendations to formulate a set of action points that can be applied to ensuring the realisation of successful, lively and sustainable OER communities. Poerup provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives.provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives.

Dr Nie presented three groups of findings:

 Policies Countries with OER policiesThe Netherlands
National strategy and

•Wikiwijs Programme
•Making OER mainstream in every sector of education
•Involving Euro 8 million in public funding in the 2009-2013 period


•A wide range of OER activities occurring in different sectors:
§Universities (OCW, MERLOT, Connexions)
§Non-profit organisations (The Khan Academy, P2PU)
§Private/commercial organisations (iTunes U)
•Between 2011-2014, USD 2 billion government investment aimed at improving education at community colleges through OER
•Recommendations to OER are included as part of educational strategy planning documents, such as the National Education Technology Plan (2010)

Romania has OER in Government Programme:

•The Government Programme for 2013-16: support the innovative integration of Web2.0 and OER in education

OER in educational policies:

•The public policies for ICT integration in the pre-university system:  promotion the use of open/free resources; development and sharing of resources by teachers

South Africa; Active in tertiary education: OCW, OER Africa

•The Department of Higher Education and Training has included the development of an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) policy framework in its strategic plan for 2010–2014, which will include OER.
•The Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education Development requires that all educational resources developed through funded projects have to be released under a CC licence.
•The Southern African Development Community is currently developing an ODL policy and strategic plan that will see the region sharing learning materials at all levels of education.

country is active, egymostly at tertiar level, integration strategies

 Active Countries active in OER activitiesAustralia, New Zeeland, Spain, Poland, UK and Canada
 Driving  Countries driving open education
Italy, Greace, France, Hungary,  while Denmark, Finland and Norway


  • Economic crises; decreas in investment in education & innovation, promotion more challenes
  • opportunities and further work; opportunities- the rise of moocs  and Future learn, Furtehr work; in depth analyses on oer policy and practixce, in depth research into end users of OER

Opportunities and further work

Next phase of the POERUP project will be to investigate OER uptake in differernt sectors and to build consortium countrywise

The rise of MOOCs – a new business model

FutureLearn in the UK

In-depth analysis on OER policies & practices

In-depth research into end-users of OER


Contact info 

Dr Ming Nie: ming.nie@le.ac.uk

Blogging on this post: Ebba Ossiannilsson Lund University, Sweden @EbbaOssian

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

Abstract and documentation available from https://www.medev.ac.uk/oer13/67/view/

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 – http://www.olnet.org/ – 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.

x v c – hybrid learning in, through and about MOOCs #abs79

The #FSLT (First Steps in Learning and Teaching) course at Oxford Brookes University has been one of many small pockets of interesting practice within the box of delights that is the UKOER programme. Certainly one of the earlier “MOOCs” in the UK, it is now reflecting on online learning practice as it begins preparations for the next iteration, beginning in May 2013.

But even since the last run, the landscape of online learning at scale has changed substantially. George Roberts, Jenny Mackness, Marion Waite and Liz Lovegrove prepared a very discursive and open workshop session which examined the “new normality” of MOOC practice and how learners were decoding and contributing to their online learning experience.

A lot has already been said at OER13 about the MOOC bandwagon, and it was noted how deep the mistrust was between the “open learning” community and the wilder ends of MOOC “disruptionism”. There is clearly some kind of a change, some kind of a liminal space emerging on the edges of traditional education, but what is it and why?

“MOOCs offer an unlimited number of possibilities for hybridization because, whatever else, they offer participants the opportunity to fashion their own learning according to their own needs.”

The dream of open online learning actually does encompass the concept of drop-out – in that it is expected that in plotting their own course through the multitudinous learning opportunities available online, it would be rare to see a learner-designed pathway coincide with an institutionally provided one. That’s a rather longwinded way of saying that you would expect learners to drop in for certain parts of a course, rather than complete the thing.

Of course the MOOC is a course, and in advertising itself as such lends itself to these kind of volumetric analyses where effectiveness is linked to student throughput. In some ways – and certainly in the case of the larger commercial platforms – metrics more akin to those used in general marketing practice mean that the “stickiness” of the course platform is valuable. We could speculate about the eventual introduction of advertisement to these platforms, it certainly makes sense of their interest in selling pickaxes rather than mining for gold during the great MOOC rush.

Another strand of the conversation concerned the place of the expert participants. Marion talked about the self-described “vets” – experienced in online learning – who supported and encouraged the “newbies” by modelling good open academic practice. It was postulated that this cohort of “vets” were experienced cMOOCers (connectivist moocs like change11 or OldsMOOC) who had got in to the habits of sharing and acting online.

The contrast here is with the xMOOC experience, where peer learning (more peer assessment) is explicitly built in to the course design, but the scale of the class and the nature of the closed forum environment actually mitigate against learner interaction. The direct opposite of something like ds106, where the line between tutor, classroom learner and online learner is often indistinguishable.

The MOOC movement is a disruptive movement, not because it is doing anything especially new (teaching in public is older than our oldest institutions of learning, and has been a key function of these institution throughout most of their existence), but because it is once again foregrounding discussions about the nature and place of educational liminality… the boundaries of place and space that constrain and define education.

George ended with three wonderful quotations:

“[Open Learning is a] proxy for the historical conversation about continuing, professional, open, online, distance and blended learning” (Bon Stewart)

“[Discourses around HE are] an arena of conflict between rival principles of legitimacy, and competition for political, economic and cultural power”  (Bourdieu)

“Open online academic practice offers a radical challenge to the “polyarchic” limits to the discussion of digital literacy within institutions, which are in conflict with themselves.” (Richard Hall)

(post by David Kernohan for OER13)