Tag Archives: open education

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.

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Opening up our minds to Wikipedia at OER13

Pete and Sarah sharing their knowledge of Wikipedia (and their brown bag lunches) with us

Sarah and Pete sharing their Wikipedia knowledge (and their brown-bag lunches) with the POERUP team at OER13 (CC-BY)

Wikipedia and the OER community – natural bedfellows? One would think yes, but the reality is, according to Pete Forsyth and Sarah Frank Bristow of CommunicateOER, those of us who are involved in OER projects and programmes tend to play a very limited role in creating and editing Wikipedia articles. The focus of Pete and Sarah’s session today was to raise our awareness of the need for volunteers to improve the existing articles on OERs and related topics. See, for example, the entry on Open Educational Resources, which at the time of writing, has only the briefest statements on “Definition” and “Aspirations of the OER movement”.

One of the reasons for the lack of activity on Wikipedia may be that we feel a bit daunted by the Wiki markup technology that confronts us when we hit the “edit” button. CommunicateOER and the P2PU School of Open are offering a MOOC-type course at the moment, Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond. It has just started, but is still open to anyone who wants to join in and is willing to catch up.

#abs94 Making OER available on multiple platforms (U-Now, iBooks, eBooks)

Andy Beggan presented this paper from the University of Nottingham, which described OpenNottingham’s adventures in eBooks. The work came out of the PARiS project, which created 10 x 10 credit modules with 5 converted to eBooks.

Most of the staff involved had never worked with OER before. Existing third party OER was reused wherever possible.

The focus groups were very positive about the work, and staff and students changed their practice as a result.

The team used iBookAuthor to lay out the content. The publishing process was straightforward, as was licensing the work. The eBooks themselves are fairly slick and of a high standard aesthetically, and available both in the Apple store and as ePubs.

As far as eBooks are concerned there was a range of student views on their usefulness. 5 eBooks were released as free downloads, cc licensed images were sued to deliver enhanced presentations and ePub and other formats  versions were created to ensure availability across platforms and distributors.

Conversion to ePub had widened access to OERs. iBooks most popular downloaded format. Comparative focus groups will yield more data. Next steps – NOOCs via Moodle, which will give a better understanding of the usage of the eBooks.

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?

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.

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)

Spotlight on Jorum

Jorum is the best-known UK repository of free and open educational resources (OER).  In the run-up to the OER13 conference, I had the chance to ask Jorum team members what they do over at Jorum, and why they are looking forward to the conference:

Paul Madley: I‘ve recently come on board at MIMAS where I’ll be principally developing the public-facing Jorum website, I look forward to working with colleagues from other institutions as we move forward, which is why I’m excited about meeting and talking with people at OER13.

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 07.52.52

Joy Hooper, Jorum Business Development Officer: I’ve just joined the Jorum team so this is my first OER conference. I’m looking forward to meeting up with practitioners who are using OERs within the teaching and learning programmes. I’m keen to hear about the highlights and the challenges faced by users and institutions. All the key themes have relevance for me but the third theme, ‘Expectation’, has particular relevance, given my new role. This conference provides an ideal opportunity for me to talk about the new ‘Powered by Jorum’ offerings, which are designed to enable institutions to enhance their own branded, tailored views onto their content in Jorum: in other words, we can help you to create your own OER service.

I’m Jackie Carter, Jorum director and OER13 conference co-chair. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the bridges being built between open communities. The OER community is a vibrant and learned group and OER13 is a great opportunity for us all – including the Jorum team – to reflect on how far we have come, as well as helping us to think about the direction we want to take next.

I am Anja Le Blanc, one of the new additions to Jorum of the last year. I am working as a technical developer on the Jorum repository. Over the last ten years I went to a good number of conferences in a wide diversity of academic fields and I enjoyed the variety of ‘personalities’ each of the conferences provided. I am looking forward to getting to know the OER community at OER13 and to learn and be inspired by their enthusiasm for education.

Siobhán Burke -My role at Jorum is to work with educators and learning technologists who want to use OER content and also help facilitate sharing their own OERs with Jorum. As this is my first OER conference, I am looking forward to meeting face to face with members of the OER community.

I am Sarah Currier, Jorum Service Manager, so I’m responsible for the successful delivery of Jorum’s services. I’m really looking forward to OER13 this year, because we have so much exciting news to share with the OER community. We have a Beta of our fabulous new search and reporting features: you can find OERs more easily, and you can get data about the use of your OERs. And we have developed a range of added value options for institutions and communities that want their own branded, tailored views onto their con tent in Jorum: in other words, we can help create your own OER service to your users, with access to Jorum’s collections included. I would love to talk to folk at OER13 about Jorum’s future, and about what you would like from Jorum. I am also co-presenting a paper on the JLeRN project, so you can also talk to me about paradata: information about the social sharing and usage of OERs.

Ben Ryan:  I am the Jorum Technical Manager responsible for the infrastructure, development and support of the Jorum platform and proto-service.   I am looking forward to discussing the recent Jorum developments and the future direction of features and functionality development and discussing the recent work on user interface and experience.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester