The Scottish Open Education Declaration

One of the primary deliverables we agreed to produce following the Open Scotland Summit held in Edinburgh last year, was a declaration supporting open education in Scotland based on the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration. There was general agreement that the Paris Declaration was a “good thing” however many participants felt it was too focused on OER and that a Scottish declaration should encompass open education more widely. The result is the Scottish Open Education Declaration, a draft statement adapted from the Paris OER Declaration.

In order to coincide with Open Education Week, the first draft of the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been shared online using the CommentPress application to enable all members of the community to add comments and feedback.  We invite all those with an interest in open education in Scotland to comment on and contribute to this draft and to encourage their colleagues to join the debate.

In addition to adapting the Paris OER Declaration, colleagues at the Open Scotland Summit also suggested that it would be beneficial to develop a grid of the Declaration’s statements, which stakeholders could fill in to provide contextualisation and evidence of the statements in action.   This will be the next step forward, but first we would encourage the community to contribute to shaping the draft declaration so we can reach a consensus on open education principles that will benefit all sectors of Scottish education. 

What I Know Is

A Research Symposium on Online Collaborative Knowledge Building

Wikimedia UKThe University of Stirling will host a one day research symposium on online collaborative knowledge building on Wednesday 19th March. Further details are available here: What I Know Is

Dogma concerning the use of the Wikipedia has, for many of us working in Higher Education, tended to dictate a lukewarm and grudging acknowledgement of its existence at best; at worst, a belief that any and all uses of it ought to be expunged from academia forever. This attitude to the Wikipedia, and its umbrella organisation in the UK, Wikimedia UK, has in recent years mellowed and in some disciplinary circles it has now been appropriated as a tool for Learning and Teaching.

The gravity of this sea-change is such that Wikimedia UK has been involved with partnering influential AHRC initiatives such as the British Library’s Wikipedian-in-residence (2012) and a similar scheme has been set up at the National Library of Scotland. With two major EduWiki national conferences in the last two years, and a handful of smaller, themed events, it is now timely to reassess the Wikipedia and other online sites not only as pedagogical tools, but also as platforms where knowledge is built, shared and transformed; sites and objects for analysis, critical engagement, as well as philosophical debate.

This event takes the Wikipedia (the most popular amongst other wikis) and inquires as to its status as a platform for collaborative online knowledge-building. As such, it is but one of a number of examples where online communities of trust and participation have formed their own cultural protocols and have led to all manner of creative user generated content; the building, sharing and transformation of knowledge; and even political engagement, within a broader context of social structures of freedom, expression, agency and public-mindedness. Such broadly civic values, associated in part with stripes of Western liberal tradition, arguably have at their heart an ethical dimension which engenders (or at least, seeks to engender) a more robust digital literacy than perhaps that which has come to shape policy-making and Web ownership in the last few years.

As such, it is with pleasure that the Division of Communications, Media and Culture brings together speakers from a range of disciplines, with a range of interests, from within the School of Arts and Humanities, and from across the UK, to share their work addressing different dimensions of these knowledge-building activities. It is hoped that in engaging with and sharing the various philosophical and interdisciplinary strands of research included in the symposium’s speaker-respondent structure, we will gain some insights into the true value of these online collaborations.

  • Lorna Campbell on Open Learning (Cetis /Open Scotland/Open Knowledge Foundation)
  • Dr Zoe Drayson on Extended Cognition and Agency (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Padmini Ray Murray on the future of publishing (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Toni Sant on Collaborative Learning and Teaching (University of Hull/WMUK Academic Liaison)
  • Dr Greg Singh (University of Stirling, Symposium Chair)
  • Dr Penny Travlou on Networked Communities, Creativity and Spatiality (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Mike Wheeler on Extended Cognition (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Alison Crockford on Open Access (University of Edinburgh/National Library of Scotland)
  • Marc Garrett (Furtherfield)

RSCtv: Open Badges

RSCtvJisc RSC Scotland’s Grainne Hamilton will host a online lunchtime seminar at 12.30 tomorrow, 19th Feb, on Open Badges in Scottish education.  The seminar  is free to all, further details are available here RSCtv: Open Badges

A new infrastructure for enabling the digital accreditation of learning, Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure is well-placed for recognizing 21st century skills as well as unlocking career and educational opportunities. Grainne Hamilton will introduce the concept of Open Badges, covering how they could enhance current accreditation and how people are using Open Badges in Scotland. Grainne will go into some principles of effective Open Badge design and discuss tools to aid Open Badge development. By the end of the session, participants will have gained a basic understanding of the Open Badge Infrastructure, how Open Badge design can be approached and have had the opportunity to ask questions about Open Badges. 

Target audience: Anyone interested in Open Badges
Price: Free Event
Closing Date: Tue, 18 February 2014
Register: RSCtv Open Badges registration

College Development Network Librarians Open Developments in Scotland

Earlier this week I travelled up to the Stirling where I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote at the College Development Network Librarians Open Developments in Scotland event. It was an interesting and lively event and it’s great to see college librarians really engaging with the open education debate. Open education has the potential to be of enormous benefit to the FE sector, and librarians have a critical role to play in raising awareness of open education and advising their staff on the development and use of open educational content and licences.

My slides are available here and I’ve posted a Storify of the event here: Librarians Development Network: Open Developments in Scotland.

My presentation was followed by a fascinating talk by Suzanne Scott about Borders College‘s adoption of Mozilla Badges.  There’s been a lot of talk about the potential of open badges recently, so it’s really interesting to see them being used in a real world scenario.   Borders College aren’t just using badges to motivate students and acknowledge their achievement, they are also using them to engage with staff and have replaced all staff CPD paper certificates with Open Badges.  Adopting badges has also had significant reputational benefit and has raised the profile of the college;  Borders College are 4th on Mozilla’s list of international Open Badge Issuers. 

Following Suzanne, Mike Glancey of the National Museums of Scotland gave a talk about SCURL‘s Walk in Access initiative.  Now I have to confess, I had never heard of Walk in Access before, but it sounds like a really valuable initiative.  Walk in Access provides members of the public with on-site access to digital content such as journals and databases, where licensing terms and conditions permit.  Walk in Access highlights libraries commitment to opening access and also helps to widen engagement and provide access to distance learning students. The SCURL Walk in Access report is available here.

In the afternoon we were lucky to have a presentation from the always inspiring Christine Sinclair about the University of Edinburgh’s Coursera MOOCs and her team’s experiences of running the ELearning and Digital Cultures MOOC (). Christine explained that Edinburgh initially got in involved with MOOCs for five reasons: reputation, exploration, outreach, shared experience and, most importantly, fun!  The Edinburgh MOOCs have the support of the principal and the senior management, and the university has invested a considerable amount of funding in the initiative, however a lot the courses still run on “staff goodwill, evenings and weekends.”   It’s too early to say if this is a sustainable approach, Edinburgh are still exploring this.  Although the  team didn’t want to produce “star tutor talking heads” videos they discovered that students still wanted to “see” their lecturers and to form a connection with them. Some students struggled with the  approach, asking “Why aren’t you teaching us? Where are our learning outcomes?”  but others really engaged and came back to act as Community Teaching Assistants the following year.

Christine was followed by Gary Cameron of the College Development Network who gave an inspirational talk calling for his colleagues across the college sector to “Share, Share, Share!” To facilitate this sharing the Re:Source repository has been established for the Scottish college sector as a place to share open educational resources.  CDN are also planning to issue small grants for staff to openly licence resources in key topic areas. Gary ended his talk by reminding us that:

“OER is no longer an option, it’s an imperative, but still need to win battle for hearts and minds.”

The final presentation of the day was from Susanne Boyle, who has recently taken over from Jackie Carter as Director of Jorum and Senior Manager, Learning and Teaching at Mimas.  Susanne is not the only new member of staff to join the Jorum team, within a couple of months, 50% of the  team will be new appointments!  Jorum will be supporting the Jisc funded FE and Skills Programme, and will be creating tools to make it easier for FE practitioners to connect with Jisc and Jorum content.  The team will also be focusing on Health Practice resources and collections, and will be working closely with the North-West OER Network.  I have been involved with Jorum since it was just a wee glimmer of a project proposal, and I have sat on its Steering Group through every phase of its development so it will be very interesting to see what this new lease of life brings!

Wikimedia in Scotland 2014

A guest post from Graeme Arnott on WIkimedia UK‘s activities in Scotland.

Wikimedia UKWhen  I first discussed the idea of a retrospective of Wikimedia in Scotland’s activities in 2013 I thought that I would probably say something about a year that saw Dr. Ally Crockford take up the first Wikimedian-in-Residence role in Scotland at the National Library of Scotland, and maybe something about the success of the Women in Science editathon that was run in conjunction with the MRC and supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I also thought that I could say something about the successful first meetup of Wikimedians in Glasgow and the recommencement of meetups in Edinburgh, or the amazing experience of coordinating Scottish Women on Wikipedia with Glasgow Women’s Library (#SWoW). I also thought that I’d write about the pleasure of being asked to speak at EduWiki 2013 in Cardiff, mostly on the subject of Open Badges, and being even more thrilled when the OBSEG members’ Open Badge appeared on a slide in one of the following day’s presentations. When I started putting ideas together I fondly remembered the sheer enthusiasm of the the first librarycamp in Scotland which resulted in proposals to work with CILIPS MmIT, Glasgow School of Art and the Mitchell Library respectively. However, that was last year and instead I thought I’d take the opportunity to look ahead at what’s happening in 2014.

The relationship between Glasgow School of Art and Wikimedia UK has developed really well over the last few weeks in no small part to the hard work of their SCONUL Graduate Trainee Librarian, Delphine Dallison. In November 2013 Ally and myself provided some skills training in December for librarians and archivists and what’s been really satisfying about this project is the way that the staff have really got excited about editing the encyclopaedia. Duncan’s initial editing has seen an increase in the amount of information added to the article about the designer Talwin Morris, whilst David has done some really splendid work developing the list of Scottish architects as well as expanding the article on the Scottish architect James Miller. What I found really quite interesting about David’s work was the amount of effort he put into increasing the number of photographs of Miller’s buildings on the article, and not just into Wikimedia Commons. It’s going to be really interesting working with the GSofA peeps to see how they work with or against the encyclopaedia’s logocentrism. Delphine’s first blog post on her Adventures in Wikipedia is here.

After the success of the library and archive training session word got around, and in late December I met with Dr Robyne Erica Calvert of the school’s Forum of Critical Inquiry (FoCI). We roughly sketched out an idea for her second year undergraduate module, Glasgow Architects, that would see the twenty-one students improve the article on Wikipedia of their chosen architect or Glasgow building. Since then I’ve provided the students with an initial overview of Wikipedia, and in particular it’s writing conventions. The initial project idea was that the students would use their GSA assessment as a means to develop and improve the respective Wikipedia articles, but as the project’s developed we seem to be moving towards a more critical analysis of Wikipedia as a source and how it constructs the legitimacy of its content. This eight week long module has generated Wiki-interest amongst other FoCI staff and we are in the process of arranging a workshop to discuss how the Wikimedia projects can be integrated into the Forum’s teaching and learning. Robyne and David will be speaking at the next Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland meetup (#OpenDataGLA) in the Club Room of the CCA, Sauchiehall St. Glasgow on 3rd February from 6.30pm onwards.

Stevie Benton

Stevie Benton

In late January (22-01-14), Stevie Benton, the Head of External Relations at Wikimedia UK, spoke at the Edinburgh community meetup of the Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland, (#OpenDataEDB). Stevie spoke about the plans for the Open Coalition and his hope that the employment of a WMUK funded Project Co-ordinator’s position will further cement the good relations established between different open communities that took shape at Mozfest in London in October 2013.

The Open Coalition chimes nicely with Wikimedia in Scotland’s close association with the local Scottish grouping of the Open Knowledge Foundation: Ally introduced herself as the WiR at an Edinburgh meeting and in early December I was joined by Anabel Marsh to give a lightning talk on the Scottish Women on a Wikipedia project. Anabel and myself later got into a discussion with Dele Adeyemo, from the wonderfully named Perfect Pidgin, about a possible collaboration involving the Asian community in Pollokshaws that we were hoping to do in January but it’s been postponed until sometime later in the year.

Editing at Anybody But Burns, A Crockford, (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0

Editing at Anybody But Burns

Our January activities came to a head on the 25th of January with our ‘Anybody but Burns‘ Scottish poetry editathon that was held in conjunction with the Scottish Poetry Library and the NLS. This editathon was actually born during the BCS’ Women in Computing editathon back in November: Ally was on her soapbox about Robert Fergusson and I was punning on the names of poems, and between us we came up with the idea of a poetry event to improve any article related to Scottish poetry, except for ones that related to Robert Burns. I think we were all a bit taken by surprise to learn that there are roughly three-hundred and fifty Scottish poets listed on Wikipedia.  The event had been described in The List as the most eccentric Burns event and The Telegraph had kindly listed us as one of the top-ten Burns events to attend. It was an absolutely miserable day in Edinburgh which I imagine might have prevented some people from attending. Still, about fifteen people turned up, some of whom had never edited before; by the end of the day new articles were created and existing articles expanded, tidied up and improved. There was a really friendly atmosphere at the event and I hope it turns into something we repeat.

One of the current features of Wikimedia in Scotland that needs to be challenged is its M8-centricness. This is hopefully forgiveable, given that Ally and I live at opposite ends of the M8; but we know we need to reach out to both the north and south of Scotland, and to the Uicipeid na Gàidhlig and Scots Wikipædia communities too. Hopefully the training sessions that we’re currently arranging  – one for lecturers at UHI Inverness College, and one for staff at JISC Scotland – in February or March will start to help in this process. The training at UHI Inverness College in particular will act as a precursor to the use of the Wikimedia projects by the college’s students. In addition, there has been a request from students at Dundee University to form a student’s society. In February, Ally and myself have also agreed to do a joint webinar with CILIPS MmIT, although no firm date has yet been arranged for this, and one of the projects that Ally in particular is keen to see develop is a recorded training session supported by JISC which could be circulated online throughout regional JISC offices and made public on Wikimedia Commons.

I first met Dr. Greg Singh at EduWiki 2013 in Cardiff when he gave a cracking talk that ranged from Andrew Keen to Adorno and Horkheimer to Michael J. Sandel. Wikipedia’s institutionalised gender bias had often been the topic of our conversations, and Greg’s lingering question as to what makes a good wiki is one that seemed to go directly to the heart of the matter. Users of Wikipedia will undoubtedly be familiar with stub articles and that these are generally regarded as poor in quality and/or lacking relevant material. Whilst in one sense stubification can be seen as a straightforward administrative process of classification, its application to articles of women who have been anonymised by the culture of their time can make it seem like the encyclopaedic equivalent of “You’re not worthy” – more of a snub than a stub. Greg is based at Stirling University where he is organising a one-day Wiki-themed symposium to be held there on 19th March. Ally will be speaking about digital publishing and open access, building on her own academic projects as well as her work with Wikimedia UK, and the programme also boasts as speakers Lorna Campbell from Open Scotland, Wikimedia UK’s Academic Liaison Dr. Tony Sant, and Wikimedia UK board member Dr. Padmini Ray Murray from the University of Stirling. More details will be confirmed on the meta-wiki Events page.

Perhaps one of the most striking and unexpected results of the NLS’s Wikimedian in Residence programme has been the intense amount of interest generated across the IS sector and cultural organisations more generally. On February 27-28, Ally has been invited to speak at the prestigious Edge Conference, hosted by the Edinburgh City Libraries. Speakers and delegates alike span diverse career fields, spanning council managers, Library services, and corporate directors. A similar audience will be courted by the Special Libraries Association during a Wikimedia-centred event to be held at the National Library of Scotland in early March. These events offer the opportunity to introduce organisations outside of the NLS in particular and libraries more generally to the possibility and benefit of working alongside the Wikimedia Foundation. That these talks are being delivered in Scotland will undoubtedly have a significant impact in increasing the presence of Wikimedia events and other collaborations across the country.

The considerable change from 2013 into this year is the way that events now seem to be a consequence of a request from a group/organisation rather than something Ally or myself have pitched to the group. Ally has received requests from two groups for March edit-a-thons that fit with the Women who Shaped Scotland theme which forms part of the Residency’s focus. These are the Feminist Art group at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and the BSCWomen who are keen to do a follow up event on the subject of women-in-science.

Plans are also in place to take part in and support the joint Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland, OpenStreetMap, National Library of Scotland and Open Glasgow/Future Cities Demonstrator at Datafest Scotland 2014 to be held in the University of Glasgow on the 12th, 13th and 14th of June this year. One of the exciting ideas that we’re currently working on is the means by which Wikipedia could (will) become the portal of choice for accessing geo-specific open data. The conference will be a mixture of speakers, training events and workshops. More details to follow. Ally’s piece for Post magazine on opening the National Library can be read here.

In all these areas, our goal is to develop the Wikimedia community in a Scotland and to enrich the projects by reaching out to the widest and most diverse range of people. You can keep up to date with Wikemedia in Scotland’s projects and events by signing up to the #ScotWiki mailing list by following this link. We hope to see you at an event soon!

Graeme Arnott is a Training Officer with the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and manages the Scottish Joint Industry Board‘s (SJIB) Adult Training Scheme. He’s a member of Wikimedia UK, and a Community Coordinator with OKF Scotland.


Scottish Government Support for Open Education?

“We broadly support open licences and OER and need a serious public debate on this issue.”

~Michael Russell, MSP

This was the Minister for Education’s response to a question I put to him earlier today regarding Scottish Government support for open education policy and open licences for publicly funded educational resources in order to benefit learners, not just within Scotland, but internationally.  The Minister was speaking at the Future of Higher Education In Scotland and the UK event in Edinburgh, organised by the ESRC Fellowship Project: Higher Education, the Devolution Settlement and the Referendum on Independence.

In a wide-ranging speech outlining the Scottish Government’s vision of higher education in an independent Scotland, Russell stated that we need an education sector that can meet the challenge of new technological advancement and institutions that can fully explore the potential of new technologies for learning. MOOCs and OER have great potential to form new pathways to learning, to widen participation and promote a culture of collaborative development and reuse. Consequently a core group supported by SFC has been established to look at the benefits of OER and promote online learning resources produced by Scottish universities.  This group is composed of the Open University and the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde; UHI may also have a role to play. 

While it’s hugely encouraging to hear the Minister for Education acknowledging the importance, not just of the inevitable MOOCs, but of OER and open education more generally, I have some concerns that with such a narrow group of stakeholders involved in the core group, the scope of the debate might fail to encompass the wider benefits of open education to the Scottish sector as a whole.  Open education policies and practice have the potential to benefit teachers and learner right across the sector, in schools, colleges and universities, in formal and informal learning scenarios, and to support life long learning right across the board.

As yet, no further details have been released regarding the nature of the core group activities and the level of SFC investment, so we will continue to watch these developments with interest.  

ETA A summary transcript of Russell’s speech has been made available by the Scottish Government here. The relevant paragraphs relating to open education are as follows:

“I am very encouraged by the potential of massive open online courses – short courses delivered online that can be taken by anyone, anywhere. Of course, we must ensure quality of provision, however, free resources such as these have great potential to provide pathways to formal learning and widen participation in higher education.

“That is why I have indicated to the Scottish Funding Council that, in supporting this new work, they should facilitate the best open practice in Scotland and enhance the sector’s capacity and reputation for developing publicly available online learning materials.

“It is a very exciting prospect that a student anywhere in the world can access materials presented by world-class academics working in world class Scottish universities.

Martin Hawksey has made a twitter archive of the event hashtag available here: #HEScot and all papers from the event have now been uploaded here: Seminar 3: The future of higher education in Scotland and the UK.