Open Badges in Scottish Education Group

We’re pleased to welcome our first Open Scotland guest blog post by Grainne Hamilton of Jisc RSC Scotland and the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group.

Grainne Hamilton,
Jisc RSC Scotland

In Scotland, interest has been growing around the opportunities afforded by the open, standards-based, accreditation framework, Open Badges, to augment traditional accreditation routes. At the Jisc RSC Scotland Open Badges Design Day, held in April 2013, staff from further and higher education institutions worked with the Mozilla Badges and Skills Lead, Doug Belshaw and the CEO of DigitalMe (DML Competition ‘Badges for Lifelong Learning’ winners and Badge the UK leads) Tim Riches, to consider possible badge-based pathways to learning and to explore the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). At this event, there was consensus that it would be useful to bring together interested parties to identify areas where Open Badges could add value to education in Scotland and to engage in joint developments.

Open Badges in
Scottish Education Group

In response to this, the Jisc RSC Scotland has convened the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group (OBSEG) which now includes members from schools, further and higher education institutions, educational agencies including the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland, professional bodies, employer bodies, national and local government, Open Badge projects such as DigitalMe’s Badge the UK and Mozilla. The group performs an overview and mapping function of Open Badge developments in Scottish education, oversees a number of sub-groups developing badge constellations and pathways, and provides a forum for discussion and strategic agreement around Open Badge developments.

I was delighted when active members of the OBSEG, the SQA, issued a press release on the opportunities they are investigating with Open Badges: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/67688.html. As far as I’m aware, this commitment from a national awarding and qualifications authority is a world first. The SQA has gained feedback from the wider sector on Scotland’s aspirations in relation to Open Badges via the OBSEG and Jisc is looking forward to continuing to support the Open Badge developments enabled by this commitment and by others, in the Scottish education community.

You can find out more about the OBSEG, the organisations, institutions and bodies represented and the work of the group at: http://bit.ly/obseg

Open Glasgow Data Sets

Open Glasgow, part of the Future City Glasgow project funded by the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board, has now released 82 84 open data sets covering many aspects of city data. The data sets, which cover a wide range of domains including transportation, environment, health, demographics and education, can be downloaded from a public data platform, http://data.glasgow.gov.uk, where users can search for data sets based on submitting organisation, group, tag, format or license. The individual data sets are available in a wide range of different formats, and while I’d quibble whether pdf data can really be regarded as “open” in any sense of the word, many of the data sets are available in more open formats. The vast majority of the data sets are licensed under the UK Open Government Licence, though some use other licences including the Glasgow Open Government Licence, the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence and Creative Commons licences.

At present there is only one data set relating specifically to the education domain, colleges and universities funded by the Scottish Funding Council, but with the Open Glasgow team encouraging other public, private, academic and voluntary organisations to open and share their data via the platform, I hope that we will see more open data sets relating to Scottish education in the not to distant future.

Glasgow Open Data Platform

Glasgow Open Data Platform

SQA to explore the potential of Mozilla Open Badges

“We believe that the infrastructure promotes and supports greater flexibility for learning and the recognition of achievement.”

– Joe Wilson, SQA

Following two years of discussions, SQA has announced that it will work in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group (OBSEG) to support the adoption of Open Badges across a range of Scottish education sectors.  Rather than being a top down project, SQA’s announcement represents a “commitment to be open about open badges” which will hopefully encourage more traditional parts of the education sector to engage with innovative open approaches to recording achievements and accomplishments.

Press release as follows…

SQA investigates opportunities with Mozilla’s Open Badges

SQA has announced its intention to investigate the opportunities presented by an innovative approach to displaying individuals’ learning accomplishments online.

SQA is working in partnership with Mozilla, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the democratization of the web, to explore the benefits to learners that can be achieved through their Open Badges.

Mozilla’s Open Badges project intends to make it easy to earn, issue and display digital badges that recognise and communicate individuals’ skills and achievements.

The badge project infrastructure allows individuals to display their real-world skills and achievements in online environments – such as social media profiles – in way that may help with future career and education opportunities.

Joe Wilson, Head of New Ventures at SQA, said: “We believe Mozilla’s Open Badges project enables greater flexibility for learners to demonstrate their achievements. Open badges have the potential to allow individuals to display the accomplishments they make along each step of the learner journey, and receive recognition for a single skill or packages of learning that cover a number of skills in relation to a particular task.”

Joe continued: “SQA will work with Mozilla to explore how we can adopt Open Badges. We will encourage our partners to investigate how they could benefit from adopting open badges to support learners across Scotland in addition to the recognition we offer teachers and college lecturers through our CDP courses and training we will explore how we can integrate open badges into our certification processes.”

Erin Knight, Senior Director of Learning and Badges at Mozilla, said: “We are really excited that SQA, as Scotland’s national awarding and accreditation body, is actively exploring how best to implement Open Badges as a means to give learners and institutions the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and accomplishments through digital badges.”

Joe will be speaking at the Mozilla Festival in London on Saturday 26 October about SQA’s work with Mozilla.

Open Scotland Follow Up

(Originally posted 23rd August 2013, http://lornamcampbell.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/open-scotland-follow-up/)

Yesterday Sheila and I met with colleagues from the ALT Scotland SIG, Jisc RSC Scotland and Cetis to start taking forward some of the actions we discussed at the Open Scotland Summit in Edinburgh at the end of June. You can find the Open Scotland Summit Report and Actions here: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/07/04/open-scotland-report-and-actions/

One of the key actions was to establish a working group, similar to Wales and the Nordic countries, that can stimulate research in the area of open education and hopefully inform future Government initiatives. As several of the delegates who attended the Summit in June expressed an interest in on-going participation, there seems to be a real appetite for taking this forward. In the first instance we’ve agreed to set up an Open Scotland blog to provide the group with an identity and a platform to publish information, articles and commentary on all aspects of openness in education. We’ll also use the blog to link to other related groups, lists and initiatives e.g. the Open Knowledge Foundation, OER-Discuss, the Scottish Open Badges Group, etc. Unfortunately someone is sitting on the openscotland.wordpress.com domain so we’ve had to settle for openscot.wordpress.com. There’s nothing to see there at present, but we hope to have the site up and running by the end of September. Several colleagues have already offered to contribute posts on different aspects of openness and how these relate to education and education policy in Scotland. We also discussed setting up a mailing list to disseminate information but as there was some concern about the proliferation of mailing lists we thought we would try setting up a google group instead.

The second key action from the June summit was to draft a position paper providing evidence of the benefits of openness with examples of how these can impact on Government priorities. As a starting point for this activity we’ve agreed to look at the Scottish Funding Council’s Outcome Agreements for 2013 – 2014 and to highlight areas where different aspect of openness could have a positive impact on the outcome agreement criteria. Once we’ve done a first pass through the Outcome Agreement criteria, we’ll post the resulting draft in a public document that everyone will be welcome to comment on and contribute to. Hopefully this will help us to focus on real tangible benefits of open education policies and practices and demonstrate how these can help to address current strategic priorities and challenges.

Another activity we discussed is to take the 2012 OER Paris Declaration and to start identifying examples of practice, from Scotland and neighbouring countries, that address the ten key points outlined in the Declaration document. I’m also keen to develop some case studies about institutions that have developed open education policies, but that’s an activity that would require rather more resources than we have at our disposal at present.

We also discussed the possibility of future Open Scotland events and hope to be able to build on the success of the June Summit to broaden the debate further. In the short term we have a couple of dissemination opportunities coming up; Joe Wilson of SQA and I will be doing a short presentation on Open Scotland and the work of the ALT Scotland SIG at the Jisc RSC Scotland Joint Forum event on the 31st of October, and earlier in the month we’ll we presenting a paper “Open Scotland – Policies and strategies for opening up education in Scotland” at the Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Paris on the 24th- 25th October. (When I say “we” that means that we’re not sure who’ll actually be going along to do the presentation yet!)

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with Open Scotland, keep and eye on the #openscot hashtag and this blog in the interim, or feel free to contact any of those involved.

Phil Barker phil.barker@hw.ac.uk
Lorna M. Campbell lorna.m.campbell@icloud.com
Linda Creanor l.creanor@gcal.ac.uk
Sheila MacNeill sheilamacneill@me.com
Celeste McLaughlin celeste.mclaughlin@glasgow.ac.uk
Joe Wilson joe.wilson@sqa.org.uk

Open Scotland Presentations

Presentations from the Open Scotland Summit held in Edinburgh in June 2013 are available here:

Welcome and Introduction – Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

Open Scotland Keynote – Cable Green, Creative Commons

Open Source in Education – Scott Wilson, OSS Watch

Open Data – Wilbert Kraan, Cetis

UKOER The First Three Years – David Kernohan, Jisc

Massive Open Online Courses – Sheila MacNeill, Cetis

Nordic OER Alliance – Tore Hoel, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

OERs and MOOCs: Exploring the potential for Wales – Paul Richardson, Jisc RSC Cymru and Online Digital Learning Working Group

Introduction and Welcome
– Lorna M. Campbell, Cetis

Keynote

– Dr Cable Green, Creative Commons

Lightning Talks

Open Scotland Report and Actions

(Originally published 4th July 2013, http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/07/04/open-scotland-report-and-actions/

“Open Policies can develop Scotland’s unique education offering, support social inclusion and inter-institutional collaboration and sharing and enhance quality and sustainability.”

This was the starting point for discussions at the Open Scotland Summit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which brought together senior representatives from a wide range of Scottish education institutions, organisations and agencies to discuss open education policy for Scotland. Facilitated by Jisc Cetis, in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, Open Scotland provided senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers with an opportunity to explore shared strategic priorities and scope collaborative activities to encourage the development of open education policies and practices to benefit the Scottish education sector as a whole.

Keynote and Lightning Talks

Dr Cable Green, Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning opened the summit with an inspiring keynote on “Open Education: The Business and Policy Case for OER”. Cable began by quoting Cathy Casserly and Mike Smith of Creative Commons and the Hewlett Foundation:

“At the heart of the movement towards Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse it.”

 

Cable Green, Creative Commons (image by Martin Hawksey)

Cable went on to discuss the significance of the Cape Town Declaration, the development of Creative Commons licences and the Paris OER Declaration before concluding that:

“the opposite of open is not ‘closed’, the opposite of open is ‘broken’.”

A series of lightning talks on different aspects of openness and open education initiatives in neighbouring countries followed Cable’s keynote; “Open Source in Education” by Scott Wilson of OSS Watch, “Open Data” by Cetis’ Wilbert Kraan, “MOOCs: The Elephant in the room?” by Sheila MacNeill, also of Cetis, David Kernohan of Jisc presented the HEFCE funded UKOER Programmes, Tore Hoel of Oslo and Akershus University College introduced the Nordic Open Education Alliance, and Paul Richardson presented the perspective from Wales.

Challenges, Priorities and the Benefits of Openness

During the afternoon participants had the opportunity to break into groups to discuss issues relating to openness, and how greater openness could help them to address their current strategic priorities and challenges.

The key issues raised included the following:

There are compelling arguments that old models for publishing research and content are outdated. New models are needed and again the arguments for these are compelling, however these new models require changes in attitude and practice. University business models don’t necessarily need to be built on sale of content, instead they can be built on access to great faculty, support, facilities, maximising efficiency through collaboration, etc. There is a lot of insecurity in the sector, staff are worried about their jobs, so there needs to be clarity about their roles and responsibilities and what they are paid to do.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Both within and between organisations there are different perceptions of “open”. For example, quality and assessment bodies have increased external openness by sharing assessment criteria, however due to confidentiality agreements institutions have to limit the data that is available to the public.

There is still a tendency to release OER under restrictive open licences, limiting the ability to re-use, revise, re-mix, re-distribute the new resource. One way to overcome the “closed mind” mentality is to develop policy to support openness, however open doesn’t equal free or without cost, investment is required to make resources open.

Openness is not always recognised, there are pockets of open activity throughout Scotland but these are not joined up. E.g. there are good examples of long-standing open practise among public libraries.

Lack of quality assurance is still raised as a barrier to OER. Cable Green suggested there needs to be a shift in attitude and culture from “not invented here to proudly borrowed from there”. Under Creative Commons licence, resource creators can invoke a non-endorsement clause in situations where an original work is re-purposed but the originating authors does not approve of the repurposed work.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Learners are co-creators of knowledge. How do we engage them? Learners, rather than institutions need to be central to all discussions relating to open policy and practice.

What can Scotland learn from other countries? The UKOER programme evidenced interest in OER and willingness to change practice south of the border. How can Scotland learn from this and use this experience to springboard ahead? There are parallels between Scotland, the Nordic Countries and the devolved nations, is there scope for working collaboratively with other countries?

How can open education policies and practices address the “Big Ticket” government agendas? Post 16 educations, widening access, knowledge transfer, driving changes in curriculum models, school – college – university articulation.

The education sector is undergoing a period of massive change and it is difficult to cope with additional new initiatives and agendas. However the sector can also capitalise on this period of change, as change provides opportunity for radical new developments.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

At the school level the curriculum for excellence is changing the way children think and learn and universities and colleagues need to be ready for this. How can openness help?

Funding has been cut drastically in the FE sector. Does this mean that fewer students will be taught or that colleges need to be smarter and make greater use of open educational resources?

Articulation could be key to promoting the use of OER in Scotland. Many HEIs have produced resources for FE – HE articulation that could be released under Creative Commons licences.

An Open Education Declaration for Scotland

burghead_saltireUsing the UNESCO Paris Declaration as a starting point, the groups explored the potential of developing a Scottish open education 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.

In addition, the Paris Declaration focuses on “states”, a Scottish declaration would need to define its own stakeholders. It would also be beneficial to develop a common vocabulary (e.g. OER, open education, open learning, etc.) to enable effective communication and identify actions that move us forward.

While there was agreement that the statements of the Paris Declaration were beneficial, it was felt that a degree of contextualisation was required in order to demonstrate these statements and principals in action. One group suggested that it might be useful to have a grid of the Declaration’s statements that stakeholders could fill in to provide evidence of the statements in action. Cable Green added that projects are on going internationally to implement specific actions from the Declaration and suggested that Scotland might consider selecting one or more statements to take forward as actions.

Actions and Deliverables

Action 1 – Establish a working group, similar to Wales and the Nordic countries, that can stimulate research in the area of open education and inform future Government white papers. Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG to discuss taking this forward.

Action 2 – Invite participants from those nations that are further ahead of Scotland in promoting the open Agenda. Work with the other devolved nations in the UK.

Action 3 – Use the working group to focus on key Government priorities and agendas, e.g. learner journeys, articulation, work based learning, knowledge transfer.

Key Deliverable 1: A position paper providing evidence of the benefits of openness with examples of how these can impact on Government priorities. (Cetis and the ALT Scotland SIG chair to meet in late July to begin work on a first draft. All drafts will be circulated publically for comment and input.)

Key Deliverable 2: A Scottish Open Learning declaration (including topologies, grids and action focussed statements).

Key Deliverable 3: Government policy on open education. This will require stakeholder groups to state how they will engage with and contribute to the implementation of the policy.

Continuing the Discussion

All these points are open to discussion and we would encourage all interested parties to contribute to the debate. Please feel free to comment here, or to contact the event organisers directly at the addresses below. If you blog or tweet about Open Scotland, or any of the issues raised as a result, please use the hashtag #openscot so we can track the discussion online.

Phil Barker, phil.barker@hw.ac.uk; Lorna M. Campbell, lorna.m.campbell@ilcoud.com; Linda Creanor, l.creanor@gcu.ac.uk; Sheila MacNeill, sheila.macneill@me.com, Celeste McLaughlin, Celeste.McLaughlin@glasgow.ac.uk, Joe Wilson, joe.wilson@sqa.org.uk.

Resources

Open Scotland Overview: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/05/03/open-scotland/
The Benefits of Open Briefing Paper: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/834
Open Scotland Presentations: http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Open_Scotland
Open Scotland Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CetisUK
Open Scotland Storify: http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/sheilamacneill/2013/06/28/open-scotland-the-twitter-story/

Acknowledgements

Cetis would like to thank the following people for making the Open Scotland Summit possible: Phil Barker, Andrew Comrie, Linda Creanor, Martin Hawksey, Cable Green, Sheila MacNeill, Celeste Mclaughlin, Joe Wilson.

Thanks also to our presenters Cable Green, Tore Hoel, David Kernohan, Wilbert Kraan, Sheila MacNeill, Paul Richardson, Scot Wilson.

Arran Moffat and GloCast recorded and edited the presentations and valiantly attempted to stream Cable’s keynote through three foot thick tower walls!

And finally….

A word from one of our participants:

Now is the right time to push the open agenda forward. Scotland hasn’t missed the boat, sometimes it’s good to wait for the second wave.

The Benefits of Open

(Originally posted on 25th June 2013, http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/06/25/the-benefits-of-open/)

The following paper was produced to act as a background briefing to the Open Scotland Summit , which Cetis is facilitating in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The Benefits of Open draws together and summarises key documents and publications relating to all aspects of openness in education. The paper covers Open Educational Resources, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Access and Open Badges.

The Benefits of Open briefing paper can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/834.

Such is the rapid pace of change in terms of open education research and development that several relevant new papers have been published since this briefing paper was completed less than a fortnight ago. The following recent outputs are likely to be of particular interest and significance to those with an interest in open education policy and practice, both in Scotland and internationally.

Journeys to Open Educational Practice: HEFCE OER Review Final Report
Authors: L. McGill, I. Falconer, J.A.Dempster, A. Littlejohn, and H. Beetham,
Date: June 2013
URL: https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/60338879/HEFCE-OER-Review-Final-Report

“Over recent years, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has funded UK wide initiatives that explore and support open educational practices (OEP) and resources (OER). The HEFCE OER Review is a cumulative synthesis of the experiences and outcomes of those interventions. It incorporates all phases of the JISC/HE Academy’s Open Educational Resources Programme (UKOER) and the Open University’s Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) activities.

The HEFCE-funded OER work in the UK has been extensive and has impacted on strategy, policy, practice (of a wide range of stakeholders, including learners), research, curriculum design, delivery and support. Projects have explored barriers and enablers, and developed solutions to address the individual, institutional and community issues of embedding sustainable practice and widening engagement with OER.

The purpose of the HEFCE OER review has been to deepen understanding and produce a solid evidence base that enhances the status of the UK work within the international OER arena and offers some conceptual and practical ways forward.”

POERUP Policies for OER Uptake Progress Report
Authors: POERUP Project Partners
Date: June 2013
URL: http://poerup.referata.com/w/images/2011_4021_PR_POERUP_pub.pdf

“1. POERUP’s overall aim is to develop policies to promote the uptake of OER (Open Educational Resources) in the educational sector, not for their own sake but to further the range of purposes for which institutions deploy OER: wider access (including internationally and in particular from developing countries), higher quality or lower cost of teaching – and combinations of these.
2. POERUP is focussing largely on the universities and schools subsectors of the education sector, but is also paying attention to the non-tertiary postsecondary subsector – the ‘colleges’ – since they are often the loci of the kind of informal learning that OER facilitates and also crucial to skills development.
3. The original focus of POERUP was to focus on policies at the ‘national’ level (including governments of devolved administrations). However, in the increasingly regionalised and part-privatised environment for education, where some governments are actually withdrawing from setting ICT policies for their sectors, it is now felt more appropriate to focus also on policies for institutions, consortia of these and private sector actors who facilitate change.
4. POERUP is putting substantial effort into understanding the state of play of OER in a range of countries, within the policy context in these countries, and as part of the wider development of online learning in these countries – but cognisant also of the worldwide moves towards Open Access for research literature.

8. The first round of country studies is essentially complete and now POERUP is turning its attention to a more delicate level of analysis. The key to this is to understand the ways in which OER communities can develop and foster activity without sustained long-term amounts of government funding. Particular tools for Social Network Analysis will be used to achieve this.
9. Seven case studies for OER communities have been chosen across the various education sectors for analysis by POERUP partners. These include the schools-focussed projects Wikiwijs (Netherlands), Bookinprogress (Italy) and Hwb (Wales/UK); HE-focussed projects OER U, Futurelearn (UK) and Canadian OER HE community; and one MOOC-based project to cover informal adult learning.”

Open Educational Resources and Collaborative Content Development: A practical guide for state and school leaders
Authors: T.J. Bliss, D. Tonks and S. Patrick, International Association for Online K12 Learning.
URL: http://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/inacol_OER_Collaborative_Guide_v5_web.pdf

While this report focuses primarily on the benefits and affordances of open educational resources for the US K-12 sector it includes a useful analysis of the benefits of open educational resources.

“Other countries and important non-governmental organizations are also beginning to recognize the potential of OER. The Organization for Economic Cooperative Development (OECD) explains, ‘Governments should support OER as good policy because educational institutions (particularly those publicly financed) should leverage taxpayers’ money by allowing free sharing and reuse of resources. Quality can be improved and the cost of content development reduced by sharing and reusing. Sharing knowledge is in line with academic traditions and a good thing to do. OER expands access to learning for everyone but most of all for nontraditional groups of students and thus widens participation in education and can bridge the gap between non-formal, informal, and formal learning.’”