Jisc RSC Scotland Open Education Joint Forum

Earlier this week I was invited by Jisc RSC Scotland to attend their Open Education Joint Forum which took place at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh.  It was a very well attended event that featured a packed programme of thought provoking and  engaging presentations that highlighted a range of really inspiring open education developments.   I’ve put together a storify of the event’s lively twitter back channel here and links to all the presentations are available from Jisc RSC Scotland here.

Open Scotland

Lorna M Campbell, Cetis and Joe Wilson, SQA

I kicked of the event with a short overview of the Open Scotland before passing over to Joe who challenged the audience to share their educational resources, before talking about about the benefits of openness and calling for changing mindsets around Open Education.  Joe also reminded us that there is a real strength in Scottish education, we have dedicated and talented teaching staff and by opening up education they can shine for learning.

Joe Wilson, SQA

Joe Wilson, SQA

Massive Open Online Courses: Open education  of course?

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin Hawksey, my former Cetis colleague, now with ALT, gave an inspiring presentation that placed MOOCs in the historical context of technology innovation and asked if we are now in danger of promoting a dogmatic approach to programming and technology innovation. Martin revisited Doug Englebart’s “Mother of All Demos” which, among many other innovations, demonstrated screen sharing and videoconferencing as far back as 1968.  In education we have a tendency to get stuck in particular ways of doing things, both students and teachers have specific expectations and can be very resistant to change.

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin highlighted some of the tools, services, platforms and applications that can be employed to deliver MOOCs.  He also reminded us that every letter of MOOC is negotiable and suggested that the issue of MOOC completion rates is irrelevant.  Open or closed is not a binary thing, but there are huge benefits to moving towards more openness.  Martin concluded by telling is all that “openness is about feeling warm inside” and that we should all “ride the waves of innovation to a more open, more relevant style of education’.  Martin has written a an excellent blog post about his presentation which you can read here: Taking on the dogmatic approach to education with a bit of ‘reclaim open digital connectedness’.

Re:Source OER Repository

Garry Cameron, Scotland’s Colleges, Jackie Graham and Sarah Currier, Mimas

Gerry spoke about the need to change hearts and minds to use and develop open educational resources and called for a clear statement and a decisive stance on open educational resources from Scottish Government. Scotland’s Colleges committed to releasing resources under Creative Commons licences.

Gerry Cameron, Scotland's Colleges

Gerry Cameron, Scotland’s Colleges

Re:Source is an OER repository for Scotland’s colleges. The open platform is here and could be used by many across the Scottish education sector but policy drivers needed.  Jisc RSc Scotland is collaborating with Scotland’s Colleges to work ona  way forward. Librarians also have a crucial role to play in developing open repositories within Scotland’s colleges.  Jackie Graham went on to demonstrate the Re:Source repository before handing over to Sarah Currier who spoke about the Jorum repository which powers Re:Source.

Jackie Graham, Re:Source

Jackie Graham, Re:Source

Blackboard xpLor

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher began by highlighting the potential of OERs but suggested that they can be hard to find; how do you fin and evaluate OERs, link them to curricula, including assessments.  To address this problem Blackboard have developed the xpLor content repository. xpLor supports OER discover and allows content to be pulled directly into Blackboard courses.  Creative Commons is baked into xpLor repository so content can be exported with  CC licenses.

Introduction to Open Badges and OBSEG

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Open badges are a form of digital accreditation that can be displayed online.  Badges are like coats of arms, they are images that contain information and have meaning beyond the visual.  Open Badges incentivise informal, formal and work based education and break learning into manageable chunks. The Open Badges in Scottish Education Group (OBSEG), which is supported by Jisc RSC Scotland, has set up three sub-groups focusing on Learner Progress, Technology and Design and Staff Development.

OER and the Vision for Adult Learning

Earlier this year Professor Allison Littlejohn of the Caledonian Academy published the findings of the OER4Adults survey, undertaken by the EU Lifelong Learning OER4Adults Project. The outputs of this survey, which are highly relevant to the aims and objectives of Open Scotland, can be read in full on Allison’s blog here: OER and the Vision for Adult Learning. The following is summarised from Allison’s post.


The outcomes of OER4Adults provided policy makers within the European Commission with evidence on how to incorporate the use of OER into a Vision for Adult and Lifelong Learning to 2030.

oer4adults

The OER4Adults survey identified over 170 OER Initiatives across Europe and other countries (mainly the US). Many of these initiatives – those who provide OER for adult and lifelong learning – are from the higher education, vocational and school sectors. These initiatives assume that the primary users of OER are teachers and registered students, but the might not necessarily think about ‘nonformal’ learners.

Many examples of open learning are within open fora (eg discussion groups around health or hobby areas). These groups are seldom recognised as having an explicit remit for learning. Also they are not associated with the sorts of formal institutions that MOOCs tend to be associated with (eg think about EdX, Coursera, Futurelearn and so on).

The project conducted a SWOT analysis wich identified a number of areas of tension:

    • OER – free vs open resources
    • Learning – conventional pedagogy vs learner controlled learning
    • Motivations for releasing OER – altruism vs marketization
    • Capacity building – community vs openness
    • Numbers of learners – mass participation vs quality
    • Sustainability – add-on vs embedded funding models

Key findings and questions

1. Many examples of open learning are not recognised as learning.

Idea 1: change public perception of what they recognise as learning.

2. To move forward with lifelong learning, we need a fundamental shift in the way society perceives peoples’ roles (eg learners, teachers, others, etc) and organisations’ roles (eg HES, companies, publishers, etc).

Idea 2: change public perception of the roles of learners and teachers – and of organisations more broadly.

3. Within the OER arena, there is little focus on the bigger societal issues. For example the tension between the public and private sectors which have different values and norms. We don’t have a clear idea of the outcome when these values and norms come into conflict.

Idea 3: consider the longterm impact of vested interests of various stakeholders in different sectors.

4. Little is known about what lifelong learners actually do with OER. OER initiatives have little concern about this and don’t view it as significant.

Idea 4: investigate how learners use OER to learn.

5. The focus of attention could shift from open resources (OER) or open courses (MOOC) to the ability of people/learners to learn in open environments.

Idea 5: change the focus of attention from OER or MOOC to learners.

By Professor Allison Littlejohn.

Round Two: New Flavours for #EDCMOOC

We’re very pleased to welcome our second Open Scotland guest blog post by Sian Bayne, Jeremy Knox, Hamish Macleod, Jen Ross and Christine Sinclair about their highly successful E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (EDCMOOC), being run by the University of Edinburgh on the Coursera platform.


You never forget your first MOOC, and that’s true for teachers as much as for learners. But what of the second time around – perhaps the novelty wears off and it can just be left to run itself? That’s certainly not been the case for the team for E-learning and Digital Cultures (EDCMOOC); we have been finding ourselves in a new phase of learning about teaching at scale.

EDCMOOC ran as one of the University of Edinburgh MOOCs on the Coursera platform first in January/February 2013 and for the second time in November to early December. It will run at least one more time under the current arrangements in place. The second run has provided an opportunity to experiment with teaching presence, and to further our critical reflections on how MOOCs might inform our research and pedagogy within and about digital environments.

With six new short videos and videoconference via Google hangout every week (as opposed to just twice, as the first time), the teaching commentary on what’s happening within the MOOC has shifted from regular blogging to a televisual mode. This is our first blog post for EDCMOOC2, written at its midpoint when we are starting to build up a picture of some messages from our second run.

The EDCMOOC team made an introductory video commenting on our themes

The EDCMOOC team made an introductory video commenting on our themes

Teaching Presence – how important is it for teachers to be seen?

Teaching presence has always mattered to us in our online MSc in Digital Education programme. There, with course cohorts that never go above 40, we have developed our presence through orchestrating engaging experiences, engaging in online dialogues, and providing feedback that ‘can be digested, worked with, created from’ (Ross, Bayne et al, 2011). While our students can see our photos and avatars, we don’t routinely provide videos of ourselves giving online ‘instruction’. Students on our MSc speak of a connection and closeness from our critical engagements online, both asynchronously and synchronously. They often claim to experience far more interaction with teachers and fellow students than they have in any other educational programme.

edcmoochangout We were therefore somewhat taken aback at the overwhelming reaction to our informal Google Hangout discussions during the first run of EDCMOOC. Again, the ‘connection’ word was used frequently as participants seemed relieved to see their teachers and to be able to make comments at the same time. It was one of the strongest messages that we received, reinforced by an early question in the discussion forum: ‘Where are the professors?’ And so we decided for the second run not only to have a Hangout each week but also to provide videos that introduce ourselves and our themes to help the participants to orientate themselves.

This embodied approach to presence has felt slightly uncomfortable because it has taken us closer to the ‘over-celebratory fetishizing of the teacher associated with some MOOCs’ that we analysed critically before we embarked on our MOOC (Knox, Bayne et al 2012). And yet this form of presence has proved to be one of the most commented-on features of our activities.

While it is reassuring that the need to ‘see’ us suggests that the potential overthrow of the teaching role is greatly exaggerated, we are more interested in establishing good dialogues with our participants and encouraging them to fashion their own ways of engaging with the course material than we are in attaining guru status. Our introductions and hangouts are still not ‘lessons’ as such, but give us an opportunity to provide guidelines to the kinds of connections we are seeking to make between education and digital cultures and, in the hangouts, to focus on the work being produced by MOOC participants. And some of these connections challenge the very notion of ‘the human touch’ that our televisual selves might seem to offer.

So we have included more video in the second instance of EDCMOOC as a way of further exploring the potency of the visible teaching body, but also to question the supposed replication of face-to-face as the privileged pedagogical mode. One of the key ideas that underpins our team approach is the idea that the digital makes education different, and we are interested in questioning the notion that video renders invisible the mediating technologies of the MOOC, and provides straightforward access to the teacher.

Tapping into the potential of the Massive

The other side of this new perspective on presence is the role of the people taking the MOOC. Participants have responded very warmly to being mentioned in hangouts as we comment on their blogs, their forum postings and their digital artefacts. But of course we cannot make this direct contact with each MOOC participant and it would be foolish to try. In a course that works on a large scale, it is perhaps more useful to think of what we can do with thousands of participants, rather than what we can do for or to them. While this has been in our minds from the outset, we’re now beginning to see how that is working. Jeremy has commented elsewhere on the ‘collective energy and intensity of the multitude’ (Knox 2013), inspired by the display of EDCMOOC1 work organised by the participants themselves. We’re seeing a crossover from that energy to the current MOOC, as it starts to take on its own collective identity.

Some of the EDCMOOC1 participants are now very effective Community Teaching Assistants on EDCMOOC2, and many others are also still present and contributing in multitudinous ways. And all are respecting the newer participants’ emerging shared voice that makes this run of EDCMOOC another unique experience. The new voice can be seen partly in response to the hangouts – participants have been gathering photos of themselves as they participate in the hangout, tweeting and commenting in YouTube and Google+. A suggestion for crowdsourcing the captioning of the hangout brought a strong response, and provides opportunities for further development. As one blogger, Heli Nurmi says:

The recording is available but writing a transcript jointly is an interesting experiment. It follows the principles of empowerment, collaborative learning, social networking, peer assistance, media-technology-enhanced learning.
(Nurmi, 2013)

Heli wonders whether it can lead to deep pedagogical debate. We think that it has huge potential to do so, reinforcing Jeremy’s suggestion (Knox 2013) that a focus on assessment of individual pieces of work may go against the ethos of the massiveness of the MOOC. As we observe many connections and creative flows being established in EDCMOOC2, we look forward to the images and other digital artefacts that will be produced between now and the end of the course in December. We do need to begin to think how we should acknowledge the contribution of the multitude to this creation as well as – or perhaps indeed instead of – pinpointing individual star performers.

Our own connections, flows, links and opportunities are expanding exponentially in this process too. It’s good to share our thoughts in our own blog, to aggregate it into EDCMOOC News – and it’s great to be guesting in the Open Scotland blog at the same time. Such opportunities are only possible through digital connections both locally and at scale.

References

Knox, J. (2013). eLearning and Digital Cultures: a multitudinous open online course. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2013: http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=2525967

Knox, J., Bayne, S. et al (2012) MOOC pedagogy: the challenges of developing for Coursera. Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter. Retrieved 13 November 2013: http://newsletter.alt.ac.uk/2012/08/mooc-pedagogy-the-challenges-of-developing-for-coursera/

Nurmi, H. (2013) Pedagogical Principles of MOOCs. Heli Connecting Ideas. Retrieved 20 November 2013: http://helistudies.edublogs.org/2013/11/19/pedagogical-principles-of/

Ross, J., Bayne, S. et al (2011) Manifesto for Teaching Online. University of Edinburgh MSc in E-learning. Retrieved 13 November 2013: http://onlineteachingmanifesto.wordpress.com/

Progress through Openness

theopenagendaMitchell Baker, Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, has released a thoughtful and inspiring statement in support of #TheOpenAgenda called Only Openness Can Power The Next Wave Of Human Progress.  Although Baker’s statement focuses specifically on ensuring that the Web remains open in order to foster innovation, many of the points she raises relate to openness more widely and are equally applicable to open education.

Openness is important, not only for the Web and technology but also for the human experience. Openness provides the ability to set the rules for ourselves or experiment and work to create a better experience. Openness is critical for the human experience, critical to problem solving—and if you view the problems facing the globe and the human population today we need the ability to solve problems.

Open vs. closed is a dichotomy in many areas of life; many systems move from open to closed or strike a balance between the two …. In the short-term there is sometimes great value, or perceived value, to centralized services. In the long run, though, as systems become more closed it becomes very hard to change something that no longer works optimally.

Some have adopted a closed mind set …. others have adopted an open philosophy—because it’s in their nature, their leaders’ nature or because it makes economic or business sense. They are shifting because they see the possibilities and are moving into opportunities that are more based on openness. 

You can read the a fuller version of Baker’s statement here: Human Progress can Only Come Through Openness.

Open Knowledge Foundation Glasgow Meetup #2

(Cross posted from Open World.)

Last night I went along to the second Open Knowledge Foundation Glasgow meetup.  The event took place in the Board Room of the CCA, which was rather more spacious than the Electron Club that kindly accommodated us last time.  We all got to sit on chairs rather than perch on tables, which made tweeting much easier!  Once again we had a wide range of fascinating lightning talks which generated a great deal of lively discussion.   I’ve posted a storify of the event here: open-knowledge-foundation-glasgow-2

Open Scotland  – Lorna M Campbell, Cetis

I had the pleasure of opening the meeting with a short talk about the Open Scotland initiative, led by Cetis, SQA, the Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, which aims to raise awareness of open education and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. The initiative hopes to build on existing open education developments to encourage the sharing of open educational resources and to embed open educational practice across Scottish education.  The Open Scotland blog provides a focal point to engage the community in discussion and debate, disseminate news and developments relating to all aspects of openness in education and to further the actions and deliverables discussed at the Open Scotland Summit held in Edinburgh in June.

grainneOpen Badges: What? How?  Why? – Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Grainne introduced the concept of open badges and outlined the work of the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group.   Open badges are data infused images that provide an online representation of skills earned.  Badges could provide an important link between informal and formal learning as they enable users to gain recognition for learning that happens anywhere.  The Open Badges in Scottish Education Group, which is supported by Jisc RSC Scotland, has set up three sub-groups focusing on Learner Progress, Technology and Design and Staff Development.

graemeWikimedia UK: Scottish Women on Wikimedia – Graeme Arnott

Only 15% of Wikipedia editors are women, so Wikmedia UK is taking positive steps to address the gender imbalance of editors and remove sexism and racism from posts.  Graeme spoke about a Wikimedia UK editathon run in conjunction with Glasgow Women’s Library.  The event hoped to expose the hidden history of women in Glasgow and provide a way for more women from the Library to engage wth technology.

JenniferThe Digital Commonwealth: digital storytelling and social media archiving – Jennifer Jones

Jennifer introduced the Lottery funded Digital Common Wealth project which aims to support creative community expression in response to the Commonwealth Games.  Digital Common Wealth has three strands: Community Media Clusters, Schools Programme and Creative Voices at UWS.   Developing digital literacies and creating and sharing data are key principals for Digital Common Wealth.  Stories shared by social media are rich source of data and Digital Common Wealth are working with the National Library of Scotland to archive the project’s outputs.

PippaFuture Cities Glasgow – Pippa Gardner

Pippa provided an update on the £24 million Glasgow Future Cities Demonstrator project. Last night the project’s Data Portal had 99 data sets, however this morning they tweeted that they had just added their 100th data set from the Celtic Connections Festival.  The project used the Open Data Handbook to prioritise themes, however some of their data sets are more open than others, depending on their original licences. Where possible Glasgow will make data open by default.  Engagement hubs and links to digital inclusion initiatives are part of the project’s approach and the team will also be running hackathons in the new year.

DuncanOpen Architecture – Duncan Bain

Duncan highlighted some very interesting approaches to open architecture including Wikihouse, which aims to democratise the process of construction, Terrafab which allows you to download and print 3D models of Norwegian terrain maps, and Terrainator, a similar UK based on OS open data.  Duncan’s talk provoked a fascinating debate on lack of openness in architecture education practice, and why architecture has not embraced openness in a similar way that software development has.

bobOpen Street Map  – Bob Kerr

Presented an impromptu overview of the very cool work of the Open Street Map initiative and pointed us to the LearnOSM step by step guide.  Bob highlighted some amazing examples of open street mapping at work, including the humanitarian effort to map Haiti after the earthquake and Map Kibera, a project that mapped the Kenyan shanty town of Kibera revealing the extent of the community and bringing it to life.  Bob’s talk generated a really interesting discussion on the political and social importance of maps.  Duncan pointed out that traditionally the people who have the power have the maps, however initiatives like Open Street Map is changing that.

This meeting was organised by Graham Steel, Graeme Arnott and Ewan Klein with a little input from Sheila MacNeil and I. The event was streamed by Jennifer Jones.

OKFN Glasgow and Edinburgh Meetups

OKFNTwo Open Knowledge Foundation Meetups are taking place in Scotland next week. Meet-ups are friendly and informal evenings for people to get together to share and discuss all aspects of openness. The meetings are free and open to all, so come along and join the discussions around open knowledge, open data, open education, open government, open badges, open architecture, open galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

OKFN Glasgow Meetup

On Monday 18th the second Glasgow Meetup with take place at the Club Room of the CCA at 18.00. The first meeting, which attracted over thirty participants, was a huge success and generated a great deal of interesting discussion. The event will feature six lightning talks on a wide range of topics:

* Wikimedia UK: Scottish Women on Wikipedia – Graeme Arnott
* Open Scotland – Lorna M Campbell
* Future Cities Glasgow – Glynn Staples and Pippa Gardner
* Open Architecture – Duncan Bain
* Open Badges: What? Who? Why? – Grainne Hamilton
* The Common-wealth Games, digital storytelling & social media archiving – Jennifer Jones

To attend the Glasgow meetup, please sign up here.

OKFN Edinburgh Meetup

OpenGLAM-logo-720x1024On Thursday the 21st November the eighth Edinburgh Meetup will take place at EDINA at 18.00. This meetup is focusing on OpenGLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and will feature the following lightning talks.

* The SENESCHAL Project – Phil Carlisle
* Why is linking data so hard? – Kate Byrne
* Monuments, Artefacts and Social History – Peter McKeague
* Edinburgh Datashare: A digital repository of research datasets – Robin Rice

To attend the Edinburgh Meetup, please sign up here.

EduWiki Conference Reflections

260px-Wikimedia_UK_logoLast week Cetis’ Brian Kelly attended the 2013 EduWiki Conference in Cardiff, run by Wikimedia UK. There’s a full write up of the conference on Brian’s UK Web Focus blog, and many of the themes raised are of direct relevance to Open Scotland.  The event led Brian to reflect on the role of Wikipedia in open education and to conclude

“I’m now convinced of the importance of Wikipedia in open educational practices.”

One of the themes to emerge from the conference was the library sector’s changing attitude towards Wikipedia. This can certainly be seen in parts of the library sector in Scotland, and the National Library of Scotland is to be applauded for appointing a Wikimedian in Residence earlier this year.

I was also particularly interested to hear about efforts in Wales to engage with Wikimedia and to support the uptake of minority languages. This from Brian’s conference report: 

Welsh and Other Minority Language Wikipedia Sites

Robin Owain, the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK gave a talk in Welsh with instant translation for English speakers via headsets. Robin’s talk provided the political and cultural context for the following keynote talk and made the links with Wicipedia, the Welsh language version of Wikipedia. “Wales is a small country. That’s our greatness. “Do the small things” is our motto” explained Robin, who went on to inform the audience that “Wales is the land of open content“. Such approaches to openness and doing small things, but doing them well has led to Wicipedia being the most popular web site in the Welsh language.

Robin Owain’s talk focussed on Wicipedia, which is unsurprising for the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK. A wider context was provided by Gareth Morlain (@melynmelyn), the Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government. In his keynote talk on “Getting More Welsh Content Online” which highlighted how a public pressure resulted in Amazon changing their policy on providing Welsh language access to Kindle ebooks.

I was fascinated to learn about use of minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Cornish, on the Web. I was particularly interested to note that Catalan appears to be punching above its weight. Since I have professional contacts in Catalonia I sent a tweet to Miquel Duran, a professor at Girona University, about this. It seems that his son is president of @amicalwikimedia which promotes Catalan Wikipedia. This suggests that small-scale advocacy can have a significant effect on the creation of articles on minority language Wikipedia sites. Since we heard how the number of Wicipedia articles need to grow by 400% for Google to take Welsh language seriously as a search language I hope that Robin Owain and others involved in encouraging take-up of Wicipedia are successful in their advocacy work.

It’s very encouraging to see Wikimedia supporting both open practice and minority languages in the UK and I hope we will see similar advocacy work undertaken in Scotland.