The Scottish Open Education Declaration

http://declaration.openscot.net/

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.

http://declaration.openscot.net/

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. 

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!

…funding, if…

A thought provoking addition to the Open Scotland debate by Graeme Arnott. 

Graeme 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.

Following a talk on Open Scotland which SQA’s Joe Wilson and I presented at the JISC RSC Joint Forum on Open Education in Edinburgh last November, Graeme Arnnot has posted a reply called “funding, if”.  In a challenging and thought provoking response, Graeme explores some of the real world barriers, including the perceived threat of “the other”, that prevent colleagues, particularly in  the FE sector, from sharing and opening access to their resources.  Graeme begins by quoting two anonymous college lecturers:

 1. I get ‘open’, I really do…but why should I share anything when the enemy down the road gives fuck all?

2. I would, but that would mean asking other members of staff for their packs,… and they wouldn’t like that

Graeme suggest that to some extent this attitude demonstrates

 …not just how deeply the institutions had embodied that ideology of Thatcherite competition, but also how effectively that rivalrous structure has, in turn, been internalised by their staff members.

In response to Martin Weller’s assertion that the battle for open has already been won and that the real battle will now determine the future narrative of open, Graeme argues that if the battle has been won, it has

…it has been won elsewhere, and the battle to define open is being fought elsewhere.  In other words, the opinion of the Scottish educational sector won’t be heard because we aren’t present on the battlefield.

However Graeme also highlights some positive developments, including the Glasgow Future City project and the recent Norwegian Government report on massive open online courses, which could have an impact on encouraging the development of policy that will help to “put in place the practices that make sharing spontaneous.”

Graeme echoes Creative Commons’ Cable Green, in suggesting that public money should only be awarded to educational institutions that adopt open practices that are genuinely beneficial to the public.   In conclusion, Graeme argues that changing the nature of  institutional funding could have a significant impact on encouraging openness and proposes adapting some of the key points outlined by the Nordic OER Alliance as follows:

Scottish FE institutions could continue to receive

  • funding, if they invest in improving  the level of digital literacies of their staff which makes openness possible;
  • funding, if their staff make available top quality open educational resources;
  • funding, if they develop the infrastructure and pedagogy of online learning
  • funding, if  the public derives benefit from their MOOC

I’d encourage you to read the full text of this important contribution to the open education debate in Scotland on Graeme’s own blog here: http://postmodeblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/opening-scotland_funding_if/