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!

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.

…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/

Norwegian Government MOOC Report and Digitization Programme

Norway MOOC reportEarlier this week the Nordic OER Alliance announced that the Norwegian Government has published its first governmental report on MOOCs and the role of OER: Norwegian MOOC report: Tilrår satsing på OER!

Although the report is in Norwegian, the recommendations have helpfully been translated into English by Tore Hoel, and are copied below. Even without being able to read the entire report, it’s very encouraging to see a national government recommending further investment in innovative pedagogies, teacher and learner support and infrastructure development for technology supported learning. Amongst other recommendations, the Committee has recommended the allocation of a 15 million NOK annual grant for “research-based knowledge development and transfer of knowledge related to learning analytics”. Perhaps more significantly the Committee has also recommended a further 10 million NOK to be allocated to “pursue further development of digital literacy among staff in the higher education sector”. Enlightened thinking indeed. Additional funding has also been recommended for education technology infrastructure development in general and MOOC infrastructure in particular. The report also covers accreditation and recognition, but does not recommend a radical overhall of the current system.

The publication of the Norwegian Government’s MOOC report, comes hot on the heels of reports in the tech press earlier this month that the National Library of Norway is planning to digitise all the books in its holdings within 15 years. While the essence of this story is true, the NLN is a legal deposit library, and it does have a policy to digitise its entire collection over the course of 20 – 30 years, the initiative has actually been running since 2006, but seems to have come to the attention of the US press only recently. That aside, it’s an admirable and ambitious initiative which, together with the Government MOOC report,  speaks volumes about Norway’s commitment to openness.

Resources

Nordic OER: http://nordicoer.org/
Government MOOC Report: http://khrono.no/sites/khrono.no/files/moocutvalget_delrapport_1_13122013.pdf
National Library of Norway – Digitization Policy: http://www.nb.no/English/The-Digital-Library/Digitizing-policy
National Library of Norway – What is being digitized?: http://www.nb.no/English/The-Digital-Library/What-is-being-digitized

Government MOOC Report Recommendations

Chap. 6.2 Innovative pedagogy and quality

The Committee recommends a systematic focus on research-based knowledge development about ICT and learning.

The Committee recommends the establishment of an environment for research-based knowledge development and transfer of knowledge related to learning analytics in 2015 with an annual grant of 15 million NOK. Structure and shape must be considered in relation to current participants and funding agencies.

The Committee believes that the higher education sector has limited use of incentives at the individual level associated with the development of teaching. This does not work stimulating and motivating to adopt new technologies and new forms of learning. The Committee therefore recommends that the operative environment in general and incentives for the educational area are reviewed, both at the individual, institutional and national level. These must be connected together and clearly have the same effect.

The Committee recommends that the allocation of funding to pursue further development of digital literacy among staff in the higher education sector. The Commission proposes to allocate NOK 10 million.

The Mooc Committee recommends that the ministry appointed committee to assess competencies outside the formal education system also considers expertise developed through Mooc deal with exams and credits.

Chap. 6.3 Infrastructure for Mooc and other digital learning

The Committee believes there is a need to continue and increase national spending on technology infrastructure. The Commission proposes to increase funding for further infrastructure development for online education in general with 10 million annually and 10 million annually to develop new infrastructure for Mooc deals specifically.

The Committee recommends that there be further assessed whether it is appropriate to have a common national Mooc portal or alternative solutions are better.

Chap. 6.4 Trade and labor market skills needs

The Committee recommends that business and industry sector uses Mooc and similar offerings in skill development of the employees.

There is appropriated 10 million to further education of teachers using Mooc and similar offers. The Committee recommends that there be an additional 10 million to develop and gain experience with the use of Mooc and similar offerings in continuing education within other relevant educational fields.

Chap. 6.5 Mooc that part of the Norwegian degree system: accreditation and recognition of Mooc deals

The Committee believes that Mooc not necessitate a change of the Norwegian regulations for accreditation and recognition of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system. Mooc exams and credits from both Norwegian and foreign institutions may naturally be part of this system as it is today.

The Committee recommends that institutions utilize the room for maneuver which lies in the administration of the rules for crediting of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system, by facilitating better and smoother practices across Norwegian institutions.

The Committee recommends an assessment of whether current practices are appropriate and what can be done to strengthen the institutions’ utilization of leeway inherent in the current rules for crediting of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system.

The Committee recommends trial of admission to Mooc offerings at Norwegian institutions for applicants who do not meet the traditional requirements for admission to higher education.

Chap. 06.06 Copayment and the principle of free higher education

The Committee believes that Mooc offerings in Norway in the first place should be free.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry is undertaking a review of the rules for personal payments to institutions opportunities to claim fees for parts of a group of participants will be made clear.

Chap. 6.7 Educational support

The Committee recommends that considered whether to grant educational support to learners in Mooc and similar offers with flexible workload and duration. With similar offerings means other forms of online promotions or offers that combine online and campus education.

The Committee believes that Mooc and similar offerings outside Norway and the EU / EEA area should be considered to provide the basis for educational support.

The committee believes that the assessments of changes in education funding scheme also must asses the impact on foreign students.

Chap. 6.8 Funding of higher education

The Committee recommends that the funding system should facilitate incentives or arrangements which support the cooperation between the institutions on the development and supply of Mooc and similar offers, such as flexible ways to share the benefit of credit production.

The Committee recommends considering the introduction of an incentive for education relevance in the funding system. Cooperation between educational institutions and actors in the labor sector on Mooc and similar offers can be an indicator of such relevance.

The Committee recommends that there be annual allocation within the strategic assets of the funding, to support the development of educational content and the development of technological infrastructure for Mooc and similar offers.

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.

POERUP Policy Advice for Universities

poerup_2Policies for OER Uptake (POERUP) is a European Commission funded Life Long Learning Programme project, coordinated by Sero Consulting, which is carrying out research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. The project aims to:

convince decision-makers that in order to be successful with OER, they will have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one’s own country, region or continent, beyond the educational sector they look after.

POERUP have already undertaken a survey of open education policy along with developments in education, e-learning, internet and copyright in 26 countries and have produced a series of comprehensive reports which can be viewed on the Country Reports wiki.

The project is also tasked with producing OER policy documents for a number of EU nations including Scotland, and the team are keen to work with those who have been involved in Open Scotland. The project are also drafting three EU-wide policy papers for schools, colleges and universities on
fostering OER uptake, which will act as aides-mémoire for the national policy documents. A draft of the POERUP EU-wide Policies for Universities is available here.

This document provides an invaluable overview of policy developments relative to open education from EU initiatives (e.g. Bologna, Europe 2020, Opening Up Education), OER projects, lobbyist circles (e.g. Opal, UNESCO/COL) and POERUP working meetings. From this evidence base, the following eighteen Policy Proposal Recommendations have been synthesised. In formulating these proposals care has been taken

not to over-focus on OER as an end but more of a means towards educational transformation.

To provide comments or feedback on these recommendations please contact Paul Bacsich of Sero Consulting at paul.bacsich@sero.co.uk.

Recommendations for European Commission and via EU for the Member States

Innovation – new institutions

1. The Commission should set up a competitive innovation fund to develop one new “European” university each year with a commitment to low-cost online education around a core proposition of open content.
Accreditation of institutions – new accrediting bodies and mutual recognition
2. The Commission should foster the development of transnational accrediting agencies and mutual recognition of accreditations across the EU.
3. The Commission should reduce the regulatory barriers against new kinds of HE providers (e.g. for-profit, from outside the country, consortial, etc).

Quality agencies

4. Quality agencies in ENQA49 should:  Develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online, distance, OER and MOOCs) and how they impact quality assurance and recognition;

  • Engage in debates on copyright;
  • Consider the effects of these new modes on quality assurance and recognition;
  • Ensure that there is no implicit non-evidence-based bias against these new modes when accrediting institutions both public and private including for-profit (if relevant), accrediting programmes (if relevant) and assessing/inspecting institutions/programmes.

Bologna-bis: competence-based not time-based assessment

5. The Commission and related authorities developing the European Higher Education Area50 should reduce the regulatory barriers against new non-study-time-based modes of provision: in particular by developing a successor to Bologna based primarily on competences gained not duration of study.

Assessment and accreditation of modules

6. The Commission should recommend to universities that they should work to improve and proceduralise their activity on APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) including the ability to accredit knowledge and competences developed through online study and informal learning, including but not restricted to OER and MOOCs, with a focus on admitting students with such accredited studies to the universities’ own further courses of study.
7. The Commission should recommend to the larger member states that they should each set up an Open Accreditor to accredit a range of studies which could lead to an undergraduate degree. In the first instance the Accreditor should focus on qualifications in the ISCED 5B area as this is most correlated with high-level skills for business and industry.

Funding mechanisms for institutions and content

8. The Commission should foster work into standardised syllabi EU-wide for undergraduate degrees in certain professions (e.g. medicine, nursing, mathematics, IS/IT) where this is appropriate for EU-wide action, and in the light of a successful outcome to such initiatives, foster the developments of common bases of OER material to support these standards, including relevant open repositories and (ideally jointly with publishers) open textbooks.
9. The Commission should ensure that any public outputs from its programmes (specifically including Erasmus for All and Framework) are made available as open resources under an appropriate license.
10. The Commission should encourage member states to do likewise for their national research and teaching development programmes, including for the public funding component of university teaching.
11. The Commission should encourage member states to increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and consider the benefits of output-based funding for qualifications.

IPR issues

12. The Commission should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational material it is involved in funding. This should currently be Creative Commons 3.0 in unported or relevant national versions, updated from time to time. The Commission should also recommend this license to all member states.
13. The Commission should study the issues in the modern European HE system round the “non commercial” restriction and make appropriate recommendations for its own programmes and for member states.
14. The Commission should support the development of technological methods to provide more and standardised information on IPR to the users of digital educational content.
15. The Commission should mount a campaign both centrally and via the member states to educate university staff on IPR issues.

Training of academics

16. The Commission should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers, focussing on online learning with specific coverage of distance learning, OER, MOOCs and other forms of open educational practice, and also IPR issues.
17. The Commission should encourage member states to do this also and should recommend the use of incentive schemes for teachers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

Further research

18. The Commission should fund research into the verifiable benefits of OER, with greater efforts to integrate such analyses with its ongoing research on distance learning, on-campus online learning, and pedagogy; and recommend the same to member states.