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Nudging the Door Open⤴

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Last week I presented one of the keynotes at the FLOSS UK Spring Conference in Edinburgh.  I had been invited to present as the organising committee were keen to diversify both the scope and the gender balance of their event, after a first call for papers brought in only male speakers.  Persuaded by the enthusiasm and commitment of the organisers, and after discussing the invitation with colleagues at the University, I accepted their invitation.  However after a second round of blind peer review again brought in only male speakers (thus illustrating the problem of blind submission in any domain that already lacks diversity) I began to get a bit apprehensive.  Normally I would politely decline an invitation to participate in an all-male panel and now here I was keynoting at an all-male conference.

I discussed my concerns with the organisers who once again were sensitive to the issue, keen to talk and open to suggestions.  And I was more than a little relieved when my inspirational senior colleague Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at University of Edinburgh was invited to open the conference, and Christel Dahlskjaer, VP of Open Source and Digital Advocacy at Private Internet Access, was also added to the programme.

My talk was scheduled to take place on the second day, but I went along on the first day to hear Melissa’s opening address and Debian Project Leader Chris Lamb’s keynote.  I had expected female delegates to be in the minority, but I was a little startled to discover there were only three women in the room out of an audience in the region of around eighty people.  Melissa raised this issue diplomatically in her opening address which included a call for more diversity and inclusion in technology industries.

Although I get a little keyed up when I’m speaking in public I don’t generally get too nervous, however I was extremely apprehensive about presenting a non-technical keynote to an all-male audience of technical developers.  Particularly given that my talk, an over view of the Open Knowledge Landscape, highlighted the problem of systemic bias and structural inequality in a wide range of “open” communities.  In an effort to work up a little courage I did something I don’t often do; I called for back-up.  The evening before my keynote I tweeted…

To say that I was overwhelmed by the response would be an understatement, so I’d like to thank each and every one of you who replied to my tweet, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your support.

I also tweeted a thread of all the inspiring projects and initiatives that I had included in my talk, because if you’re speaking about diversity and representation I think it’s really important to give credit where credit is due.  The twitter thread proved to be really popular so I might do this again next time I’m giving a talk.

On the morning of my keynote I was encouraged to see a couple more women in the audience, maybe five in total?  But it was still pretty daunting to get up onto that stage.  The audience however were faultlessly polite and engaged, particularly when I spoke about structural inequality and lack of representation in technology domains and open communities.

I ended by highlighting the story of Bassel Khartabil and the Memorial Fund that Creative Commons established to commemorate his legacy, because I believe it demonstrates why it’s so important for all those of us who work in the broad domain of Open Knowledge to come together to break down the barriers that divide us.  I always find it difficult to talk about Bassel and this time was no exception. I choked when I tried to read a passage he wrote from Adra Prison in Damascus and I was almost in tears by the end.  However I make no apology for getting emotional over such an important story.

There was only time for a couple of questions after my talk, one about business models for openness and another about how the conference could become more diverse and inclusive without compromising the integrity of their peer review process. During the break afterwards, I was really touched by a young delegate from the University of York who said he had benefitted so much from working in open source software projects and using Wikipedia, and wanted to know how he could give something back to the community.  I suggested becoming a Wikipedia editor and gave him some pointers on how to get started.  And I also really enjoyed chatting with some Edinburgh Informatics students who were hugely enthusiastic about the University’s commitment to Open Knowledge. Although there wasn’t a great deal of activity around the conference hashtag, I was touched to get one or two really supportive comments from delegates.

All in all the conference was a pretty daunting event for me, but it’s one that I learned a lot from, not least how supportive my own Open Knowledge community is and how willing other communities can be to listen to new stories and alternative points of view.  So I’d like the take this opportunity to thank the organisers once again for inviting me to keynote.

Last word has to go to the fabulous Kelsey Merkley.

Exploring the Open Knowledge Landscape⤴

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Transcript and slides from my keynote at the FLOSS UK Spring Conference in Edinburgh.

I’m not a programmer.  I’m not a developer.  And I don’t contribute directly to the creation of free and open source software.  I originally started out as an Archaeologist but I now work in the domain of Open Knowledge and more specifically open education.  I currently work for the Open Education Resources Service within the Information Services Group at the University of Edinburgh, I’m a Board member of both the Association for Learning Technology and Wikimedia UK, and a member of Open Knowledge International’s Open Education Working Group. All these organisations are part of the Open Knowledge landscape and what I want to do today is provide a broad overview of some of the different domains, communities and cultures that make up this landscape including open education, open data, open textbooks and Open Access Scholarly works.  And I also want to explore the boundaries that crisscross this landscape and demarcate these open spaces, and ask who is included, who is excluded, and what we can do to make our communities more diverse and inclusive.

In the words of the late, great Maryam Mirzakhani, former professor of mathematics at Stanford University and the first female winner of the Fields Medal, who sadly passed away last year.

“I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields—it’s very refreshing. There are lots of tools, and you don’t know which one would work. It’s about being optimistic and trying to connect things.”

So that’s what I want to do today, to look at how we can cross the imaginary boundaries of the Open Knowledge landscape and connect our different open communities.

Of course the open landscape will look very different to each and every one of us and the view we see will depend very much on our personal perspective and the privilege of our vantage point.  These are some of the domains and communities that populate the Open Knowledge landscape as I see it.

  • Open licenses
  • Open educational resources
  • Open education policy and practice
  • Open textbooks
  • Open badges
  • Open online courses
  • MOOCs (a very contested open space.)
  • Open data
  • Open science
  • Open Access scholarly works
  • Open source software
  • Open standards
  • Open government
  • Open GLAM

I’m not going to attempt to cover all these areas, as we’d be here until next week, but I do want to explore some of the areas that I’m most familiar with and look at how we can all benefit from crossing the boundaries and building connections between these domains.

Open Education and OER

So let’s start off with open education and OER.

The principles of open education were first outlined in the 2007 Cape Town Declaration, which laid the foundations of the “emerging open education movement” and advocated for the development of open education policy to ensure that taxpayer-funded educational resources are available under open license.  The Cape Town Declaration is still an influential document and it was updated last year on its 10th anniversary as Capetown +10 and I can highly recommend having a look at this if you want a broad overview of the principles of open education.

There is no one hard and fast definition of open education but one I like is from the not for profit organization OER Commons…

“The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. The Open Education Movement is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation.”

Though Open Education can encompass many different things, open educational resources or OER are central to any understanding of this domain.

UNESCO define open educational resources as:

“teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”

It’s useful to note that this definition accommodates a wide range of different resource types and it’s notable that the term OER is interpreted very differently in different communities.  In the US currently, OER tends to equate to open textbooks, and I’ll go on and say why shortly, while in the UK we tend to have a much broader understanding of OER that encompasses a wide range of teaching, learning and cultural heritage resources.

The reason I chose this particular definition is that UNESCO is one of a number of organisations that actively supports the global adoption of OER.  In 2012, five years after the Cape Town Declaration, UNESCO released the Paris OER Declaration which encourages governments and authorities to open license educational materials produced with public funds in order to realize substantial benefits for their citizens and maximize the impact of investment.  And last year UNESCO brought together 111 member states for the 2nd OER World Congress in Slovenia, the main output of which was the UNESCO Ljubljana OER Action Plan.  Central to the OER Action plan is the acknowledgement of the role that OER can play in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4   and support quality education that is equitable, inclusive, open and participatory.

In his summing up at the end of the congress UNESCO Assistant Director for Education Qian Tang said

“to meet the education challenges, we can’t use the traditional way. In remote and developing areas, particularly for girls and women, OER are a crucial, crucial means to reach SDGs. OER are the key.”

One of the key characteristics of open educational resources is that they are either in the public domain or they are released under an open licence and generally that means a Creative Commons licence.

However not all Creative Commons licences are equal and only resources that are licensed for adaptation and reuse can really be considered as OER.   At the recent OER World Congress, Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley emphasized that free is not the most important thing about OER, it’s the permission to modify and adapt resources that is most important, because that is what allows us to adapt educational resources to allow us to meet the specific and diverse needs of our learners.

At the University of Edinburgh we believe that open educational resources are strongly in line with our institutional mission to provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students, and to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

We have a vision for OER that builds on our world-class education and research collections, traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment and the university’s civic mission. And this vision is backed up by an OER Policy, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience.

Open.Ed is our OER portal where you can access open educational resources produced by staff and students across the university, including teaching materials, video lectures, film content, games, 3 models and much more. Rather than investing in a proprietary repository, Open.Ed is supported by WordPress and we’re currently in the process of implementing search and aggregation functionality based on the Solvonauts open source OER search engine developed by pgogy.

Open Textbooks

I mentioned earlier that the prevalent form of OER in North America is open textbooks.  The reason being that North American education systems tend to be centred heavily around single use textbooks.  According to SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition,  the price of textbooks has increased at more than three times the rate of inflation for decades, resulting in college students face steep price tags of up $200 per book.  These costs can be a considerable barrier in terms of access to education and also result in schools and colleges using books that are years out of date because they are too expensive to replace.  SPARC is one of a number of organisations that campaigns for the adoption of open texbooks in the US, and they have recently been instrumental in persuading U.S. Congress to fund a $5 million open textbook grant program.

Although we don’t rely quite so heavily on single course textbooks here in the UK, textbook costs can still be significant.  The UK OpenTextbooks project is a partnership between the OER Hub at the Open University, OpenStax and The Open Textbook Network which aims to explore the viability of introducing open textbooks in UK higher education.

While open textbooks offer many benefits when used as is, including cost savings and access to affordable high quality learning materials, the benefits of open textbooks increase significantly when you combine them with open source software.   One initiative that is doing just that is BC Campus in Canada. In 2012 BC Campus received a $1m grant from the British Columbia government to  provide free and open textbooks for the top 40 course subject areas in post secondary education.  The project collected existing open textbooks from OpenStax and the Open Textbooks Network, and adopted PressBooks, the open source book content management system, as a faculty friendly authoring platform for new open books.  Because of the open extensible nature of the software, BC Campus have been able to add new features to PressBooks, such as annotation and new import and export routines and these are contributed back to the community as open source code.  In the words of BC Campus’ Clint Lalonde:

“PressBooks is easy for most faculty to use because many are familiar with WordPress. Faculty feel empowered and have the skills needed to adapt open textbooks to fit their specific learning needs. Faculty make their textbook reflect their pedagogy instead of the reverse.”

MOOCs

Moving on now to MOOCs….

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, occupy a somewhat contested space in the Open Knowledge landscape. The term was originally coined in 2008 to describe a number of online courses, characterised by social connectivist and constructivist pedagogies, being run by the Universities of Athabasca and Prince Edward Island in Canada.  These innovative courses focused on knowledge creation and generation and encourage learners to play a central role in shaping their learning experiences.   From 2010 onwards however a number of primarily venture-capital funded commercial MOOC providers, including Udacity, EdX, Coursera and FutureLearn, entered the market with promises to disrupt education.  The launch of these companies was accompanied by a huge amount of hype with Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity predicting that in 50 years time there would be only ten higher education institutions in the world, and of course, Udacity had a good chance of being one of them.  Udacity now focuses primarily on vocational courses rather than the Higher Education sector.

Although MOOCs did not disrupt Higher Education, they did fill an interesting niche in the education market, and I use that term advisedly in this instance, and commercial MOOC providers are still thriving.  My problem with MOOCs is that they are not open in any real sense of the word.  The word “open” in MOOC simply means that anyone can join a course free of charge, regardless of qualifications.  The platforms themselves are proprietary, and even if course content is open licensed it is often difficult to extricate from the platform. Most MOOCs are free as in beer rather than free as in speech and even this is increasingly debatable as many now charge for premium features such as certification and continued access to course materials.  Of course one solution to this is to ensure all MOOC content is also available off these commercial platforms and available under open licence, and that’s the road we have gone down at Edinburgh.  The University runs MOOCs on FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX platforms and has made a considerable investment in producing high quality content for use in these courses.  In order to ensure this content is accessible and reusable for both our own students and colleagues and others outwith the University we make sure is can be downloaded under open license from our multi media asset management system, Media Hopper Create.

The original social constructionist MOOCs haven’t gone away though, and there are a wide range of creative and innovative online courses running all over the world now which truly embody openness and which are often supported by free and open source software.  One nice example is 23 Things for Digital Knowledge, an award winning, open online course run by my colleague Charlie Farley at the University of Edinburgh. 23 Things is designed to encourage digital literacy by exposing learners to a wide range of digital tools for personal and professional development.  The course runs on WordPress, all the content and materials are Creative Commons licensed and the University actively encourages others to take and adapt the course.   Another amazing example is DS106 an anarchic digital storytelling course from the University of Mary Washington which has been running since 2010.  The instigator of ds106, Jim Groom, is also the founder of Reclaim Hosting,   a company that builds on the principles of the open web, and which provides teachers, learners and institutions with an easy way to own and control their own web domains and host open source applications.  And I think we’ve all seen plenty of evidence recently as to why it’s so important to have the ability to control our own web domains and the data that our presence on the web generates.

Open Access Scholarly Works  

Open Access Scholarly Works clearly occupy an important place in the Open Knowledge landscape.  Since the publication of the 2012 Finch report on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, and Research Councils UK’s, policy on Open Access, universities have been required to make the outputs of their publicly funded research freely and openly available through open access journals, repositories and other channels.

Free and open access to the outputs of publicly funded research provides important social and economic benefits as well as being in line with the Government’s commitment to transparency and open data, and contributing to the global open movement.  In addition to making research outputs freely accessible to all, Open Access allows research to be disseminated quickly and widely, the research process to operate more efficiently, and has the potential to increase use and understanding of research by business, government, charities and the wider public.

However it is not always easy for those outwith academia to know how to access these outputs, even though they are freely and openly available.  And within academia there is something of a divide between Open Access scholarly works and Open Educational Resources with the former tending to be managed by the Library within dedicated Open Access repositories, while the later, if they are managed at all, tend to be dealt with on an ad hoc basis by learning technology services. As a result of the Research Council mandates, a whole repository infrastructure has been developed to facilitate the management and dissemination of Open Access scholarly works, while OER have often been somewhat neglected in comparison.  A few initiatives have sought to accommodate scholarly works and teaching and learning resources in the same repository, but these have not been particularly successful as the resources themselves and the work flows they are part of are very different.   This is unfortunate as Open Access scholarly works can clearly be of huge benefit to teaching and learning, and at the same time, OER can be harnessed to promote the outputs of open research.

One initiative at the University of Edinburgh that uses OER to help disseminate Open Access research outputs beyond the Academy, and to foster technology transfer and innovation, is Innovating with Open Knowledge. This project has created a series of open licensed video interviews, case studies and learning resources aimed at creative individuals, private researchers, entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises to provide guidance on how to find and access the open outputs of Higher Education.  The resources focus on developing digital and data literacy skills and search strategies and feature case study interviews with creative individuals, entrepreneurs and experts, engaging with the University of Edinburgh’s world class research outputs.  Among the case studies are a series of interviews about finding and using Open Source Software with Scott Wilson of the independent, non-advocacy service OSS-Watch.

Open Data

Open data can be defined as data and content that can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.

Although there is no UK policy that mandates the release of open research data, there is a Concordat on Open Research Data, which was originally published by HEFCE, Research Council’s UK, Universities UK and Wellcome in 2016.  The Concordat recognises that research data should, wherever possible, be made openly available for use by others in a manner consistent with relevant legal, ethical, disciplinary and regulatory frameworks and norms, and with due regard to the cost involved.

In a parallel development, the UK Government has also made considerable efforts to open up its data for people to re-use through data.gov.uk, in the belief open government data can help governments be more transparent, and support business, academics and the third sector.  This commitment is supported by the Open Government Partnership, an international initiative launched in 2011 that aims to help more governments become more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to their own citizens, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive.

Open data can also make a significant contribution to social initiatives and humanitarian projects.  One such example is the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team, who undertake a wide range of mapping projects to support disaster relief, socio-economic development, and geographic information for humanitarian aid. For example in 2010 when Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake, the Open Street Map Community immediately mobilized; within 48 hours, high resolution post-earthquake imagery was made available, and in the first month following the disaster 600 people contributed to Haiti’s open street maps.  Similarly, when Sri Lanka suffered from severe flooding in 2016, the governments’ Disaster Management Centre turned to the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team to urgently start tracing detailed building and housing unit information.

Although open data, open access, and open education have all made significant progress in recent years, there has been a tendency for these domains to progress in parallel with little sign of convergence and as a result there is a tendency to end up with “open silos”.  In the UK, research mandates and concordats may have had a positive impact on open access and open research data, however the connection has yet to be made to open education. While the benefits of open data are widely recognised in relation to scientific and scholarly research, open data also has considerable value in the context of teaching and learning.  Many governments, non-governmental organisations and research centres are already producing large volumes of open data sets that have the potential to be used as open educational resources. Scenario based learning involving messy, real world data sets can help students to develop critical data literacy and analytical skills. Using open data introduces an invaluable element of realism and complexity as the data is flawed and inconsistent.  Students come up against challenges that it would be difficult to reproduce artificially and, as a result, they learn to deal with the kind of problems they will encounter in the real world.  And perhaps more importantly, working with real world open data from real governments, communities and research projects, doesn’t just help students to develop data literacy skills, it also helps to develop citizenship, social responsibility and community engagement.

In an influential report by the Open Knowledge Open Education Working Group, Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann noted that

Educators who make use of Open Data in teaching and learning encourage students to think as researchers, as journalists, as scientists, and as policy makers and activists. They also provide a meaningful context for gaining experience in research workflows and processes, as well as learning good practices in data management, analysis and reporting.

However in a presentation at the Open Education Global conference in Delft just yesterday, Leo also reminded us that open data alone does not promote social justice.  Quoting Johnston, Leo noted that unless people know how to access and use the data effectively, they can become mere objects of study, marginalized and excluded from participating in decisions about their own society.

Wikipedia

Of course no map of the Open Knowledge domain would be complete without Wikpedia and its associated projects including  Wiki Data, Wikimedia Commons, Wiki Source etc.

Wikipedia itself is of course built on OSS, with the encyclopedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wictionary all being supported by MediaWiki open-source wiki software.  In addition, over 1000 automated and semi-automated bots and other tools have been developed to assist with Wikimedia editing.  There are also fun tools such as Histropedia which uses the free Histropedia JS software and Wikidata to generate dynamic timelines of everything.

Here in the UK we have our own Wikimedia chapter, Wikimedia UK, which works in partnership with organisations from the cultural and education sectors and beyond in order to unlock content, remove barriers to knowledge, develop new ways of engaging with the public and enable learners to benefit from the educational potential of the Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia UK also supports a number of Wikimedians in Residence who work with a range of education and public heritage organisations throughout the country.  In Scotland we have Wikimedians in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish Library and Information Council, and a Gaelic Wikimedian at the National Library of Scotland.  A new Wikimedia Scotland Coordinator, Sara Thomas, has also just been appointed and in Wales there is a National Wikimedian, Jason Evans,  based at the National Library of Wales.

At the University of Edinburgh we believe that contributing to the global pool of Open Knowledge  through Wikimedia is squarely in line with our institutional mission; the creation, dissemination and curation of knowledge, and we also believe that Wikipedia is a valuable learning tool to develop a wide range of digital and information literacy skills and capabilities at all levels across the curriculum. Our Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, works to embed open knowledge in the curriculum, through skills training sessions, editathons, Wikipedia in the classroom initiatives and Wikidata projects, in order to increase the quantity and quality of open knowledge and enhance digital literacy.

There is no question that Wikipedia is an invaluable source of open knowledge, however it is not without bias.  The Wikimedia Foundation’s vision may be  “a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge”, however the coverage of subject matter on Wikipedia is neither uniform nor balanced and many topics and areas are underrepresented, particularly those relating to women, people of colour and minority groups.  For example, on English language Wikipedia only about 17% of biographical articles are about women, and the number of female editors is between 10 & 14%. Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you why this lack of diversity and inclusivity is a serious problem.  However it is a problem that is being addressed by the Foundation itself, by projects such as Wikiwomen in Red, and by Wikimedians and Wikimedians in Residence across the world.

At the University of Edinburgh an important aspect of our Wikimedian in Residence’s work is to help improve the coverage and esteem of Wikipedia articles about women, and underrepresented minorities, in science, art, technology, and history, and to redress the gender imbalance of contributors by encouraging more women to become Wikimedia editors.  And I’m very pleased to say that over the last year 65% of participants at our editathons were women.  There has also been phenomenal progress in Wales, and in 2016, Welsh Wikipedia became the biggest language Wikipedia in the world to achieve gender balance.

Inclusion, Exclusion and Structural Inequality

Wikipedia’s well known problem with gender balance is a notable example of systemic bias.  Wikimedia is an open community that anyone can contribute to in theory, however in reality there are many factors that prevent certain groups from contributing.   In the case of women editors, former Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner identified a range of systemic factors that discourage women from contributing to the encyclopedia, including lack of time, lack of self confidence, aversion to conflict, and the misogynistic atmosphere of the community.  In addition, the very principles which underpin the encyclopedia discriminate against marginalised groups.  Wikipedia is based on notability and citation, yet in fields where women and people of colour have been traditionally barred, or their contribution has been neglected or elided, it is much harder to find reputable citations that are critical for proving notability.  Any article that is deemed to be inadequately cited runs the risk of rapid deletion for lack of notability, thus replicating real world power imbalances, privileges and inequalities.

Wikimedia is not the only open community that suffers from issues of systemic bias and structural inequality.  In a paper on Open Initiatives for Decolonising the Curriculum,  in the forthcoming book Decolonising the University edited by Gurminder K Bhramba, open source software developer Pat Lockley notes that universities with the highest percentages of black staff are those which spend the least – in many cases, nothing – on open access article processing charges.  And he goes on to ask whether Open Access really is broadening and diversifying academia, or merely reinforcing the existing system.

When we look at MOOCs supported on commercial platforms, the situation is arguably worse. Far from democratizing higher education and reaching out to disadvantaged groups, numerous studies have shown that the majority of MOOC enrolments tend to be young, male, employed, and from the developed countries of the global north.  Furthermore, the majority of MOOC students already have some kind of postgraduate qualification.  An important survey undertaken in 2013 by the University of Pennsylvania of 24 courses offered by through Coursera found that 80% of the 34,000 students questioned already had a degree and 44% had also undertaken some form of post graduate education.  The figures were even more stark outwith the US, with 80% of students from Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa coming from the wealthiest and best educated 6% of the population.  Furthermore, these students were much more likely to be male than female. Gayle Christensen, one of the authors of the report noted that MOOCs are failing to reach they students they had intended to empower and instead they are giving more to those who already have a lot.

Similarly, in its 2017 survey on open source software development practices and communities, Github reported huge gaps in representation and concluded that the gender imbalance in open source remains profound and that open source contributors don’t yet reflect the broad audience of users. From a random sample of 5,500 respondents 95% were men; just 3% were women and 1% are non-binary.

And there are many other examples of similar structural inequalities in open spaces and communities.  We all need to be aware of the fact that open does not necessarily mean accessible.  Open spaces and communities are not without their hierarchies, their norms and power structures.   And we need to look around our own open communities and ask ourselves who is included and who is excluded, who is present and who is absent, and we need to ask ourselves why.  Because nine times out of ten, if certain groups of people are absent or excluded from spaces, communities or domains, it is not a result of preference, ability, or aptitude, it is a result of structural inequality, and in many cases it is the result of multiple intersecting inequalities. And if you’re interested in how such inequalities have impacted the development of the commuting industry in the UK, I can highly recommend this book by Marie Hicks Programmed Inequality How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge In Computing.

Far too often technology and technology communities replicate the structural inequalities that permeate our society.   And I think we’re all aware of the very pressing current debate about how algorithms encode both conscious and unconscious bias.

So how do we change this?  Well half the battle is recognising that there is a problem in the first place, taking steps to understand that problem, and then doing the hard work to effect change.  And believe me, it is hard work, these things won’t change over night, but they do have to change. Those of us who are already inside these open spaces and communities need to take positive action to make our communities, not just open, but accessible and inclusive.  And to do that, to borrow a phrase from another group who campaigned for radical change and inclusion at the turn of the last century, the Suffragettes, we need Deeds not Words.

In the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto Aaron Shwartz said

“Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world.”

The same is equally true of Open Knowledge and open communities.  We have been given the privilege to participate, and we can not keep that privilege to ourselves.  We need to identify the barriers that prevent some people from participating, and we need to do what we can to remove these systemic obstructions.  And to me this is what openness is really about, the removal of systemic barriers and structural inequalities to enable everyone to participate equitably, and on their own terms. We have a duty to ensure that our own open communities really are just that, open to everyone, regardless of race and gender, because that’s how we ensure that we really can cross the imaginary boundaries of the Open Knowledge landscape.

Chris Lamb began his keynote yesterday with three stories, and I want to end my keynote with a story too, one which I believe demonstrates why it’s so important for all those of us who work in the broad domain of Open Knowledge to come together to break down the barriers that divide us.

This is Bassel Khartabil Safadi a Syrian open source software developer, open knowledge advocate, Wikipedia editor and project lead for Creative Commons Syria.

Bassel was also a contributor to the New Palmyra Project; a digital archaeology and open data initiative that aims to create a virtual reconstruction of the ancient city of Palmyra, large parts of which have been destroyed by ISIS during the Syrian civil war.

As a result of his open knowledge activities, Bassel Khartabil was detained by the Syrian government in 2012 and held in Adra Prison in Damascus for 3 years. In October 2015 his name was removed from the prison register and, despite calls from numerous human rights organisations, his whereabouts remained unknown.

In order to raise awareness of Bassel’s disappearance a group of open practitioners came together to write the open e-book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry which includes essays, poems, personal reflections and polemics from a wide range of international open knowledge and free culture advocates.  My contribution to the book was a short piece called The Open World which touches on the personal risks, costs and benefits of openness.

Sadly in August last year news was released that Bassel had been executed by the Syrian regime in 2015.  In order to honor his memory and to support projects in the spirit of his work, Creative Commons has established the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund which provides grants to advance collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world. The fund also supports the digital preservation, sharing, and remix of creative works and historical artifacts.

Just a few weeks ago, at the Creative Commons summit in Toronto, the first Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship and Memorial Fund recipients were announced, and you can find out more about those recipients and their projects here https://creativecommons.org/2018/04/15/fellowship-memorial-fund/

Before he was executed, Bassel wrote from Adra prison

“Of my experience spending three years in jail so far for writing open source code (mainly) I can tell how much authoritarian regimes feel the danger of technology on their continuity, and they should be afraid of that. As code is much more than tools, it’s education that opens youth minds and moves the nations forward. Who can stop that? No one…. As long as you people are out doing what you are doing, my soul is free. Jail is only a temporary physical limitation.”

The fate of Bassel Khartabil is a sobering but inspiring reminder of why Open Knowledge is so powerful and so necessary and why we must all work together to achieve a more open, inclusive and equitable society.

International Open Science Conference⤴

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This week I’m looking forward to presenting an invited talk on OER at the International Open Science Conference in Berlin.

My talk, Crossing the Field Boundaries will explore the interface between open education, open data and open science. The talk will highlight the Open Knowledge Open Education Group‘s influential study of Open Data as OER by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann, and using examples from the University of Edinburgh’s GeoScience Outreach and Engagement Course will highlight how student created open educational resources can be used to widen participation and encourage knowledge transfer and community engagement in science education.  I’ll post my paper and slides when I get back later in the week.

Thanks to the conference organisers for making these cute twitter cards!

Open Silos? Open data and OER⤴

from @ Open World

“Open silos” might seem like a contradiction in terms, but this was one of the themes that emerged during last week’s  Open Knowledge Open Education Working Group call which focused on Open Data as Open Educational Resources. We heard from a number of initiatives including the Creating Value from Open Data project led by Universities UK and the Open Data Institute which is exploring how open data can support the student experience and bring about tangible benefits for UK higher education institutions, and Open Data as OER, led by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann, which is gathering case studies on the use of real world open data in educational contexts.

While the benefits of open data are widely recognised in relation to scientific and scholarly research, open data also has considerable value in the context of teaching and learning.  Many governments, non-governmental organisations and research centres are already producing large volumes of open data sets that have the potential to be used as open educational resources. Scenario based learning involving messy, real world data sets can help students to develop critical data literacy and analytical skills. And perhaps more importantly, as Javiera pointed out, working with real world open data  from real governments and communities doesn’t just help students to develop data literacy skills, it also helps to develop citizenship.

“It’s important to collaborate with local communities to work on real problems so that students can help their communities and society to improve social and political elements of their daily lives.”
~ Javiera Atenas

Tim Coughlan of the Open University also spoke about his experience of using open data to teach introductory programming to undergraduates. Using open data introduces an invaluable element of realism and complexity as the data is flawed and inconsistent.  Students come up against challenges that it would be difficult to introduce artificially and, as a result, they learn to deal with the kind of problems they will encounter when they get real programming jobs.

Marieke Guy, co-ordinator of the Open Education Working Group, had a similar experience of learning to work with open data

“Authenticity is critical. You get a new level of understanding when you work with data and get your hands dirty.”
~Marieke Guy

Towards the end of the meeting there was an interesting discussion on the effect of Research Council mandates on open data and open education. Although open access, open education and open data have all made significant progress in recent years, there has been a tendency for these domains to progress in parallel with little sign of convergence. Research Council mandates may have had a positive impact on open access and open research data however the connection has yet to be made to open education and as a result we have ended up with “open silos”.  Indeed open access mandates may even have a negative impact on open education, as institutions focus their efforts and resources on meeting these requirements, rather than on getting their teaching and learning materials online and sharing open educational resources.  So while it’s great that institutions are now thinking about how they can link their open research data with open access scholarly works, we also need to focus some attention on linking open data to open education. There’s no simple solution to breaking down the barriers between these “open silos” but exploring the converging and competing cultures of open knowledge, open source, open content, open practice, open data and open access is just one of the themes we’ll be focusing on at the OER16 conference at the University of Edinburgh next year so I hope you’ll be able to come and join us.


OKF Open Education Working Group Advisory Board⤴

from @ Open World

Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to join the Advisory Board of the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Education Working Group. The aim of the group, which is led by Marieke Guy, is “to initiate global cross-sector and cross-domain activity that encompasses the various facets of open education.”  Marieke has invited all Board members to write an introductory blog post for the group so here’s mine. It was published over at Open Education Working Group site last week.

okf_edu3

OKF Open Education Working Group

It’s hard to say when my own involvement in open education began. The start of the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes in 2009 is an obvious point of reference but many of the programmes and projects I was involved in long before that were concerned with sharing educational resources. Open licences were unheard of when I began working in education technology in 1997 so early projects I was involved with, such as Clyde Virtual University (SHEFC Use of the MANs Initiative) and the Scottish electronic Staff Development Library (SHEFC ScotCIT Programme), took a walled garden approach to sharing. Different methods of sharing, managing and disseminating educational resources were explored and developed over the next decade by a wide range of Jisc development programmes. Some of the ones I was directly involved in include Exchange for Learning (X4L), Digital Libraries in the Classroom, ReProduce, and the Digital Repositories and Preservation Programmes.

It was only with the launch of the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programme that I really got involved with open education as we might recognise it today though. On the surface, the primary aim of the HEFCE funded UKOER Programme was to get openly licenced educational content out there into the public domain, (the metaphor we frequently used was turning on the tap), however the underlying aim to the programme was to raise awareness of OER and embed open education practice within English higher education institutions. In keeping with the experimental and innovative nature of UKOER, Cetis recommended a novel approach to steering the programmes’ technical direction. Rather than identifying specific applications, standards, application profiles and vocabularies, we recommended that the UKOER programmes should adopt an open approach to the use of technology and standards. No descriptive standards, exchange mechanisms or specific technologies were mandated, thus allowing projects the freedom to choose the tools or technologies that best suited their requirements. The only provisos were that all projects should use the programme tag ‘ukoer’ and represent the resources they released in the Jorum national repository.

IntoWildCoverThis open approach to technology and standards enabled us to learn from real world practice and to surface technical issues and problem areas. As a result, Cetis role in the UKOER Programmes was more conversational than directional. We monitored projects’ progress with the adoption and use of a wide range of technologies, applications and resource description approaches and helped to identify common technical issues. At the end of UKOER we synthesised the technical outputs of the programmes and produced an open ebook called Into the Wild: Technology for open educational resources. Even this book was a result of open practice! The book was the result of booksprint using the open source Booktype platform and an open draft was shared with the community for input and comment.

Working with the UKOER Programmes was a hugely rewarding experience and I think its fair to say that we all learned a lot, not just about open education technology, but also about the culture and practice of sharing. Measuring the impact of short-term innovation funding programmes is notoriously difficult, but looking back now, two years after the end of UKOER, it really does look like the programme made a real difference in raising awareness of OER and embedding open educational practice in the English higher education sector.

Since the end of the UKOER Programmes in 2012 I’ve continued to engage with a wide range of open education developments, including the US Learning Registry initiative, Creative Commons, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, Wikimedia UK and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

More recently I’ve been involved with the Open Scotland initiative. Open Scotland is a voluntary cross sector initiative, led by Cetis, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Jisc Regional Support Centre Scotland and the Association for Learning Technology’s Scotland Special Interest Group. The aim of Open Scotland is to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open education policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. To further these aims, we have recently launched the draft Scottish Open Education Declaration. This declaration builds on the UNESCO 2012 Paris OER Declaration but the scope has been widened to focus on open education more generally, rather than OER specifically.

The cornerstone of the Open Scotland initiative is our belief that open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing. I believe that open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens. I know that these are goals and beliefs that the OKF Open Education Working Group shares and I am privileged to have an opportunity to contribute to this group.


Jisc DigiFest and “What I Know Is”⤴

from @ Open World

It’s been a little quiet on this blog recently, I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs though, far from it! I’ve been busy on the Open Scotland front and with another exciting project that Phil Barker and I will be announcing very shortly.

I also seem to have got myself roped into an awful lot of conferences and events over the next three or four months. I’ve got ten presentations coming up between now and the end of June, on topics ranging from open education policy and Open Scotland, to the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, to the crew of an 18th century naval frigate (yes really!)  If you want to find out where to catch me, I’ve updated my list of Presentations & Events.

The first couple of events I”m looking forward to are the Jisc DigiFest in Birmingham on the 12th of March and “What I Know Is” – a research symposium on online collaborative knowledge building in Stirling on the 19th of March.

Jisc DigiFest

digifest-side-bar

©Jisc and Matt Lincoln
http://www.mattlincolnphoto.co.uk
CC BY-SA

David Kernohan has invited me to Jisc DigiFest to participate in the panel session he’s running called Whatever happened to the MOOC?  The session will be:

“A discussion between UK and international speakers concerning current activity around open education and open courses. Find out how cutting edge academics and institutions are taking control of their own open education offerings, and adding value to traditional courses and outreach activities.

The “MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course) dominated discussions about online education in 2013. But as the bubble of media interest begins to fade, we will look at some of the interesting open education experiments and practices that could define the next wave of open education.

David has ambitious plans to run the panel as a single seamless narrative with seven speakers.  We’ve each been given a starting point and an end point in the narrative and have five minutes to cover our topic in between.  There will be no breaks between presenters and David has threatened to be ruthless if we deviate from our allotted five minutes. It’s going to be an interesting challenge!  The panel will also feature video contributions from the incomparable triumvirate of Jim Groom, David Wiley and Audrey Watters.  David has promised us it will be

“Insane? Possibly. Risky? Certainly. Fun? Totally.”

Wish me luck!

“What I Know Is”

260px-Wikimedia_UK_logo“What I Know Is” is a research symposium hosted by the Division of Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling, which focuses on Wikipedia and other wikis and “inquires as to its status as a platform for collaborative online knowledge-building.”  The symposium aims to

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

I’m really pleased to have been invited to contribute to this event as I’ve been hugely impressed with Wikimedia UK’s recent efforts to diversify and engage with the education community throughout the UK over the last year.  I’m particularly looking forward to this event as, due to other commitments, I haven’t had a chance to participate in any of the fascinating events run by Wikimedia UK.  (I was particularly gutted to miss the recent Anybody but Burns editathon hosted by the Scottish Poetry Library.)  I’ll be speaking about Open Scotland and the Open Knowledge Foundation in a session on “Networked Communities, Commons and Open Learning.”

For a comprehensive overview of Wikimedia UK activities in SCotland see this great post by Graeme Arnott on the Open Scotland blog: Wikimedia in Scotland 2014.


Interesting Times⤴

from @ Open World

May you live in interesting times is a well known, but seemingly fictitious, “Chinese curse”, and boy was 2013 an interesting time!

I’m not much given to end of year reflections as I tend to see this as a time to look forward rather than back, however I can’t let this year pass without comment.  My former Cetis colleague Sheila MacNeil has already written a lovely reflective post over at her blog called That Was The Year That Was; my equivalent post is rather more That Was The Year That Wasn’t.  Unsurprisingly the year was dominated by the University of Strathclyde’s decision to terminate the Cetis Memorandum of Understanding and make all Cetis staff at the university redundant at the end of July.  However this was just the end of a long, drawn out and bitter process that started with the controversial closure of the department that housed Cetis, the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, in early 2012.  Over the previous eighteen months most of my time had been devoted to increasingly hostile wrangling with HR and university senior management.  University College Union representatives at Strathclyde were helpful and supportive but ultimately neither they, not I, were able to prevent the university serving us with compulsory redundancy notices, or to negotiate better terms than statutory redundancy.   I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about loosing sixteen years tenure and a considerable amount of funding, left behind in various project budgets.  Unfortunately, as I had spent most of the previous year and a half embroiled in HR negotiations,  I had no alternative employment lined up when our redundancies finally came into force, and I found myself unemployed for the first time since graduating in 1990.  To add insult to injury, due to lack of funding, I was unable to attend the ALT Conference in September, and the paper Phil Barker and I had had accepted was dropped from the programme. I was also gutted not to be there to see Sheila accept her immensely well-deserved Learning Technologist of the Year Award, which Cetis’ Christina Smart and I had sneakily nominated her for.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though.  Determined to leave Strathclyde on a high, we organised the highly successful Open Scotland Summit, which brought together representatives of Scotland’s education authorities, agencies and institutions to discuss the potential of open education policy and practice to benefit Scottish education across the sector, and which featured a keynote from Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning, Dr Cable Green.

I spent the three months after my redundancy working on variety of project proposals and consultancy bids and it was great to reconnect with several colleagues who I had lost touch with including Lou McGill, Allison Littlejohn and all the great people at Jisc RSC Scotland. I made some great new contacts through the Open Knowledge Foundation too, and got involved with helping to organise the OKFN Glasgow meetups. I also migrated my professional blog from Lorna’s Cetis Blog to Open World, I set up the Open Scotland blog and continued working with colleagues to further the goals discussed at the Open Scotland Summit.

In October I was very much relieved to be back in the saddle as Cetis Assistant Director, this time at the University of Bolton.  Working from home on a regular basis has required a bit of adjustment, but there are worse things to have to put up with!   Shortly after re-joining Cetis I was delighted to see some of the proposals I’d been working on over the summer come to fruition and I’m looking forward to starting the new year with some new projects that I hope to be able to start blogging about soon.

2013 might have been difficult career wise, but in terms of our history research it was a huge success.  My research colleague Heather Noel-Smith and I were delighted to have two papers accepted for peer reviewed conferences run by the University of Portsmouth (Port Towns and Urban Cultures) and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (Press Gangs, Conscripts and Professionals) and to have a research seminar scheduled as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy Seminar Series in the new year.  Our research was also featured at the National Archives Explore Your Archives event in November.  I also really enjoyed connecting with a diverse and lively group of #twitterstorians on twitter, not least the irrepressible Port Towns crew.  It was through these twitter connections that I had the opportunity to contribute to a blog post written by Joanna Bailey of Oxford Brooks University, and co-authored by Isaac Land, Indiana State University, Steven Gray, Warwick University and myself. “The six best conference questions: Or, how not to paper-bomb at a conference” turned out to be the most popular post on this blog in 2013 with over 2,300 views!

So that was 2013.  There was plenty to say “good bye and good riddance to”, but there were also many real high points among all the doom and gloom, not least of which was the support of colleagues, family and friends.  It’s also been hugely encouraging to see so many of my former Strathclyde colleagues from both CAPLE and Cetis move on to new posts where their talents are very much appreciated.  It’s great to be able to keep in touch and I hope we can look forward to working together again in the future.   So here’s looking forward to 2014, and here’s hoping that it’s a slightly less “interesting” time than 2013.  Onwards and upwards and all that!


Open Knowledge Foundation Glasgow Meetup #2⤴

from @ OPEN SCOTLAND

(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.

Open Knowledge Foundation Glasgow Meetup #2⤴

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⤴

from @ OPEN SCOTLAND

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.