Tag Archives: higher education

Icepops Conference 2019 – Learning how to play the game⤴

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Ok, confession time; I’m useless at playing games.  Any kind of games – card games, board games, computer games, strategy games, discovery games, competitive games, for some reason they just don’t hold my attention.   I’m not sure why that is, I just don’t seem to have that “hook” that engages people with game play.  Although I’m not a natural game player, I do really enjoy playfulness and creativity (who doesn’t?!) and copyright literacy is definitely my thing so I really appreciated being able to go along to last week’s ICEPOPS Conference here at the University, not least because my inspirational OER Service colleague Stephanie (Charlie) Farley was giving her first ever keynote.  Icepops is the International Copyright-Literacy Event with Playful Opportunities for Practitioners and Scholars, which is run by Jane Secker and Chris Morrison of the UK Copyright Literacy Team, in conjunction with the CILIP Information Literacy Group.   The themes of the conference this year were copyright education, games and play, music and copyright, creativity and the relationship of copyright literacy to information literacy and scholarly communication.

Melissa Highton, Director of Learning Teaching and Web Services here at the University, opened the conference by welcoming delegates to the University and the city.  Melissa emphasised the importance of copyright as part of the University’s core business and highlighted the role of the OER Service in supporting and developing copyright literacy across the institution.

Simon Anderson gave a really engaging and interactive keynote on copyright infringement in music “Stop me if you think you’ve heard this before”, and yes, he did play snippets of music live on stage and asked us to vote on whether they sounded similar or not. Simon introduced us to the fabulous Lost in Music resource developed by the University of Westminster, a free and open resource that aims to demystify and develop understanding of copyright and infringement within the music industry.  The site includes a wide range of legal case studies and resources including the highly entertaining You Be The Judge, which challenges listeners to decide at what point a piece of music becomes infringing. Simon played this game with us at the conference and it was a lot of fun.  I particularly enjoyed the lightbulb moment when he added one tiny sequence of notes to the piece of music and suddenly everyone in the room recognised it!  I also learned that the Australian band Men At Work were successfully sued in 2010 because their 1983 hit Down Under ripped off the Kookaburra song.  Who knew?  There was also an interesting question about who is responsible for potential copyright infringement in machine generated music.  The answer isn’t yet clear.

Following Simon’s keynote, the rest of the morning was taken up by a whirl wind of amazingly creative copyright education world café sessions and pecha kucha presentations including one fascinating talk on the copyright and performance rights of John Cage’s 4’33”.

[See image gallery at lornamcampbell.org]

Icepops World Cafe, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

I also got to take part in my very first escape room challenge run by Katrine Sundsbø of the University of Essex.  The Open Access Escape Room challenged us to thwart a villain who had hidden away all publications by unlocking the research to make everything free.  It was a lot of fun and Charlie and I came away with lots of ideas about how we could adapt the format for an open education escape room for next year’s Festival of Creative Learning.

Charlie Farley & Jane Secker, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

The afternoon opened with Charlie’s keynote “Make and release – embedding practice through play”.  Charlie spoke eloquently about the significance of play and creativity in her own life and working practice.  In terms of introducing playful engagement in the workplace, Charlie highlighted the importance of the “lusory attitude”, the mindset we enter into that let us accept the arbitrary rules of a playful space in order to engage with play and creativity.  Charlie said that she found “that by creating a lusory attitude or environment, staff and students are more willing to experiment and learn new technologies and skills with much less fear and apprehension”.  To let us do just that, Charlie led us through a short Board Game Jam session.  It’s always great to see the creativity that results when people engaging with the University’s open licensed image collections through Board Game Jam, and this time was no exception.  As might be expected, the Icepops delegates created some amazing and highly entertaining game scenarios.

[See image gallery at lornamcampbell.org]

Icepops Board Game Jam, C BY, Lorna M. Campbell

During her keynote, Charlie also challenged us to draw or write a short story about our journey to becoming a copyright literacy expert. This is mine 🙂

Chris and Jane brought the conference to a poignant close with a tribute to Marion Kelt, a long standing member of the UK copyright literacy community, who had been due to attend the conference.  Marion’s touching and funny Copyright Comic, a lovely memorial to her, features in the Icepops Annual 2019.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay in Edinburgh for the after-conference entertainment, though it sounds like the playful and musical theme of the event continued well into the evening with the Icepops houseband The Infringers XD

It was great to experience the playfulness and creativity of the copyright literacy community at Icepops and I came away with some really cool ideas that we can incorporate into our OER Service digital skills programme.  But perhaps the most important thing I learned at Icepops is that maybe I’m not as bad at playing games as I thought!

Remembering Marion⤴

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Like many colleagues, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Marion Kelt earlier this week. Marion was Research and Open Access Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University Library, but more than that, she was a weel kent, well respected and well liked member of the open education community.

Marion was nothing if not tenacious and, as a result of her persistence, Glasgow Caledonian University became the first university in Scotland to approve an institutional OER policy. Marion gave an enlightening and entertaining talk about the development of this policy at the OER15 conference in Cardiff, and the extraordinary lengths she had to go to get it approved. I vividly remember her telling us about the months she spent trying to track down the institutional IPR policy, which she’d been told the OER policy had to refer to, only to finally discover that no such policy existed!

It was typical of Marion’s enthusiasm and generosity that she was more than willing to share her experience with colleagues here at the University of Edinburgh when we were developing our own OER policy and establishing the OER Service. GCU’s OER policy is one of three OER policies the University of Edinburgh’s builds on.

The GCU OER policy wasn’t the only contribution Marion made to the open education community. She regularly attended and spoke at the OER conferences, and just recently presented a paper at OER19 in Galway about the GCU Copyright Advisor, a really useful piece of work that I hope will stand as Marion’s legacy. The Copyright Advisor walks users through a series of questions to help them decide whether and in what context different types of resources can be used. The tool was developed for use within GCU but because it’s open licensed (of course), it can easily be adapted for use in other contexts and institutions.

We won’t remember Marion just for her contribution to the open education community though, we’ll remember her for her warm and generous spirit, her love of cats and music, fancy shoes and G&T. Marion’s colleagues at GCU have set up a Just Giving appeal in her name to benefit Cats Protection, a cause that was close to her heart, and which you can donate to here. CILIP Scotland have also written a touching obituary for Marion here: Marion Kelt (nee Murphie).

Marion at OER19

The annual ALT Scotland Meet Up this week was dedicated to Marion’s memory, and these are just some of the many tributes to her that have been posted on twitter.

PressEDConf19: Supporting Digital Skills with SPLOTs!⤴

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This PressED Conference talk by @lornacampbell and @emcandre explored how @EdinburghUni’s Wikimedian in Residence and Academic Blogging Service have used WordPress SPLOTs to develop sustainable open licensed digital skills development resources on engaging with @Wikipedia and blogging to build your professional profile.

PressED Conference 2019 – Better late than never!⤴

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This post is now six weeks overdue but I’m adding it here for the sake of completeness if nothing else!  The second PressED Conference, run by the apparently inexhaustible Pat Lockley and Natalie Lafferty, happened way back in April and it was just as fun and inspiring as last year’s event.  The range of presentations was really eclectic and thought provoking and I particularly enjoyed Lorna Jane Richardson’s keynote on the Public Archaeology Twitter Conference, which was the original inspiration for PressED, and Kevin Gannon’s keynote on Letting Students Own Their Learning.  I also learned some Not So Stupid WordPress Tricks from Alan Levine 🙂

This year I was involved in two presentations one, with Ewan McAndrew, on our use of SPLOTS to support digital skills, and one with Frances Bell, Maren Deepwell and Sheila MacNeil reflecting on our experience of facilitating the #femedtech Open Space for OER19.  I’ve posted both presentations in separate blog posts here: 

  • Supporting Digital Skills with SPLOTs!
  • Reflections on the #femedtech Open Space

Weirdly, I still find twitter presentations far more nerve-wracking than speaking in public, I’m not sure why because I’ve used twitter routinely for almost ten years, and it’s a medium I’m usually really comfortable with.  Maybe it’s some kind of odd performance anxiety :}  Here’s a Top Tip I wrote for newcomers to the conference to help with those nerves.

 

 

Blogging about Blogging⤴

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I’ve been rather neglecting this blog recently, ironically because I’ve been busy blogging about blogging on other blogs :}  The University of Edinburgh launched a new Academic Blogging Service, including a centrally supported WordPress platform, blogs.ed.ac.uk, last year and the service has really taken off.  

In addition to our workshop Blogging to Build your Professional Profile, as part of the roll out of the service, Karen Howie (Digital Learning Applications & Media) and I have been curating a Mini-Series on Academic Blogging over on the Teaching Matters blog. The series features reflections on different uses of academic blogs from staff and students across the university.  Together with Susan Greig (Digital Skills) and Daphne Loads (Institute of Academic Development), I wrote a post on blogging for professional accreditation Blogging: What is it good for? The post reflects on my experience of using my blog to create and evidence my CMALT portfolio, while Susan and Daphne discuss how blogging can be used to support CMALT and HEA accreditation. 

We’ve also recorded two podcasts as part of the series; one on How Blogging can be used as an effective form of assessment, and another on Blogging to enhance professional practice, which is a conversation between Karen Howie, Eli Appleby-Donald (Edinburgh College of Art), James Lamb (Centre for Research in Digital Education) and I.  Though I’ve recorded lots of webinars, this is the first time I’ve recorded a conversational podcast and it was a really fun experience!  Karen made a great “interviewer” and, perhaps surprisingly, Eli, James and I managed not to talk over each other all the time.  Although all of us have quite a difference experience of and approach to blogging we were all very much in agreement that blogging can be a great way to enhance professional and academic practice. 

The week before last I had double blogging; on Wednesday afternoon I gave a talk as part of a panel on “Using Social Media to Engage Research End Users” for colleagues in the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Then later in the evening I joined Girl Geek Scotland to give a talk on professional blogging (slides) as part of and event on “Your Online Self:  How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?” Girl Geek Scotland are a network and community for those working and studying in creativity, computing, enterprise, and related sectors in Scotland. As most of the participants are working and building careers in the commercial sector it was quite a different audience to the kind I usually experience and it was really interesting for me to reflect on the affordances and tensions between using blogging and social media to develop your personal profile and to market a personal brand.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the whole event so I missed the discussion sessions later in the evening but Anne-Marie said that there was considerable interest in using blogs for personal development, so I’ll take that as a win.  Now all I need to do, is get my own blog back in order!

Opening Online Learning with OER⤴

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This is the transcript of a talk I gave last week at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Post Graduate Tutors Away Day at the University of Edinburgh.  Slides are available here: Opening Online Learning with OER

Before I go on to talk about open education and OER, I want you to think about Ra’ana Hussein’s inspiring video where she articulates so clearly why participating in the MSc in Paediatric Emergency Medicine has been so empowering for her. 

Ra’ana said that the course helps her to be better at her work, and that she gains knowledge and learning that she can implement practically. It’s enabled her to meet people from diverse backgrounds, and connect with a global community of peers that she can share her practice with.  She finds online learning convenient, and tailored to her needs and she benefits from having immediate access to support, which helps her to balance her work and study commitments.

I’d like you to try and hold Ra’ana’s words in your mind while we go on and take a look at open education, OER and what it’s got to do with why we’re here today.

What is open education?

Open education is many things to many people.

  • A practice?
  • A philosophy?
  • A movement?
  • A human right?
  • A licensing issue?
  • A buzz word?
  • A way to save money?

Capetown Declaration

The principles of the open education were outlined in the 2008 Cape Town Declaration, one of the first initiatives to lay the foundations of the “emerging open education movement”.  The Declaration advocates that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, and redistribute educational resources without constraint, in order to nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.  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.

Aspects of Open Education

Although there’s no one hard and fast definition of open education, one description of the open education movement that I particularly 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.”

Open education is highly contextual and encompasses many different things. These are just some of the aspects of open education

  • Open online courses
  • Open pedagogy
  • Open practice
  • Open assessment practices
  • Open textbooks
  • Open licensing
  • Open data
  • MOOCs
  • Open Access scholarly works
  • Open educational resources (OER)

OER

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.”

UNESCO Policy Instruments

And the reason I’ve chosen this definition is that UNESCO is one of a number of international agencies that actively supports the global adoption of open educational resources.  In 2012 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 in 2017 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.”

The Action Plan acknowledges that open education and OER provide a strategic opportunity to improve knowledge sharing, capacity building and universal access to quality learning and teaching resources. And, when coupled with collaborative learning, and supported by sound pedagogical practice, OER has the transformative potential to increase access to education, opening up opportunities to create and share an array of educational resources to accommodate greater diversity of educator and learner needs.

Open Education at the University of Edinburgh

Now all this may sound very aspirational and possibly a touch idealistic, but here at the University of Edinburgh we believe that open education and OER are strongly in line with our institutional mission to deliver impact for society, discover, develop and share knowledge, and make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to the Scotland, the UK and the world.

Support for Sustainable Development Goals

It’s also worth noting that the University already has a commitment to Sustainable development goals through the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability and the university and college sectors’ Sustainable Development Accord.  And the new principal has recently re-stated the University’s commitment to meeting this goals.

OER Vision

The University has a vision for OER which has three strands, building on our excellent education and research collections, traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment and the university’s civic mission.  These are:

  • For the common good – encompassing every day teaching and learning materials.
  • Edinburgh at its best – high quality resources produced by a range of projects and initiatives.
  • Edinburgh’s Treasures – content from our world class cultural heritage collections.

OER Policy

This vision is backed up by an OER Policy, approved by our Learning and Teaching Committee, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience.  This OER Policy is itself CC licensed and is adapted from an OER Policy that has already been adopted by a number of other institutions in the UK.  The fact that this policy was approved by the Learning and Teaching Committee, rather than by the Knowledge Strategy Committee is significant because it places open education and OER squarely in the domain of teaching and learning, which of course is the domain we’re focusing on here today.  The University’s vision for OER is very much the brain child of Melissa Highton, Assisstant Principal Online Learning and Director of Learning and Teaching Web Services.  However it’s also notable that EUSA the student union were instrumental in encouraging the University to adopt an OER policy, and we continue to see student engagement and co-creation as being fundamental aspects of open education.  

OER Service

But of course policy is nothing without support, so we also have an OER Service that provides staff and students with advice and guidance on creating and using OER and engaging with open education.  We run a wide range of digital skills workshops for staff and students focused on copyright, open licencing, OER and playful engagement.  And we provide a one stop shop where you can access open educational resources produced by staff and students across the university, including some from this college.   As well as working closely with our students, the OER Service also hosts Open Content Creation student interns every summer.  And if you’d like to talk to me about the advice and guidance the OER Service provides…

Near Future Teaching

Openness is also at the heart of the Near Future Teaching project undertaken over the last two years by a team from the Centre for Research in Digital Education, led by Sian Bayne (Assistant Principal Digital Education).  This project co-created a values based vision for the future of digital education at the University with input from more than 400 staff and students. The project report, published last month, sets out a vision and aims for a near future teaching that is community focused, post digital, data fluent, assessment oriented, playful and experimental, and boundary challenging.  And one of the ways these goals can be achieved is  through increasing openness.  So for example the report calls for boundary challenging digital education that is lifelong, open and transdisciplinary, and the actions required to achieve these objectives are all centered on committing to openness.

So that’s the big picture vision, but what I want to do now is just take a few minutes to look at what’s actually happening in practice, and to highlight some of the innovative open education initiatives that are already going on across the university.

Building Community

Open education is a great way to build community and if you cast your mind back to Ra’ana you’ll remember that she appreciated being part of a connected global community of peers. 

One great way to build community is through academic blogging, and just last year the University set up a new centrally supported Academic Blogging Service. The service provides staff and students with a range of different blogging platforms to support professional development and learning, teaching and research activities.  The service includes existing platforms such as Learn, Moodle, and Pebblepad and a new centrally supported WordPress service, blogs.ed.ac.uk.  To complement the service, we provide digital skills resources and workshops, including one on Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile, we’ve recently launched a seminar series featuring talks from academic blog users around the University, and we’ve been running a mini-series on the Teaching Matters blog.  And I’d like to draw your attention to the most recent blog post in that series from Bethany Easton from the School of Health in Social Science, about The Nursing Blog which was set up in 2014 as a community blog where staff and students from across the Nursing Studies Subject area can share their achievements, research, and work.   And another great example of community blogging is Stories from Vet School which features blogs posts written by current undergraduate veterinary medicine students.  And if you look carefully you’ll see that one thing both these blogs have in common is that they both carry a Creative Commons open licence, which means that the posts themselves are open educational resources that can be reused by other teachers and learners. It’s easy to see how this format could be adopted for use with online postgraduate students as a great way to connect them with their peers and build that all important sense of community so critical for distance learners.

Diversifying the Curriculum

OER can also make a significant contribution to diversifying and decolonizing the curriculum. 

LGBT+ Healthcare 101 was a collaborative project run by EDE and the Usher Institute worked with undergraduate students, to develop a suite of resources covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual health. Although knowledge of LGBT health and of the sensitivities needed to treat LGBT patients are valuable skills for qualifying doctors, these issues are not well-covered in the Medical curricula.  Using materials from the commons, this project sought to address the lack of teaching on LGBT health through OER.  The project remixed and repurposed resources originally created by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, and then contributed these resources back to the commons as Creative Commons licensed OER.  New open resources including digital stories recorded from patient interviews and resources for Secondary School children of all ages were also created and released as OER.

More recently the OER Service has released a series of resources on Openness, Equality and Inclusion which includes materials from a workshop we ran with EUSA VP of Education, Diva Mukherji, on Decolonising and Diversifing the curriculum with Open Educational Resources.  And again it’s not difficult to see how important diversifying the curriculum is when you’re creating educational resources and learning experiences for global students from a wide range of different cultural contexts.

Access to Resources

Creating and using open educational resources is also an important way to ensure longevity of access to course materials, and this can benefit staff, students, and the university itself.    It’s very common to think of OER as primarily being of benefit to those outwith the institution, however open licenses also help to ensure that we can continue to use and reuse the resources that we ourselves have created.  I’m sure you’ll all have come projects that created great content only for those resources to become inaccessible once the project ends or great teaching and learning materials belonging to a colleague who has subsequently retired or moved on, and nobody quite knows if they can still be used or not. Unless teaching and learning resources carry a clear and unambiguous open licence, it is difficult to know whether and in what context they can be reused.  This is a phenomenon that my colleague Melissa Highton has referred to as copyright debt.  If you don’t get the licensing right first time round it will cost you to fix it further down the line, and the cost and reputational risk to the university could be significant if copyright is breached.   And this is one of the best strategic reasons for investing in open educational resources at the institutional level. We need to ensure that we have the right use, adapt, and reuse, the educational resources we have invested in.  We already have some really innovative open educational resources from the College highlighted on the OER Service website and if you want to learn more about how to use and create re-useable open content without fear of breaching copyright, the OER Service runs a number of digital skills workshops covering this and we have lots of materials available online too.

In the context of online distance learning, using open licensed resources means that students can continue to access and use these resources after they have graduated.  And this is an issue that is becoming increasingly pressing as there have been a number of critical press reports recently about postgraduate students who have lost access to resources after the taught component of their courses has finished but before they have submitted all their course work.

MOOCs and the Open Media Bank

Continued access to educational resources can be particularly problematic when it comes to MOOCs.  Educational content often gets locked into commercial MOOC platforms, regardless of whether or not it is openly licensed, and some platforms are now time limiting access to content. Clearly this is not helpful for students and, given how costly high quality online teaching and learning resources are to produce, it also represents a poor return on investment for the University.  So one of the ways that we’re addressing this here at the University is by ensuring that all the content we have produced for our MOOCs is also freely available to download under open licence from the Open Media Bank channel on Media Hopper Create.  We now have over 500 MOOC videos which are available to re-use under Creative Commons licence, including “Mental Health: A Global Priority” from the School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, and “Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People” from the School of Health in Social Science.

Wikipedia in the Classroom

Another way we can create open knowledge and embed open education in the curriculum is by engaging with the world’s biggest open educational resource, Wikipedia.  Here at the University we have our very own Wikipedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, based in Learning, Teaching and Web Services. Ewan 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 and information literacy skills for both staff and students.   And one of the ways that Ewan does this is by working with academic colleagues to develop Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments. Creating Wikipedia entries enables students to demonstrate the relevance of their field of study and share their scholarship in a real-world context and at the same time, contribute to the global pool of open knowledge.

To date, 11 course programmes across the University have developed Wikipedia assignments, some of which are now in their second or third iteration. And I know that Ewan is working with colleagues to explore the creation of new Wikipedia assignments for the MScs in Global and Public Health. 

Reproductive Biomedicine have been successfully running Wikipedia assignments as part of their Reproductive Biology Honours course since 2015.  As part of her assignment in 2016, honours student Aine Kavanagh created a new Wikipedia article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer.   This article, including over sixty references and open-licensed diagrams created by Áine herself, has now been viewed over 64,000 times since it was published in September 2016, it’s hard to imagine many other student assignments having this kind of impact.  Not only has Aine contributed valuable health information to the global Open Knowledge community, she has also created a resource that other students and global health experts can add to and improve over time.  Creating resources that will live on on the open web, and that make a real contribution to global open knowledge, has proved to be a powerful motivator for the students taking part in these assignments.  

OER Creation Assignments

In addition to the Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments, there are also other examples of open assessment practices from around the University, including assessed blogging assignments and OER creation assignments. So for example, these resources on Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Pets were created by Silke Salavati for an assignment as part of the Digital Education module for the Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) in Academic Practice.  And OER creation assignments also form an integral part of the Digital Futures for Learning course which is part of the MSc in Digital Education.  Commenting on this OER creation assignment in a recent blog post, Jen Ross who runs this course said

“Experiencing first-hand what it means to engage in open educational practice gives student an appetite to learn and think more.  The creation of OERs provides a platform for students to share their learning. In this way, these assignments can have ongoing, tangible value for students and for the people who encounter their work.”

Conclusion

These are just some of the ways that open education and OER is already being embedded and supported across the University and I hope this will give you some ideas as to how open approaches can benefit your online courses ad modules here in the College.  And if you think back to Ra’ana and all the reasons that she appreciated being a student on the MSc in Paediatric Emergency Medicine; ease of access to resources and support, the practical application of knowledge, the ability to share her practice with her peers, being part of a diverse and connected global community, these are all aspects that can be enhanced further by engaging with OER and open education.

 I want to finish with a quote from one of our Open Content Curation student interns, and I make no apology for using this quote almost every time I talk about open education and OER.  This is former undergraduate Physics student Martin Tasker talking about the value of open education

“Open education has played such an integral part of my life so far, and has given me access to knowledge that would otherwise have been totally inaccessible to me. It has genuinely changed my life, and likely the lives of many others. This freedom of knowledge can allow us to tear down the barriers that hold people back from getting a world class education – be those barriers class, gender or race. Open education is the future, and I am both proud of my university for embracing it, and glad that I can contribute even in a small way. Because every resource we release could be a life changed. And that makes it all worth it.”

Open Practice and Invisible Labour⤴

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This piece was originally posted on femedtech.net.

Something has been niggling at me for ages now. Something about digital labour and open education. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to frame this and what I’m trying to say, but Martin Weller’s thoughtful blog post on gatherer calories and invisible artefacts and Frances Bell’s subsequent comment gave me a starting point.

On the blogging calories front, there have been 6 guest OER19 posts so far, with 11 authors, all women

Catherine Cronin has eloquently reminded us that openness is a continually negotiated space, a constantly negotiated practice. We all experience openness differently, from different perspectives and different positions of privilege and discrimination. For some of us, open education is part of our job, for some it’s our research, our field of study, for some it’s a philosophy, an ethos, a personal commitment, for some it’s political. For many it’s all of the above.

I am privileged to be able to work in the area of open education and I also regard myself as an open education practitioner. My open practice is expressed in different ways; I read, I write, I comment, I blog, I participate in the femedtech network, I contribute to Wikipedia. It’s a practice that extends far beyond the bounds of my job and I have no complaint with that, quite the opposite in fact, I appreciate this blurring of my institutional role with my personal commitment to openness. That’s part of my privileged experience of openness. However the blurring of these boundaries also raises issues of digital labour.

We all have a deep personal commitment to our practice, to equity and openness, we all want to be good citizens of the open community, making a positive contribution to the commons, but when do the hours that we willingly devote to open education start to become unacknowledged, invisible digital labour? And as both Frances and Martin have pointed out, so often those that go the extra mile are those who are marginalised in some way, women, people of colour, early career researchers, those employed on precarious contracts. At what point does personal commitment become unwitting exploitation of labour?

These are problems that exist right across academia of course and open education is far from immune. How much does the open community rely on invisible digital labour? How far does it exclude those who are unable or unwilling to contribute their labour for free? And how do we mitigate this?

This thread from @HEreflections1 caught my attention on twitter last week:

One of the most pernicious aspects of stress, anxiety and burnout in education is that it often starts with individuals who work longer hours through enjoyment and an ethic of care. But at some point the organisation captures this as core work which has to be done.

As a result the enjoyment, the agency is lost and the stress begins to grow, leading eventually to hate and/or exhaustion in some cases. And it creeps up on people so that they blame themselves. This is the failure of the system, and any discussion of well-being or

expert groups focusing on happiness misses the point completely. What starts with dignity and vocation is smashed by performativity, by human as resource, and by an inability to see education as a community.

The point that particularly struck me was this:

What starts with dignity and vocation is smashed by performativity

And this was echoed by Laura Czerniewicz during this week’s OER19 preview webinar when she cautioned that

“Good intentions can undermine themselves with unintended consequences.”

When so much of our open practice is mediated through social networks there is sometimes a pressure to always be “on”, to always be commenting and contributing, to always to be seen to be doing. And it was this that prompted me to ask this question in our femedtech OER19 Open Space

If there a performative aspect to openness, what does it achieve and how?

I don’t have an answer to this question, and I’m not even sure I know where I’m going with this yet, but I do think we do need to be able to balance our agency as open practitioners and citizens of the global open education community with cognisance that it is our digital labour that sustains that community at both the personal and institutional level.

Inspiring students, pioneering women and virtual dragons⤴

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February and March are always busy months for Open Education and this year was no exception, with the University’s Festival of Creative Learning, Open Education Week and International Women’s Day all coming back to back.

Niko is unimpressed…, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

The fun and games kicked off with Festival of Creative Learning in mid February.  My OER Service colleague Charlie ran a really fun and thought provoking 23 Things for Digital Confidence workshop.  The workshop challenged us to explore how we engage with technology in creative ways and we also got to play with some really cool augmented reality toys.  Oh, and there were dragons!  I took them home but I don’t think my cat was very impressed :}

Later in the week I helped to run a Get Blogging! workshop with Karen, Lila and Mark from DLAM, which guided students through the process of setting up a blog on Reclaim Hosting and provided them with some pointers on the benefits of blogging and topics they could write about.  I don’t usually get to work directly with undergraduate students so it was a really rewarding experience.  Their enthusiasm was infectious and it was great to see how proud and excited they were to leave at the end of the day with their very own brand new blog.  The fabulous feedback the students left was just the icing on the cake.  My slides from the day are here: Why Blog?

At the beginning of March we celebrated Open Education Week, I’ve already written a post about the activities we planned over the course of the week, and they all went really well.  We curated eight blog posts from staff, students and graduates on the Open.Ed blog over the course of the week, each bringing a unique perspective on engaging with open education. You can read a round-up of of these posts here.  I particularly like this quote from Martin Tasker, our very first Open Content Curation Intern, who is now building a career as a software engineer.

“In an age where where the world is both more connected and less trusting than ever, the onus is on institutions such as universities to use their reputations and resources to promote open education. As well as benefiting the public, it benefits the institutions themselves – there’s little better in the way of marketing than having potential applicants having already experienced some learning at your institution.” 

I’ve often quoted Martin’s Open Content Curation blog posts when I talk, and I’m sure I’ll be quoting his Open Education Week blog post, Reflecting on the Importance of Open Education, too.  

My daughter’s contribution to International Women’s Day, CC BY SA, RJ McCartney

International Women’s Day fell at the end of Open Education Week and Information Services marked the event by hosting a Women of Edinburgh Wikipedia Editathon and naming the Board Room in Argyle House after Brenda Moon, the first woman to head up a research university library in the 1980s, and who played a major role in bringing the University into the digital age. I spent part of the day updating the Wikipedia entry I’d previously written about Mary Susan McIntosh to include information about her work as a Women’s Rights Advocate campaigning for legal and financial rights for married and co-habiting women, defending the right to sexual expression, and arguing against censorship of pornography. 

The following week I was off down to UCL for their Open Education Symposium.  It was a privilege to be invited to share the University of Edinburgh’s strategic approach to Open Education, and it was great to hear about some of ways that openness is supported across UCL.  I particularly enjoyed hearing a group of Arts and Sciences BASc students reflecting on their positive experience of engaging with Wikibooks.  Their comments reflected those of our Edinburgh student who have participated in Wikipedia assignments and editathons. 

Somehow, in amongst all that, there was also several ALTC submissions, the launch of femedtech.net, and my daughter’s 13th birthday.  How the hell did that happen?! 

Sustainable Support for OER⤴

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This blog post was originally posted on Open.Ed as part of a series of posts for Open Education Week 2019. 

Sustainability is key to supporting open education and OER, and one factor that lays the foundations for sustainability is aligning the value proposition for OER with an organisation’s institutional mission and strategic vision.

At the University of Edinburgh, we believe that supporting OER is squarely in line with our institutional mission and vision to provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students, challenging the boundaries of knowledge, and making a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

In 2016 the University launched an OER Service, based in Information Services Group, to support the institution’s new OER Policy.  This policy, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, was approved by the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, situating OER directly in the domain of teaching and learning.  Both the policy and the service are part of the University’s strategic vision for OER which is founded on traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment, excellent education and research collections, and the University’s civic mission.

At the University of Edinburgh one of the key value proposition for OER is that it mitigates the risk of what Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web services division, and the architect of the University’s OER vision, has referred to as copyright debt; the cost and risk accrued when copyright of teaching and learning resources is not cleared and they are upload to institutional systems.

In order to develop a sustainable approach to address this issue, the OER Service focuses on developing digital skills, copyright and information literacy for staff and students in schools and colleges across the University.  The OER Service embeds digital skills training and support in the institution’s strategic initiatives including lecture recording, academic blogging, VLE foundations, MOOCs and distance learning at scale, to build sustainability, enhance digital literacy, and minimise the risk of technical debt. 

The wide range of digital skills development activities supported by the OER Service includes online courses such as the award winning 23 Things for Digital Knowledge, playful learning initiatives such as Board Game Jams and Gif It Up!, workshops including Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile, and student internships.  All the digital skills training materials we create for these activities are made available as CC BY  licensed open educational resources from our Edinburgh’s OERs showcase.  We hope you find these resources useful.

Spring into Open Education Week⤴

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Today marks the start of Open Education Week, the global celebration of the Open Education movement.  Last year my OER Service colleagues and I didn’t participate in Open Education Week as it coincided with the USS Strike so this year, we’re making up for lost time and we’ve got a whole pile of activities and events lined up. 

Open.Ed Spring Newsletter

We’ve published our latest Open.Ed newsletter to coincide with Open Education Week and to highlight events we’ll be running over the course of the week, along with other open activities and initiatives going on around the University.  You can read the latest edition of the newsletter here:  Welcome to the OER Service’s Spring Newsletter, and find back issues of the newsletter here Open.Ed Newsletter.

Open.Ed Blog Series

Over the course of the week, the Open.Ed Blog will be featuring a series of posts from students, staff, and open education practitioners from across the University of Edinburgh, covering a wide range of topics including Masters level OER assignments, Wikipedia and Translation Studies, tools for creating OERs, and much more. The series kicks off today with one post by me on Sustainable Support for OER and another by Jen Ross on Digital Futures for Learning: An OER assignment

Supporting Open Education and Open Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh

On Tuesday 5 March at 12.00-13.00, the OER Service will be hosting a free and informal lunchtime webinar during which we’ll be sharing our approaches to supporting Open Education and Open Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh.  Come and join me, Stuart Nicol (Education Design and Engagement), Ewan McAndrew (Wikimedian in Residence), Charlie Farley (OER Service), Rachael Mfoafo (EDE) and Anne-Marie Scott (DLAM) to talk about supporting open education through digital skills development, playful approaches to copyright literacy, embedding Wikipedia in the curriculum, and open approaches to MOOCs and distance learning at scale.  The webinar is free and open to all, joining details are available here.

Decolonise & Diversify the Curriculum with OER

This one-hour workshop on Tuesday 6 March at 12.00 – 13.00 will explore what it means to decolonise and diversify the curriculum with EUSA VP of Education Diva Mukherji. My lovely OER Service colleague Charlie Farley will also demonstrate how creating, using, and sharing OER can be one avenue towards diversifying and opening up curriculum materials. The workshop is open to University of Edinburgh staff and students, further information is available here

And of course I’ll be blogging and tweeting on the #OEWeek hashtag and hoping to catch some of the other fabulous activities going on over the course of the week too. 

Daffodils in George Square, CC BY, University of Edinburgh