Tag Archives: oer23

Open Scotland @10 Plenary Panel synthesis & outputs⤴

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To mark 10 years of the Open Scotland initiative, Joe Wilson and I ran two events as part of the OER23 Conference at UHI in Inverness, which provided an opportunity for members of the education community to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade, and to discuss potential ways to advance open education across all sectors of Scottish education. 

Open Scotland Pre-Conference Workshop

Joe has already written up our pre-conference Open Scotland workshop, which brought together around 40 colleagues, in person and online, to discuss key challenges and priorities. You can read Joe’s summary of the workshop here: Open Scotland Reflections on Pre-Conference Workshop.

 

OpenScotland @10 Plenary Panel

The closing plenary panel of OER23 brought together open education practitioners from within Scotland and beyond.  Panel participants were Lorna M. Campbell, Open Scotland and University of Edinburgh; Scott Connor, UHI;  Maren Deepwell, ALT; Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh; Robert Schuwer, consultant and former UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources; Joe Wilson, Open Scotland and City of Glasgow College.  Each member of the panel was invited to briefly share their thoughts on future directions for Open Education, before we opened the discussion to the floor. 

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Stuart Nicol, Head of Educational Design and Engagement at the University of Edinburgh, acknowledged that while it’s disappointing that there hasn’t been more support from Scottish Government, there has been a support for open education at a number of institutions, including the University of Edinburgh.  Stuart highlighted the important role of committed people who have pushed the open agenda within institutions.  Short of having government level commitment and policy, Stuart suggested we need to provide opportunities for people to come together to share practice and to encourage institutions to work together.

Scott Connor, Digital and Open Education Lead at UHI’s Learning and Teaching Academy, outlined UHI’s strategic commitment to open education which is underpinned by an OER Policy and a framework for the development of open educational practices. Scott highlighted lack government mandates and funding as a barriers to engagement with open education and suggested that real impact would come through the government adopting the Scottish Open Education Declaration and using it to mandate that resources created with public funding should be shared openly to benefit everyone. 

Both Scott and Stuart highlighted the OER policies adapted and adopted by the University of Edinburgh and UHI as a prime example of open education collaboration.

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Robert Schuwer, independent consultant and former UNESCO Chair of OER, provided an overview of open education in The Netherlands where the government has supported a range of OER initiatives and stimulation grants since 2006. In 2014 the Education Ministry issued a  strategic agenda stating that by 2025 all teachers should share their learning materials. Although some institutions such as TU Delft are front-runners, other smaller institutions are just getting started. 

Robert suggested that the biggest challenge is to cross the chasm from early adopters and innovators to the majority of teachers to encourage them to adopt principles of openness in education.  He suggested connecting to teachers passion, which is teaching, not sharing materials, and highlighting how open education can help them to become better teachers. 

Maren Deepwell, CEO of the Association for Learning Technology, reminded us that we’re not just talking about openness in Higher Education we’re looking at all sectors including schools, training, vocational education, FE, HE, and research. UK Government looks at Open Access research and thinks the open box is ticked. ALT has tried to reach out to both Scottish Government and the Department of Education, but often there is no one with responsibility for open education policy beyond Open Access and Open Research funding. 

Maren noted that we tend to see open education as another challenge alongside Brexit, the cost of living crisis, climate change, sustainability, etc., and ultimately it is never at the top of the agenda.  She suggested that our opportunity is to present openness as a way to solve these challenges.  It’s ingrained in us that openness is the extra step that teachers need more time, more funding, more skills, to take.  Instead we need to highlight how openness could solve resource scarcity and training issues, and help small independent providers collaborate across sectors.  We need to show openness as a way to solve these challenges, rather than as a stand alone challenge in its own right.

Photograph of Open Scotland Plenary Panel at the OER23 Conference.

Open Scotland Plenary Panel by Tim Winterburn.

Opening the discussion to the floor, members of the community put forward a range of comments and suggestions including: 

  • Taking a whole population approach to education rather than a sectoral approach. Open education is a way to educate for all our futures, not just those who can afford a good education. Open educators should collaborate with demographic data experts to see how open education could address key challenges of our ageing population, including health and social care. 
  • Start with early interventions at primary school level. How do children learn, what do they learn, what role models  do they see? Start to train a new generation of people to think in different ways. Currently there is no mention of openness in the General Teaching Council programme, but a logical place to start would be with teaching staff who are teaching children how to learn.  However because of concerns about GDPR, teachers work in closed environments, there are challenges around safeguarding and managing digital identities. 
  • Scotland’s baby box has been an import mechanism for learning for both parents and children, why not add a leaflet about open education?
  • Scotland has always had a very egalitarian tradition of education, the principles of openness fit well with this tradition, from school all the way up, so it’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to introduce open education at school level.
  • Maybe we’re trying too hard to change policy, perhaps it would be better to focus on doing fun stuff and sharing open practice. Do what you can at the small level; small OER, rather than big OER. This can be really powerful. Sharing in small ways can make a difference.
  • People hear about Open Scotland and are interested in open education, but they’re constrained by their local authorities or their college marketing teams. 
  • The strength of open education is in the grass roots, as soon as it get sucked into politics, it gets watered down. There is a risk that comes with government policy and funding. You cede some control when policy is dictated at that level.  At grass roots level we can control it, shape it and manage it.  It’s hard work pushing upwards but there is a danger when it comes from the other direction that we lose something and open education gets co-opted by people we may not wish to work with. 
  • Robert Schuwer countered this point by noting that this has not happened in The Netherlands.  Government support is provided at all levels of education but there is a lot of autonomy within institutions. The only mandates were the 2014 strategic agenda and a 2020 Open Access research mandate, both of which have been beneficial.  Robert also noted that students lobbied the Education Minister and had directly input to the 2014 sharing agenda.  This was also the case at the University of Edinburgh, where EUSA encouraged the University to support open education and OER. 
  • We have a political problem in that our education ministers don’t know much about education, so openness is never a priority.  We need to trust ourselves and continue with the grass roots work.  We need to feed messages up to government ministers that open education can be a solution to sustainability and other strategic agendas.  We need to take our advocacy up a notch, perhaps take out an advert in the press. 

Next steps

The next step will be to continue synthesising the outputs of the workshop and plenary panel, captured in this Padlet, with a view to drafting a new Open Scotland manifesto to share with the community and move the open education agenda forward. 

 

Made with Padlet

 

 

 

OER23 Conference: Imagining hopeful futures⤴

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I’m a bit late with this OER23 reflection, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to catch up with myself and to let some of the ideas generated by the conference percolate.  

It was fabulous to see the OER Conference returning to Scotland for the fist time since we hosted it at the University of Edinburgh in 2016, and I was particularly pleased to see the conference visit the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness.  Inverness holds a rather special place in my heart as the site of many childhood holidays (it seemed like such a big city compared to Stornoway!) and as a stopping off point on annual journeys home to the Hebrides.  I had a slightly weird feeling of nostalgia and home-sickness while I was there, it was odd being in Inverness and not traveling on further north and west. Perhaps not coincidentally, sense of place and community were two themes that emerged throughout the conference. 

As one of the few universities in Scotland, along with Edinburgh, with a strategic commitment to open education, including an OER Policy and a Framework for the Development of Open Education Practices, UHI was a fitting venue for the conference. Keith Smyth and his UHI colleagues were the warmest of hosts and the airy Inverness campus was a beautiful location with plenty of space to breathe, think, and (re)connect. It was lovely seeing so many colleagues from around the world experiencing a Highland welcome for the first time. 

UHI Inverness, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

One of the main themes of the conference was “Open Education in Scotland – celebrating 10 years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration” and Joe Wilson and I ran both a pre-conference workshop and the closing plenary panel to reflect on progress, or not, over the last ten years and to map a way forward.  I’ll be reflecting on these discussions in another post.

Rikke Toft Nørgård opened the conference with a fantastic and fantastical keynote on “Hyper-Hybrid Futures? Reimagining open education and educational resources Places // Persons // Planets” (slides, recording) that challenged us to imagine and manifest transformative speculative futures for education.  Her call for “open hopepunk futures in grimdark times” clearly resonated with participants. Rikke described hopepunk as a sincerely activist approach to fighting for a more hopeful future.  I particularly liked her vision for place-ful OERs; education that has a home, that belongs and dwells in placefulness, being some-where, not any-where. 

Anna-Wendy Stevenson also picked up on this idea of belonging and placefulness in her keynote “Setting the Tone: The democratisation of music eduction in the Highlands and Island and beyond” (recording). Anna-Wendy is the course leader of UHI’s award-winning BA in Applied Music, a blended learning course that enables students to study music in their own communities while providing opportunities for both virtual and place based residencies in the Outer Hebrides and beyond.  Having grown up in the Hebrides I appreciate the importance of having the opportunity to study at home, and the benefits this can bring to students and the community.  I left the islands to go to university and, like many graduates, never returned.  While eighteen-year-old me wouldn’t have passed up on the opportunity to move to “the mainland” in a month of Sundays (IYKYK), I would have jumped at the chance if there had been a possibility to go back home to continue studying archaeology at postgraduate level. It’s wonderful that students now have that opportunity. After Anna-Wendy’s keynote, it was lovely to hear her playing traditional Scottish music with some of her students who have benefited from this place-based approach to music education. 

It was great being able to attend the conference with a group of colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, several of whom were experiencing the conference for the first time. Fiona Buckland and Lizzy Garner-Foy from the Online Course Production Service gave a really inspiring presentation about the University’s investment in open education, which has resulted in 100 free short online courses and over 1000 open educational resources (OER) that have benefited almost 5 million learners over the last 10 years. It makes you proud 🙂

Tracey Madden told the story of the University’s digital badges pilot project and the challenges of developing a sustainable service that assures both quality and accessibility. Stuart Nicol and I shared the university’s experience of transforming the curriculum with OER and presented case studies from the fabulous GeoScience Outreach course and our indefatigable Wikimedian in Residence (slides). We shared a padlet of open resources, along with staff and student testimonies, which you can explore here: Open For Good – Transforming the curriculum with OER at the University of Edinburgh.

 

The Edinburgh team also had a really productive meeting with a delegation of colleagues from a wide range of institutions and organisations in the Netherlands to share our experiences of supporting open education policy and practice at institutional and national level in our respective countries. 

As with so many OER Conferences, hope and joy were prominent themes that were woven into the fabric of the event. Catherine Cronin gave us an update on the eagerly anticipated book Higher Education for Good: Teaching and Learning Futures, which she has been editing with Laura Czerniewicz. 

Prajakta Girme spoke about “Warm Spaces”; open multicultural space, or “pockets of community” for vulnerable communities and non-students within the university environment. Frances Bell and Lou Mycroft asked how we can use feminist posthuman storytelling to promote activism in FemEdTech and open education, challenging us to develop “productive approaches to exploring uncertain educational futures critically, retaining the pragmatic hope offered by Posthuman Feminism.”  Frances had brought one of the Femedtech quilts (it was lovely to see my Harris Tweed square at home in the Highlands) and she invited us to write speculative futures for the quilt assemblage.  You can read my micro-speculative future on femedtech.net here: Reconnecting with Joy.

Frances Bell and the Femedtech quilt, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

I also had a really lovely conversation with Bryan Mathers of Visual Thinkery about our shared experience of reconnecting with our Gàidhlig / Gaeilge language and culture. His Patchwork Province zines had me laughing and nodding along in rueful recognition. 

I always leave the OER Conferences inspired and hope-full and this year it was lovely to end the conference by sharing a quiet, reflective train journey with Catherine, Joe and Louise Drumm, who captured this beautiful image as we traveled home through the Highlands.

 

 

Reflections and speculations from #oer23⤴

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I was lucky enough to be in Inverness last week for the #OER23 conference. The OER conferences do have quite unique atmosphere. They are relatively small, and there is always a really strong sense of community. This year was no different, in fact it I think that community sense was even stronger. So before I get into the meat of this post I just want to thank the co-chairs, conference committee, ALT and everyone at UHI for pulling everything together so well.

I’m still processing quite a lot of what I heard over the 2 days of the conference, so this post is really just focusing on one element that has been swirling around my brain. The conference marked 10 years of the Open Scotland Declaration. This was a community driven initiative to try and get the Scottish Government to formally adopt the UNESCO open education . . you can read more here. But the basic premise boils down to publicly funded educational resources should be publicly available. Not rocket science, totally achievable, but so far it has been almost impossible to get the Scottish Government to engage.

Lorna Campbell and Joe Wilson gave an excellent narrative of their stalwart efforts to engage with the Scottish Government over the past decade. There were many discussions and ideas about what should be done next. Based on some thoughts from the first key note from Rikke Toft Nørgård which looked at hybrid futures, I thought I’d take a bit of a speculative futures approach to Open Scotland. I also have to thank my Bill Johnston for a few ideas during a 3 hour car drive home. Spoiler alert, I haven’t done this before so it might be pants! But here goes . . .

The year is 2043. Scotland is celebrating 10 years of independence. The year has been badged as “Scotland, open for the world”. Celebrations officially started on April 6 – a nod to the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, the original document asserting Scotland’s right as an independent country. International events during the year include the opening of new UNESCO centre for open knowledge and policy development. COP 47 is returning to Glasgow to showcase how Scotland has exceeded the targets set in 2022, and has worked with 73% of all the signatories to every COP agreement since 2033 to develop sustainable and equitable energy solutions.

Scotland officially rejoined the EU in 2039, but between times has struck a number of international partnership agreements including a new Nordic alliance on knowledge exchange and sustainable energy, tourism and creative cultural developments. In a recent international survey on the best places to live, Scotland (for the 5th year running) came in at number 1. This was due mainly to the health and happiness of the population, not on property values. Scotland’s unique approach to education was seen to be at the centre of a remarkable evolution of a relatively small (by size of population), and newly independent nation. The UEP ( universal education partnership) is now recognised as being central to Scotland’s economic, cultural and health renaissance.

So what is the UEP and how did it come into being? Well, after the political turmoil of 2023 and 2024, the then SNP decided to that the only way to set out a vision for an independent Scotland would be for the people to decide its priorities. A (much maligned at the time from opposition parties) large scale public consultation of peoples assemblies began. The aim was to engage with at least 85% of the population through a series online and f2f events. During the first round of these assemblies there was a focus on a small number of key themes (sustainable energy, fiscal policy, education, creative industries, and health).

After a bit of a slow start, most interest began to centre on education. It’s not entirely clear how it happened, but the Open Scotland Declaration, in particular the notion of “publicly funded resources should be publicly available” started to gain traction. There are rumours of small bunch of open educational practitioners who ran an informal yet highly strategic public engagement plan ensuring that the Open Scotland Declaration was highlighted in every assembly meeting. In each of the over arching themes, the discussions quickly centred on education. It became clear that the success of any “future Scotland” depended on changing the education system. An independent Scotland would need a radical approach to education.

In late 2027 An anonymous poster began to appear in various places across the country, and online calling for a new universal education partnership (UEP) approach to education. Building on the concept of a universal basic income, this (at the time radical approach) called for every citizen to be given free access to education throughout their life time, at a time, place and pace that suited their needs.

Initial costings proved this would actually cost (slightly) less than the current tertiary education funding. #UEP gained more and more traction, and a plan developed. Instead of funding loans to post 16 education students and the current funding for universities and colleges, it was proposed that each citizen could access a fund that would cover 25% more than the basic living wage for the time that they were involved in educational activity. Quite quickly (again seemingly radical ) ideas about restructuring tertiary education and research began to emerge.

It turned out that turning “research subjects” into “research partners” has a dramatic impact on research. The fact that research participants were recognised for their part in research and could access their UEP fund has allowed Scotland to truly develop a nation of informed and engaged citizen scientists.

The earliest signs of success came from health research. As research participants didn’t have to rely on benefits, numerous studies (many of them ethnographic studies) have shown remarkable insights into treating some chronic health issues. The Glasgow Effect has almost been reversed. Similar effects are being seen across all sectors. At the same time, international research exchange programmes have flourished. Many large pharmaceutical. energy and financial companies have opened new centres in Scotland due to access to a highly skilled, and continually learning workforce. The changes to corporation tax including windfall contributions to the #UEP also seem to be positively accepted and widely cited in annual reporting.

Universities and colleges are now open spaces with new forms of partnerships around developing distributed and integrated curriculum. Tracking participation despite being seen by detractors as being a major challenge, was actually very simple. It turned out that every school child in Scotland already had a unique reference number that could be used. It was relatively simple to build out from this existing system. Closed exams are a thing of the past, Nearly every citizen in Scotland has contributed to the nationally supported knowledge base. Universities and colleges are now evaluated by public panels (decided through open ballots – using a process developed from the existing jury citation process). Community impact is a key factor of success. This approach has been adopted formally and informally by a number of other countries.

Research on the evolution of the UEP is continually developing and shared openly, including economic modelling. Though it appears that most citizens do access their UEP fund not everyone uses it all, many take up the option to gift their contributions back to the fund. Clearer longitudinal trends are just starting to emerge. For example, there appears to be a rise in access to funds in the over 50s. It appears that being able to more easily change career is actually allowing people to work longer. This combined with the overall increase in health and increased tax contributions and reduced NHS costs is providing a robust state funding model. Similarly there appears to be a new type of “research gap year” where 18 -25 year olds are participating in research projects before embarking on formal educational studies or taking up full time employment.

And All of this came about because it became apparent that open education wasn’t just about licences , selling “stuff” and services, or an abstract concept, it was about empowering people and making not just Scotland, but the world, open to education and all the opportunities that follow that.

Open Scotland logo

Open Scotland @10⤴

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OER23 Conference logoThis blog post was originally posted on the Open Scotland blog. 

To mark 10 years of the Open Scotland initiative we will be holding two events as part of the OER23 Conference to bring together members of the education community in Scotland to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade against the backdrop of global crisis and uncertainty (Campbell and Wilson 2021). Hosted by ALT and the University of the Highlands and Islands, the OER Conference is taking place in Scotland for the first time since 2016. One of the main themes of the conference is “Open Education in Scotland – celebrating 10 years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration.”

Thigibh a-steach! Come and join us at the OER23 Conference in Inverness to contribute to shaping the future of open education in Scotland.

Open Scotland Pre-Conference Workshop

When: Tuesday 4th April, 15.30 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: Open to all.

This pre-conference workshop, facilitated by Joe Wilson and Lorna M. Campbell, will reflect on the Open Scotland initiative and discuss ways forward for the open education community. We’ll briefly address the history and impact of Open Scotland and explore the role of Open Scotland and the Scottish Open Education Declaration going forward.

We’ll ask whether the aims of Open Scotland are still relevant, whether the Scottish Open Education Declaration has a role to play in the future, and how it can be reframed to reflect current challenges and priorities.

How can we encourage more teachers, learners and education institutions across the sector to engage with open education?

How do we ensure that the Scottish education community tunes in to global open practice and makes most of the possibilities of open educational resources , open research , open textbooks and other opportunities?

Can we effectively lobby the Scottish Government to adopt policies that support open education and OER at the national level?

How can we in Scotland, the UK, and internationally, align with the principles of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER (UNESCO 2019)?

We invite key leaders, influencers, educators, open practitioners and advocates across the Scottish education community to join us. This workshop is free and open to all. Remote participation will be available for those who are unable to join us in Inverness. 

Registration
If you are not an OER23 delegate, please register here in order to participate: Open Scotland Pre Conference Session for External Delegates

OER23 Conference Closing Plenary: OpenScotland @10

When: Thursday 6th April, 16.20 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: OER23 Conference delegates

The closing plenary panel of the OER23 Conference will bring together open education advocates from Scotland and The Netherlands to reflect on the open education landscape in Scotland and internationally. We’ll discuss engagement with open education across Scotland, focusing on the benefits and affordances of open education and OER and how it can help to address local and global education challenges and priorities, while reflecting on the relevance of the original aim of Open Scotland: To raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education.

Panel participants: Lorna M. Campbell, Open Scotland and University of Edinburgh; Scott Connor, UHI;  Maren Deepwell, ALT; Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh; Robert Schuwer, consultant and former UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources; Joe Wilson, Open Scotland and City of Glasgow College.

Background

Open Scotland is a voluntary cross-sector initiative, established in 2013, to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. In the decade since its launch, Open Scotland has been supported by Cetis, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Association for Learning Technology, Reclaim Hosting, the University of Edinburgh and Creative Commons. Openness remains a key strategic principle for many of these organisations.

In order to achieve its aims, Open Scotland hosted the Open Scotland Summit (2013) and Open Education, Open Scotland (2014) at the University of Edinburgh, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland. Members of Open Scotland contributed regularly to national conferences, and participated in international events including Open Education Global in Ljubljana, OERde14 in Berlin, Morocco Open Education Day, the Open Education Policy Network, UNESCO European Regional Consultation in Malta, and the 2017 UNESCO OER World Congress.

In 2014, inspired by the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration (UNESCO 2012), Open Scotland launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration (Open Scotland 2014), an open draft document that all members of the community were invited to contribute to. The Declaration called on the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and all sectors of Scottish education to endorse the principles of the UNESCO OER Declaration and ensure that educational materials produced with public funding are freely and openly available to all. With support from ALT Scotland and Creative Commons, the Declaration was brought to the attention of three consecutive Cabinet Secretaries of Education, however the Scottish Government declined to engage with these principles. Despite this lack of response, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been influential elsewhere. It inspired the OER Morocco Declaration (Berrada and Almakari 2017), informed the OpenMed Project, and has raised awareness of open education within institutions, triggering discussions about open education at policy level.

Visit the Open Scotland blog to find out more about the initiative. 

References

Berrada, K. and Almakari, A. (2017) Déclaration du Maroc sur les Ressources Educatives Libres / OER Morocco Declaration. Available at: https://openmedproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/OER-Morocco-Declaration.pdf (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Campbell, L.M. and Wilson, J. (2021) Open Educational Resources: An equitable future for education in Scotland. Available at: https://openscot.net/further-education/open-educational-resources-an-equitable-future-for-education-in-scotland/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Open Scotland. (2014) Scottish Open Education Declaration. Available at: https://declaration.openscot.net/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2012) The Paris OER Declaration. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/oer/paris-declaration (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2019) Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. Available at: https://www.unesco.org/en/legal-affairs/recommendation-open-educational-resources-oer (Accessed: 9 January 2023).