Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#OEPS Forum , Final #Jorum Steering Group , Making An Open Information Age

In the last couple of weeks I've been involved in a number of gatherings all around the open sharing of learning materials and information across the public sector.

A re-current discussion theme -

"What are the key arguments or actions that will encourage senior policy makers in your institution to take a strategic approach to open education resources and encourage  open practice "
And response ;

If our leaders can't see the value in opening up and sharing and prefer that everything is done in silos then it is hard to challenge this. 

The usual fears of senior managers and colleagues around sharing learning materials were trotted out.

Managers fear exposure around the quality of learning resources and fear that copyright may be breached . They dream too of a new income stream from the sale of institutionally produced learning materials .  There is a conflict here - and while they are conflicted between the argument that sharing and collaboration make sense - but our materials are not good enough - and or maybe one day we could sell these teaching materials - they fall back on inaction.

Classroom practitioners share some of these fears and without leadership are worried too that by sharing learning and teaching materials they are making themselves redundant. In many cases they are worried about sharing learning materials across an institution with their colleagues  not just sharing learning materials openly.

I thought it might be worth doing a wee run down on the state of open in Scotland - This reflecting mainly on open educational resources rather than open data and open research and other open practices,

Clear Government Policy

The Government has adopted a Scottish Open Government Licence for publications from Government and their agencies . There are pockets of enthusiasm for open data , open standards and even harder to find for  open educational resources .  But the feeling is still that opening up educational resources is  very much an issue for institutions rather than government policy.

We've been trying to find and without success a Scottish government speaker for #OER16  https://oer16.oerconf.org/ an international conference, this year running in Edinburgh. The reluctance of anyone to talk out aloud around benefits of #OER underlines what is at moment an indifference to shaping policy here.

The Open Scotland Declaration while garnering much recognition outside Scotland remains a statement of ideals, though it  is gaining some traction at institutional level, it has been used a basis for Edinburgh University's recent commitment to open education.

Wales seem more comfortable with open educational resources while England is becoming a fragmented nation of content shop keepers.

National Platforms supporting Open

The government has committed funds to the OEPS project which is  due to complete in June 2017 http://www.oeps.ac.uk/ this is having good impact on practice in the 3rd sector but it is hard to see the impact it is having on the other HE partners or on the FE sector despite the best efforts of the team.

JORUM/ Re-Source  The not well understood and not well enough used platforms for open content are being retired by JISC will be  replaced by a content and app store due to come on stream in June with the  former services being  retired in September . The new platform will have a sharing area for open educational resources as well as a commercial area for re-sale of 3rd party content.

While many believe that permission for publishing to the open web is all that is needed for #oer to flourish I still believe that it needs both curation and support from a broader learning community for #oer to be sustainable. The new content and app store is aiming to be the place for this.

I think too that it is  important that a sharing space exists out with the bailiwick of a single institution.
I am cautious about the success of the TES sharing platform - but it is making progress in being the place to share learning materials. The platform meets the criteria of being in existence , having a user base and being out with an institutional bailiwick . Though deposits here are made by individual rather than by institutions. Perhaps find and sell your wares is the new reality for education.

Support from University/Colleges/ Local Authorities

Edinburgh University , GCU and Leeds - leading charge along with the Open University in having policies and platforms around open educational content.

 But in at least one of these gatherings there were mutterings from English based universities,  they are now in competition , that they and not the public purse invest in their learning materials and they use their learning materials to gain a competitive advantage over other universities and are therefore increasingly unlikely to share learning materials.

Thank goodness they are already mandated to share publically funded research.

Colleges in Scotland while happy to date to share materials through Re-Source have been focused mainly on re-structuring rather than updating their practice . There are some green shoots West College Scotland pioneering an offer of automatically marked free on-line courses.  There are different forms of open.

Colleges across UK are  looking too to closed content consortiums as method of sharing the cost of developing on-line content through partnerships like that established by Heart of Worcester College.

I hope the new content and app store from JISC will reinvigorate the sharing culture.

In Scotland hard to see any sign of local education authorities encouraging teachers to adopt open practice and produce #OER . The Scottish schools intranet #Glow is going from strength to strength and while necessarily closed to protect primary and other young learners it is producing a kind of locked in syndrome around school based resources. There is not an open area for content.

The teachers who are engaged around this tend to be the maverick enthusiasts.  Perhaps no one has noticed that maths teacher Colin Hegarty and others are just getting on with it and garnering global recognition.

It hard to see signs that any local authority in Scotland is likely to adopt the open Leicester model at moment - so ably led by Josie Fraser.

I'll add here at link based session I did on content and content creation across the FE Landscape for a recent webinar on sources of open but mainly commercial content to support delivery .

It does not have to be like this . There is a great opportunity to find out about open educational practice from around the world at #OER16 next month in Edinburgh