Category: Open Educational Resources

bags of blogs

Image from University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections

Blogging? I’ve never been a fan, as you know. Nonetheless, we are launching a new service for all our staff and students.

The Academic Blogging service directly underpins the “Influential Voices” theme within our Web Strategy 2018-2021. This theme aims to: “Give our staff and students an online presence to publish and promote their work, and exchange ideas with organisations and communities globally”.

The  service will give our staff and students the tools and support that they need to publish online effectively, to develop a digital identity, and make more visible a range of authentic voices from across our academic community that are identifiably connected to our institution.

Our staff and students will be able to link their academic blogs into their profiles on social media or academic networking sites, improving the profile and visibility of the University across online channels. Staff and PGR students will also be able to link to their official University profile on EdWeb. Selections of blogs can be presented on our web pages to represent the range of learning, teaching or research activities that take place in a particular area. Content from blogs can be syndicated by ourselves, or by our partners or external organisations to create curated selections of content, reflecting the richness of our institutional activity.

 

If you want one, let us know.

occupy your librarian

Picture taken by me in the street in Mons, Belgium. No rights reserved by me.

19th-23rd March is #ResourcesListWeek in the University of Edinburgh.

I am often asked about the value of lecturing ( and lecture recording). In my day, I was always told that the purpose of a lecture was to send you to the Library. A good  lecture, given by an academic colleague who is passionate about their subject and actively researching in the area will inspire you to go and find out more for yourself. Lectures were never designed to be the way to cover and transmit all the course content. The reading list is as valuable to students as the lectures.

In a research institution the Library holds collections way beyond the reading lists and provides an environment for individual exploration and discovery.

We send our students to the library clutching their reading lists. If you want the books to be there when they get there, you need a Resources List. Sending in your resources list causes your librarian to order-in what is needed.

If you think our library should hold more diverse authors, if you would like to liberate the curriculum, if you would prefer we used more open access resources, this is one way to drive that change.

The Librarians are ready and waiting, give them something to occupy their time.

 

‘tech-out’, the technology version of a ‘teach-out’

Rosie the Editor

Some of us are on strike. (I may have mentioned this before). Academic colleagues are holding ‘teach outs’. What kind of activity would be the learning technology version of a ‘teach out’?  I’m thinking  ‘making OER ‘and ‘wikimedia editathons’.

I’ve asked a guru and been told that a ‘teach-out’ takes place outside the walls, has an informal curriculum, is activist focused and free!

Open education and OER is all about ‘beyond walls’, it is about sharing, releasing openly, deliberately, resources which can be re-used by others for free. There are whole conferences about how this is informal, disruptive, beyond the curriculum and underpinned by activism for social change in HE. There are even Declarations about it.  Wikimedia is the largest online  open educational resources platform in the world.  Wikimedia is an activist organisation whose members  support and campaign for changes in copyright, access, freedoms and disruption of traditional knowledge publishing models. There is also a well known issue with gender bias in the content.

I’ve looked up some UCU guidance. They say:

“Good reasons to do teach-outs include:

  • They show students that their teachers aren’t just putting their feet up. We care about students’ education and are willing to educate unpaid — just not to do the kind of educating we’re normally paid for.
  • We only go on strike when bad things are happening, but promoting the teach-out allows us to focus conversations on a positive activity. Attending allows students (and anyone else!) to show support for the strike.
  • The teach-outs also give members a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity, and community — and reminds us what higher education is really all about.
  • Not all members are willing or able to be involved in picketing, but are happy to participate in teach-outs, broadening the possibilities for activism on a strike day.

Organising teach-outs is very easy! Almost everyone in UCU organises conferences, open days, meetings and talks professionally. Moreover, it’s in the nature of teach-outs that they’re ad hoc, a bit improvised, even carnivalesque. So basically, it’s about doing what we’re good at, yet no-one minds if it goes wrong “

This is exactly the kind of thing we encourage through our OER activities and wikimedia editathon events.  It is #openeducationweek as well as #internationalwomensday and #ussstrikes. The best thing you can do is join a ‘tech-out’. You don’t have to cross a picketline, Wikipedia is definitely outside our walls, but conveniently adjacent, and differently owned, like a local pub or community hall.  You can learn how to do OER from our handy guides. You can join our wikimedia editathon remotely with our helpful videos.

If you want a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity and community, and reminds us what higher education is really all about, Comrades, join me in Open Education.

 

take an EqualBITE

EqualBITE: Gender equality in higher education is an open access book to which I contributed a chapter.  My chapter is about the positive power of wikipedia editathons, but the book contains a full range of ideas and responses to tackling the real lived experience of inequality in higher education.

The piece I wrote I wrote a long time ago, before we even had a wikimedian in residence and before the Playfair Steps had really got going. The book has taken a while to come to fruition.  It began as an idea to develop a set of ‘recipies’, with each of the contributions having a witty pun-laden title styled as instructions, method and ingredients. I thought that was a cute idea, but seemingly the author team lost their resolve for this, decided that recipies were too girly and decided to adopt a more formal style.

The result is still good though.
It’s free to download, or you could buy it.
It would make a lovely Christmas present.

what will you watch?

Students watching Replay highlights. Picture from University of Edinburgh Image collection. CC BY https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/a93pr4

We are more than two weeks into term now at University of Edinburgh.
Lectures are being recorded.
The sky has not fallen in.
The service is called Replay.
Students like it.
Staff like it.
We are gathering data.
The learning technology teams have shown themselves to be expert in the jobs they do.
The learning technology teams have shown themselves to be excellent in the jobs they do.
I’m not shocked.
Well done all.

 

keep a breast of open knowledge

No nudes is not good news. Picture taken by me at work of one of the artworks on display from our collections. No rights reserved by me.

In an effort to stay up to date with all things wiki, I went last week to Wikimania 2017 in Montreal. It was my first Wikimania. Ewan and I did our ‘What’s the Value of a Wikimedian’ double act. You can watch us on Media Hopper.

The conference was really interesting, and quite political. Lots of talk of combatting fake news and a keynote from the ACLU. It was also quite a diverse conference, I thought, and the topic of diversity came up again and again. A lot of people thinking very hard about the sheer scale of getting ‘everyone’ involved in open knowledge.

I mused* on 2 things:

  1. Someone presented some research indicating that women who contribute to Wikipedia do not only edit on ‘women’s topics’ or female biographies. That was not a shock as women, notoriously, are interested in all kinds of topics. But it does mean that getting more female editors does not automatically increase the coverage of our under represented bios.
  2. There was some interesting findings with regard to images. It seems that the images available in Wikimedia Commons to represent people in roles and professions disproportionately portray men in those roles.  Even when the profession in question is traditionally female dominated.

Interesting.

The connection between these two I think, must draw upon the same theory of ‘unconscious bias’ as our recruitment training does. Men and women both tend to think that men are more appropriate in professional roles, and more notable for biographies. Unconsciously, even when we pay attention, we may fall foul of our bias.

(slides from these research presentations)

Much inspired by it all, I return to my main hobby of creating and improving women’s bios. This week I wrote about Prunella Briance, founder of the NCT and Sheila Kitzinger.  I felt brave and added a picture of actual breastfeeding to Kitzinger’s page. I think she would have wanted that. Briance, Kitzinger and the NCT fought the good fight to allow women to breastfeed without fear, even in public.

 

*coincidentally, while I was there I discovered another dead muse, and created a page for Blanche Blackwell.

 

the Highton digital estate

Darwin Building as it was in 1967. Picture belongs to the Highton Estate, no rights reserved by me.

Schopenhauer apparently said we mostly can’t make pain go away, but it’s always open to us ‘to turn tears into knowledge.’

We can also turn our sad memories into open knowledge. Two years on I am still discovering more about my father, and sharing more of his collections.

His pictures of ecoli which I spread into Wikipedia have multiplied page views, about 1.2 million so far.

University archive colleagues have been incredibly kind and spent time with me looking through his photos. Apparently there is some genuine interest in the history of electron microscopy and molecular biology these days.

The estate of Dr Peter Highton will be happy to donate whatever we have in our cupboards.

time for an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?

Red herring
Red Herring By misocrazy from New York, NY (Cropped from Kipper) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I spoke at JISC Digifest 2017. It was lovely to see so many colleagues old and new there.

Jisc had gathered a community of learning technologists and IT specialists and asked us to think about how we might find an evidence base for TEL.

But I do wonder: Should we even try?

There is a real risk to the universities in having the people who are best placed to build and develop excellent new services  spending too much of their time of fruitless tasks.   I think knowing what kinds of evidence is relevant for which decisions is a leadership skill, and leadership in learning technology is what its all about.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t make evidence-based decisions, or decisions based on data. We need to know the difference between evidence and data. But I think ‘technology enhanced learning‘ might be a red herring. Or possibly a hens tooth.  Or may be both.

Even before the Trump era of post-fact and post-truth there were already many people, with strong convictions will not be persuaded by evidence, however well it is presented.

Some times I suspect that people ask for evidence not because they want to make a decision, but because they already have.

Sometimes I suspect that the request for more evidence, and more detail is a stalling or blocking tactic. It is just one approach to resistance.  No amount of detail will ever be enough and you’ll spend a long time looking for it.

What I am sure is true is that different kinds of evidence persuades different kinds of people in different kinds of decision-making and we need to be smart with that. The  kinds of evidence that persuades users to use the tools, is very different from evidence budget-holders need to make decisions on spend and buy the tools in the first place.

The evidence-base is not the same as the business-case.

So, In summary: Should we spend more time assembling an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?

I vote No. The opportunity cost is too great.   It would have to be so broad, yet so detailed to convince university lecturers it would be quickly unstainable. It would be backward looking and the data unreproducable. It would have little useful link to the real, real-time decisions being made for investment for the future. We should not waste that time, we have more urgent things to do.

 

OER risks: why not being open now costs us money in the future.

It’s that time of year again. OER17 conference will see a gathering of the OER clans in the UK once more. Together we will map the political landscape for OER.  I will be arguing that it is OER which will save the HE institutions from Brexit, Trump and possibly Indyref2.

It is clear that business models associated with OER are in their infancy and whether any institution pursues models[…….] will be highly dependent on any given institutions business strategy.’(1)

“The clear identification of ownership and copyright permissions is integral to managing open educational resources. This means that institutions become much more aware of intellectual property in relation to the resources they create and use. “ (2)

The senior management briefing papers and guides produced as a result of the JISC /HEA funding programmes (2009-13) offered suggestions to colleagues within institutions on how to best engage with senior stakeholders. They also offered suggestions to those stakeholders as to reasons why they might invest in OER as part of strategic planning.  And yet, at many OER conferences, workshops and events the questions are still raised: ‘What can we do to get institutional support for our open education practice?’ ‘ How can we persuade senior managers?’

What piece of the puzzle is missing?   In this presentation I will offer a view from the perspective of one UK HEI senior management which I hope will be of interest and use to colleagues working in large institutions at a time of Brexit and Trump.  Making a business case for OER is simple if it aligns that activity to institutional strategies for investment, market differentiation, student and staff satisfaction or IT, IP and mitigation of risk. The context of OER includes a range of views relating to the economics of OER . This short presentation will focus on just one, but one which identifies persuading budget holders within the institution as key to successful sustainable services.

This session is a presentation rather than a workshop but please feel free to bring  a copy of your own University’s strategic mission.

 

(1)Open Educational Resources infoKit JISC[online] Available at: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24838043/Approaches%20and%20models [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

(2)Compelling Reasons to Adopt Open Educational Resources [online] Available at: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/45742558/Compelling%20Reasons%20to%20Adopt%20Open%20Educational%20Resources# [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].