Tag: OER

‘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.

 

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].

grab some scottish pussy

If you feel the urge, as Donald Trump sometimes does, to grab some pussy, this 3D model of the skull of a Scottish Wildcat (Felis Silvestris) made by Dr. Tobias Schwarz, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has been shared as OER on Sketchfab where it can be viewed, grabbed, re-used and re-shared.  It’s a cat with big teeth.

You and I both know that phrases like ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ does not go down well with Scottish women, nor with our national Bard,  Robert Burns. Even in 1792  he warned that such locker-room banter was old-fashioned.   Burns’ poem on ‘The Rights of Women‘ describes three rights we can expect from men: protection , decorum and admiration.   On decorum I am confident he would have stood with most men and scolded Trump bigly.

‘There was, indeed, in far less polish’d days,
A time, when rough, rude men had naughty ways,
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.

Now, thank our stars! those Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men-and you are all well-bred-
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.’

On protection of our rights, one week in to the Trump presidency, I’m not filled with confidence. The pictures from the White House of Trump’s all-male advisors gleefully signing executive orders is chilling.

‘While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things,
The fate of Empires and the fall of Kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.’

At our Burns Night supper this week I was grateful to be reminded by Sian that it was Hilary Clinton who coined the phrase “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” . That was more than 20 years ago (1995) at  the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing.

“What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here.”

If only that had been more important than how she managed her emails. This episode of ‘This American Life‘  Act 1: ‘Server be Served’ describes how Secretary Clinton was  scupperd by her own IT support.

The interviews “depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides”.

( Act 2: ‘Knowing what we Know’, a dramatised conversation between Hillary and Huma is excellent too)

on tour again

Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.
Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.

In February I’ll be speaking at this event:

The Wikimedia UK Education Summit, in partnership with Middlesex University, aims to bring together educators and Wikimedians to share ideas and best practice in using the Wikimedia projects to support learners of all ages. Our keynote speakers, Melissa Highton (that’s me!) and Stefan Lutschinger (Associate Lecturer in Digital Publishing at Middlesex University) will open the day with presentations about the inspirational work with Wikimedia taking place at their institutions. This will be followed by a choice of workshops where attendees can develop practical skills in using and editing the Wikimedia projects, and gain new ideas and insight into how to incorporate open knowledge into their own teaching practice. Sign up to come along. It’ll be exciting, interesting and educative.

things to create, curate, collate

OpenAdvent homepage (2011) CC-BY University of Oxford
OpenAdvent homepage (2011) CC-BY University of Oxford

Creating a curated collection is one of my favourite passtimes. Selecting items from a larger collection and  curating a subset for an exhibition or theme can amuse me for hours. Digital curation is Thing15 of our 23 Things.

I do think this is one way in which discerning people can add value to the internet. Making curated pathways through the never ending maze of linked content.

Some examples of curated sets I have created include:

Three online advent calendars which showcased the Oxford OER collections and OUCS services on a Christmas theme. It was not an arduous task ; the collections are rich and wonderful, and the premise of generous giving suits the spirit of the task. The calendars were wordpress sites scheduled to publish a new post each day in Dec.

I also encouraged my podcasting teams in Oxford to develop a tool for the podcasts.ox website to enable us to showcase a handpicked collection drawn from accross the collection e.g. some of our best female academics on interational women’s day. At the moment the tool  is being used as ‘featured people‘.

More recently, at the Edinburgh Gothic editathon I learned how to curate a timeline using Histropedia. If the internet keeps producing tools like this for curating content I may be done for.

I haven’t managed to persuade anyone at Edinburgh to join me in an ‘Advent of technology’ or ‘Internet of free things’. But I did get Charlie to curate this set of 23 things and the world is a better place for it.

Update: As of 1 December there now is an Open Advent calendar at Edinburgh. Check it out!

hearing things

even-august-melissa-highton-11-1024
old technology

Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away Oxford University launched on ItunesU. Here’s the screenshot from BBC ceefax that night.

Podcasts are Thing 14 of our 23Things and I am getting nostalgic again.

Here’s a case study  by Terese Bird of how we approached podcasting at Oxford.

And here’s the Oxford podcasts site (outside of ItunesU).

I’m on there, here’s my podcasts and ebooks. They include a recorded talk about my research on the student digital experience and 5 years of blog posts available as an ebook.

In April this year I was delighted to welcome one of Oxford’s top podcasters, Dr Emma Smith to keynote at OER16.   I first met Emma around the time we were launching  Oxford on ItunesU. She is a Fellow of Hertford College and  Professor of Shakespeare Studies.  She was one of the first academic colleagues to  champion the use and creation of OER at University of Oxford through her involvement in the Jisc funded Open Spires and Great Writers Inspire projects. Her OER licensed lectures reach an international audience and she continues to produce, publish and share cultural resources online.

After some early Jisc funding in 2009 Oxford’s podcasts collection quickly became one of the largest growing collections of openly licenced university lectures online.  Oxford podcasts have published nearly 10,000 thousand audio and video items. 50% of this content is CC licenced.  It includes 6,000 individual speakers and presenters. More than 23 million episodes have been downloaded. 10 million episodes have been streamed.

Emma was one of the first of the Oxford podcasters and the first major contributor to record podcasts herself. She has published 48 episodes which are part of 7 different series. Her biggest successes are ‘Approaching Shakespeare’ and ‘Not Shakespeare’.

Approaching Shakespeare has had more that 500,000 thousand downloads and regularly features in the itunesU global top ten.

Emma’s podcasts are only a small part of her work, but whenever I hear discussions about open academic practice I think of colleagues like Emma at Oxford who share so generously, but always with a wise, and enquiring eye to what might happen as a result.

Writing this post is reminding me of the connection between podcasting,  recording and lecture capture…..ing,

things we can name

Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN (covered)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper
My choice of platform for Thing13 of our 23things is Media Hopper.

You may wonder why Media Hopper is called Media Hopper. You will know the following definitions of hopper:

hopper ( agric) :  a container for a loose bulk material.
hopper ( minecraft ):  a block that can be used to catch item entities, or to transfer items into and out of other containers.
channel-hopper( tv) : quickly changing from one channel to another to find something you want to watch.
Grace Hopper ( rolemodel) : an inspirational computer scientist. She developed the implementation of standards for testing computer systems and components and coined the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches when she removed a moth from her computer.
Dennis Hopper (role model):  just cool.
space hopper ( toy ):  just orange and bouncy.

As I was explaining to Vicki, our Digital Recruitment and Marketing intern just the other day, Media Hopper gathers together all the mixed up multitude of video material from all over the University; brings it into one place; channels it into our VLEs, websites, portals and courses; applies standards and metadata  is very cool.

I think it’s important to name things after inspirational women when you can, and Grace Hopper fits the bill for me.

Vicki will now be using videos in Media Hopper to liven up our LinkedIn presence.

 

people make things open

University of Edinburgh Spy Week Wikipedia edit-a-thon 02
Open practice in action. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Edinburgh_Spy_Week_Wikipedia_edit-a-thon_02.jpg
Thing 12 of our 23 things is OER.

I talk a lot about OER. Last week I was talking about it in Barcelona,  this week I’m talking about it in Paris, in two weeks I’ll be in Berlin. I also write a bit about OER. On this blog and occasionally for case studies and articles.  My work in creating a culture of openness is  featured as a case study by  OEPS. At the moment my homework is to write a case study for Gill and Fred to include in their new book.

I am also pleased to be able to make the case for new posts based on our institutional commitment to open. We have had support to extend contracts for our OER Adviser and our Wikimedian in Residence. We have also just signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Library at a time when they are working to open up huge swathes of their collections.

The task is to find OER to use in my work. I enjoy finding OER to use in my blog and presentations. Other OER I use in my work tend to be the OER about OER such as:

(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].

Dr Peter Highton

Peter Highton
Peter Highton

A year ago this weekend my father died. Peter worked for pretty much his whole career at University of Edinburgh, at Kings Buildings, in the Darwin Building. He was a molecular biologist, although at Oxford he had studied Physics. I know that his time at Oxford (Wadham) was very happy and he was delighted when I chose to spend some of my career there.

My memories of being a child visiting his lab include the smell of the foyer, the enormous slices of wood from Forestry, playing with plastic molecule models and spinning around on the office chairs.

Peter was the expert in using Edinburgh’s electron microscope and he took pictures of tiny, tiny things*. The microscope was a huge heavy piece of kit which needed to be absolutely still and absolutely flat in order to work properly. In their wisdom Edinburgh colleagues decided to put it on the top floor of the tallest tower which was known to sway in the wind.

Using his knowledge of physics Peter built a sling in which the microscope could sit, making it possible to use. He must have saved the University a fair bit of money because this thing was not cheap.

I am not quite sure what my father’s research was, I suspect it was research into microscopy. I’ ve found a few journal articles and I remember stories of  Anne Mclaren  and Martin Pollock so his work must have been linked to early genetics. When I was a teenager at school he arranged for me to have my first summer job making fruit -fly food in Mary Bownes’ lab**.

As the executor of his estate I now have a collection of these early electron-micrograph images. If I get time I will digitise them and add them to Wikimedia in the hope they will be useful to someone.

I know that Peter earned royalties from them during his career, but I can find no evidence of an ongoing relationship with an image agency, so it is time for them to become OER.   I’d love to hear from anyone who might be able to identify which of the images are of more interest than others.

Fun update to this blog post: Clare (Project Archivist, cataloguing the papers of Sir Kenneth and Lady Noreen Murray )*** has found a picture of Peter in this line drawing by Edith Simon, which has been digitised (he’s top row, fourth from the right, in case you can’t distinguish him from the other beardy scientists).

 

From my childhood. No rights reserved by me.
From my childhood. No rights reserved by me.
IMG_2843
e.coli by Peter Highton
IMG_2847
bacillus subtilis by Peter Highton

IMG_2846IMG_2845

*Highton, P (1968) The minimum mass detectable by electron microscopy
** Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.

*** I have updated Noreen’s Wikipedia page in the past.

impact of football OER

Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, sive, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura (24696368309).jpg
By Centre for Research Collections University of Edinburgh – Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, sive, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47041923

A 17th Century map of Iceland became our most popular OER for football fans during Euro 2016. The image ‘Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura ‘ which belongs to our Centre for Research Collections was added to Wikimedia in February as part of our Wikimedian in Residence partnership project. It was then used to illustrate  an article about Iceland on English and German Wikipedia. It has now been viewed more than 2 million times.

Iceland’s Euro2016  matches were on 14 June (1-1 with Portugal), 18 June (1-1 Hungary), 22 June (2-1 victory over Austria), 27 June (2-1 win over England), and 3 July (2-5 defeat to France).  Around each of these events people all over the world were keen to learn about this surprising nation.  Viewing numbers ( numbers of hits) show appreciable spikes for the matches against Portugal, England, and France.

On German Wikipedia spikes against each of the matches regularly exceeded 100,000 page views.

The biggest spike was for the victory over England!