Open education update – Bristol University presentation

I’m very excited about talking to the Bristol University ‘pedagogy’ group about open education today. Here is a PDF of my slides:

SLIDES –> Open Education Update_VRolfe_5May15

The talk gave reference to a number of conference articles and papers, and the details of these are listed on my “talks and articles” page.

Links to the open education projects listed can be found under “open education“, including those I have participated in at Nottingham University and De Montfort.

Finally I made reference to the Open Education Conference (OER15) held in Cardiff this year. Videos of most of the presentations can be found via the conference web page. https://oer15.oerconf.org

Also I referred to Bronwyn Williams talking about ethics and the digital university at the SRHE event on 17th April 2015 (Methodology and Ethics for Researching the Digital University). You can find podcasts of Bronwyn’s talk which is absolutely a ‘must’ hear; just follow the links from this page. https://www.srhe.ac.uk/events/details.asp?eid=186

 

Open education: sustainability versus vulnerability #oer15

Just returned from an outstanding two days at OER15 in Cardiff (Tues 14 – Wed 15th April 2015). The theme was ‘mainstreaming’ OER and one of my talks looked at the sustainability and impact of the open education projects I was involved in as part of the HEFCE-funded UKOER programme (2009 – 2012). Six years on, where are these projects?

OER Impact

My video shows the main points of the above image.

1) The impact of projects continues to grow and sustained some 6 years after the launch of the initial project (which was VAL in 2008/9. SCOOTER followed and then did BIOLOGY COURSES).

2) Staff practice has dramatically changed – for those originally involved, open is part of what they do, and open practices and use of resources has crept across the faculty and is adopted by new staff coming in.

3) The void is around institutional practices. Circumstances were such that two project champions (myself and another) left the university. Change in senior management and other reorganisation probably has resulted in some of the loss of traction of these initial conversations.

4) ‘Open’ was embedded within learning and teaching strategy, but the question is, how to make this real? How to turn words into action for institutions?

OER sustainability versus vulnerability.

I suppose this goes for any innovation or new practice, it takes time, investment, enthusiasm and effort to embed and sustain. However this can quickly become vulnerable for the reasons in the next image.

OER sustainability

What next?

I liked the ideas presented by Martin Weller in his keynote (see YouTube video). Martin was talking about mainstreaming OER, and that we are almost on the verge of victory. But progress is not about the big event and initial victory. History is made, or innovations embed and sustain only following a series of events and victories. That is what I see in our UKOER projects at De Montfort University. Yes, it was all about the big events – we had so much fun, students had fun, we made new collaborations – but the subsequent victories are contributing to what is becoming a changed faculty.

I’ve left the conference with growing concerns regarding the roles of ‘champions’ and will seek to explore this in a future blog.

 

 

OpenEd14 Socio-ethical stances of MOOCs

Here are my slides from 2014 OpenEd Conference, Washington, Nov 2014.

What a great conference so far! My talk followed on from my OpenEd13 presentation at Utah last year, and really builds on the bee I’ve had in my bonnet about massive open online learning for some time. I had some great questions today that I hope I made some vague attempt at answering:

1) How would my delineation of ‘ethical’ dimensions of MOOCs be different from a look at on-campus learning? Many of the dimensions around pedagogy, quality and addressing learner diversity are core academic values, but I would argue do not translate easily online. We are talking about diversity on an unprecedented scale. Also, there are dimensions around intellectual property and data privacy, and the changing role of the tutor / teacher, that simply don’t feature on-campus, or that might do, but are swept under the carpet. In my talk I described a book chapter in press that extends Khan’s 2003 ‘eLearning framework’ to open, online learning.

2) How can we influence ethics, research and practice in order to make the changes we are all seeking? What an impossible question that I’m sure I did not answer well. For a start, we are all at OpenEd14! We are all championing good quality research and open initiatives, and all we can do is go back and keep influencing our colleagues and institutions. We should never lose sight of how far we have come!

I thought back to Larry Lessig’s opening keynote, it is not enough just to talk about change, we have to oil the wheels to make change possible.

 “Fight to make your sensible idea possible.”

 

 

Give me an OER every time!

Jisc Digifest 2014WOW! The highlight of open education week for me undoubtably was Jisc Digifest 2014.

It was so packed with festival goodies that it was difficult to chose which sessions to attend, and then what highlights to write about. So here are a few, and some additional blogs for extra reading.

 

Jisc Digital Festival 2014

A rather shaky start!

The festival kicked off with a number of excellent speakers including Diana Oblinger from Educause. Along with the Jisc executive, I was soon launched into a rather unexpected and terrifying commercial world, with language including “service users”, “consumers”, with educational goals including “margins” and “metrics”. I did start to wonder what on earth had I attended this for.

Whether this was the intention of Jisc, along with the rather lovely but somewhat incongruous technology companies and suppliers in the main auditorium, to be moving toward a more corporate purpose I’m not sure? This was alongside one of the opening speakers talking about educational delivery (deliverology aggh), 3 month degrees, and I was beginning to think this all just reeked like the onion rings of the “Macdonaldisation” of education. I must say I entered the coffee break very depressed. But from that point on, it was clear that the conference delegates were having none of it! None of it I say!

The festival was about people!

I was rather thinking that a digital festival would be very technology-centric and all about the tools, but I was completely wrong. The next two days without exception, it was all about the people. The users, students, educators, technologists, librarians, members of museum staff, geologists and a wide range of delegates in attendance. And a few students but not enough. The festival attracted a diverse group of people which was refreshing and provided rich discussions in the workshops. For the win!

And Jisc is about people!

Each session was led by a member of the various Jisc teams, and I hope that Jisc in its corporate reshaping, does not forget to cherish their most valuable asset. Any company is only as good as its staff, and Jisc is about expertise, collegiality, enthusiasm and support. They are some of the most talented individuals I have ever worked with across any organisation.

OK. Now for the highlights.

Wikipedia: a platform for learners as producers.

Martin Poulter from Bristol University talked about a series of case studies that had involved students in Wikipedia writing and editing. Unbeknownst to most people I suspect including me – and I’m just doing a Wikipedia course myself – is that the level of writing, the need for accuracy, the need for good evidence and referencing, the need to work as part of a community – are all adopted to a very high standard. As Martin said:

Wikipedia values are scholarly values.

What a great thing for transferable skills and allowing students to be part of global communities and the knowledge economy. And it is open of course.

Open access monograph publishing

Amazing stories by Brian hole (Ubiquity Press, UCL), Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers Cambridge) and Martin Paul Eve (Open Library of Humanities, Lincoln). Each had a similar tale, naffed-off by the publishing industry so decided to set up themselves. Their books are free to access online, often openly licensed, and are certainly putting valuable subjects back on the map that publishers had little commercial interest in. They claimed that their websites were easily pulled together using Scribd online reader, Google books and Lighteningsource electronic printing solutions. I did struggle with the CC BY license, so yes, if I was savvy, I would set up a publishers in China, take the content, repackage and sell. As they pointed out, all the good for the distribution. Well, actually, yes! Genius.

My lasting concern though still of the CC BY license was how to preserve the quality and authenticity of the work. But knowing these guys, they’ll come up with a solution to that.

Digital content sustainability and entrepreneurship

Naomi Korn ( Naomi Korn Consulting ) and Stuart Dempster, Jisc. Well this was just too good to miss. How many conference workshops can you say were so good that you stole the flip charts afterwards? *confession*.

This was particularly pertinent to me because I run three open education websites which I financially maintain, albeit for the cost of probably a bottle of wine a week, it is certainly worth it. This session gave me the structure of a business model to consider based around the overall goals of the site – to maintain or to grow. Well grow I say!!! There are only so many hours in my days I can sit around my kitchen table supporting VAL, SCOOTER and BIOLOGY COURSES, and I now have a plan. Things to consider:

  • Institutional ownership – far to many projects are pioneered by individuals and are never preserved by their institutions. A must for sustainability.
  • Digital preservation – we can’t future-proof everything, but releasing materials openly licensed, using open source and not locked in behind proprietary software. Multiple file formats please.
  • Existing and “outside of the box” revenue streams, or crowdsourcing a bit of money to pay the costs.

For more information, the Jisc Strategic Content Alliance has a heap of resources on this very subject, and I’ll be delving in very shortly.

The future of research – are you ready?

By Jeremy Frey and other contributors. I’m waiting for the Digifest site to publish the content and full list of contributors.

This was a mind blowing session. There is a rapid move toward publicly funded research in the UK making it mandatory to openly share all research data. The pain of the learning curve for open educational resources I remember was quite significant but achievable with the right support. The pain of this I feel will be much greater. It will require huge cultural changes to ways of working.

But new technology is helping – digital notebooks, data companies, increased collaboration between laboratories and transparency. Of course there are massive implications for individuals, departments and universities and much pain to go through before amazing benefits can be achieved.

I’m thinking – hurrah – the honest publication of research data that will at last overcome the bias of publication where mostly only POSITIVE findings are revealed. But would I want to reveal my scruffy notebooks to the world? And again, although it wasn’t clear if this would be openly licensed, but how would you prevent plagiarism, or even define it, if any researcher could pool data from a number of researchers, and republish? I guess that is the process of meta-analysis, so there would need to be assurances that the originator would be fully attributed. Fine, but not sure how you would police that.

Whatever happened to the MOOC?

Of course I’m going to pick this panel session because I was very kindly invited to participate, and what a mind-blowing panel talking about global open education in terms of history, university policy, activity in Scotland, applications to post-graduate teaching certificates, open educational science resources, and university courses that have gone totally and mindblowingly open.

It was quite telling, that during the entire course of the conference, MOOCs were barely mentioned. In fact I only recall one reference by Diana Oblinger in her keynote questions:

I would suggest that even though quite a lot of people are excited about MOOCs, …. they are a form of brand extension. It is not designed to be a course. They are hugely expensive and their audience is not traditional students.

Enough of silly MOOCs. The session was led by the irrepressible, irresponsible, unbelievable David Kernohan in his Chas n Dave t-shirt.

Digifest Lineup
(Me), Antonio Arboleda, Lou McGill, David Kernohan, Lorna Campbell, George Roberts, Jonathon Worth.

And if that wasn’t enough of a panel, on video was: Audrey Watters, David Wiley and Jim Groom.

Some wonderful examples of the power of opening up classrooms were told and have been written about elsewhere today:

http://followersoftheapocalyp.se/digifest14-session-on-moocs/,

http://lornamcampbell.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/open-scotland-at-jisc-digifest/

http://loumcgill.co.uk/open-learning-has-a-past/

Futurelols

And finally, futurology?

 

The final conference speaker was Ray Hammond, a futurologist. Ray spoke about many things and how they will affect us. He missed out one very important thing though.

 

The future is absolutely and most definitely OPEN!

 

 

It feels only right to finish on a song!

MOOC research on student experience and social responsibility toward learners

Open Education Conference 2013
November 6-8, Utah
@VivienRolfe

I am very excited about being in UTAH this week and presenting at OpenEd 13. Here are slides accompanying my presentation and below are listed other resources and a short description of the research. A full publication is currently being drafted.

 

View slides on Slideshare

Download reference list of peer-reviewed literature articles

Download reference list of blog articles

Methodology for literature and blogature searching and evaluation – coming in a wee while!

——————————- 

I am interested in our academic and social responsibility toward online learners. I don’t know a single academic past or present who is not entirely dedicated to supporting young people through their education. I just get the sense that just because some online learning is now free, academic institutions involved have just stopped caring.

My aim was to look at the literature and “blogature” surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs) that has discussed academic standards, social responsibility, inclusivity and accessibility, and many of the other core values of an education institution. I conducted a systematic review of the literature and also evolved methods for identifying and evaluating other web-based literature such as blog articles.

What did I find?

In his keynote lecture at the OpenEd13 meeting, George Siemens reported on recent Gates-funded research around MOOCs, and identified there is certainly interest in good quality research being carried out. I guess I am a little surprised at the conference so far at the lack of speakers talking about any research underway. Mike Caulfield was one exception reporting on a really interesting study where a group of academics looked at using MOOCs in blended learning scenarios.

Hopefully my research will act as a bit of a primer in terms of identifying gaps and also making the plea (once again) for good quality work.

Whenever I research an educational field, as with my past systematic review looking at multimedia and learning (Rolfe and Gray 2011), it is always surprising how little good quality education research is actually carried out. In my MOOC review, of the 38 peer-reviewed articles that I did find, 26 were empirical studies and only 1 was a case-control study with two comparative groups. Only 1 study directly addressed social responsibility, and the rest largely focused on methodology for analysing learner data rather than the learner experience.

Results of the blog search

In addition to searching peer-reviewed academic journals, I used Google Scholar and Google Blog Search to surface current opinion and other useful reports. The blogs were from high authority people – academics, technologists, senior university executive, and in my thinking are as good quality as any “letter to the editor”, “comment” or “mini-review” of any peer-reviewed journal. Some of my themes of interest in terms of digital and social inclusion, intellectual property and privacy, were reflected in the blogs but not the published literature.

I would hate to see people get a bad taste of university because there’s just too many students in there to get personal attention.

There will be no private, “safe” spaces for learning.

Fairly unaltered in relation to the important stuff like instructional design, instructional delivery, and authentic assessment.

Conclusions of the research

The increasing number of free online courses delivered by large-scale platforms (xMOOCs) are reaching potential learners all over the world, and sparking much debate in media and educational circles. What is clear is the evidence supporting the MOOC in terms of learning design and providing the best possible opportunities for learners is lacking, and much research focuses around tracking users and analysing the vast quantities of user data.

It would be lovely to see in the future:

  • Some good quality research into xMOOC learners – their needs, their successes and what happens when they fail? This could feed directly back into mechanisms for support.
  • Discussion around intellectual property and privacy. Do participants know they are being tracked? Where are their personal details going next? Don’t they have the right to a safe space in which to learn?
  • How inclusive and accessible are xMOOCs? Current institutional strategies reflect widening participation, providing accessible learning for ALL including those with special needs, and are digitally inclusive. Much of this is not reflected yet in the xMOOC.