This is Open Education Week; five days of awareness raising, organised by the open education consortium, about the range of opportunities for education & learning freely available to everyone, worldwide (hashtag #openeducationwk). The University of Edinburgh has been involved in open education for a number of years – most notably through our growing portfolio of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Support for our MOOCs is mainstreaming – moving from Informations Services’ special projects into the new Learning Teaching and Web Services Division (LTW) – and our engagement with open education is expanding into some new and very exciting areas. As 2015 progresses we hope that these initiatives will become much more visible to those in the University and beyond:
Open Educational Resources (OERs) – digital learning resources shared under an open licence – are set to become a key focus for LTW; and the University. Policy and guidelines, clearly defining the University’s position on OER, have already gained support from the Learning & Teaching Committee. Our next step in LTW is to define a service to support wider engagement with OER by both staff and students. We already have a EUSA sponsored post-graduate student, Natalie Carthie, working with us until May to draw together existing OER activities in the University and we have been surprised & excited by the various pieces of work we’ve unearthed: GeoSciences students creating and sharing public outreach learning materials; MSc Digital Education students co-creating their course through OERs; a dedicated Open Education Edinburgh YouTube channel, “Open Education Edinburgh“. Keep an eye on our open education website – open.ed.ac.uk – which we’ll be launching over the coming months to showcase the University’s OERs.
Developing digital literacies and skills with open sharing – and more importantly reusing the wealth of high quality open content available on the web – will be key to encouraging wider engagement with OERs. LTW staff developed and ran a very well received Innovative Learning Week course – “Open Resources for Open Courses” – which led participants through the process of creating an open course using OERs; in the process demystifying the Creative Commons licences that are central to the OER economy of sharing and reuse.
Continuing on the theme of ‘open’, we have also been working with Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) to develop a framework for awarding Open Badges to class representatives who participate in the various activities EUSA run through our Learn virtual learning environment. Developed by Mozilla, the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) enables anybody to create their own ‘micro’ credential system, complete with a set of visual badges and verifiable metadata. The latest version of Learn supports the creation and awarding of Open Badges and EUSA are the first to test out this innovative approach to recognising achievement.
Openness is a theme that is becoming critical in higher education – from open access journals to open data to open educational resources – open knowledge sharing is an economy that will inevitably impact on us all. Learning about, and experimenting with, openness in education is something that we in LTW are keen to encourage and support, and it will be central to many of our forthcoming activities.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.