Sunday 27 July 2014

A farewell and an opportunity to get a free book

Its been a long dry spell on this blog. Apologies for that. The last post was around the time that I was preparing for OER13 to be unleashed (a fantastic experience which I and many others really enjoyed). Not long after that I confirmed arrangements to take early retirement from the Open University in order to have more time with family. Leaving the OU was very hard to do. I originally planned to go at the end of 2013, this stretched to the end of March 2014, allowing me to not only chair production of a new course on the MA Online and Distance Education Programme (H818: The Networked Practitioner which has openness and sharing at its heart), but also to lead its first year of presentation. This meant that I met and worked with some great students - always a joy - and had a front row seat for the first H818 student online conference and activity around this. Unmissable.
This last year has also involved working with some talented authors and my valued friend and colleague Professor Allison Littlejohn on completing the book which we started talking about at the ORIOLE retreat in 2010. The book is published at the end of this month and we agreed an arragement with Routledge (many thanks to Alex Masulis) allowed us to publish about half the chapters in an issue of the open journal JIME. So a significant portion of the content has been available to read, without fee, since April. Thank you to Martin Weller and others on JIME for agreeing to this hybrid form of openness which allowed us to accommodate authors who were uncomfortable without an open license, but also making it possible to publish conventionally, which also has benefits.

FREE COPY AVAILABLE: I now have two copies of the hardback book (pictured) and thought it might be a good idea to offer one of these via this blog to someone who can provide a good reason why they should have it.  If I agree I will post it to you anywhere in the world. You can contact me with your entry (put 'ROR book' in the subject header) at my OU address until the end of August 2014. I will be happy to sign it if that suits, so feel free to suggest a suitable inscription.

Thursday 7 March 2013

ORIOLE 2013 survey - Help required (reward offered)

We have a (not-so little) online survey running which collects information about the contexts in which open resource use may occur, looking particularly at reuse of educational resources and attitudes to open resources. We aim to share the results as open data later this year. So we need your help in getting the URLs for this survey out to as many people as possible. If you are interested in knowing more about resource reuse then this data will be of use to you - the wider the set of respondants the better. A similar survey ran in 2011 and attracted 192 responses, we hope that with versions in English and Spanish we will attract more responses in 2013 and reach a more diverse audience.

Is there a reward besides this sharing of data? Well in 2011 and again in this survey we are offering £300 in donations to three selected charities. This year the same amount to Oxfam educational projects which the respondants can select from to reflect their interests.

So no, this is not a chance to win a natty techo-device, or a matched set of Amazon vouchers, but we hope that in sharing the survey data and in directing the budget to helping educational causes you can see the reward of taking part and spreading the word. We would particularly appreciate spreading news of this survey beyond the open education community and into your schools, colleges and universities so that those who are not actively involved in open resource sharing yet can help us understand what it would take to attract them.

To access the survey use the buttons on this page (right hand side), or these URLs: (English) (Spanish)

(PDF copy of the survey questions/design (English) (Spanish) here) Happy for you to reuse any of these you find useful.

You can learn a little more about the survey at and look out for Gema Santos and myself at OER13 towards the end of this month when we will be sharing some early results.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Looking forward to OER13 - Thanks for getting us here ...

As co-chair of OER13 (with the wonderful Jackie Carter) I have had the inside track for months now on how the event was shaping up. It has been quite a ride. I can recall when our realistic estimates for numbers attending was around the 80 mark on the basis that OER10, OER11, OER12, in fact the full set so far, had each been supported by well-resourced projects (RLO-CETL, JISC and later SCORE) and times and project funding are no longer to be relied upon. Once SCORE finished in July 2012 we would need to fall back on the generosity of OER friends, not only as members of the planning group, but also in working their socks off and attracting supporters (more active than simply sponsors) to make the event financially viable. Last week we had our penultimate planning group meeting (only 48 days to go) and now realise that we may well sell out (i.e. top 200) even before we get to the end of the Early Bird rate period.

My 'oriole' shoes for the OER13 gala dinner

In the lull before the event I would like to thank all of the planning group, an exceptionally active and willing bunch of volunteers, and also pass out some special thanks to some of those who have taken on additional responsibilities to push OER13 forward to the next level. Not three parallel strands but 5-6 each day, more affordable than ever before (£167 for the two days) ... I will rein in my inner saleswoman at this point. If you are interested in what we have achieved look at the website -

Now the roll call: Thanks to Jackie Carter (MIMAS) co-chair, voice of reason and all a chair should be; Steve Stapleton and Andy Beggan (Open Nottingham) for offering Nottingham as a venue, with recording, logistics and even food tasting services thrown in; Andy Lane and Anna Comas-Quinn (OU) for running the paper/poster review side of things so well; Dawn Leeder (Cambridge and UCEL) for her (wo)manning of the website; Megan Quentin-Baxter, Victor Ottaway and many at MEDEV (Newcastle University) who are pulling together an interactive programme that will amaze and astound; Simon Thomson (Leeds Met) who is part of that programme team, provides the system we rely on for virtual meetings and will be 'Blingmaster' for the gala dinner Open Mic session; Terese Bird (Leicester) our OER13 blogging queen and David Kernohan (JISC) aka @oer13 on Twitter; Jonathan Darby (who thought that there should be an OER13) and Tim Seal who together have brought the OE SIG into OER13 planning and other valuable contacts besides; Terry McAndrew (HEA and TechDis) who agreed to be Treasurer when no sane person should have - i.e. when we had almost no money to build from; Stephen Gomez and Alex Fenlon (HEA) and Patrick McAndrew and the OER Research Hub team (OU) who have brought in supporters and new activity and actors into the mix. Finally the ALT people, Maren Deepwell who provided the base for the OE SIG, and hence OER13 and Caroline Greves who is supporting the event (aka organising us).

Not going to be there, or new to OER and need some funding help?
The event will be captured in many different ways and made open for those who can't be there, but if you can be there then do. If you have colleagues who are interested in OER but not yet, or only newly, engaged with it then point them in the direction of the HEA sponsorships which will cover the fees of the event and please circulate the link:

From this experience it is very hard not to be impressed by the UK OER community. I'm not going to try :-) 

Tuesday 16 October 2012

OpenEd 2012 and the ORIOLE Survey Remixathon

It is Day 1 of the OpenEd 2012 conference here in Vancouver (yes, I know I am very lucky to be part of this). ORIOLE is pitching in on two of the events this time. Later today it is literally a pitch - at the Pitchfest. 5 mins to talk about the resue cards (wish me luck) which have recently gone into a 3rd (special for OpenEd 2012) edition, taking on board some user feedback from Anna Comas-Quinn, Tita Beaven, Bea de los Archos and others.

But the real excitement is the Remixathon - an interesting ideas to try to get audience involvement at this conference. I am offering for remix the ORIOLE survey. This, some of you may know, remixed some earlier survey ideas from the learning objects era (CD-LOR and Rights and Rewards were particular project influences). In turn the ORIOLE survey has been looked at by other researchers and questions adapted from it for work by Marion Manton at Oxford for OERSesame and also by Sandhya Gunness (Mauritius) for her OLNET project activity. The data is open and is being released more widely at this conference, but the remix proposal relates to both the design and the data. What could be done with either/both and how could this help inform the design of a better, more relevant and more international survey for Autumn 2012. You don't have to be here in Vancouver to have your say. I am particularly interested in hearing from and working with those who have surveys in storage, progress or pipeline and would like to compare. Let's try and collaborate.

If you have a question that is burning a hole in your brain - you really think that this should be added and you have not seen it yet - then comment below or email me.

There is an ORIOLE Remixathon Google site set up and in progress for the OpenEd 2012 event so please come and look and let  me know what I am missing (repeat: it is a work in progress so will fill out as the conference progresses and beyond).

I am also proposing to use the ORIOLE mailing list (been there some time but mothballed for a while) to help share analysis of the survey and development of further ORIOLE items such as the cards. So join this as if you would like to be more involved in that sort of discussion into the future.

Sure is lots to discuss. Time to go conferencing now ...

Thursday 13 September 2012

Stairways as a metaphor for OER engagement

Today I ran a workshop with some fantastic OER colleages (Suzanne Hardy, Alannah Fitzgerald and Joanna Wild) to explore where different stakeholders stand (or sit) within an idealised stairway. I've been asked to share the activity cards and the information so here is:

Link to slides (simple explanation of activity)
Link to download of Powerpoint cards to print out.

Thanks to Xpert for the wonderful photos of stairways that inspired some very creative conversations.

Joanna Wild also talked about her ladder methodology. 
Download her full research report from:
or for a quick overview download a summary presentation from:

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Using the reuse cards

I delighted that Gema Santos of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia) will be joining me on the ORIOLE team to take forward some of her doctoral research and work with ORIOLE and LORO projects from October to December 2012.

Gema is pictured here on a visit to the OU following OER12. We look forward to learning more about attitudes and practices related to OER use/reuse and sharing these with you. Gema has recently also spent time investigating OER at the Unversity of Michigan.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

UNESCO speaks (draft declaration looking pretty good)

There was a big meeting at UNESCO in Paris last week which spawned a daft declaration about OER and celebrated/reflected on the ten years since UNESCO started its OER activity. I was not there, but did a short(ish) unsolicited personal take for the OER-DISCUSS mailing list.

As Gabi Witthaus has asked to and because the declaration is a PDF (so not easy for Scoops) here is the gist. It is not informed by the ins/outs and cut/thrust of discussion. So if you were there so if you have comments/insights please share.

The declaration has been warmly welcomed and is clearly well-honed and both positive and inclusive. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the link. Or this is my 'take'. The declaration:

  1. Locates OER within a wider range of aspirations about education by reminding of a number of international declarations with relevance to OER or which it supports, e.g.:'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26.1), which states that: “Everyone has the right to education' and note that OER promotes the aims of these international statements.
  2. Emphasises use of the UNESCO 2002 definition: 'teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work'. I find this quite long as a definition and it reminds me of the reusable learning object IEEE definition (so anything used for education/research in the public domain or with an open license). I presume it has not shortened on this occasion as, ten years on, some people still won't know what open licensing is.
  3. Specifically recalls existing Declarations and Guidelines on Open Educational Resources such as the 2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2009 Dakar Declaration on OER and the 2011 Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO Guidelines on OER in HE.
  4. Recommends that 'States':

    a) Foster awareness and use of OER to widen access, improve cost-efficiencies and quality of teaching/learning outcomes. (If I were wishing for the world here I would ask that we consider that OER also helps with creativity, something for teachers to warm to).

    b) Facilitate enabling environments for use of ICT. This is a very wide-ranging aspiration from improving 'media and information literacy' to reliable power supplies and broadband. Mobile activity is specifically mentioned.

    c) Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER. This one (frankly) worries me a little. It talks of 'Promoting the development of specific policies for the production and use of OER within wider strategies for advancing education'. Fine if these are enabling, but could they also be (unintentionally) restricting?

    d) Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks 'while respecting the rights of any copyright holder'. I'd be happier with 'respecting copyright' not sure what the distinction is between this and 'the rights of any copyright holder' is and concerned that not every rights holder is entirely rational (my experience), but I am happy that its 'rights' and not 'wishes'.

    e) Support capacity building for sustainable development of quality learning materials. Personally I like this one a lot as its about developing staff 'taking into account local needs and the full diversity of learners' however it also reaches into the trickier areas of promoting quality assurance/peer review and into assessment/creditation. So very ambitious and directly reflecting current community concerns (I feel).

    f) Foster strategic alliances for OER

    g) Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts. Note that this talks of favouring production/use of OER in local languages.

    h) Encourage research on OER. No surprises here about the areas and all good (my opinion). Like specifically that one area is 're-contextualisation of OER'. Initiatives like Bridge2Success is one project that currently points at this even within English language resources reused UK to US, as does previous work in sharing RLOs. Re-contextualisation is not that easy to do (see also item e.).

    i) Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER. Open standards and user-friendly tools as you would expect.

    j) Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds. Yes! As with e) this one is one which I am particularly happy to see. But I note that the phrasing is much gentler (more informercial than a) to i): 'Governments/competent authorities can create substantial benefits for their citizens by ensuring that educational materials developed with public funds be made available under open licenses (with any restrictions they deem necessary) in order to maximize the impact of the investment.'
So all good and sound and no unwelcome surprises. This is the DRAFT, so it may change but it seems to all good (to me) and I hope will be listened to. The full version is at:

What will come out of this?