opened10: brief thoughts

Highlight thoughts

(all of these deserve posts in their own right):

  • what is the difference ‘open’ makes? (D Wiley)
  • when we meet – when are we going to do and not just talk? (unattributed)
  • how do you respond as an individual? (and why do you care about OpenEd/OER)? (Gourley; but equally could have been if i’d been in their sessions: Winn, Hall, Neary – though they’ve quite a different perspective)
  • if you have rubrics and marks as semantic data can you analyse for ‘soft skills’ across a programme of study?
  • how do i articulate what HE does that P2PU can’t, what can i learn from P2PU and what should i stop doing cause they do it better? (drumbeat)
  • why don’t HE courses create badges too? (drumbeat)

I’ll need to go back through the programme and remind myself of some of the sessions but as a first pass of some of the stuff that caught my attention emerging from opened10. not yet adequately linked or marked up and doubtless will grow a bit over time as different parts of my brain kick in.

All the conference papers are available in the UOC repository .

with apologies to those i know or have heard recently (Brian Lamb, Scott Leslie, Suzanne Hardy, Jane Williams, Simon Thomson, Jakki Sheridan-Ross, all the wonderful folk from the Open University, and  my colleague Li Yuan) – i’m too familiar with your work for it to make this first pass but i do think it’s great!

things to use now

some of the stuff that was presented is out there now to use: website website

fantastic opened site for art history – working towards being a viable alternative to OER – two art history teachers making stuff as they go to help students offset the massive cost of introductory art history textbooks for foundation courses.

Twhistory website

Twhistory website

historical recreations on twitter: Gettysburg, 1847 pioneer trek, the sinking of the Titanic, the American revolution, possibly about to start working with UK national archives to cabinet war room twitter account of world war 2. Tom Caswell’s presentation.


a feedreader for running open courses – a tutor sets up a blog-based course and edufeedr aggregates content from across blogging platforms designed to gather together student feedback based from wherever they blog it.

information and stats

we’re finally at get to the point were we can make or not make business cases and informed decisions. (links will follow)

OER use and attitudes surveys Joseph Hardin Mujo Research present survey results from instructors at University of Michigan and University of Valencia – surveying their willingness to use and to publish OER.

OER use and attitudes iNacol (online schools, K-12) surveyed their members about awareness around OER – the data and paper aren’t published yet unfortunately

Rory McGreal – examining differences Open Access makes for a university press comparing Amazon rank of Abathasca University’s press which is OA with three other Canadian university presses. results didn’t indicate any significant difference for bought physical copies but only one metric and doesn’t account for greater access provided by OA downloads.

David Wiley offered some figures around Brigham Young University Independent Study Unit looking at sustainabilty of making content open – if content made open – can costs be covered by sustained or increased enrollment. the short answer- yes -just.

under development

Open Rubrics and the semantic web – Megan Kohler (Penn State) and Brian Panulla – well i’d call them feedback or assessment criteria but wither way they’ve developed an OWL ontology and reference implementations for sharing and storing marking rubrics (and associated marks) – in terms of technical developments i think this is potentially the most important thing from the conference.

stuff to think about more

building courses with OER: Griff Richards presented about a project he’d worked on create course syllabi for a master’s course in instructional design. one to follow up after the final report and syllabi are out. [personally it brings me back to thinking about course syllabi around OER for librarians – but that’s another post in a month or so]. His metaphor of clothes shopping for looking for learning materials is also worth keeping around (Tailored: expensive, perfect , emperor’s new clothes; Off the Shelf: not quite fit, but do the job, reasonable price; Charity Shop: nearly free, hard to find what you want, might just find something perfect).

David Wiley the difference of Openness. the challenge is what does ‘open’ allow us to do pedagogically that we can’t otherwise do [open specifically not all the good stuff that often is triggered by open]? Identifying Concrete Pedagogical Benefits of OER

David Wiley: Why do we need 'open'?

David Wiley: Why do we need 'open'?

Dublin City University – took the OER as marketing angle and did some extensive work on how to best brand OERs using product placement and advertising methodology – this presentation made me profoundly uncomfortable but it is the logical extension of some of the advice and case for OER that many of us (including me) have made. i’m going to have to read their paper and think about this.

Erik Duval said a lot of things but there’s something fundamentally important about not being afraid to disrupt learning – oers probably have more quality assurance than the rest of course delivery.

Erik Duval you can afford to disrupt learning

Erik Duval you can afford to disrupt learning

I can’t help but finish with the work of those I presented in the same session as: Julià Minguillón (UOC), Pieter Kleymeer and Molly Kleinman from University of Michigan- we all raised questions, limits and possibilities around the role of libraries in OER. It was great to find other people asking similar questions.

The use of Content Packaging and Learning Object creation tools in the UKOER programme

Although it is possible to create learning objects or content packages within virtual learning environments (from which it may be possible to export them) there are also a number of content packaging or Learning Object creation tools which have been used in the UKOER programme.

As the discussion around the use of Content Packaging noted ( and the perceived usability of available tools may influence the choice of packaging standard (whether the tools listed produce IMS CP, ADL SCORM, both, or something else is not noted).


In use by:

  • C-Change

Learning Object Creator

In use by:

  • Humbox


In use by:

  • Evolution
  • Unicycle


In use by:

  • Simulation OER


In use by:

  • Berlin
  • Evolution
  • Centre for Bioscience OER
    • “ Using eXe, in part as they had significant issues with using RELOAD and in part as eXe is JorumOpen’s preferred tool”



In use by:

  • brOME OERP
    • exporting materials from QuestionMark as QTI items to make more open
  • Centre for Bioscience OER


In use by:

  • Berlin
  • C-Change
  • C-SAP OER – one mini project used Xerte to transform PPTs into Learning Objects

Open Education: project or process and practice?

I’m new enough to the Open Education world that I can’t tell how unusual the closure of Utah State’s OpenCourseWare initiative is ( and It’s probably the largest OCW initiative in the US after MIT and in a summary of its successes earlier this year the  Utah State University online news noted that it gets 50000 visitors a month To all extents and purposes it has been a success but it’s now a success that’s, at best, on hold.

At the risk of simplifying the undoubtedly difficult and complex issues behind this decisions, it strikes me that for USU Open Education has been a project. A successful project, and one that has been good for the institution, but a project nevertheless. But in academia and in recessions projects are always vulnerable – they are, almost by definition, additonal to institution’s core business.

For Open Education and for Open Access, USU’s decision reinforces the need for sustainable approaches – a need to embed the work of making things open into the normal processes and practice of the institution.

I’m not suggesting that Open Education can be done without any additional cost to the institution, that it’s easy, or that all those invovled in the initiaive at USU didn’t do all that they could (and way more than I could). There are plenty of things that you have to do on top of normal practice and process before you can make content freely available and higher costs if you want to maximise the benefits to your institution. Open Education like Open Access is not free to provide.

Unfortunately I suspect that most OER (and most OA) initiatives face the challenge that they have to start from the position that institutions aren’t actively managing their digital stuff and that staff aren’t always considering IPR when they create materials. I’m not sure how many institutions would be able to say that they have organised copies of all their lecture materials and research papers (irrespective of whether they want to be Open or not).  An OER initiative that tries to do all that work for the institution, without the instituion undergoing some  changes to the basic institutional processes of how we do education. runs the risk of remaining a project (irrespective of their funding source). I’d suggest that the sustainability of OER and OA initiatives is entirely dependent on if institutions choose to manage their digital stuff. [I also don’t know how much of an issue this was at USU]

I’ll finish with three quotes drawn from the USU example that I take as a warning to any project:
“In the tradition of land grant universities, Utah State University OpenCourseWare assures that no individual who is prepared and who desires the opportunity to advance his or her education is turned away. USU OCW provides an unprecedented degree of free and open access to the knowledge and expertise of our faculty for the benefit of every citizen of the state of Utah and every person in the world. As we enter the 21st century, services like OpenCourseWare will enable land grant institutions to more fully accomplish their missions.” (Stan Albrecht, President, Utah State University on

“The cause? The effort ran through grant money from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and $200,000 from the state Legislature. It needed $120,000 a year to keep going. But it failed to secure any more state or university money, Mr. Jensen said, despite being the third-most-visited Web site hosted by Utah State University.
“It’s just a bad timing issue,” Mr. Jensen told The Chronicle this morning. “The recession hit. People wanted to keep us up, but the economy was just such that we could not find money anywhere.””( “Utah State U.’s OpenCourseWare Closes Because of Budget Woes”, Marc Parry, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“2009-10 AUTHORIZED BASE BUDGET [of $] 226,327,800″

Sadly this suggests to me that for USU, Openness was a project.

Open Educational Resources, metadata, and self-description

If we share learning materials, do we have a professional responsibility to describe them?

At the CETIS conference Open Educational Resources / Content session in the midst of the discussions about metadata someone, I think John Casey, made an offhand comment about embedded metadata. As valuable as his next statement was, it was the notion of what information is contained within an object that caught my attention.

There is a basic principle of identity and authorship in a world of distributed information that we don’t seem to be talking about – what elements of self-description is it reasonable to assume from an academic sharing their resources? What constitutes good practice for labelling the digital stuff we want to be professionally associated with? Let’s be clear – I’m not talking about academics creating metadata or the debate about whether metadata is embedded or bundled – I’m talking about the equivalent of title pages and referencing (for want of a better way to put it).

Most university courses include modules on how to write an academic paper, including how to put together the parts of a paper. Departments produce templates so that assignments/ term papers, and theses have a standard title page, format, and way of citing things. The front parts of a paper help: manage the process of attribution and avoid accidental plagiarism; promote more careful writing; assert authorship and/or rights over a work; navigate the work; and help manage collections of such papers. A title section typically contains the following information: a title, author(s), date (usuallly of submission or acceptance), and frequently a course and/or institutional affiliation. This provides the reader with enough information to know what something claims to be, and begins to allow them to judge if they should read it.

I’m not suggesting title pages should be standard for everything, or that everything casually shared needs all this information, but in the context of deliberately shared educational resources surely we should regard providing information of this type as a professional responsibility. Whether we see it as an obligation of the ‘guild’, an opportunity to self-publicise, or compliance with institutional branding requirements, this information should be as standard for educational resources as it is for theses and articles. Of course not all learning materials lend themselves to a title page but: text documents and presentations do and web sites allow for home or about pages. Audio and video files can support introductions but the editing process is more complex. Independent images and some other forms of learning material are not as suitable for title ‘pages’ – but i strongly suspect more than half the learning materials shared in through call will be document, presentation, or web site.

I guess I’m suggesting that, for relevant materials the following should be assumable: Title, Author, Date (of some relevant kind), Institution, Course (code or name).

There are good and valid debates about what, if any, metadata academics should be asked to create, but there is a more fundamental question about professional self-description and good practice. Our conversation about what metadata is needed and who should create it should start from the premise that basic bibliographic information should be contained within the resource.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting resources should not have ‘title pages’, I just think we need to be clear, before we start talking about metadata, that it is reasonable to expect this type information be there. It’s just good practice