Cooke Report to Denham

Ron Cookes recent report to John Denham MP On-line Innovation in Higher Education is an interesting and thought provoking current “must read”.

The report identifies priorities for action to ensure that

UK Higher education remains worldclass and ¦ at the cutting edge of the global ICT economy

and also calls for a clear long-term vision to achieve this goal. Cooke outlines requirements and recommendations for three areas that require greater strategic direction; Learning and Teaching, Research and Innovation and Management and Administration.

The section on learning and teaching is of particular interest as it places considerable emphasis on the growing importance of open educational content. Indeed the reports first recommendation calls for:

A new approach to virtual education based on a corpus of open learning content: the UK must have a corpus of open access learning resources organised in a coherent way to support on-line and blended learning by all higher education institutions and to make it more widely available in non-HE environments.

An admirable goal indeed, however I am less sure about the need for

…national centres of excellence to provide quality control, essential updating, skills training and research and development in educational technology, e-pedagogy and educational psychology.

Should we not be focusing on the ability of ICT and in particular social networking technologies to disseminate expertise throughout the sector rather than centralising it at a number of exemplar institutions? I also rather non-plussed by the suggestion that

¦a national centre of open access course materials, for example through the Open University, is a potential model worth considering¦

Dont get me wrong, I think the OUs Open Learn project is a world-class initiative and one that we should all look to and learn from, however the OU business model is somewhat unique in the UK and what works for the OU will not necessarily work for other HEIs.

In contrast I am particularly encouraged by Cookes call for all HEIs to develop a strategic approach to information management:

Information resources are expensive and need to be managed as strategically as financial and human resources to improve the effectiveness of institutions.

In addition the reports emphasis on the importance of developing literacy and technology skills for both staff and students is highly commendable. Technology focused staff development initiatives seem to me to be lagging further and further behind technological innovation. Any initiatives that could help to bridge this gap would be a major step in the right direction.

While I agree with most, if not all, of Cookes recommendations there seems to me to be a strong, and perhaps somewhat dated, centralising theme running through the report. This is evidenced by the call for national centres of excellence and œcurated and organised collections of open learning content. The report also makes some questionable statements about repositories, for example:

¦it should not cost more to make course materials openly available on professionally managed repository platforms.

And rather worryingly, although the report includes an appendix of significant JISC programmes there appears to be no mention of Jorum and the potential strategic role it could play in facilitating and curating a UK network of open educational resources. Perhaps I missed a footnote somewhere.

I havent commented on the Research and Innovation and Management and Administration sections of the Cooke report as these really arent my areas of expertise however there are a couple of points relating to the interface between research and teaching and learning that are worth highlighting:

in research led universities there is a need to link effectively research resources with learning and teaching.

It is taken for granted in the research process that one builds on the work of others; the same culture can usefully be encouraged in creating learning materials.

So, a thought provoking and encouraging report overall but perhaps one that needs to widen its vision somewhat.

Brave words from Edinburgh

Lorcan Dempsey and Chris Rusbridge both note with delight that Edinburgh Universitys new strategic plan states:

The mission of our University is the creation, dissemination and curation of knowledge. [Governance and Strategic Planning: Strategic Planning – Strategic Plan 08-12] (my emphasis)

Im not clear if œknowledge in this case encompasses teaching and learning materials. If it does, Id be very interested to learn if policies or guidelines are being formulated at any level within the institution to manage their creation, dissemination and curation. Can anyone from Edinburgh enlighten us?

“Better management and sharing of teaching and learning materials by individual teaching practitioners.”

This was one vision articulated by participants during an interesting and productive meeting earlier in July that aimed to review the JISC Repositories Roadmap produced by Rachel Heery and Andy Powell in 2006. Following an introduction by Rachel Bruce and a discussion of alternative definitions of “repository” led by Rachel Heery the meeting split into groups to discuss the forward looking vision and tactics for three key resource types: scholarly works, teaching and learning materials and research data.

Our brief was to:

  • Note developments and achievements since the publication of the Roadmap
  • Articulate a vision of what we want to achieve and tactics for how to realise this.
  • Identify JISC interventions and priorities for activity.

The group discussing teaching and learning materials consisted of Amber Thomas, Jackie Carter, Andy Richardson, Andy Powell and myself and this post represents a summary of our discussion. I certainly cant claim the credit for all the comments and suggestions here!

Changes and Developments Since Roadmap Publication

  • Shift in focus from learning objects to learning materials.
  • Increased focus on media specific global repositories e.g. flickr, slideshare, etc.
  • Invaluable lessons learned from Jorums experience of license implementation.
  • Focus has shifted from system interaction to user / resource interaction.
  • Mashups have created many new types of content.
  • Mainstream understanding of œreuse relates to single media objects, e.g. jpeg rather than content package.
  • Much less focus on interoperability standards.
  • œContent packaging has become a bit of a dirty word.
  • Continuing growth in the use of virtual learning environments.
  • Open Educational Resources œmovement.
  • Web 2.0.

Vision and Tactics

Vision: Better management and sharing of teaching and learning materials by individual teaching practitioners.

Boundaries are blurred in the teaching and learning space, more so than in the domain of scholarly communication. The language and terminology of the open access debate is not directly applicable to the teaching and learning domain. Do we really want to open access to all teaching and learning materials?

Why bother to manage teaching and learning materials in the first place? Institutions are not currently accountable for the management of their teaching materials. We need a much more developed concept of œuse, never mind œre-use. There are many different levels of use and re-use and subject contextualisation is crucial.

Learning objects are just one type of teaching and learning resource. There has been too great a focus on sharing and reusing learning objects and this has arguably served to mask the much greater issue of how to effectively manage all types of resources, both digital and non digital, used in, and generated by, the process of teaching and learning.

A landscape study of what kind of content is out there and where it is stored would be useful. We make far too many sweeping generalisations and unsubstantiated assertions. It would be useful to take a representative sample of institutions across the sector and study how they are, or are not, managing teaching and learning materials. We also need to know more about policy intentions at a senior management level and resource management strategies at a personal level.

The overall aim should be for institutions manage their materials more effectively to help improve the quality and experience of teaching and learning.

At the same time as considering the role of digital repositories, institutional policy and personal resource management strategies we need to share knowledge of effective teaching and resource management practice and promote opportunities for teachers to develop and engage with new technology.

Among other benefits, better management of teaching and learning content should help to facilitate the disclosure of resources to students. De-duplication of effort should also be beneficial to teaching practitioners and to the institution as a whole.

The JISC vision should be to help individual teaching practitioners to improve the management of their teaching and learning materials and consequently improve the process and practice of teaching and the quality of the learning experience.

This is not a œdigital repository vision, this is a teaching and learning vision but we need to identify how repositories can help to make this a reality.

How can we measure if we are making any progress towards achieving such a vision?

One potential driver for change could be for JISC to work with QAA to make some kind of statement on the management of teaching and learning materials.

Activities, Priorities and JISC Interventions

  • Undertake baseline survey.
  • Identify and embed good practice at different levels within institution.
  • Work with QAA.
  • Improve awareness and practice of IPR and licensing issues among teaching staff.
  • Make better use of pilot license registry.
  • Evaluate existence and value of subject specific services for teaching and learning.
  • Open access to closed learning and teaching content collections (this could include content within vles).
  • Understand benefits and costs of services to individuals.
  • Understand and define range of relationships between repositories, vles, eportfolios and possibly also course catalogues.

Random Quotes 6 – JISC Learning Activities and Resources Conference 2008

A few random quotes from the JISC Learning Activities and Resources Conference, January 2008

Allison Littlejohn, Glasgow Caledonian University

Knowledge sharing is akin to learning¦.actions of users¦.knowledge sharing is an essential art of academic lives¦.information sharing rather than knowledge sharing¦.learning approaches¦.learners as consumers¦.learners as contributors¦.beyond the limitations of networks¦.collective learning¦.charting¦.wisdom of the crowd¦.set goals and chart learning paths¦.sharing adapting and reusing knowledge and ideas¦.new shared knowledge¦.competencies for knowledge sharing¦.knowledge economy¦.guidance teams¦.key goals and personal priorities¦. beyond pdp¦.learning trails¦.connect with peers¦.consume resources¦.contribute resources¦.contribute to collective resources¦.connect different environments¦.they want My Space to be their space¦.tacit knowledge¦.business goals, authentic tasks¦.trusted networks¦.reflect and record practice¦.knowledge base for the collective¦. charting is a key aspect of collective learning¦.charting is learners planning their own learning paths¦.evolutionary step¦focus on personal goal.¦planning on micro as well as macro level¦.autonomy in setting learning goals¦.self regulated learning¦.autodidaxy¦.learner motivation¦.assessing current expertise¦.periodic table of expertise¦.beer mat knowledge to contributory knowledge¦.from novice to expert¦.help learners make faster transition from novice to expert¦.learning trails¦.scaffolding¦.different learning choices¦.big challenges ahead¦.novices prefer a linear step by step approach¦.experts are adept at integrating information¦.implications for the way learners connect with resources¦.rapid prototyping is essential¦.make sure community needs are met¦.lots of challenges¦.fantastic opportunities¦.transformational change in institutions.

Discussion and Comments
Design will become ever more critical¦.The Joy of E-Learning¦.disenchanted learners¦.are learners students or people who are learning?…. more casual learners¦.ideas from workbased learning¦.developing research mindedness in undergraduates¦.research – teaching linkages¦.much of what is done in workbased learning is negotiated¦.requirements of an university to control and manage accreditation¦.cultural challenges¦.need to look at the actions to know what we should support¦.emphasis on productivity¦.its about having a job and doing well in it¦.universities value system is different from workplace value systems (good point!)¦.does this mean we need to adapt assessments to a business facing pedagogy?….universities need to diversify¦.selecting universities and recruiting universities¦.what are the hallmarks of higher education?….team work is natural in industry¦.other people are a tremendous stimulus¦.there is nothing like people to make you think¦.intellectual interaction¦.

Miles Metcalf, Ravensbourne College
Students own technology and use technology¦.network, enterprise and functional IT¦.once students have their own technology they cut across this¦what are the effects fo students having technology?….once students have their own laptops they wast access to institutional systems¦..personalisation¦preferences¦choices¦investment of time¦better equipment¦better tools¦network access is a given¦dont be a mobile phone nazi¦dont be hostile to students that check your facts on wikipedia¦IMS Enterprise or microformats¦.vast infrastructure that is not accessible to the user¦data-portability ¦ invent nothing, use what si out there¦rss, foaf, opened, rdf¦.enterprise vs individual¦vles are enterprise silos¦doesnt have to be¦.silos act against users instincts¦.provide semantic sugar with what you expose, e.g. microformats, RDFa¦.syndicate what is useful¦.build the scaffolding¦if you want to integrate user owned technology dont start by banning Google and wikipedia¦find ways to enage user owned technology e.g. back-channels, mobile phone voting¦.students dont necessarily use technology for learning, use can be infantile¦their space, your tools¦.the social stack ¦extra-institutional communities of practice¦.competencies recognised¦vles are moving towards one tool to rule them all¦could simplify vles to be a basic repository¦could you make an eportfolio out of the activity that takes place on extrainstitutional tools¦

Andrew Comrie, TESEP
Why bother?…high level strategic objectives that move the institution forward¦improving student experience¦growing the market¦yes, but¦.start o make change happen¦.revert to tried and tested practice¦content and resources development¦.virtual stoor¦.used by very few¦.tutor led practice¦.technology to point at¦.process of transformation¦.make lasting change¦.pedagogically driven approach to change¦.what are we setting out to do¦.play to peoples passions¦.people are passionate about teaching not about technology¦.shift control away from tutor to the learner¦changing attitudes, changing behaviours¦.underworld of technologies students are using¦.policies prohibitive to this use¦lets stop doing that¦empower learners¦.next leg of the transformation journey¦.change attitude and behaviour¦.express preferred learning and teaching model¦.work across subject disciples, FE & HE¦.build on current learning and teaching practices¦.staff going on their own transformation journeys as well¦.stop developing content, spend more time developing learning activities¦.stop thinking about vles¦.give learners tasks but offer a choice of technologies and a choice of resources¦use technologies in different ways¦critically evaluate¦if youve enjoyed it go and tell others¦.get people to reflect on their experiences¦.transformation journies¦.TESEP¦.

Random Quotes 5 – JISC CETIS Conference 2007

Ramdon quotes form the plenary sessions of the JISC CETIS Conference 2007….

Oleg Liber, JISC CETIS

Institutions dont realise how much theyre going to be challenged¦transformative nature of technology¦the content is out there¦one node in the global learning environment¦we always need new content¦need to invest in the process of content creation¦useful, valuable, true¦do we need universities at all?¦meaningful and responsible deeds of fully awake people¦universities validate a persons learning¦hard to see the journey youre on when you take small steps¦reflect on the last step, think about the next step¦JISC is doing lots of interesting things at the moment¦open content call is a real pointer to the future¦

Sarah Porter, JISC

Innovation, transformation and change¦key word is useful¦respond to changing needs of users¦increasingly fast changing external environment¦students of the future¦student as customer¦do things in different ways¦close the loop between learning and teaching and research¦policy drivers form government¦changing social situation¦top down drivers¦.innovation and transformation models¦technology uptake model¦buying seed corn¦were talking about people¦MIT 90s model¦the revolutionary end of things¦.why arent we seeing more change?¦be realistic about the complexity¦increasing diversity¦universities are slow and difficult to innovate as a single system¦led by practice and experimentation¦why does JISC exist¦people services¦several hundred projects¦get the holistic word in a few times¦allow for failure or less success as well as success¦learners dont see technology as anything special, just another tool to support their learning¦relationship between pedagogy and technology¦innovate for the student¦learning design, design for learning¦reload¦technology and tools to enhance the use of standards¦open content¦content can really be shared¦holistic change¦scale up holistic model to whole institution¦CETIS SIGs support networking and increase take up¦environment working together¦social networks¦senior management and other uninitiated people¦camel project¦cost saving and resource efficiency¦pull those stories out and put them across to people in a language they understand¦xcri¦very tangible problems¦what problem should we be trying to solve¦top down revolutionary innovation¦e-framework¦should be bottom up approach¦ also high level mapping of education domain¦tension between standards and innovation¦change is driven by a model that involves technology, policy and people¦JISC is owned by the community¦.secret agents for change¦increasingly competitive environment¦

Iain Stinson, UCISA

We have grown up a little¦view form a different part of the universities¦resources for IT¦IT strategy and planning¦e-learning¦architected IT and infrastructure¦governance¦information management¦disaster recovery¦services availability¦identity management¦24/7 support¦key issue is funding¦commodity computing¦Moores law does not apply to people¦efficiency gains targets¦resources dont just mean money¦space¦talk the language of those giving out the money¦outsource¦commodity systems like e-mail¦sla¦2 or 3 day interruptions¦shared services¦vat rules¦we dont have the sandboxes that we used to have where we can play safely¦IT strategy has to be subservient to institutional strategy¦IS and IT¦poor quality clip art¦ very cost effective¦concerned about e-learning¦costs a fortune¦core to what we deliver¦real digital natives in 2 years time¦how do we sustain e-learning systems¦how are academics sustaining e-learning content¦need an innovative environment with real students¦business systems¦on Wednesday afternoons the computers were turned off¦.change of patterns of working¦even JANET can fail¦business continuity¦we in computing cant do the business continuity¦governance¦where does the buck stop¦how do we govern computing in universities¦Oxford¦emerging issues¦green computing¦chain of resource¦carbon footprints for universities¦.government legislation¦important¦mobile computing¦

shrinking service offer¦conservative group¦divisive to not provide computer facilities at this point of time¦some students can not cope with commercial ISPs as they dont have a formal address¦

Mark Stiles, University of Staffordshire
Collaboration, communcation, confusion¦.holistic, inclusive¦alienate those we seek to help¦my last year of ranting¦too many men with beards¦.strategy and tactics¦vles stuffed full of powerpoints¦obsessed with interoperating everything with vles¦new orthodoxy¦encouraging the mundane¦.tying us down for the future¦strap a module into our corporate vle¦the big fat frog (again)¦control things even more subtly¦regulation to the solution to all problems¦fiddling around with learning technologies¦see them in a lecture, see them in a tutorial, see them in a corridor, see them in a bar¦watched measured monitored¦LSCs audit process for distance learning¦does it track what everyone does¦does it help students or annoy them¦bypass our efforts to monitor and control¦sorry youre all old¦relating to needs of old people because were old¦how many young people are there in SL?¦. were obviously quite sad¦banging away with things like Facebook¦workbased learners¦addressing generational needs¦have educational practices become controlling¦regulation and satisfying the regulators¦conflicting internal structures¦freedom versus control¦loosen chains¦sustain innovation and run the business¦what is a university selling¦we dont sell content¦we sell accreditation and access to expertise¦nature of university promotes regulation and control¦conservative academic culture¦professional bureaucracy¦revolution, satalinism, glasnost¦policy used to control rather than enable¦its not yours and youre frightened of getting arrested¦wide range of collaborative tools¦everything they wanted to use was not allowed in the college¦drive the learning process outside the institution¦ownership, things put in it¦Facebook¦license to do anything they want with anything you put on it¦levels of control¦control, manage, facilitate, enable, recognise¦see where you think things belong¦is it enough we do nothing about it¦is that appropriate?¦clarity about IPR¦policy around conduct and behaviour¦process owned by course members¦desperately trying not to call it an e-learning strategy¦make appropriate use of e-learning technology¦whats expected¦all turns to mush¦on to Facebook, ironically¦daft, or possibly daft¦

High degree of desire to communicate outwith hearing of tutor¦tutor ruins group dynamics¦.a better learning environment than the one in the institution¦.all students want more direct contact with lecturers¦more subtle control might be a good things¦my gut answer is no¦dont really recognise the problem exists¦acknowledge we come form different positions¦were all being juvenalised¦revolutionary communist party¦INTERnational socialist¦ rules of engagement¦.principals that guided how to behave when doing e-learning¦policy aligned with job contracts¦enabling culture of sharing¦it isnt nice but it is enabling¦more contact on their terms¦

Random Quotes 4 – SFC Repositories Seminar

Heriot Watt University, 31st October 2007

Repositories and the learning experience
– Mark Stiles

Reuse and repurposing…you will share your content…enforce or encourage…moving an institutional quantity of content from one vle to another…vle use has become less innovative and more mundane…the new orthodoxy…bolt on repositories…a big fat frog…web 2-ey things…immense problems in terms of policy…duh…policy issue that stops you dead in your tracks…the vle is not quite dead yet…students will turn up with toolsets they want to use…tutors or cowboys…lots of little frogs…focus on software integration rather than creation…freeing content from Blackboard…integration with vle…HarvestRoad HIVE…suck content out of vle and serve it back to vle so users wont notice…deployment and development process…the big suck…copyright agreement…agility and flexibility…serving back dynamically to live systems…promote diversification, reuse and repurposing¦mentors¦employer engagement¦ materials produced for use not reuse¦working capital¦reasonable expectation on creators of content¦

– Peter O’Hare & Peter Burnhill

Build a community of sharing¦vle plugin type people¦.standard workflow process¦its all free¦a lot of people taking stuff out and fewer putting stuff in¦delivering services not creating software or standards¦objects that are dressed well in terms of metadata¦.vle-able¦initial degree of risk aversion from funding councils¦conservative set of licensing schemes¦now an open agenda¦big push on open educational resources side¦rethink Jorum¦whats the new agenda?¦keepsake¦ time to open up¦JorumOpen¦radically different from where we are at the moment¦whats the moral community of sharing¦JorumPrivilege+¦rights value is not intrinsic to the learning object, it is often intrinsic to the asset¦must be able to take material that authors want to be open¦vanity motive of open educational content¦when you go open you really have to do scale¦assertions and take down policy need to be there¦some institutions will not go near creative commons¦dealing with adults that can make responsible assertions¦we are in the business of adding value to objects therefore we are in the publishing business¦data services are willing to take risks but under law must act reasonably¦ helping the institution to own the problem¦ offload the risk by pointing to a space such as myspace, youtube, etc¦all repositories have to learn how to work with the other¦institutions have to be able to gather resources together to enable their people to act¦database of boundaries¦

The COLEG Repository
– Mary MacDonald and John Edmonstone

Seeking a user friendly repository¦workflow and QA processes¦rendering qti¦batch uploading¦version control¦reports¦peer reviewing…rss feeds¦it would be great to have a toaster in the backseat of your car but will you ever use it¦need to use a system in anger to find out what you really want it to do¦need a repository that will be a bit of a tart for you¦the coleg repository is a place to put your ugly children as well as your good looking children¦the groups that people are initially willing to share with are quite small¦people will only share their ugly babies with close relatives at first¦do the jorum figures indicate success?…

After the Deluge: practical approaches to managing DR in digital repositories
– John Casey

The fundamental problem is confusion¦.there are no technical panaceas for DRM¦automated DRM solutions are only suitable for simple and frequent transactions these are not the sort of characteristics of a learning object reuse lifecycle¦policy is the expression of the underlying teaching and business model¦we need to be able to articulate these models more clearly¦the donkey and the ostrich are very representative¦if you are an institution then legally you are a publisher¦dont leave it to the commercialisation office or the techies¦be realistic about the monetary value of the materials¦the value is in what you do with the materials not the materials themselves¦be generous to your staff to get buy in¦use the TrustDR development pack¦ what is the underlying business model of e-learning?…what is senior management for?…institutional intellectual capital¦ with out the involvement of senior managers we cant have policy¦teaching and library staff cant sort this out on their own¦the key phrase is œinstitutional¦without serious work on institutional policy everything is going to come of the rails, particularly in terms of web 2 stuff¦step one is getting senior managers to realise that its a policy problem¦.the law can be useful for a kind of reality fix¦teaching still generates the largest portion of income for all institutions¦teaching is the core business of the institution and this needs to be articulated in policy¦e-learning is not sustainable as it is not integrated into the structure of of institutions¦senior managers need to be involved¦suggest using the CAMEL model¦if policies are fit for purpose then they will have considerable longevity¦stuck out bottom lips when it went through the committees¦Staffordshire have an e-learning policy¦Trust DR development pack explores open business strategies e.g. MIT, OU¦