Open Scotland Report and Actions

“Open Policies can develop Scotland’s unique education offering, support social inclusion and inter-institutional collaboration and sharing and enhance quality and sustainability.”

This was the starting point for discussions at the Open Scotland Summit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which brought together senior representatives from a wide range of Scottish education institutions, organisations and agencies to discuss open education policy for Scotland. Facilitated by Jisc Cetis, in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, Open Scotland provided senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers with an opportunity to explore shared strategic priorities and scope collaborative activities to encourage the development of open education policies and practices to benefit the Scottish education sector as a whole.

Keynote and Lightning Talks

Dr Cable Green, Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning opened the summit with an inspiring keynote on “Open Education: The Business and Policy Case for OER”. Cable began by quoting Cathy Casserly and Mike Smith of Creative Commons and the Hewlett Foundation:

“At the heart of the movement towards Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse it.”

Cable Green, Creative Commons (image by Martin Hawksey)

Cable Green, Creative Commons (image by Martin Hawksey)

Cable went on to discuss the significance of the Cape Town Declaration, the development of Creative Commons licences and the Paris OER Declaration before concluding that:

“the opposite of open is not ‘closed’, the opposite of open is ‘broken’.”

A series of lightning talks on different aspects of openness and open education initiatives in neighbouring countries followed Cable’s keynote; “Open Source in Education” by Scott Wilson of OSS Watch, “Open Data” by Cetis’ Wilbert Kraan, “MOOCs: The Elephant in the room?” by Sheila MacNeill, also of Cetis, David Kernohan of Jisc presented the HEFCE funded UKOER Programmes, Tore Hoel of Oslo and Akershus University College introduced the Nordic Open Education Alliance, and Paul Richardson presented the perspective from Wales.

Challenges, Priorities and the Benefits of Openness

During the afternoon participants had the opportunity to break into groups to discuss issues relating to openness, and how greater openness could help them to address their current strategic priorities and challenges.

The key issues raised included the following:

There are compelling arguments that old models for publishing research and content are outdated. New models are needed and again the arguments for these are compelling, however these new models require changes in attitude and practice. University business models don’t necessarily need to be built on sale of content, instead they can be built on access to great faculty, support, facilities, maximising efficiency through collaboration, etc. There is a lot of insecurity in the sector, staff are worried about their jobs, so there needs to be clarity about their roles and responsibilities and what they are paid to do.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Both within and between organisations there are different perceptions of “open”. For example, quality and assessment bodies have increased external openness by sharing assessment criteria, however due to confidentiality agreements institutions have to limit the data that is available to the public.

There is still a tendency to release OER under restrictive open licences, limiting the ability to re-use, revise, re-mix, re-distribute the new resource. One way to overcome the “closed mind” mentality is to develop policy to support openness, however open doesn’t equal free or without cost, investment is required to make resources open.

Openness is not always recognised, there are pockets of open activity throughout Scotland but these are not joined up. E.g. there are good examples of long-standing open practise among public libraries.

Lack of quality assurance is still raised as a barrier to OER. Cable Green suggested there needs to be a shift in attitude and culture from “not invented here to proudly borrowed from there”. Under Creative Commons licence, resource creators can invoke a non-endorsement clause in situations where an original work is re-purposed but the originating authors does not approve of the repurposed work.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

Learners are co-creators of knowledge. How do we engage them? Learners, rather than institutions need to be central to all discussions relating to open policy and practice.

What can Scotland learn from other countries? The UKOER programme evidenced interest in OER and willingness to change practice south of the border. How can Scotland learn from this and use this experience to springboard ahead? There are parallels between Scotland, the Nordic Countries and the devolved nations, is there scope for working collaboratively with other countries?

How can open education policies and practices address the “Big Ticket” government agendas? Post 16 educations, widening access, knowledge transfer, driving changes in curriculum models, school – college – university articulation.

The education sector is undergoing a period of massive change and it is difficult to cope with additional new initiatives and agendas. However the sector can also capitalise on this period of change, as change provides opportunity for radical new developments.

Open Scotland Discussion Group

At the school level the curriculum for excellence is changing the way children think and learn and universities and colleagues need to be ready for this. How can openness help?

Funding has been cut drastically in the FE sector. Does this mean that fewer students will be taught or that colleges need to be smarter and make greater use of open educational resources?

Articulation could be key to promoting the use of OER in Scotland. Many HEIs have produced resources for FE – HE articulation that could be released under Creative Commons licences.

An Open Education Declaration for Scotland

burghead_saltireUsing the UNESCO Paris Declaration as a starting point, the groups explored the potential of developing a Scottish open education declaration.

There was general agreement that the Paris Declaration was a “good thing” however many participants felt it was too focused on OER and that a Scottish declaration should encompass open education more widely.

In addition, the Paris Declaration focuses on “states”, a Scottish declaration would need to define its own stakeholders. It would also be beneficial to develop a common vocabulary (e.g. OER, open education, open learning, etc.) to enable effective communication and identify actions that move us forward.

While there was agreement that the statements of the Paris Declaration were beneficial, it was felt that a degree of contextualisation was required in order to demonstrate these statements and principals in action. One group suggested that it might be useful to have a grid of the Declaration’s statements that stakeholders could fill in to provide evidence of the statements in action. Cable Green added that projects are on going internationally to implement specific actions from the Declaration and suggested that Scotland might consider selecting one or more statements to take forward as actions.

Actions and Deliverables

Action 1 – Establish a working group, similar to Wales and the Nordic countries, that can stimulate research in the area of open education and inform future Government white papers. Cetis, SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG to discuss taking this forward.

Action 2 – Invite participants from those nations that are further ahead of Scotland in promoting the open Agenda. Work with the other devolved nations in the UK.

Action 3 – Use the working group to focus on key Government priorities and agendas, e.g. learner journeys, articulation, work based learning, knowledge transfer.

Key Deliverable 1: A position paper providing evidence of the benefits of openness with examples of how these can impact on Government priorities. (Cetis and the ALT Scotland SIG chair to meet in late July to begin work on a first draft. All drafts will be circulated publically for comment and input.)

Key Deliverable 2: A Scottish Open Learning declaration (including topologies, grids and action focussed statements).

Key Deliverable 3: Government policy on open education. This will require stakeholder groups to state how they will engage with and contribute to the implementation of the policy.

Continuing the Discussion

All these points are open to discussion and we would encourage all interested parties to contribute to the debate. Please feel free to comment here, or to contact the event organisers directly at the addresses below. If you blog or tweet about Open Scotland, or any of the issues raised as a result, please use the hashtag #openscot so we can track the discussion online.

Phil Barker,; Lorna M. Campbell,; Linda Creanor,; Sheila MacNeill,, Celeste McLaughlin,, Joe Wilson,


Open Scotland Overview:
The Benefits of Open Briefing Paper:
Open Scotland Presentations:
Open Scotland Videos:
Open Scotland Storify:


Cetis would like to thank the following people for making the Open Scotland Summit possible: Phil Barker, Andrew Comrie, Linda Creanor, Martin Hawksey, Cable Green, Sheila MacNeill, Celeste Mclaughlin, Joe Wilson.

Thanks also to our presenters Cable Green, Tore Hoel, David Kernohan, Wilbert Kraan, Sheila MacNeill, Paul Richardson, Scot Wilson.

Arran Moffat and GloCast recorded and edited the presentations and valiantly attempted to stream Cable’s keynote through three foot thick tower walls!

And finally….

A word from one of our participants:

Now is the right time to push the open agenda forward. Scotland hasn’t missed the boat, sometimes it’s good to wait for the second wave.

Small steps in the right direction

I was very encouraged by a couple of posts to the oer-discuss mailing list this week highlighting two Scottish institutions that are in the process of in developing guidelines and policies for the creation and use of open educational resources. The first post came from Marion Kelt, Senior Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University, who shared the first draft of GCU’s Library Guidance on Open Educational Resources, which is based on guidelines developed and implemented by the University of Leeds.

GCU Library encourages all staff and student to create and publish OERs and the guidelines strongly suggest that the use and creation of OERs should be the default position of all schools, departments and services.

“Unless stated to the contrary, it is assumed that use, creation and publication of single units or small collections will be allowed. Where use, creation and publication are to be restricted, Schools, Departments and Services are encouraged to identify and communicate a rationale for restriction.”

The guidelines recommend that OERs should be licensed using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) and make it clear that it is the responsibility of individual staff and students to ensure they have the rights to publish their resources. GCU should be identified as the licensor and copyright holder and staff are encouraged to assert their moral rights to be properly acknowledged as the author of the resources.

The guideliens also recommend that GCU resources should be deposited in Jorum, and that audio or video based OER teaching resources should be deposited in the university’s multimedia repository, GCUStore.

Following Marion’s post to oer-discs I asked list members if they knew of any other Scottish F/HE institutions that were developing similar policies or guidelines. Jackie Graham of the Scottish College Development Network replied that they are also in the process of developing

“…a policy statement for the organisation, and a set of guidelines for staff on the use and sharing of OER. This work is being undertaken as part of the Re:Source initiative which aims to encourage and facilitate the greater open sharing of resources across the college sector in Scotland.”

Re:Source is a Jorum-powered window onto the Scottish FE community’s open content which launched in November 2012. The service uses the existing Jorum digital infrastructure, together with customised branding and interface, to providing access to a rich collection of content from Scotland’s Colleges.

It’s hugely encouraging to see Scottish universities and colleges taking steps to formulate coherent institutional OER guidelines and it’s even more encouraging that these guidelines acknowledge the beneficial role that institutional libraries and the Jorum national repository can play in supporting the creation, use and dissemination of open educational resources within institutions and across the sector.

In light of the forthcoming Open Scotland event that Cetis are running togther with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and ALT Scotland SIG, I’d be very interested to hear if any other Scottish colleges or universities are in the process of developing similar guidelines or policies for the creation or use of open educational resources, or the adoption of open educational practices more widely, so if anyone knows of any more examples I’d be very grateful if you could let me know.

Open Scotland

In collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG, Cetis is hosting a one day
summit focused on open education policy for Scotland which will take place at the National Museum of Scotland at the end of June. The event, which will bring together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers, will provide an opportunity for critical reflection on the national and global impact of open education. Open Scotland will also provide a forum for identifying shared strategic priorities and scoping further collaborative activities to work towards more integrated policies and practice and encourage greater openness in Scottish education.

The Open Scotland keynote will be presented by Cable Green, Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning. Creative Commons are a non-profit organization whose free legal tools provide a global standard for enabling the open sharing of knowledge and creativity. Representatives of the Scottish Government, the National Library of Scotland, SQA, ALT Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian University, the Nordic OER Alliance, the EU Policies for OER Uptake Project, Kerson Associates, Jisc, Jorum, Jisc RSC Scotland and OSS Watch will be among those attending. A synthesis and report of the outputs of the summit will be disseminated publicly under open licence.

Open Scotland Overview

“A smarter Scotland is critical to delivering the Government’s Purpose of achieving sustainable economic growth. By making Scotland smarter, we will lay the foundations for the future wellbeing and achievement of our children and young people, increase skill levels across the population and better channel the outputs of our universities and colleges into sustainable wealth creation, especially participation, productivity and economic growth.”

How can Scotland leverage the power of “open” to develop the nation’s unique education offering? Can openness promote strategic advantage while at the same time supporting social inclusion, inter-institutional collaboration and sharing, and create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners? The Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Digital Future’ strategy, published in 2011, sets out the steps that are required to ensure Scotland is well placed to take full advantage of all the economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by the digital age. However, whilst the Scottish Government has been active in advocating the adoption of open data policies and licences it has yet to articulate policies for open education and open educational resources. In March 2013, the Scottish Funding Council published a ‘Further and Higher Education ICT Strategy’ that builds on the Scottish further and higher education sectors’ culture of collaboration and the range of national shared services that are already in place, many of which are supported by Jisc, JANET UK and others. What kinds of open policies and practices can we develop and share across all sectors of Scottish education to help implement these strategies and move them forward?

Scotland has a proud and distinctive tradition of education, which is recognised internationally. The Curriculum for Excellence is transforming schools to better equip our children for the challenges of the 21st century. With our colleges and universities experiencing major changes in terms of structure, funding and access, Scotland’s colleges are opening up their educational content to the world through the new Re:Source OER repository. The University of Edinburgh have pioneered the delivery of MOOCs in Scotland, recently attracting over 300,000 students to six online courses, and Napier University is embracing open practice through their open 3E Framework for teaching with technology, which has been adopted by over 20 institutions globally. The Jisc RSC Scotland are making extensive use of the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), which enables an open, standards-based way to issue digital recognition and accreditation. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is exploring how open badges can be built into the national qualifications system and the ICT Excellence Group, which is overseeing the re-development of the Scottish schools’ intranet GLOW, are also investigating their potential use

Elsewhere, the HEFCE funded UKOER Programme has been instrumental in stimulating the release of open educational resources and embedding open practice in English HE institutions. SURFNet in the Netherlands recently published their second ‘Trends Report on OER’, and a group of Nordic countries have launched the Nordic Alliance for OER. The UNESCO 2012 Paris Declaration called on governments to openly license publicly funded educational materials, and later that year the European Union issued a public consultation on “Opening up Education – a proposal for a European initiative” in advance of a new EU Initiative on “Opening up Education” expected to launch in mid-2013. Underpinning many of these developments is an increased acceptance and adoption of Creative Commons licences.

We are experiencing a period of unprecedented flux in all sectors of teaching and learning. For better or for worse, the advent of MOOCs has opened a public debate on the future direction of post-school education, though the balance of commercial opportunities and threats from the increased marketisation and commodification of education is still unclear.

Open Scotland is a one day summit facilitated by Jisc CETIS in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The event will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to critically reflect on the national and global impact and opportunities of open education, provide a forum to identify shared strategic interests and work towards a more integrated Scottish approach to openness in education.

“UNESCO believes that universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building.”

Cetis       SQA
rscs_logo_feb11_v1-scotland1       alt_logo

Further and Higher Education ICT Strategy – summary and reflections

ETA Many thanks to David Beards of SFC for pointing out that although this strategy is available from the SFC website, it is not an SFC publication. It was produced by the Sector Oversight Board; members of which are nominated by Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland.

The Scottish Sector Oversight Board has recently published a new Further and Higher Education ICT Strategy in response to the McClelland Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland. This post summarises the main points of the SFC ICT strategy and briefly reflects on the the focus of the strategy and the potential role of open source and open standards to enable the delivery of its objectives.

The primary aim of the strategy, which has been developed by the Further and Higher Education ICT Oversight Board, is to:

“…position Scotland, not only as one of the best educators in the world, but one of the most modern and efficient practitioners of education supported and enhanced by technology. It will achieve this through minimizing and eliminating wasteful and duplicated spend, while striving for sustained and efficient investment in education infrastructure and systems to support learning and research.”

In order to achieve these aims, the strategy identifies four strategic theme areas and five strategic objectives as follows:

Strategic Theme Areas

  • Infrastructure: networks, data centres, shared physical facilities.
  • Governance and management: oversight boards, implementation groups, project management, procurement and partnership and relationship building, staff development, service level agreements, communication strategies.
  • Shared services, applications and service models.
  • New technologies and innovation: the future landscape for infrastructure, applications and services.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Benchmark and baseline sectoral performance.
    Using international comparisons where relevant, and drawing on expert input from Jisc and UCISA. Identify KPIs, leading practice and “best of breed” approaches.
  2. Agree an evidence-based set of sectoral targets.
    Review and revise the roadmap set out by HEIDS Shared IT Services Study report. Shared datacentre provision has already been identified as a particular priority.
  3. Review the ‘data landscape’, in the sector, with a view to rationalisation / better management of student and course data.
    Work with merging colleges to implement consolidated MIS systems, with a longer-term aim of scoping a more efficient national student data system and moving to a single data collection system for generating reports for SFC.
  4. Develop the sector’s capability to develop and adopt shared services, including developing and capitalising on staff expertise.
    Form a new shared services cost-sharing body, owned by Scotland’s colleges and universities, within an existing organisation, with which institutions can contract for shared services. Continue to work with representative bodies of IT professionals in the HE and FE sectors.
  5. Improve value for money from procurement and operation of network infrastructure.
    Contribute to the JANET6 backbone procurement and participate in the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) project to achieve better value for money through wider sharing of regional network infrastructure.

Once the sectoral baseline has been established, service improvement will be measured from the following perspectives: financial, customers, business processes, learning and growth. An “engagement framework” will be developed to ensure all stakeholders feel ownership of the process of change.

The strategy also proposes the development of a national website that will act as a single point of entry for the delivery of Scottish public services including, where appropriate, further and higher education services with links to relevant national bodies including UCAS, SQA and institutional websites.

Annex A of the strategy identifies key organisations and their roles, including Jisc:

Jisc will continue to deliver large parts of the McClelland agenda, including collaborative procurement, national services like authentication & security and the promotion of common standards.
Jisc helps foster best practice and efficiency in the use of innovative technology. Its carefully targeted research projects and reports make existing systems work better and help Scottish and UK institutions plan for the future. Jisc adds further value by encouraging and enabling a culture of sharing.

Reflection and Comments

It’s encouraging to note that one of the key principals of the McClelland Review, which is highlighted by the strategy, is “the adoption of agreed technical standards, protocols and security arrangements where these clearly add value.” And it’s even more encouraging to see SFC acknowledging that Jisc will be a key organisation with a role in delivering the McClelland agenda. However despite the fact that the strategy is clearly focused on cross sector collaborative development, facilitating greater integration of shared services and encouraging the adoption of institutional strategies to avoid technology lock in, the importance of open standards to enable the delivery of these objectives is not made explicit. Furthermore there is no reference to the key role that open source solutions can play in delivering efficiency gains and furthering sustainable collaborative development across the public sector.

The strategy also states that it aims to:

“…improve the quality of services and enhance the learner experience; but there is also an explicit focus on efficiency gains from more co-ordinated procurement and deployment of ICT resources.”

While more strategic and coordinated procurement and deployment of ICT does indeed have the potential to deliver real gains across the sector, I would suggest that the strategy is focused more on the procurement and deployment of ICT than on enhancing the learner experience. I can’t help feeling that the sector would benefit from a companion strategy outlining how the achievement of SFC’s shared vision of ICT provision will deliver tangible benefits to teachers and learners across the Scottish higher and further education sector. It is by bringing these two aspects of the strategy together and giving them equal priority that SFC can deliver their vision of positioning Scotland as:

“…not only one of the best educators in the world, but one of the most modern and efficient practitioners of education supported and enhanced by technology.”