After twelve productive years, the University of Strathclyde’s relationship with Cetis has now “reached its conclusion”. The Cetis Memorandum of Understanding has been terminated and all Cetis staff at the university have been made redundant. This move comes a year after the closure of the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement (CAPLE), the department that had housed Cetis since 2001. One reason given by the university for terminating the relationship is that Cetis are no longer strategically aligned with institutional policy.
“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.[...]
The following paper was produced to act as a background briefing to the Open Scotland Summit , which Cetis is facilitating in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. The Benefits of Open draws together and summarises key documents and publications relating to all aspects of openness in education. The paper covers Open Educational Resources, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Access and Open Badges.
The Benefits of Open briefing paper can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.org.uk/2013/834.
Such is the rapid pace of change in terms of open education research and development that several relevant new papers have been published since this briefing paper was completed less than a fortnight ago. The following recent outputs are likely to be of particular interest and significance to those with an interest in open education policy and practice, both in Scotland and internationally. [..]
The ALT Scotland SIG, which both Martin Hawksey and I are involved in, is holding a meeting this week on Thursday the 20th at Glasgow Caledonian University from 10.30 – 15.30. Registration for the event is now closed, however there are still a few places available so if you would like to come along please drop Linda Creanor a mail at email@example.com.
The agenda is as follows:[..]
ETA If you want to review yesterday’s twitter discussion about FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions, Martin Hawksey has now set up one of his fabulous TAGSExplorer twitter archives here.
The appearance of FutureLearn’s new website caused considerable discussion on twitter this morning. Once everyone had got over the shock of the website’s eye-watering colour scheme, attention turned to FurtureLearn’s depressingly draconian Terms and Conditions, which were disected in forensic detail by several commentators who know more than a thing or two about licensing and open educational content. I’m not going to attempt to summarise all the legal issues, ambiguities and inconsistencies that others have spotted, but I do want to highlight what the Terms and Conditions say about educational content. You can read FutureLearn’s full Terms and Conditions here but the salient points to note in relation to content licensing are:
All FutureLearn’s content and Online Courses, are the property of FutureLearn and/or its affiliates or its or their licensors and are protected by copyright, patent and/or other proprietary intellectual property rights under the laws of England and other countries.
– Fair enough, I guess.
Users may not copy, sell, display, reproduce, publish, modify, create derivative works from, transfer, distribute or otherwise commercially exploit in any manner the FutureLearn Site, Online Courses, or any Content.
– If content can not be reproduced, modified or transferred then clearly it can not be reused, therefore it is not open.
Future Learn grants users access to their content under the term of the Creative Commons Attribution – No Derivatices – Non Commerical 3.0 licence.
– Again, use of the most restrictive Creative Commons licence means that FutureLearn content cannot be modified and reused in other contexts, therefore it is not open in any meaningful sense of the word.
Any content created by users and uploaded to FutureLearn will be owned by the user who retains the rights to their content, but by doing so, users grant FutureLearn “an irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such User Content on the FutureLearn Site and/or in the Online Courses or otherwise exploit the User Content, with the right to sublicense such rights (to multiple tiers), for any purpose (including for any commercial purpose).”
- Unless that content happens to be subtitles, captions or translations of FutureLearn content….
FutureLearn may on occasion ask users to produce subtitles and translations of content in which case the same rights apply, but, and it’s a big but, in the case of captions and translations “you agree that the licence granted to FutureLearn above shall be exclusive.”
So there you have it, FutureLearn content will not be open educational resources in any real sense. I can’t say I’m surprised by FutureLearn’s Terms and Conditions and the approach they have taken to licensing educational content, but I am more than a little disappointed. Many colleagues have commented previously that the relationship between MOOCs and OERs is problematic, now it seems to have hit the skids altogether. I suppose I have to acknowledge that FutureLearn press releases have never said anything about the actual content of their courses being open, but I did hope rather naively that as the Open University have been at the forefront of OER initiatives in the UK, FutureLearn would buck the trend and take a similarly enlightened approach to their content. For the record, the Open University licenses their OpenLearn content under the more permissive Creative Commons ‘Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike’ licence. You can see the OpenLearn Intellectual Property FAQ here.
As time passes, I can’t help thinking that the approaches to content licensing taken by the UKOER Programmes are starting to look increasingly radical… Anyone remember those heady days when universities were releasing their educational content under CC BY licence? Was it all just a dream?
Along with the news that GCU and the Scottish College Development Network are developing guidelines for the creation and use of open educational resources, another Scottish news item caught my attention this week. Finally, after weeks of speculation, it was announced that the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde will join the FutureLearn partnership alongside the University of St Andrews which had previously signed up. You can read the press release here.
I can’t claim to have read every press release issued by FutureLearn but it’s telling, though not remotely surprising, that for all their apparent commitment to:
“…free, open, online courses from leading UK universities…”
- FutureLearn Press Release
“…removing the barriers to education by making learning more accessible…”
- Simon Nelson, FutureLearn, CEO
“…opening access to our learning to students around the world…”
- Colin Grant, Associate Deputy Principal at the University of Strathclyde
FutureLearn doesn’t appear to make any mention of using, creating or disseminating open educational resources. Although it’s rather disappointing, I can’t say that it’s particularly surprising. I haven’t got any statistics, but anecdotally, it seems that very few xMOOCs use or provide access to open educational resources. The relationship between MOOCs and OERs is problematic at best and non existent at worst. As Amber Thomas memorably commented at the Cetis13 conference “it’s like MOOCs stole OER’s girlfriend.” Perhaps I am being overly pesimistic about FutureLearn’s commitment to openness, after all, the initiative is being led by the Open University, an institution that has unquestionably been at the forefront of OER developments in the UK.
Of course St Andrews, Glasgow and Strathclyde aren’t the first Scottish universities to join the MOOC movement, the University of Edinburgh has already delivered six successful MOOCs in partnership with Coursera, including the eLearning and Digital Culture MOOC (#edcmooc) which my Cetis colleague Sheila MacNeill participated in and has blogged about extensively. Sheila recently presented about her experiences of being a MOOC student a the University of Southampton’s Digital Literacies Conference alongside #edcmooc tutor, and former CAPLE colleague, Dr Christine Sinclair, now with the University of Edinburgh. I wasn’t able to attend the event myself but I followed the tweet stream and was interested to note Sheila’s comments that the Edinburgh MSc module on digital cultures in more “open” than the Coursera MOOC on the same topic.
It didn’t take much googling to locate the eLearning and Digital Cultures MSc course blog which, sure enough, carries a CC-BY-NC-SA licence. I don’t know if this licence covers all the course materials but it certainly appears to be more open than the Coursera version of the same course and it’s very encouraging to see that the Edinburgh course tutors are continuing to support open access to their course materials at the same time as engaging with MOOCs. I wonder if the Scottish FutureLearn partners will show a similar commitment to opening access to their educational resources? I certainly hope so.
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.
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 have published a new briefing paper on Activity Data and Paradata. The paper presents a concise overview of a range of approaches and specifications for recording and exchanging data generated by the interactions of users with resources.
Such data is a form of Activity Data, which can be defined as “the record of any user action that can be logged on a computer”. Meaning can be derived from Activity Data by querying it to reveal patterns and context, this is often referred to as Analytics. Activity Data can be shared as an Activity Stream, a list of recent activities performed by an individual. Activity Streams are often specific to a particular platform or application, e.g. facebook, however initiatives such as OpenSocial, ActivityStreams and Tin Can API have produced specifications and APIs to share Activity Data across platforms and applications.
While Activity Streams record the actions of individual users and their interactions with multiple resources and services, other specifications have been developed to record the actions of multiple users on individual resources. This data about how and in what context resources are used is often referred to as Paradata. Paradata complements formal metadata by providing an additional layer of contextual information about how resources are being used. A specification for recording and exchanging paradata has been developed by the Learning Registry, an open source content-distribution network for storing and sharing information about learning resources.
The briefing paper provides an overview of each of these approaches and specifications along with examples of implementations and links to further information.
The Cetis Activity Data and Paradata briefing paper written by Lorna M. Campbell and Phil Barker can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.org.uk/2013/808
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”