DOMImplementation hates HTML5

This doesn’t work:

documentType = impl.createDocumentType("html", "", "");
document = impl.createDocument(null, "html", documentType);

assertEquals("head", document.getChildNodes().item(0).getChildNodes().item(0).getNodeName());

In fact, it just silently fails to add any child nodes. No exceptions, nada.

HtmlCleaner 2.8 is out

Its the first release of 2014, and its got a nice patch from Rafael that makes it run a lot faster (who knew that just checking whether a String is a valid Double in the XPath processor would cause so much stress?) and another patch from Chris that makes it output proper XML ID attributes in DOM.

My contributions this time around were more enhancements to “foreign markup” handling, which is important when cleaning up HTML that contains valid SVG or content. HtmlCleaner wasn’t really written with that sort of use in mind when Vladimir started on it back in 2006, so it involved a fair bit of wrangling, but I think we’re nearly there now.

A personal reflection on Open Education


The third annual Open Education Week takes place from 10-15 March 2014. The purpose of Open Education Week is  “to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide“.

Cetis staff are supporting Open Education Week by publishing a series of blog posts about open education activities. The Cetis blog will provide access to the posts which will describe Cetis activities concerned with a range of open education activities. My contribution to the series covers:

A personal reflection on Open Education

Two years ago, Lou McGill developed an Open Educational Resources timeline which reflected on the involvement of Cetis with learning technology and OERs over the past ten years. I found it very interesting and thought provoking. In this Open Education week, I would like to share some thoughts and reflections on Open Education through my personal learning journey and some of the work that I have been involved in with OERs, Open Online Learning and MOOCs.

1. Back in 1985, I signed up for a Self Study Higher Education Programme when I worked as a school teacher in China. Since the 80’s, China has built the world’s largest Open Education system to meet the needs of people who are not be able to attend a college or a university face-to-face. The programme is open to everyone regardless of age, previous education or qualifications. They can choose to study any subject that they are interested in (from a total of 21 subjects), either self-taught or study with peers and tutors at local learning centres. Those who pass examinations gain qualifications equivalent to a college degree. More than 3-million Chinese students have obtained university degrees via this programme over the past two decades. When I was half way through the programme to gain the degree in Chinese, I was offered an opportunity to study at Beijing Normal University. As a result, I didn’t take all of the examinations, but the two years of self–study did add great value to my life at that time and it continues to this day. In this example, it is very clear to me that although the self-study programme would have advanced my career, the four years of study at Beijing Normal University changed my life and career direction completely.  Learning for the sake of learning is a luxury that few can afford.  In the case of MOOC students, research suggests that most of them are already well-educated professionals. For many learners undertaking tertiary education, gaining a degree qualification is the prime motivation as they believe it will enhance their career opportunities. Open education involves not only access to course materials, but also appropriate support and guidance. Therefore, how to make university education more accessible, valuable and meaningful to learners is a challenge that universities cannot ignore.

2. I have been very lucky to be involved in shaping and supporting the UK OER programme since I joined Cetis in 2008. This has given me a unique opportunity to work with UK institutions and the wider OER community to understand the opportunities and challenges of OERs from an institutional perspective. In the UK, more than 80 universities have been involved producing OERs and making teaching and learning material searchable, sharable and reusable globally. One question that all funders, institutions and educators would like to answer is: how might OERs be shared and reused by others? We can celebrate the success of funded OERs projects but we must also question the sustainability of these initiatives after their initial funding runs out. There are some individuals who are inspired by the global OER movement and who spend their time and efforts promoting OERs. These grassroots OER projects are, I think, more sustainable in the longer term. For example, here is an OER/Open Course collection created by Dr Ma, a scholar from a Chinese University. He and his students gathered a large number of OERs and Open Courses in educational technology produced by universities from the UK and US. At present, these courses have been translated into Chinese and reused by Chinese lecturers who teach relevant courses to students who are studying educational technology. Some lecturers from Chinese universities have also started to use this platform to make their courses open and to share with educators in other universities.

#Cetis14 – Building the Digital Institution: Technological Innovation in Universities and Colleges

We are very pleased to announce that the annual Cetis conference #cetis14 will take place on the 17th and 18th June at our host institution the University of Bolton. This is the tenth year of the Cetis conference (prizes for anyone who has attended all ten). The theme this year focuses on the digital institution and how technology can and is being used in every aspect of university and college life. As in previous years the conference will consist of a combination of parallel sessions and keynote presentations. Sessions are being planned on learning analytics, MOOCs, e-assessment (QTI), Open Educational Resources policy, and systems integration to name a few.

Cetis White Paper on ‘Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions’

It is now six years since the advent of the first MOOC course, and 2012 is widely identified as the year that the hype surrounding MOOCs reached its peak and in 2013 began its path into ‘trough of disillusionment’. The key questions for institutions are what lessons we might learn from the MOOC experiment and how this may help institutions to develop a more strategic approach to improve the quality of teaching and learning and open up access to higher education?

Following the well cited (here, here, here) Cetis white paper ‘MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education’, this new report looks beyond the current debate on MOOCs to understand the potential of open online learning for learners, educators and institutions from pedagogical, financial and technological perspectives.

Our pick of posts from 2013

For the last few years we’ve started January with a quick look back at our posts from the previous year. 2013 saw a lot of changes for Cetis, with the ending of Jisc Core funding and subsequent loss of some key staff members. But there were some highlights too. So here’s our picks of the posts we liked the best and why.



After eight very happy years working for Cetis based within the now sadly no longer with us CAPLE (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement) at the University of Strathclyde my working life is moving a bit sideways over the next couple of months. The University of Strathclyde had decided to no longer continue its relationship with Cetis. See Lorna’s post for more information, and so my contract (like my colleagues Lorna and Martin) is terminating on Wednesday 31 July. Like Lorna I’d like to add a huge thank you to former CAPLE colleagues for all their support over the years.