On the 16th March the Ripple partners gathered at Oxford Brookes University to participate in the fourth workshop. This was the first workshop organised and hosted by one of the partners and it was a great success: interesting presentations, stimulating discussion and lots of enthusiasm for collaboration.
Richard Francis, the Head of e-Learning and the Oxford Brookes project lead, opened the workshop. Richard said that Brookes were in the early stages of OER, and outlined the structural reorganisation that the University is currently undergoing. This means that it is important to harmonise with other strategic priorities and find the strategic ‘hook’ for OER. Richard discussed a number of initiatives which will help set the groundwork for opening up, for example the student experience strategy which includes embedding graduate attributes and mapping them on to undergraduate courses, the need to surface and share resources, and the move to Moodle an open source VLE.
Richard presented the theme for the day ‘Engaging staff in OER’ and the forms that this may take: mandate, persuasion, support and reward. There was no mandate for OER at Brookes and so the presentations would focus on the other aspects and show case studies for persuasion, support and reward.
Dr Helen Walkington, Principle Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Law, gave a presentation on how research-based learning could contribute to the development of OERs. Helen has developed two e-journals for undergraduates to improve their research experience and transform student ‘publishing’ into a scholarly process. It has improved the student experience: they feel a sense of achievement, academic recognition and are motivated to publish more. They develop skills for critical appraisal and review which benefit their own work and that of others. She has also developed an undergraduate research conference at which students present posters; this provides them with valuable experience, recognition, increased confidence and improves their ‘employability’. Helen then led a discussion to see how these experiences could be captured as OER. A number of suggestions were made:
- Capture the student experience in some way.
- Share the skills for review. Helen originally ran a course to train post graduates as reviewers, this training course would be a useful OER.
- A podcast on how to set up an undergraduate journal.
- A podcast on how to run an undergraduate conference.
Marion Waite, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care, shared how persuasion has helped to engage staff within her School. About 3 years ago the School started to consider developing distance learning modules, for example the MSc Nursing Studies. Lecturers needed to work together to develop the programme; they went through a ‘show and tell’ process and gave feedback on each others’ teaching practice. They needed to store resources for reuse amongst the team and they used the institutional repository, RADAR, to do this. Colleagues had to be persuaded to use RADAR and to share materials and a strategy was developed to help to push things forward. This now needs to be revised with the possibility of using and developing OER materials. Resources are sourced from elsewhere and reused but sometimes the origin is unclear so effort has to be made to create new materials. Marion has worked closely with the marketing department to develop ‘taster’ materials (as OER) to attract people to the distance learning course. Marion has learnt a lot from the experience: management of resources, version control, copyright, sustainability, and she also commented that the metadata for the ‘outside world’ is quite different than that required for internal use. You have to consider how people may find it and what terms best describe the resource (discoverability). Marion felt that more persuasion was needed to communicate the benefits of openness, and that the current structural changes underway within the institution would no doubt influence the future of OER.
Steve Burholt, eLearning Systems Developer for RADAR, presented some background on the development of the institutional repository (RADAR) and how this is being used to support OER. There were various drivers for the institutional repository: the University required a research archive, somewhere to store teaching resources, they wanted it to facilitate sharing, and it needed to integrate with various other IT services, for example the VLE. RADAR was developed using Equella which met all these requirements and allowed different metadata dependent on the object; it uses open standards but also allows Brookes-specific terms.
There are varying degrees of openness on RADAR:
- The teaching collection is open to only staff and students
- The research archive is fully open but copyright varies
- Photo archives are open to all under a Creative Commons licence
- Cartoons which have been custom drawn by the University are shared under a CC licence
- VLE help materials are released as OER
- Taster course materials used for marketing purposes are also release as OER.
Steve outlined the support required to enable staff to deposit materials:
- What materials should I use?
- Technical questions, file formats etc.
- Copyright and IPR issues
- Metadata and cataloguing support – how should I describe my materials?
Steve showed a video which was part of the VLE help materials (released as OER), a video describing how to interpret Turnitin reports. This video had also been released on YouTube and without any publicity had received 1500 hits in 3 weeks. There is a willingness to release more materials for re-use and they are working on a systematic workflow to facilitate this.
The next presenter was Dr Laura Novo de Azevedo, Senior Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment. Laura spoke about a project where she had used innovation to support open education. Laura teaches urban design and she wanted her students to get outside to experience urban design principles. She has developed a website which is open for anyone to use and filmed lectures which she released as podcasts for students to download on mobile devices. They take these lectures with them to experience the location whilst watching the lecture on their iPhone or iPod. Laura wants the website to be as open as possible for others to contribute lectures and for anyone around the world to download the lectures. Because of limited funding Laura developed all the skills required to deliver this project herself: website design, Photoshop, podcasting skills etc. She has received good feedback from her students, particularly international students on her course who find it useful to be able to watch the lectures at their own pace. Other staff have now become engaged in the project and produce their own podcasts, she is also developing international content with universities in Brazil. She now has a peer review panel to ensure quality standards are adhered to. There are still issues to solve:
- The resource needs to be marketed effectively
- How do you deal with language differences? Add subtitles?
- How do you deal with different mobile access available in different countries?
- Copyright issues are always present.
The last speaker was Tom Cosgrove, Teaching Fellow. Tom discussed how the teaching fellowship was an enabler to developing OER. Using OER was a pragmatic and ethical choice in developing a collection of pictures to be shared between institutions. Tom had taken a group of students to India to support their learning and they collected many photos on this trip which they intend to release as OER; Tom’s presentation included a selection of these photographs. The group discussed the best way to present the photos – i.e. small OER versus big OER. The photos could be released as they are (small OER) which would make them very reusable or they could be put into context with some extra teaching materials (big OER). It was suggested that a narrative to accompany the photos would make them a better resource – a good entry point for anyone wanting to reuse the materials.
Richard Francis closed the workshop with a discussion about how to reward and recognise people involved in OER. The suggestions included:
- Clearly identify the person who has provided the material (e.g. pictures on album covers for podcasts).
- Celebrate talent through an award ceremony, a formal recognition, e.g. OxTalent awards.
- A showcase of people involved, used for internal marketing.
- Offer support to those involve (technical etc.).
- Show a ‘hit parade’ within the institution to play on peer pressure.
- Recognise that the business case is different for different people.
Presentations from the day will be on the project website soon http://openspires.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ripple/.