Keeping the door open – final Ripple workshop

This was the fifth and final workshop in the programme of support offered by the Ripple project. The topic was sustainability and future collaboration in OER. In addition to this, and in response to previous requests from project partners, there was a session called ‘Stories from Oxford’ which included talks from Oxford University academics who had been involved in OER release as part of the OpenSpires project. The OUCS Ripple project team also shared information on other OER projects. All slides and recordings from the day will be made available on the project website

Both partners were well represented at the workshop; five staff from Oxford Brookes and four staff from Harper Adams attended. Six staff members form OUCS were involved in the day and several invited guests attended the morning session (including visitors from Apple and other senior managers from OUCS).

The outline agenda for the day was as follows:

10.30 am Stories from Oxford, Introduced by Peter RobinsonContributors from the University of Oxford share their stories of making material open 

Dr Emma Smith, Dr Peter McDonald, Dr Marianne Talbot

Lisa Mansell & Patrick Lockley (Triton Project)

11.30 am Tea/Coffee break
11.45 am Sustainable practice at OxfordMelissa Highton, Head of Learning Technologies Group, OUCS 
12.15 pm Sustaining an open culture and looking into the future – Discussion/activity session
12.45 pm Lunch
1.45 pm Collaboration – workshop session to develop Ripple OERs
2.45 pm Tea/coffee break
3.00 pm Collaboration – action planning
4.00 pm Close

The Stories from Oxford session was opened by Peter Robinson who spoke about the Oxford OER projects; OpenSpires, Ripple, Triton, OER Impact and also introduced the Oxford academic speakers Dr Emma Smith, Dr Peter McDonald and briefly Dr Marianne Talbot. Each of these speakers shared their stories having been involved in podcasting and, more specifically, open content release. They spoke of the benefits, rewards, and of the impact on their academic lives. Some key points from these presentations included:

  • I feel my job is to disseminate our knowledge and enthusiasm for our subject as widely as possible – this is why I support Creative Commons
  • My lectures have been used in schools and by lifelong learners
  • Receiving email feedback is great – you don’t get much feedback from within the University so to receive it from listeners around the globe is great
  • Recording my lectures has become a routine part of my life – I have slighted adapted my style now that recordings are released because I used to refer to handouts a lot but then I got inundated with email requests for the handouts from listeners.
  • It’s a huge personal boost to receive feedback: as a teacher it is just what you want to hear
  • I’m now linking podcasts to a new online course and they can be used as marketing materials to attract people to the course
  • Releasing podcasts suited my subject (Censorship) I was keen to disseminate my material as widely as possible, particularly as my work involves releasing previously secret documents.
  • I will be using podcast interviews as source material for my next book.

The final presentation in this session was about the Triton project,which is making OER more discoverable to a subject community (see

The session following the coffee break focussed on sustainability. Melissa Highton presented on Sustainable Practice at Oxford, and discussed social, economic and environmental factors. OER helps to meet OUCS objectives of community outreach, supporting research and admissions. Referring to Fair Trade week, she spoke of fair trade in education tackling technical, legal and price barriers. Sustainability in a place that is all about people is as much about behaviour – people have to want to do it. This is how the Learning Technologies Group does business; aligning the uses of technology and the benefits of technology to things you wanted to do anyway. This is how something becomes part of sustained practice.

Following this there was an activity session run by Patrick Lockley during which attendees were asked to come up with simple ideas to keep people talking about OER, some of these included:

  • Poster designs which could be used on office doors or department notice boards
  • Publicising new OERs/recent successes using RSS feeds and blogs on University websites/intranets
  • Discuss possibilities for a specific OER person within the University
  • Invite Ripple team to local conferences to ‘showcase’ OER
  • Engage PVC and get support for OER as an academic development initiative
  • Collect academic testimonials and share these.

The afternoon session involved discussions of future collaborations between the partners. Ripple has nurtured good working relationships between the partners and there is a shared enthusiasm to collaborate further (possibly when future funding as part of OER3 is clarified). The first small-scale collaboration which is likely to be an output from Ripple, will be the release of some resources which have been developed collaboratively and will be used by partners in their teaching activities.

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