OERs can help us tackle wicked problems - messy real-world challenges, like climate change, which benefit from interdisciplinary teaching. Lizzie Garner-Foy (Instructional Designer in the Online Course Production team) worked with Fiona Borthwick to launch the Sustainable Global Food Systems MOOC. Lizzie used open licensed content to make a promotional trailer for the course and a series of podcasts and trailers, which would engage and attract the widest audience possible. Read more about their work on her blog post.
"Short online courses like MOOCs can be time and cost-intensive, so we support academic teams and subject matter experts to produce standalone OER resources that can be viewed and reused in any context. This maximises their use and re-use, and enables sharing of valuable information on important issues to a global audience." Lizzie Garner-Foy
In the GeoSciences Outreach (GO) course, undergraduate students create bespoke resources for external clients including charities, teachers and school pupils, which are then licensed as OERs. In their blog post, Dr Andy Cross and Kay Douglas explain that this is made possible with the help of undergraduates who are employed as Open Content Curation summer interns with the OER Service. These interns co-create OERs from the resources produced by GO students, upskill the teaching team in OER practices, and have an opportunity to co-teach other students.
Similar work is underway in the Reid School of Music, where student partners are converting existing course content into an open e-textbook, and learning valuable skills along the way, such as copyrighting, digital skills for compiling materials, and working with Creative Commons licenced content.
Another great example of co-creation is highlighted in a chat between Charlie Farley and Dr Jeni Harden (Senior Lecturer in Social Science and Health). Jeni worked with medical students and OER resources to address a gap in the curriculum, and created the LGBT+ Healthcare 101 course so students could learn about LGBT+ issues in healthcare. Read the full blog post to find out how Jeni's work has progressed over the last five years.
Medical students are amazing. I love working with them so much. Part of the reasons for the doing of the project was for the students to gain experience. - Jeni Harden
Dr. Jane Secker's thoughts on 'Five Things that inspired us about OERs'
OER practices generate a generous and collegial workplace ethos: Working with colleagues over the past few years in the open education team at Edinburgh, including Lorna Campbell, has been a really collegiate process. Having Lorna guest lecture as part of my module on Digital Literacies and Open Practice has been such a valuable experience. She shared the Edinburgh policies and guidance on OERs, which we found really helpful when we ran an OER workshop last summer at City. Additionally the guidance on other areas of using digital technology in teaching during the pandemic has been really helpful, such as the lecture recording policies and guidance for students when participating in online learning. These have highlighted all the good practice at Edinburgh and has allowed us to develop valuable training and resources for staff at City. As a concept, I think open education is about giving back and tackling some of the inequalities in our education system, but I also appreciate it’s something that requires a certain level of privilege.
OERs can be used to tackle wicked problems: At the heart of the open education movement is the idea of bringing together many minds to solve really tricky problems in the world whether it’s climate change, sustainable food systems or the latest advances in healthcare, science, technology. Open practice and OERs can also inspire creators such as artists, musicians and writers of the future. I’ve seen academics in disciplines as diverse as language teaching, business studies and optometry come on my course and reflect on what open practice mean to them in the subject they teach and research. In many cases, it transforms their thinking and helps them work with other researchers in the field to make new advances but also to tackle inequalities in the world.
Working with open licensed resources encourages tinkering: The nature of open licenses means you don’t just use a resource but can adapt it or repurpose it for use in a new context, or be inspired by it in your own practice. When someone asks me about a new area of teaching and learning my first thought is, ok who else might already have considered this problem, and let’s have a look at how they might have solved it. A recent example was when we were looking for some guidance on hybrid or hyflex teaching at City. It was great to be able to review the guidance a few other universities had drawn up, and you can hear me talk further about this in a recent podcast in the Teaching Here and There series. What I think is often just a bit disappointing is that we don’t add open licences by default to this type of content created in universities – protecting work through adding copyright notices is still very much the norm. So you often end up having to ask permission to re-use guidance. But I am a great fan of not starting from scratch but building a resource using the experience and knowledge of others.
OERs provide co-creation opportunities for students: For someone who spent quite a lot of my career teaching staff and students about copyright, I found the concept of open education and open licensing a really valuable way of encouraging the co-creation of resources. For example, I worked on a student blogging project when I was at LSE and we encouraged students to share their experiences of using digital technology in blog posts and to find openly licensed images to illustrate their writing. Students in all sorts of disciplines are now creating and co-creating resources, and using openly licensed content partly solves many of the concerns about copyright issues. This was the primary reason behind openly licensing the educational resource Copyright the Card Game, that I co-created with Chris Morrison at the University of Kent.
OER practices encourage continuous professional development for academics: Absolutely. I have had a fantastic response to my module from staff from all sorts of disciplines but the key thing they reflect on is how important open has become as part of their academic practice. Some are early career researchers, but others are more established and realise that perhaps their old ways of working weren’t always best serving their aims to share knowledge. It’s been great to teach staff about open practice and to see the variety of ways they respond, and the conversations that it prompts, sometimes about big issues related to their underpinning values and why they are an academic in the first place. In other cases, learning about OER has a practical benefit: they learn to find new teaching resources; to collaborate with new colleagues; or to get to grips with the complicated world of open access publishing. However, it’s been clear to me that, over the past three years I have been teaching in this area, it is a really important aspect of professional development and a topic that resonates with staff from across the disciplines.
Dr Jane Secker is Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at City, University of London where she is Deputy Programme Manager of the Masters in Academic Practice. She leads the modules related to digital education and digital literacies in the programme. You can view all the previous module webinar recordings on the blog site, and read her recent article about the impact of the module, following presenting at the INTED conference in March 2020. Previously, Jane was Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor at LSE for over 15 years where she advised staff about copyright issues and the online environment. Much of Jane's current work on copyright literacy is in collaboration with Chris Morrison and shared on their website. Finally, you can find out more about the ALT Copyright and Online Learning Special Interest Group that they chair here: https://www.alt.ac.uk/groups/special-interest-groups/copyright-and-online-learning-sig.
What's making Eric smile?
After a long year, this summer has been filled with reasons to smile. In early July, I volunteered as a Group Leader for Supertroop, a charity running residential holidays for youth with learning disabilities. I was quite nervous - it was my first time working with kids with disabilities, or being around many people since the pandemic started. However, my experience was fun, restorative and affirming for my ability to enjoy this kind of work after a long year. Who doesn’t enjoy spending time around children doing activities like cupcake decorating, swimming, karaoke, and bouncy castles? Watching their smiles as they had water gun fights and played underneath rainbow parachutes was a truly special experience. Plus, I loved seeing how grateful their parents were after a much-needed break from childcare. The cherry on top is the people I met - young people, social workers, educators and psychologists I’d only seen on zoom became good friends. An experience to remember!
Since getting my second vaccine, I was able to travel to Lithuania to meet my partner’s family for her father and step-mother’s wedding. One aspect of the trip that made me smile was getting a personal tour of the Jewish history of Plungė - a small Lithuanian village whose Jewish population was ravaged after the holocaust. My partner’s step-great-grandfather was the ‘Last Jew of Plungė’, and his son showed me his life's work of preserving the history of the Jewish community through educational monuments and memorials. I was so happy to see this kind of work being done and honored to witness it firsthand!
The last thing that’s making me smile has been working with Teaching Matters. Over my 12-week internship, I edited, produced and hosted seven podcast episodes and created the template and mailing list for this very newsletter. Most importantly, I loved it. I’ve felt supported, my creativity has been encouraged and my ideas/opinions have felt valued. For someone hoping to start his own podcast, this experience has been invaluable, and thanks to the people I’ve worked with, it’s been a highlight of my university experience. And now, I get to keep smiling as my contract is being extended, and I’ll get to continue this work through my academic year!
Upcoming podcast series
Our current series is 'Insights from the Learning and Teaching Conference', including episodes on university experiences of the working class, curriculum transformation, and confrontations within the neo-liberal university.
In the pipeline...
- Wikimedia: Celebrating Wikimedia's 20 year anniversary and recontextualising it within academia
- Decolonising the Curriculum: investigating the university's current practices and promoting efforts to decolonise
- Media Hopper: Showcasing the many uses of Media Hopper, The University of Edinburgh's Media Platform
Created with images by Peggychoucair - "scotland edinburgh historic center" • xmorgen - "edinburgh scotland city" • pierre9x6 - "dome skyline cityscape" With thanks to Melanie Grandidge for her icon artwork design.