“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.”
Writing in Simulacra and Simulation in 1981, Jean Baudrillard could scarcely have predicted the way in which the growth of a global network of computer systems would accelerate and manage the growth of information and meaning. The “information revolution” has led to the co-creation of a massive library of human knowledge made accessible to everyone, and the tools needed to share, discuss, analyse and add to this corpus in order to create meaning from information.
Formal education has slowly begun to embrace this newly created reality, opening up their own stores of information and drawing on the vast stores of resources available to them. But new models are constantly being devised and refined, with a much greater range of actors – bringing in charities and the private sector alongside, or instead of, traditional providers.
Jisc has been at the cutting edge of openness in education for nearly two decades. We have pioneered the growth of Open Access to research, we have supported academics and managers as they have embraced new ways of communicating with a wider audience via the internet, and we have supported the use and development of Open Source software.
However, even with strong central support, open education in the UK has always been characterised by diversity. Both from specialist institutions like the Open University, and through work with non-traditional learners in colleges, community centres and their own homes, our Higher Education sector has been committed to sharing the love of learning as it is to educational excellence.
Starting in 2009, Jisc and the Higher Education Academy have been working together to deliver a suite of UK Open Educational Resources programmes in order to build the expectation of open release of materials used in learning into the mainstream of academic practice.
This UKOER programme has, to date, encompassed activity in the majority of UK institutions, based around the release and reuse of Open Education Resources. With the thoughtful and strategic use of OER practice, institutions have reported benefits to student recruitment, to their own international reputation, and to the quality of materials used to teach.
An indication of the range and quality of OER activity can be seen from the activities, releases and events planned across the country. We’ve presented a sample of these for you to engage with below.
Open Education Week highlights
Open Education Week provides a perfect opportunity to learn more about the many parts of the UK and global open education community. Here are a few highlights from the UK:
- The UKOER Evaluation and Synthesis project will be publishing a blog post every day this week, offering an overview of findings from three years of funded work. The week starts with a Grand Challenge!
- De Montfort University introduces you to a range of their resources and projects via a video. You can view Vivien Rolfe’s presentation on the Biology Courses site - as a preview of what Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will see on Tuesday 6th!
- The OER IPR support project is releasing a range of resources to further your understanding of openness, licensing and copyright. These include a range of short films (on lecture capture, reuse in medical education, ethical issues in healthcare and the ACTOR project, an amazing introductory animation, and updates to their popular “How open are you?” and risk management calculator tools.
- The University of Leicester are running an a series of online seminars examining the global OERu initiative on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th March. These are open seminars, available to all.
- The University of Nottingham are also running an open online seminar, covering a range of their OER work. You can read more, and join the session at 3pm on Wednesday 7th March, on their blog.
- And on Tuesday 6th March, the “Sustainable Texts” project at UCL are offering an open online seminar introducing you to their work.
- The University of Oxford are publishing a further collection of Great Writers podcasts , building on an already substantial body of material covering the giants of world literature.
- The University of the Arts in London are running a series of internal workshops, starting on Thursday 8th March in Central St Martins College.
- The SCORE team at the Open University are running a seminar on “Sustainable OER” in Milton Keynes on Thursday 8th March, places are available so please register your interest. This seminar includes presentations from the MEDEV team and from Simon Thompson from Leeds Met.
- SCORE are also using Open Education Week to launch an Open Education Group. You can read more about this, and sign up to a pledge of openness, at the SCORE website.
This is just a small sample of the UKOER innovation that is happening not just this week but every week in the UK. To keep up to date, you should follow the @UKOER account and the #ukoer hashtag on twitter. This will link you to interesting resources and blog posts, and – more importantly – an active and inclusive community of practice around OER. You can read more about the UKOER programme more generally at the Jisc OER pages, which also include links to project blogs.
Three Jisc programme managers, and hopefully a host of others, will be attempting to describe the Open Education space via twitter and personal blogs. Follow the #openedspace hashtag on twitter to join them
Of course, both Open Education Week and Open Education more generally are worldwide. For more info on a wider range of events, please see their website.
Of particular interest may be a live broadcast of a seminar around OER in Europe, led by TU Delft, OUNL and SURF on the 7th March.
Posted by David Kernohan and Amber Thomas.