An introduction to Open Education

I’ve recently presented an introduction to open education at a University teaching and learning forums, so you can access the slidecast below:

Whilst many people may not actually be aware of the ‘Open Content Movement’, I am sure you will be familiar with its practice, and some of the leading players.

“Open Educational Resources are digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research” (Hylén, 2006)

Some of the key players in this movement include MIT with their OpenCourseWare site, or more closer to home, the Open University OpenLearn site. This has been supported by the free Creative Commons licenses, which were developed specifically for the licensing and sharing of creative works, and are critical to the movement – I have blogged an intro the CC licenses here.

Arguably spurred by this, others are getting involved – the movement is supported by Universities own open content repositories such as OpenLearn (above), Nottingham’s U-Now site, and Oxford’s OpenSpires Podcasts (amongst others). Jorum is also a significant resource – a central national repository for learning objects, where all funded outputs related to JISC funding should be stored. Then there is the likes of iTunesU, which contains a ton of materials available for learners to study independently, and for teachers to reuse.

But the sharing of educational resources is not a new phenomenon – teaching staff have been sharing PowerPoint presentations and OHPs for many years. Such materials are now considered OpenCourseWare (OCW), Open Content, Open Educational Resources (OER), or even Reusable Learning Objects (RLO).

These historical habits of sharing teaching resources are still present today – such ‘informal’ sharing has been identified in relation to digital materials, where teaching staff are happy to share locally, on a small scale (see Reed, 2012 in Research in Learning Technology). Scaling this is a major threat to the sustainability of the Open Content Movement – for as much funding that has, and will be pumped in to support and develop engagement with Open Content, embedding this as standard practice is vital otherwise participation on large scales will likely fall away when funding activity eventually ceases (or should I say, is the case).

Want to see/learn more?

A key area to learn more about OER would be the OER infokit, and below is a short video to demonstrate how you can search Google for open content.

Furthermore, the OER Research Hub have created a YouTube playlist with 10 videos to help you understand OER.

What’s happening locally?

There are actually a couple of local initiatives related to Open Education.

  • Nick Greaves (Chemistry) has developed ChemTube3D – a freely available web site aimed at students, lecturers and practising chemists. It contains interactive 3D animations and structures, with supporting information for some of the most important topics covered during an undergraduate chemistry degree. The five major sections cover Organic Mechanisms, Organic Structure and Bonding, Solid State structures, Polymers and A level topics. < View the Press Release here >
  • Tim Bullough (Engineering) received JISC funding to develop Kritikos – a visual customisation of Google searches that collates user reviews and recommendations for particular resources (images, videos, animations, presentations) related to specific modules. We’re currently investigating how we can customise Kritikos for our School of Medicine, so more will follow soon on this topic.

If you are interested in engaging with ‘The Movement’, why not give me a shout to learn more.


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