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Notes from 20 October 2011 project meeting

Page history last edited by Anna Gruszczynska 9 years, 2 months ago

Notes after C-SAP OER2 partner meeting, 20th October 2010, Birmingham


You can also access these notes as a Word document from the project resources page. Feel free to add your comments, reflections etc.! There is also a related post on the project blog.


Present: Darren Marsh (project co-ordinator), Anna Gruszczynska (project researcher), Helen Jones (critical friend), Richard Pountney (consultant), Philip Johnson (academic partner), Craig Hammond (academic partner), Delyth Morris (academic partner)



Starting with the core project team we introduced ourselves and our background involvement in OER phase 1.

Phil and Craig discussed their teaching across a number of degree programmes at Blackburn College within the School of Law, Justice and Community Studies. The HE in FE context will add a rich dynamic to this project; both Phil and Craig have some knowledge of JISC, HEA and subject centres but not a detailed understanding of the OER pilot.

Delyth Morris worked closely with Dafydd Trystan recently on a C-SAP funded project to develop materials in the Welsh Medium for the Y-Porth repository, and this working relationship and area of resource will carry forward into this OER cascade project. Like Phil and Craig she has some knowledge of the work of JISC and HEA, but little knowledge of the pilot OER programme.


The concept of “repurposing” OERs

Through the day, we kept returning to the concept of “repurposing” OERs – that is, an open-ended process of transforming a teaching resource so that it can be shared with others through an online repository and then ideally enhanced by feedback from people using the resource. Phil came up with a very useful suggestion that maybe we could start viewing OERs more as a “sharing” rather than as a “taking” process. Another way of understanding the concept of repurposing is to think in terms of a shift from “owned” to “borrowed” material, and we discussed the ways in which most teaching is actually borrowed as it builds on ideas from mentors, students etc. We looked at ways in which different institutions approach the concept of sharing and ways in which the OER programme attempts to stimulate a cultural change. We also brought up the potentially anti-corporate nature of OERs, with Craig introducing a related concept of “punctum” (Latin term meaning puncture or wound, used by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida)which he uses in teaching critical film theory.   We wondered if OERs or the ‘disruptuive’ potential of OERs could be conceptualised in a similar way?

Some other issues which came up in the context of repurposing:

-          What about issues of accreditation/validation? Are there any examples of validated modules which purposefully incorporate OERs? (Related to curriculum design and delivery)

-          What if people repurpose a resource available in a repository and do it in the “wrong” way? What is the legal enforcement for creative commons licensing?

-          Is there any way to track the uptake of OERs – do we know in what ways OERs are repurposed once they have been deposited? (project team will start a page on the wiki outlining the available options for tracking, both qualitative and quantitative measures)

-          Delyth brought up a valid point related to reward and recognition – can OERs be used to enhance academic reputation? Can Creative Commons licensing help with that recognition?

-          The tensions of ‘sharing’ materials that might be interpreted as giving away competitive advantage

Many of these issues came up, either directly or indirectly, across the scope of the OER phase 1 projects. The core team in this cascade project will advise and guide our new partners on these issues, both from our own experience and from our understanding of the issues as they were explored in other OER projects (and much has been drawn together in the pilot synthesis and evaluation wiki).


The role of repositories for the cascade project

The concept of “repurposing” is related to repositories – we tried to come up with appropriate explanations for the role of JorumOpen and similar repositories for the project and settled on the metaphor of a central library/vault where master copies of a teaching resource are stored. Importantly, once a resource has been deposited, it will remain in that location – only the creator of the resource/support team at Jorum can introduce changes or ask to have the resource taken down. Other users of the repository can download the resource and use it for their teaching either without changing anything or by adapting the resource (“repurposing” it) – ideally, these users have also the possibility to give the  ‘new’ resource to the academic community by making a new deposit. 

For clarity, it might be worth noting that what we really mean by ‘re-purposing’ is ‘finding a new purpose’ for an open resource – thus ‘re-purposing’ is the dynamic action that encapsulates this process.

We also clarified that the partners will be responsible for releasing their teaching resources into JorumOpen but we reassured them that there will be plenty of support available! We also discussed ways in which the toolkit developed in the pilot project could aid them with repurposing the teaching materials. The comments about choice of granularity also apply of course when we think about how materials might be made available in JORUM – again much more support and guidance on this as we go on.


Creative commons licensing

We discussed issues of IPR and copyright as they relate to OERs; focusing mostly on Creative Commons licences – Jorum leaflet offers a good breakdown of varying levels of openness/restriction with regard to CC licenses, we will also continue to provide partners with up-to-date guidance from JISC legal team. We will also start implementing good practice guidelines within our project and from now on, materials produced within the project will have an appropriate license embedded (including materials from the pilot programme). We also discussed briefly issues related to using images in teaching materials which might be then repurposed as OERs and mentioned available image banks, we encourage partners to explore some guidelines developed in the pilot project.


Project wiki

We used some time during the meeting to explore the project wiki. The aim of the wiki is to facilitate our work as a distributed group and to offer space for sharing ideas and resources. Importantly, the wiki can only be read and edited by project participants, and it cannot be accessed by the general public (unlike the blog – everything we publish to the blog will be publically available).

We discussed some of the wiki tools: “share this page” tool (to let others know that the content of the page has been changed, for instance, a new document has been uploaded), “enable notifications” tool (this allows the user to decide how frequently they would like to receive automatic updates whenever the content of the wiki changes), we also looked at the page history function and ways in which previous versions of the page can be restored. Finally, we discussed the function of the “personal pages” – we see it as a space for partners to store any documents they produce in the course of the project, through these pages partners will also be able to enter into dialogue with others (for instance, through commenting directly on the personal pages, adding links, comments etc.) and discuss approaches towards OERs. As always, Darren and Anna are happy to offer practical support with using the wiki.


Overview of the C-SAP OER toolkit

During the meeting, we spent some time going over the toolkit developed in the pilot project and ways in which we could use the toolkit in the cascade project to help partners map their practice. We demonstrated the functionalities of the toolkit – the mapping, diagnostic and generative tool and suggested that current partners use the toolkit to map one of their modules. As mentioned above, this might become one of project tasks, details to follow – Darren and Anna will create a voicethread-based tutorial to help partners familiarise themselves with the toolkit. Also, when using the toolkit for mapping modules, it is important to go for the fully functional download version (not the online one, as it won’t save your work). We also discussed issues which emerged through the use of the toolkit in the pilot project – for instance, our discussions on pedagogical frameworks, allocating learning outcomes, the concept of pedagogical units etc.

Richard noted that we also need to be clear about how the work of the phase 1 pilot affects the cascade project – clearly there are approaches and understandings that will carry forward, but some things were atypical. For instance the level of granularity we chose in the pilot was based around the ‘module’ as an organising principle – and this was reflected in our toolkit design. Other projects in the pilot phase took a different approach to granularity (or the ‘chunking up’ of content). There is no right or wrong way to approach this, however we should consider how granularity might impact upon the resources we come to release later into the project.

The toolkit provides some means for creating learning outcomes and assessment items, as part of a larger ‘rich’ description of the OER modules form the pilot project. We talked at some length about course design issues more generally, and some partners noted recent changes to course planning such as reducing the number of learning outcomes and assessment points in any module (often as a ratio 5 Learning outcomes to 2 assessment points). The value of the pilot tool is that further outcomes can be mapped onto the existing ones, if only as experimentation, but possibly also in enhancing the potential for others to re-use that module in other contexts (the ‘re-purposing’). Whatever our (and students) opinion might be as to the value of learning outcomes, at least for the integity of our approach in the pilot project we felt that it was valuable to be able to express them in the toolkit and then relate them to key assessment points.


Student engagement

We started discussing issues related to student engagement – this is something we will be taking up within the next couple of months as it is quite urgent to set up mechanisms for involving students with the OER project before the second term begins. How realisitic is it to say that students can ‘co-create’ their curriculum? We have started some discussion on the wiki already in the “Learners and OERs” section, but we will open a page focusing specifically for student engagement. One of the key issues which kept coming up in the discussions was the relationship of OERs to assessment/validation. There is also a related question of student motivation – if we understand OERs as an add-on (i.e. part of formative but not really summative assessment, or maybe even something completely optional), why would the students choose to engage with OERs? Helen suggested that the use of OERs might be linked to a feed-forward mechanism and help students develop a set of metaskills, including a curriculum literacy, but it is certainly a discussion that will continue among the team.

Phil noted that he is currently involving students in the creation of some new course material, employing a pedagogy of creative empowerment – this is certainly something to follow for this project. This also related to Craig’s comments about the ‘punctum’ concept.

Delyth mentioned a module currently delivered at Bangor that looks at social housing issues, where one of the assessment topics allows students to set much of their own criteria – there is always some anxiety about giving students control (on part of staff and students) but again we can see existing practices that we might use as ‘ways in’ to engaging students with OER in the context of this project.


Next steps for partners

We discussed what the next steps for partners might be and there seemed to be a general consensus that it would be good to organise the work in “tasks”. These tasks would be aimed at helping the partners elicit the possible approaches towards OER they might take within the project.

While we will provide more details soon on the wiki, the forthcoming tasks will most probably include the following elements:

-          Applying the toolkit developed in the pilot project to map an existing module

-          Mapping in more detail areas of interest within the OER project following from the revised letter (for instance: the HE in FE potential, anti-corporate nature of OERs, teaching with images etc.)

-          Situating our activities within the notion of OER as support / opportunity / possibilities in curriculum design and development

-          Developing a strategy for student engagement – this might not entail the same process for each partner, but might build on things already happening locally

We will also arrange for another face-to-face meeting, which will ideally take place before Christmas – a doodle poll will be sent out shortly, the meeting would most probably take place in Manchester. We will also look into the possibility of organising a virtual meeting via Skype or AdobeConnect, we will advise on that.

During the meeting, we stressed the collaborative nature of the project and talked about ways in which we are planning to support the partners; Helen and Richard’s contributions and their experience on the pilot project should prove particularly useful. In terms of contacting people within the team, all of the e-mails are currently on the wiki, we also suggested adding work numbers to make contact easier. We would also like to encourage everyone to start using Twitter – we ran a small demonstration of the possibilities of the tool at lunchtime, discussed ways in which we used Twitter during the pilot programme (through TwitterHub) and will be uploading a short tutorial with more information on the wiki shortly.

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