Internationalisation, cross-border education and e-learning conference

June 19th, 2015


Image source 

A few weeks ago I did a keynote at the internationaalisation, cross-border education and e-learning conference in Nicosia. Here are some notes on some of the other speakers. Michael Gaebel (head of the higher education policy unit, European University Association), gave a talk entitled ‘Trends in Higher Education Internationalisation’. He pointed to a number of useful reports on trends including the e-learning and HE, and argued that internationalisation and digitisation are two key priorities for institutions. He said that there was a wide range of activities around these across institutions and that most did have some form of international strategy, less had dedicated e-learning strategies. A key issue was mobility in terms of quality and the development of student skills. A recent e-learning survey indicates that more and more institutions are developing blended learning and online learning offerings, as well as the development of MOOCs. George Veletsianos reported on some recent studies he has been involved with on learners’ experience and perceptions of MOOCs. The focus was on how students are using social media for scholarship and what challenges arise in new learning environments. Part of the work has recently been published (BJET, 46(3), 570 – 587).


Researchers describe with increasing confidence what they observe participants doing in massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, our understanding of learner activities in open courses is limited by researchers’ extensive dependence on log file analyses and clickstream data to make inferences about learner behaviors. Further, the field lacks an empirical understanding of how people experience MOOCs andwhy they engage in particular activities in the ways that they do. In this paper, we report three findings derived by interviewing 13 individuals about their experiences in MOOCs. We report on learner interactions in social networks outside of MOOC platforms, notetaking, and the contexts that surround content consumption. The examination and analysis of these practices contribute to a greater understanding of the MOOC phenomenon and to the limitations of clickstream-based research methods. Based on these findings, we conclude by making pragmatic suggestions for pedagogical and technological refinements to enhance open teaching and learning.

The results of the studies included the following:

  • Successful learners have highly developed study habits
  • Students take notes, if they take more than one MOOC on a similar topic they combine the notes
  • There is evidence of off platform participation via social media or face to face
  • Online learning is an emotional experience; both in terms of excitement and disappointment
  • Life’s daily routines shapes the way in which people participate in online courses, in other words the courses need to fit in with other activities individuals are involved with
  • Finally, drop out rates are not necessarily negative, some learners choose to only do part of a course for a reason

George, Pambos Vrasidas and I took part in a symposium on ‘design issues and participation in MOOCs’ in the afternoon. Pambos highlighted the following challenges of MOOCs

  • High student-teacher ratio
  • Assessment
  • Less contact with instructor
  • Learning Design issues
  • High drop out rates
  • Lack of a real college experience
  • The increase of Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs)
  • Return on investment 

And he listed the following as some of the opportunities

  • Democratisation of education
  • Providing ivy-league courses to everyone
  • Creating a vast pool of data
  • Marketing and recruitment
  • Making quality education available at a distance for a large population
  • New business models are emerging 

TELL-OP survey

June 15th, 2015


I am current involved in an exciting EU project called TELL-OP being coordinated by Murcia University. The project focuses on the development of mobile Apps for second language acquisition. We are currently undertaking a survey and would be grateful if you could take the time to complete if this is of interest to you.

Here are the details: 

Dear Colleague,

TELL-OP is a EU-funded Strategic Partnership that seeks to promote the take-up of innovative practices in European language learning by supporting personalized learning approaches that rely on the use of information and communication technologies and open education resources.

Our aim is to promote cooperation in the field of language learning and we hope to foster the use of already available web 2.0 services to facilitate the personalized e-learning of languages in the contexts of higher and adult education, in particular, through the use of mobile devices. To learn more about us, you can visit our website at

In the framework of our project, we intend to create a mobile application for foreign language learning that includes a selection of language processing technologies.

We have designed a survey to help us learn more about the current use of these technologies and mobile devices in the European teaching context. Our survey seeks to explore the spread and take-up of language, and/or text, processing technologies for language learning.

Completing the survey should not take more than 10 minutes.

By answering the questions, you will be taking part in a European project that seeks to foster the use of new technologies in adult and Higher Education for the learning of languages. You will similarly have the possibility to be among the first teachers to test our TELL-OP app as soon as it becomes available  (during the first half of 2017). Please make sure you leave your e-mail so we can get back to you.

Survey in English

Survey in French

Survey in German

Survey in Spanish

Survey in Turkish


Thank you for your time, support and feedback!


The TELL-OP team.



June 10th, 2015

1.    cyberstalking.jpeg

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As many of you know I am pretty open on social media and on the whole the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It’s great to get comments on blog posts, get people replying or retweeting my tweets, participating in debates on fb or remotely following a conference. But recently I have had some experiences that have made me rethink my open policy. In general on fb I accept friendship requests if we have mutual friends or I can see that they are in the same line of work. Recently I have had quite a lot of friendship requests from people I have no connection with, furthermore when I look at their fb page, there is nothing there… Needless to say I don’t accept their friendship request. Another recent incident was that someone I did accept a friendship request from started fb messaging me, for some reason I felt uneasy about this and didn’t respond. Then this morning he started liking literally hundreds of my posts, so naturally I de-friended him. What on earth did he think he was doing? Cyberstalking can be defined as “Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group, or an organization.” Bonnie Stewart and George Veletsianos are doing an interesting study at the moment about disclosure online, people who are being staked, or victims of identity crime. I think given the openness of the web and the potential dangers of adopting open practice this is a timely and important study. I look forward to seeing the results. 

Designing effective MOOCs

May 26th, 2015


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Next week I am taking part in a symposium entitled ‘Design issues and participation in MOOCs’ along with Pambos Vrasidas and George Veletsianos, at the ‘Internationalization, Cross-Border Education and E-Learning Conference‘, which is taking place in Nicosia, Cyprus on 4 - 5th June. The symposium will explore three main questions:

  1.  What are the key design elements of successful MOOCs?
  2. What is it like to learn in Massive Open Online Courses?
  3. What are the challenges and possibilities offered by MOOCs?

As part of this I have prepared a positional paper on ‘Designing effective MOOCs’. This is available on slideshare, comments welcome!

Digital technologies… two sides of a coin

May 20th, 2015



I did a keynote at the LINQ conference in Brussels last week, I focused in particular on the positive and negative aspects of digital technologies, i.e. that there are always two sides to a coin. I began by showing one of the Pearson videos on the future of education. The videos are great as they really give a glimpse of what learning might look like in the near future; personalised, contextual, interactive, and visual.


In general digital technologies are beneficial because they can: enhance, augment, supplement, replace, enrich, expand and empower. They can be negative in that they can: detract, lessen, confuse, overwhelm, infringe and be time consuming or addictive. I then looked at this theme from five perspectives: openness, mobile learning, social media, digital identity and distributed cognition.


In terms of openness digital technologies enable more open practices and in the last ten years or so we have seen the massive increase in the number of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). We have also seen an increase in free resources, tools and expertise being available via online webinars, blogs, open repositories and journals, and social media. Much has been written about the pros and cons of these; positive in terms of opening up access and enabling social inclusion, negative in terms of being primarily elitist and more about ‘learning income than learning outcomes’. The positive aspects of more open practices are that they enable better transparency, afford a greater reach, facilitate equity and social inclusion, challenge existing business models, and result in a disaggregation of formal educational offerings. In terms of negative aspects, adopting an open approach has the danger of ‘laying yourself bare’, gives rise to issues about surveillance and privacy issues, can result in a misuse or misinterpretation of data, raises issues about quality and accreditation, and can raise issues around ownership. I referenced a number of projects that I have been involved with about openness; the 7Cs of Learning Design framework, the VMPass project on accreditation of non-formal and informal learning, a report for IPTS, OpenCred, on recognition of non-formal and informal learning and a current project, MOOCS4ALL which is developing a MOOC to help people design MOOCs.


Smart phones and tablets are now practically ubiquitous, and we have practically near ubiquitous wifi connectivity. They are now much more affordance, robust, light and with a good battery life. There is a range of excellent Apps available to support communication, productivity, curation and learning. The positive aspects of these mobile devices are that they mean learning anywhere, anytime is now a reality, more and more websites are mobile ready, learning is possible across contexts and devices. The negative aspects are that being online all the time means that there is no ‘down time’; people are expected to be online 24/7. We are increasingly dependent on these devices and more and more of our data is stored in the cloud. Finally many learners and teachers lack the necessary digital literacy skills to make effective use of these devices for learning purposes.


The third perspective I focused on was social media. I argued that we have seen a shift from a passive web to a participatory, interactive and social web, which is distributed, networked, dynamic, participatory, complex and open. There are now many many tools to support communication and collaboration and we are now part of a global, distributed networked of peers. The positive aspects of social media are that they provide us with a rich variety of ways to communicate and collaborate, enable us to be part of a global community of peers, provide us with access to a vast amount of information, facilitate rapid dissemination of information, and benefits of adopting crowd sourcing approaches. The negative aspects are that there is a lack of privacy, we leave digital traces, which can be negative, there is a danger of misuse of data, being openly online can result in cyberbulling and trolling, and there are issues around privacy and security. Finally they can be time consuming and addictive. I then showed a clip from a film I saw recently, ‘unfriended’, which is a horror move about social media. The film is shot entirely via a computer interface, through Skype and chat.


The fourth perspective was on digital identity. I raised the issue of how each of use presents ourselves online and how we interact with others. I argued that there were five facets associated with digital identity: reputation, impact, influence, productivity, and openness. And also that there was a relationship between identity, interaction and presence. Focusing a little more on presence, I referenced Mark Childs definition in terms of mediated presence (being there, immersion), social presence (projection of oneself, and perception of others, copresence (being somewhere with others), and self presence (or embodiment). The positive aspects of digital identity are that it can act as an extensive of your ‘real self – which can either be the same or different, to enables us to have an extended reach, and offers us the opportunity to explore the medium. The negative aspects are that it can lay ourselves bare, can result in a misinterpretation of identity, can lead to cyber-stalking or identity theft. I recounted my own negative experience of online dating, which I have blogged about before. I am looking forward to talking more about this when I take part in some research Bonnie Stewart and George Veletsianos are doing.


Finally I talked about distributed cognition, referencing Solomon’s use of the term.  In terms of positive aspects I referenced Perkin’s concept of ‘Person Plus’, i.e. our cognition is distributed between our brain and our online digital environment. Today’s digital environment provides us with access to vast amounts of information, and there are more and more sophisticated tools for finding, curating, managing and filtering information. In terms of the negative aspects, many lack the necessary digital literacy skills to harness digital technologies and it is easy to get lost or confused. Technologies are constantly changing and hence there is a lack of permanency. Some would argue that we are becoming over dependent on technologies and there is a growing moving for a call to ‘slow learning’ equivalent to the ‘slow cooking’ movement. Some, such as Stephen Hawkins, warn that with the increasingly sophistication of Artificial Intelligence, there is a danger that machines will take over… 


So clearly digital technologies have many advantages and disadvantages, perhaps most chilling though are the words of Paul Virilio in his book the information bomb. He argues that technologies cannot exist without accidents, and that they separate us from real time and space…. Therefore, when not if technologies fail, that is it! Our lives are so utterly dependent and perhaps controlled by technologies. We can’t stop the march of technologies, and whilst we should celebrate the ways in which they can enhance our lives, we should also be aware of the potential downsides.




Tips and hints for getting the most out of conferences

May 19th, 2015



Last week I gave a keynote at the LINQ conference in Brussels. It got me thinking about the value of conferences and how to make the most of them. So I have put together this list. Is there anything I have missed?


  • Good way to present research findings and get feedback.
  • Good to disseminate research work and promote the university and the school.
  • Useful in terms of networking and finding potential people to collaborate with and potential work on bids with.
  • An easy and effective way of keeping up to date with current research
  • A means of working towards a research publication. Even if the conference only requires an abstract it is a good idea to work up a paper to take to the conference, which can then be submitted to a journal. Many conferences have an associated journal or print selected conference papers in a special issue.
  • It is useful to go through the delegate list and target people you want to meet.
  • Take notes during the session and in particular useful links and references, and then write a blog post summarising the main points. Twitter and facebook the link.
  • Use a curation tool, such as pearltrees to note useful links associated with the conference presentations.
  • Attend interactive workshop sessions to learn new skills.
  • Be active in using the conference hashtag and connect with others who are also using it and have shared interests.
  • Encourage newer researchers to write abstracts/papers with more established colleagues.
  • Ensure that the abstract/paper aligns to the conference themes; make this explicit if possible.
  • Offer to be a reviewer to get experience at how to write good conference papers.
  •  Take leaflets to distribute about research projects, teaching programmes and PhD opportunities.
  • Use the breaks and social events to network.

Good e-learning conferences (primarily tertiary focus):


  • Networked Learning (Europe) – every two years, excellent high quality conference, selected papers are published as a Springer book.
  • EDEN (Europe) – annual conference in June, good papers and a nice community, has an associated journal EURODL.
  • EDEN (Europe) research workshop in the Autumn.
  • ICEM (worldwide) – long established conference over 60 years, very international.
  • ICDE (worldwide)– large conference very international.
  • ASCILITE – good high quality papers, both practical and theoretically grounded, usually in Australia.
  • Online Educa, December in Berlin, expensive but a good place to be seen in terms of EU projects, commission people usually attend.
  • AECT (USA) – large well-established conference.
  • Edmedia (alternates between Europe and North America – large well-established conference.
  • Sloane (USA) – well-established conference.

How do you promote e-learning?

May 6th, 2015


Image from a blog post 

Part of my role at Bath Spa University is to promote the use of technology for learning, teaching and research. I am just about to take over chairing the school of Education’s e-learning group; one of our first tasks will be to articulate a vision for e-learning and a clear implementation plan. We’ve started an initial brainstorm of activities that might be set up to take this forward. I believe that variety is the key, different things will appeal to different people, but as always what is challenging is finding ways to get beyond the usual suspects and enthusiasts to the mainstream. Much has been written about the challenges and opportunities of Technology-Enhanced Learning, see for example an article by Adrian Kirkwood and Linda Price.

I think effective use of technologies is for everyone across the university, not just the academics; so this includes: support staff, administrators, librarians, educational developers, IT support staff, learning technologies, etc. I am impressed with the way that Bath Spa is using Google tools effectively and routinely, not something I have experienced elsewhere.

Here is my initial starter for ten, not very imaginative I suspect, but tried and tested methods. Any suggestions for other things would be welcome!




Preschool meeting share and tell sessions

To enable staff to share how they are using technologies, initial focus on the use of iPads

Not enough staff are willing to share

E-learning induction programme for new staff

To provide an overview of e-learning in the school and indicate where they can get support and training

New staff are not willing to engage or the session isn’t implemented

Series of external speakers – both face to face and via webinars

To bring in external expertise

Not able to recruit enough external speakers, poor attendance

E-learning festival – a two-hour session with lunch in the Commons, series of posters and stalls of exemplars of good practice

To recognise innovation, to showcase good practice, effective use of time

Not enough people willing to offer sessions, poor attendance

Development projects – competition for a learning innovation development with funding, working with learning technologist to design and implement, showcase at the end of the year

Provides a team-based approach, provides support and time out to undertake innovation, rewards innovation through showcase

Funding may be an issue, staff may not have time to invest

Hands-on workshops, examples might include: Learning Design, Mobile Learning, use of iPads, e-pedagogies, social media

Half-day or one-day sessions with lunch, practical hands-on focus, given by experts internally or externally

Not enough people volunteer to offer sessions, poor attendance

Participation in e-learning sessions advertise via social media, via organisations such as EDEN, ICEM and ICDE

Access to the broader e-learning community

People may not be used social media, will advertise sessions via education mailing list

Encourage presentation and participation in relevant e-learning conferences

Access to the broader e-learning community

People may need support in working up presentations and need help in targeting the right conferences

E-learning audit of existing practice

To gain a clear picture of current practice, to highlight good practice and identify areas for development

People may not be willing to share what they are doing


My personal digital network

May 1st, 2015



As part of my talk this morning to the librarians I shared with them my personal digital network. I use social media on a daily basis, both for work activities and in my personal life. I use Facebook and Twitter extensively; Twitter is mainly for professional purposes, such as: tweeting useful resources, disseminating research, pointing to blog posts, etc. In contrast Facebook is a mixture of personal and professional stuff; you will find an electric mix of pictures of cats and food (#foodporn), interspersed with links to interesting research articles or conferences. I use Slideshare to post presentations, but also sometimes articles I have written. It’s very motivating to see how many people have viewed a presentation! I am in LinkedIn, but don’t really find it very useful. Blogging has changed the way I work as an academic, I have had my professional blog since 2007; I blog about ideas I am developing, interesting notes from conferences I have attended or articles I have read, summaries of talks I have given. I also have a personal blog about cooking and travel, two of my favourite pastimes ;-)


Endnote is invaluable as a tool for curating references; it has made writing papers so much easier! I tried other tools such as Mendeley and Zotero, but didn’t really get on with them and found myself reverting to Endnote. Dropbox is great for sharing documents with others, but Google Drive is also useful. Skype is great for video conferencing, either with individuals or for group meetings. I have also used it to give webinars. Other video conferencing tools include Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect and Flashmeeting.  I have recently discovered a great App for my iPad Air; peartrees and I am finding it great for curating useful resources around different tools. 


Interesting… when I first put this list together I forgot to include email, Freudian slip? Would be interested to here examples of other people’s digital networks and the reasons why you use particular tools. 

Characteristics of digital technologies

April 30th, 2015


Image source: 


I am doing a talk here at Bath Spa University to the librarians tomorrow morning and have been working on my slides. I plan to give an overview of digital technologies before describing my research around three phases of the evolution of technologies over the last thirty years or so: multimedia and the Internet, social media and Learning Design. It got me thinking about the characteristics of digital technologies. I brainstormed some ideas, put them together as a diagram and posted on fb and Twitter and invited others to add to. I was surprised by the amount of responses.

The positive characteristics of digital technologies include:

  • Across devices – now it is possible to access content across multiple devices, particularly through cloud services
  • Mobile – the emergence of mobile devices in recent years means it is now possible to be online anywhere, anytime
  • Dynamic – we constantly co-evolve with technologies, as we start to incorporate particular tools into our daily practices, a recent example for me was the use of the curation tool, pearltrees, which I am finding invaluable
  • Personalised – each of us has a different set of tools we use on a regular basis, making up our own personalised digital environment, for me this includes email (of course), fb, Twitter, Skype, etc.
  • Connected – we are now part of a global community of peers, through social networking sites such as fb, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Ubiquitous  - now more than ever almost everywhere has wifi, so we can be constantly online, even the number 38 bus to Bristol has wifi!
  • Global – there are no longer national boundaries, it is possible to easily connect with people around the globe
  • Robust – most devices are pretty robust and reliable these days, it is rare for them to go wrong
  • Interactive – a key characteristic of social media in particular is that they are interactive, the web is no longer a passive consumption space, but an interactive two-way space
  • Intuitive – it is rare for a site to be badly design, most sites and Apps these days are pretty intuitive, if they are not then people will not use them
  • Free – there are now many free resources and Apps online, such as Open Educational Resources and Massive Open Online Courses, although it is worth pointing out that nothing is entirely free, they may for example have irritating adverts associated with them, or you may need to pay for a premium version of the service
  • Open – a key characteristic of social and participatory media is that they are open, making interactions more visible and promoting digital scholarship.

The negative aspects or challenges of digital technologies include:

  • Battery life – whilst iPads tend to have a good battery life, some smart phones, such as the iPhone 5 have dreadful batteries, meaning that you are constantly searching for a plug socket
  • Insecure – many sites and Apps are not secure and may even sell on your data
  • Privacy – adopting more open practice comes with a price and raises significant privacy issues
  • Accessibility – many sites are not well designed and take no account of the needs of those users with accessibility issues, for example by making alternative text available for images or videos
  • Quantity – the Internet now has a vast amount of information, however the sheer size means it can be difficult to find things
  • Intrusive – communication via the variety of channels available online, means that we are connected 24/7, many are calling for the concept of ‘slow learning’ the equivalent of the ‘slow cooking’ movement
  • Quality – the quality of resources varies enormously, learners and teachers need appropriate digital literacy skills to assess the validity and relevance of different resources
  • Time consuming – participating in social media has many benefits, but is also very time consuming
  • Trivial – whilst there is a lot of valuable information on the Internet there is also a lot of trivia and noise, filtering these out to get to relevant information is a challenge
  • Training – navigating digital technologies and harnessing their affordances is a skill, learners and teachers need training and support on how to use them most effectively
  • Cost – whilst many resources and tools appear ‘free’ there is usually a cost, whether that is in advertising or via the device used to access them
  • Unreliable – sometimes Apps or websites crash or get hacked
  • Transitory – sites are constantly developing and adapting, you just get used to a site or interface and suddenly it changes
  • Connectivity – whilst it is true that we have near ubiquitous access, this means that when we are not connected there are problems. I was in India a few years ago and the wifi wasn’t very good, a colleague texted me and said ‘Are you dead? You haven’t been online for three days!’

So there you have it, an interesting list, no doubt there are more things I could add. As always there are two sides to everything, digital technologies offer us access to rich multimedia and provide us with a variety of channels to communicate and collaborate with others, they have many advantages, but also have associated risks and challenges.







The OER15 conference

April 16th, 2015


Chilling with Catherine Cronin, David Kernohan and Laura Ritchie 

This week I attended the OER15 conference in Cardiff. It was held in the Welsh College of Music and Drama a fabulous venue. The conference was excellent, lots of things to take away. As you might expect the online presence was really good, an excellent website, including an interactive programme and lots of people twitting. Here are some of the key highlights for me.

The overarching theme of the conference was taking OER mainstream, with the point being that now we have around 15 years of OER, it is time to scale things up and look at how we can better integrate OER.

Cable Green, director of global learning, was the opening keynote. He structured his talk into the following themes.

  • First, he discussed what kind of OER infrastructure we need. He referred back to the Hewlett definition of OER and in particular the emphasis on the need for resources to reside in the public domain for free and also referred to David Wileys 5 Rs of OER (reuse revise remix redistribute retain). However, he warned against open washing, i.e. resources having the appearance of being open source, while continuing to have proprietary practices.  
  • Second, he argued for the need for an OER value proposition, i.e. open as a tactic rather than a goal, and the move towards more open pedagogies. He suggested the following things were needed:
    • Reduce barriers to education including access cost language and format
    • Transforming teaching and learning and enable open practice and pedagogy
    • Enabling free access
    • Enhancing educational opportunities to foster development and more productive free societies
    • Re professional teaching
    • Connecting communities of educators
    • Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public funds spend on education
    • Introducing Internet and digital technologies into education
  •  Third, he discuss OER research and in particularly referencing the Open Universitys  OER research hub. He highlighted the following findings from OER research:
    • 37.6 % of educators and 55.7 % of leaders say using OER improves student satisfaction
    • New learning experience
    • Motivational
    • Saving money
    • Try university content before signing up
    • Knowing where to find OER is difficult
    • Only 12 % use CC
  • Fourth, he discussed the OER momentum, pointing to a number of key initiatives, such as: Opening up Slovenia, the European open edu policy project, Z degree in the States, and Josie Frasers work with schools in Leicester.
  •  Fifth, he argued for the need for an OER vision, which would include  all publicly funded research to be open as default and textbooks etc. should bel free and in editable formats and available in different languages. He pointed to the work being done as part of the  open policy network and institute for national leadership. He argued that we need to shift to a position where OER are continuously updated by teachers and learners, and where constructivist, connectivist, open practice pedagogies dominate. He reminded us of the Cape Town and Paris OER declarations which set out a vision for the future of OER.
  • Finally, he suggested it was time for an OER implementation strategy, and in particular a focus on what is needed to achieve change and mainstream OER? He invited us to look at and comment on a consultation document on OER Key highlights from this included:
    • Market penetration
    • Top strategic priorities
    • Discovery and reuse
    • Better communication about the value of OER
    • OER challenges - linear rate of growth, absence of standards, insufficient awareness, difficulty of discovery and use, inconsistent breadth and doth, lack of evidence, questions about sustainability, unfulfilled promise of reuse, poor branding, perfect as an enemy of the Good, lack of OER heroes
    • Demand - build the evidence base, improve communications, engage key constituencies, empower the grassroots, coordinate demand with supply, embed OER in the teaching profession
    • Productisation of continent
    • Tools for discoverability and reuse
    • Build supply to meet demand
    • Accessibility
    • Open up existing platforms and resources
    • International growth
    • National mainstreaming
    • Open as an aspect of digital in education
    • Government funding

Gabi Witthaus gave a presentation on our OpenCred project, commissioned by IPTS, The project developed a typology of institutional practices for the recognition of open learning in Europe. The research included desk research, six interviews with key stakeholders and analysis.  Key findings were:

  • That there was no monolithic recognition of informal learning spectrum from no recognition to continuing professional development credits (5 levels)
  • Three factors were identified as having the greatest impact: robustness, affordability of access, and leaners eligibility for assessment (no assessment to insist exam or RPL)
  • Four dimensions of recognition were identified, leading to several different diamond-shaped models across different OER initiatives.  

Chrissi Nerantzi described the work they were doing in her institution on open cross-institutional Continuing Professional Development. She described how they were using Wengers concept of a patchwork strategy (Wenger 2009) and a link to a presentation she had done on this.

Josie Fraser was the second keynote, entitled OER on Main Street. She referred to the disruptive business models that have emerged as a result of OER and MOOCs. She empahsised the importance of digital literacy social inclusion and social engagement. Her role at Leicester City Council is head of technical strand of the building schools initiative. She described how she was working with 2000 staff in 23 schools across Leicester as part of the project.

She outlined two main themes that have emerged from this work:


  • In terms of mainstreaming, she questioned how we could do this, referring Martin Wellers book The battle for open. She suggested that we think of mainstreaming as inclusive, valuing difference; and that the Internet is now part of everyday life.
  • She argued that there was an ‘eternal September’ since 1993. It will never end. New people, new services and sites, overwhelming existing practises.

She argued that basic digital literacy skills need to be developed. She describe how Identify gaps and strengths across the city, city level, school level and individual level. She emphasised the following aspects of OER:

  • Finding evaluating and organising
  • Sharing and creating

She said that they had found a lot of gaps around understanding ofcopyright. Most teachers hadn’t heard of open licensing, OER or Creative Commons and many were not aware of IP issues.

The positives that emerged were that there is a massive culture of informal sharing by teachers, and high quality excellent resources are being produced and built on. She suggested that there is a need to produce accessible guidance for school staff, which supports staff in understanding and making use of open licensing and creating and sharing OER. She described a set of guideline that they have produced, which consist of the following aspects:

  • What are OER? What is the relationship between OER: legal freedom, education and participation, technical freedom?
  • What is an open licence?
  • How can teachers find and remix OER?
  • How can OER be open licensed and what is the best way of sharing resources?

Her definition of OER included the following:

  • Open education community
  • Accessibility of text
  • Licence recommendation
  • Legal position of staff 

She said that they had found that schools were concerned with what is an open licence and how does it work?, IP and employment, and utility, control, and management.

The following things emerged as important:

  • Licence types
  • Key questions for schools around open licensing and OER. How can we support staff in adopting more open practices.
  • Issues: awareness and licensing agreement
  • Students: modelling practice, curriculum opportunity, and IP rights management,

The remaining two keynotes were Sheila MacNeill and Martin Weller, both excellent talks as well, but by this point I stopped taking notes and just listened. All the keynote were recorded and are available online. As usual, in addition to the formal sessions, there were lots of good discussions in the coffee breaks and at lunchtime. Next years conference will be held in Edinburgh. So to conclude, a great conference, lots of good papers and talks, and a lovely community.