Monday, 7 December 2009

Rich Learning Environments - Education 2.0 or 3.0?


I have been working on various applications of technologies for learning for many years now. Along the way, I've been developing an idea of what I mean by a rich learning environment.

Rich learning environments are dynamic spaces which bring together personalised information and perspectives across a core of resources which can support the learner in addressing their educational needs. Rich learning spaces exploit the technology affordances of their component parts, but provide added value by simplifying and customising the interface to a set of complex and diverse resources based on a learners context and education needs.

These needs might be categorised into four broad areas personal space; institutional space; support space; and 'good for learning' space

Personal Space:
A learner will already make use of their own preferred tools and applications which may be used either in addressing the demands of formal learning (for example using google docs to create a word processed document) or informal learning (using delicious to store and find information and resources on topics related to study). Each learner will have (most likely) their own machine(s) (laptop, desktop, mobile (?) and within that operating system will have selected and be familiar with a set of tools. Some parts of this (e.g. Skype, text messaging) may not be clearly linked or associated with learning tasks, but none the less may be of great importance to the student.

Institutional Space.
The institution which the learning is studying in, or at which the learner proposes to study, will have 'spaces' which have a role in informal or formal learning and learning support. It is possible that the set of spaces will change during the learners route through education with the institution.]sites/sources will be of verying importance at different times.
At southampton you may have a number of discrete spaces - e.g. UOS web, ECS web, ECS web behind the firewall, Sussed, blackboard challenges some of these are password protected, vpn protected etc

Support Space
dependi8ng on the context of the student, there will be external spaces which mught be of use/relevant to formal and informal learning - e.g. In Southampton the web site provides additional information and support, for international students it may be that their home country embassy site, or some home office sites may be of importance

'Good for learning'
Students may benefit from information and resources which are located outside their current personal space, and outside the institutional space. For example the National Union of Students offers support and advice related to study and examinations. There are other sources of information (appoaches to leawrning inventories, second language study).

Social Space
underpinning the environment there is an integrating layer provided by social space. This incorporates email, messaging, and social software. It acts as the glue for the environment.

If we consider student whose topic of study is technology based, it may be that we could identify a set of sources/resources which could enrich the users perspective, but which are not obvious;y initially related to learning. E.G. In computer science/web technologies, maybe Zdnet, Slashdot, british computer society, ACM digital library, IEEE digital library it may be that a set of resources could be identified which are relevant and helpful to the rich learning environment user, which could usefully be integrated into a customised environment.


Creating a rich learning environment presents a number of challenges

Integrating a set of resources to become an apparent coherent whole.

Offering personalisation and customisation of an environment so that it enables the user to retain use of their preferred tools, but also that it perform and educational function of supporting the learning

Providiung innovative and user friendly methods of accessing and overseeing (and perhaps organising/re-organising) complex information sources.

There is a challenge of how to customise the environment (at first use, during the course of use)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Education and Web2.0

Working with EdShare and OneShare building resource collections for use in education brings up a whole variety of discussion topics about the nature of Web2.0, the social web, and the role of sharing and repositories in UK Higher Education.

Our project ran a very interesting workshop on this topic early in November 2009. Below is a collection of notes and observations, plus a few photos, which capture something of the day.


we made lots of time for group discussions, folk here are considering issues around metadata ( or does it matter data as I like to think of it).


As you might imagine there is space for a variety of views between the hard line, information scientist formal categorisation


and the more pragmatic what can be generate automatically,

and do we need that information anyway, lets just get it tagged by users, kind of approach.


Ali Dickens from the subject centre for Language, Linguistics and Ares Studies (LASS) is involved in Language Box (for Linguists), and Humbox (for humanities).


She is planning to run a full day session on copyright on December 14 2009. At our workshop she led a session where she asked folk to do a risk analysis on issues around copyright.


Its a topic which attracts a lot of interest, and we like to call our interactions with the lawyers on this one poking the dragon. You can see from the flipcharts what we might poke the dragon for.


the final session of the day was another practical task, using post it notes to look at our favourite web2.0 applications, and think about the technology affordances within those categorisations.



International Dimensions of Graduate Employability

Notes and thoughts on an the international dimension of graduate employability following a workshop at Oxford Brookes

little, global perspectives

interesting question
what percentage of our students have had experience of employment
track across the years
survey year 1 (jumpstart)
survey year 1 (info 1010)
survey year 2 (info2009)
? survey year 3 on exit
survey masters on admission
?? is it a condition of their visa that they cannot work?

question, was the decline of placement rates over time response to Quality agendas (difficulty of managing quality, and cost of supporting students out of institituion, plus cost of


a blend of understanding, skilful practices, efficacy beliefs (or legitimate self-confidence) and reflectiveness' Knight and Yorke 2003

presentation slides will be available on HEA centre website and also project website

Shiel, leadership foudation fellowship, elearning

overview of the internationalisation
?? putting the world into world class education

Take home messages

Benda Little, CHERI. Principal Policy Analyst, Centre for Higher Education Research and Information Open University,

Chris Sheil, Chris Shiel, Director of the Centre for Global Perspectives, Bournemouth University

The event was run by the FDTL project - report to the European Commission.
HE academiuy website - document on Internationalisation

HE academiuy website - document on Internationalisation (difficult to find - a case for a repository?? repositories rather than content managemnts

handouts all available at the

Friday, 7 August 2009

Semantic Technologies for Education at ALT-C

We are hoping to get folk to sign up for our workshop on semantic technologies for education which will be held at this year's ALT-C in Manchester in the UK. I'm just preparing the materials and about to send out a mailing, so this blog in a placeholder in the meantime. You may have read the original proposal for the workshop in a previous posting on this blog ALT-09 Semanitic Technologies for Education.

The workshop is numbered 0255 scheduled to take place on Tuesday 8th September at 13.40-15.00 in room 4.204.

Sheila MacNeill, Educational Content SIG Cooordinator (University of Strathclyde) Sheila MacNeill is the Educational Content (EC) SIG Cooordinator. Sheila joined CETIS in July 2004 and is currently seconded 3 days a week to CETIS, based at the University of Strathclyde. When not at CETIS, Sheila is a Learning Technologist with LT Scotland, where she is involved in the development of a range of online learning resources for schools and colleges. She is actively involved in the development of resources which utilise interoperability standards
Hugh Davis, University of Southampton, Director of eLearning and Head of the ECS, Learning Societies Lab.
Thanassis Tiropanis, University of Southampton, ECS Learning Societies Lab, Thanassis is the principal investigator for the JISC SemTech project.
Su White, University of Southampton, ECS Learning Societies Lab is a project team member with SemTech.

Working jointly with Sheila MacNeill from JISC CETIS, colleagues from The Learning Societies Lab at Southampton, plan to use the workshop to stimulate the debate on Semantic Technologies for Education. The ALT-C community represent a significant cohort of educational users who are likely to be working with students and using semantic technologies in the near future, so are a key target audience for disseminating the findings of our survey of semantic technologies for education which was conducted earlier in 2009.

If you want a sneak preview, the survey is online at Researchers reviewed thirty-six tools and services. Most of the tools identified were not purpose-built for education but are valuable to education by virtue of their use and deployment of well-formed metadata or data interoperability and integration.

The survey identified four essential types of application area:

(i) collaborative authoring and annotation
(ii) searching and matching
(iii) repositories, VLEs and authoring tools
(iv) infrastructural technologies for linked data and semantic enrichment.

The use and uptake of related tools and services by UK HE institutions was also investigated, you can find further information online at

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Seminar on iTunesU


The debate ranged from whether iTunesU was a tool for education as well as marketing, to issues about committing to a platform which can be seen to exclude some users. ITuneU isof  particular  interest for two  the ECS research groups (IAM and LSL).  ECS-TV was spawned in IAM (Intelligence Agents and Multimedia) and current projects include work to find effective ways of capturing and accessing video resources in our EdShare institutional learning and teaching repository.  EdShare is hosted in LSL (Learning Societies Lab) and we are working hard to extend and develop its functionality in a way that suits the working lives of academics and students at University.

Lawrence Stephenson from Apple's iTunesU came down to Southampton today to give us a seminar covering recent development from Apple, and the logistics and details of how - a man who is passionate about education :-) Lawrence is driving the iTunesU initiative in the UK

Lawrence gave us an overview of the Universities who have so far committed to appearing on iTunesU, to date there are 10 UK universities already on iTunesU, with more than a hundred institutions lined up to be online via the portal in the near future.

Discussions which arose from the presentation included
  • User generated content
  • Populating the site
  • Relationship between EdShare and any future initiative
  • The role of ECS-TV in as a role model
  • New modes of teaching and interactions 
Unfortunately, because of intellectual property constraints we were not able to record this seminar, so if you want to hear what Lawrence was saying you will have to invite him to a seminar of your own!

sign up process:
there are a series of steps/requirements to be met in order to have a presence on iTunesU these include:
  • High level of institutional commitment
  • Looking for 200 pieces of digital content
  • Process of populating the digital content (Ultimately the institution is responsible for its own content)
  • Formal agreement
  • Launch on a TUESDAY
NOTE: the quickest it has been done is three months

Notes and Links:

Apple's overview of iTunesU
Open University's evaluation of impact
Current UK presence include
University of Oxford, Open University, Warwick, UCL

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Back To School


Its always good for a teacher to go back to school. This year, in anticipation of setting up a sabbatical at a French University, I decided to go back to school and brush up my French. I was fortunate, in that I was going to be in Paris for a conference in any case for a conference.

Maybe its my personal preference, but I found a couple of weeks intensive study an excellent option. It gave me a chance to focus and refine my understanding, and once again I found myself musing on ways we could take an intensive approach in our regular courses at University.

So what was their recipe for success?
  • small classes with expert tuition
  • highly motivated learners
  • intensive, highly focussed topic area

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


More on ITiCSE:

Fab working group (Professional Values In CS Education) expertly run by Ursula Fuller and Bob Kleim from University of Kent in the UK. You can take a look at the proceedings, and expect our working group report to emerge at the end of the review process as a publication in inroads.
I will be participating in a workshop on a similar area which Tony Jenkins from Leeds will be running at Kent in August 2009 at the HEA-ICS conference.

As well as taking part in the working group on profesional values in computing education, I was at ITiCSE to present a paper about the relationship between research and teaching.

In some ways there are aspects of these two activities which overlap, and in both the paper and the working group we are interested in the perspective of change starting from the curriculum design.

Activities which find and exploit natural links between research and teaching are powerful additions to the traditional curriculum with its content led, technological bias. Researchers are highly tuned learners, and typically activities which relate research and learning, also contribute to the learners understanding of the value of independent/informal learning in a highly authentic context. I've done a few blogs on this subject already, and its a recurrent (and I think, imporant) theme in my work at Southampton..

Our working group at ITiCSE was really strenghtened by contributions from Diana Fitch, who is a careers expert who work very closely with our academic team in ECS at Southampton ( just part of the stuff she does supporting colleagues in a range of schools across the university). Her expertise and understanding of employers' views brings an important addition to the academics' analysis of the curriculum and its interpretation of the requirements of professional accreditation.

The conference was well organised with helpful student assistants

As it turned out, it was a pretty heavy commitment, and I was left exhausted at the end, but hey...

Some good papers in the sessions I was attending, Lil Bloom from toronto was presenting some interesting stuff on working with CS people on communication skills. I already use the university of Toronto materials about writing with some of my students, at various levels. Her paper included some fine examples of good practice.

I have a few pics,
  • I was awed by the UPMC building which is in the process of being renovated.

  • We went to a few restaurants, and had good meals accompanied by good conversation. We went to the Big Ben Bar next to the Blue Train for a few wines one evening, that was after the reception where the stalwart few were rewarded for our waiting by a final wine course of some quality champagne. But did not take pics
  • However on campus, the mural/grafitti of a fish tank was impressive

  • particularly liked the escalators in our building, although we never figured out when exactly they actually worked...

  • The coach left for the boat trip ridiculously early, with a few photo opportunities

  • After the boat trip (we had to wait an hour an a half on the quay, but the food was good, I did not take any of the the usual tourist pics although we went past Notre Dame, Quay D'Orsay etc etc)

  • I was saying... after the boat tripUrsula and I went to find her hat shop in rue St Sepulchre

  • Diana was a star, fortuitously speaking excellent french, the result of a fine international education.
  • Joyce and Chuck, who completed our team were good folk, and helped us understand a different perspective on values education.

The picture of the working group taken on the final day shows a rather tired band of people. Thanks to Karen Fraser (HEA-ICS) for this bit of photo journalism!

Afterwards I went to Gare de Lyon, had a nice lunch ( and got to understand why the big ben bar had a resident cat) I then got on the TGV for the south.

I was a bit exhausted so don't have so many pics from then....

Friday, 3 July 2009

Professional Values, Attitudes and Development in the Computing Disciplines

If the phrase being in the pink means anything to you, you will appreciate this photograph of our working area at UPMC (Paris VI), host to the 2009 ACM SIGCSE ITiCSE conference.

We are working on professional values, attitudes and development in the computing disciplines.  More later, but in the meantime, admire the architecture and the interior design

Friday, 26 June 2009


Like all good festivals, ALT has developed a very healthy fringe (F-ALT), and I have just signed up to join the fringe gang in sunny Manchester to take part in a whole host of unconference events.

True to form, the ALT fringe helps renew the life blood, and keep the debate going. We are a strong party of bloggers and twitterers (tag is falt09 & #falt09 for twitter), so take a look at the fringe pages, sign up as a fringe participant (no cost) while you put ALT-09 in your diary, Manchester, UK 8-10 September 2009 and sort out your conference registration right now.

Presenter's booking deadline: 29 June 2009.
Earlybird booking deadline: 6 July 2009.
Bookings close: 14 August 2009.

Quite apart from the fringe, and the fabulous workshop of semantic technologies for education that I will be running with a few others from CETIS and Southampton, there are a few good reasons for attending - see an earlier post of mine....

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Darmstadt - a road less travelled?

on the road, is this one less travelled? This photo comes from a post #IATEL run, and you could run through my #IATEL post to see where the idea comes from....

Friday, 19 June 2009

IATEL: Interdisciplinary approaches to technology enhanced learning

They wanted to call it an educamp ( a barcamp for education), and the folk at TU Darmstadt who organised this conference collected together a broad selection of contributors to augment their core community of post grads working in TEL within a particularly inter-disciplinary framework. You can take a look at their programme on the Interdisciplinary approaches to technology enhanced learning website, which will give you a flavour of the objectives.

It seemed to me there was a lot of discussion centring on learner choice, which put me in mind of the phrase, a road less travelled. I was thinking that when we have created learning environments, we have made highways (like VLEs) and expected our learners to take them. In fact they are each going down their own personal road, so it seemed that an appropriate quote
would be:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the 'one less traveled' by,
And that has made all the difference.
would be

According to wikipedia (yes google helped me find it) Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is sometimes mistakenly entitled "The Road Less Travelled" which comes from the final lines of the poem: - apparently the critics think its ironic, basically you can read it as regret (not a likely intent) or positive choice...

my point it that learning is about choice, often learners make choices without realising that they have made choices, and later may regret the consequences but never link it with the original choice.

I see part of the role of education to assist learners in becoming more aware of their choices...

Our theme was about learning (in the/from the) network, where learning and network are both purposefully ambiguous words such that the phrase can be interpreted in many different ways.

the conference took an open structure, topped and tailed with kenotes presentations, but placing a big emphasis on what was effectively an active learning process for the participants working in workshop discussion sessions for each of the themes. The workshop process (posters, explanations, analysis, intense discussions) were effectively given a whole working day, with the them co-ordinators doing some heavy-weight analysis during the overnight break - and missing a rather fine social event with some intersting bands and singers!

The way the organisers described the structure was as follows:

“As a direct consequence of such an interdisciplinary approach, the conference format will not be defined by a preponderance of presentations and papers. In separately moderated and creative discussion forums one is able to examine and work towards a common understanding of the issues at stake. such an approach should also enable an assessment of how and to what extent the idea of interdisciplinary research is sustainable: whether it simply brings forth an only loosely fitting framework, or whether it evolves into a truly encompassing project that leads to results, insights and solutions which go beyond the simple sum of the individual trajectories.”

The two keynotes in our theme, followed the workshop discussion, and provided an interesting afterthought the the fairly intensive discussions which had preceeded it. One keynote was from Hugh Davis (the demise of the VLE) and Graham Attwell (a take on Personal Learning Environments), and the session was being directed by Max Mühlhäuser from Darmstadt, and led and managed by some very able PhD students.

There was a pleasing complementarity and dovetailing of the two views which Hugh and Graham presented, I guess in some senses representing a distillation of observations based on the UK experience, as well as incorporating some of the various points which had emerged from the preceeding discussions and other keynotes.

Graham's presentation was wonderfully eclectic in its references, looking at personal learning. I have asked him if he could make some kind of map of the references so that we could have an overview for consideration. Amongst other things he suggested that constructionism is not a pedagogical theory....and that we would see the appropriating of google wave for learning

Hugh's presentation, I think, reflected his perspectives as a computer science academic leading in technology enhanced learning, and as a university director of education responsible for e-learning across the university. He was also arguing for the priviledging or priotitising the personal needs of the learner over the thus far default choice of working with technologies which are adopted because of organisational priorities.

Alongside the presentations and discussions there was a very useful twitter stream (#iatel, and occassionally #iatel09)

Each of the groups plans to take forward their discussions into a published journal paper, and I for one, enjoyed being part of the proceedings, and am looking forward to the additional work, which will turn our speculations into some clear ideas and statements.

pictures from the conference are available under a CC licence from Flickr

in no particular order, and for all sorts of different reasons
Graham Attwell - a bridge to learning
Conference web site
papers which I thought about during the presentations
Bloom's The 2 Sigma Problem
Becher and Trowler, Academic Tribes and Territories
Biglan's Disciplinary Differences
Cox et all Vicarious Learners
Mazur - Peer Instruction

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Readings for TEL Project Students

When I first meet my project sutdnets I usually suggest a set of readings and useful web sites
this post contains links to some of the standard sources which might be useful in a contextual basis. Of course 

Basic Advice
I suggest that you dip into the following publications to get a sense of the sorts of things which I expect you to read. They cover the current discussions and debates surrounding technology enhanced learning plus some classic views of concepts which I expect you to be grappling with in your project.

You may wish to bookmark this page, and check from time to time to see if the list has changed/grown.

Orientation followed by research - refining your understanding

Its often a good idea to do some browsing of documents, and maybe a few web searches to get some initial orientation from a topic area before immersing yourself in the papers.

When you read the papers, I am looking for you becoming familiar with the basic structure of academic papers, and also developing your own understanding of and model for academic writing.

Technology Affordances
GAVER, W. W. (1991) Technology affordances. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: Reaching through technology. New Orleans, ACM Press.
GAVER, W. W. (1996) Situating Action ii: Affordances for interaction: The social is material for design. Ecological Psychology, 8, 111-130.

Semantic Web in Education

Ohler, J.
Semantic Web in Education EDUCAUSE Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 4 (October–December 2008)
see also the special issue of JIME edited by Terry Anderson and Denise Whitelock
Anderson, T and Whitelock, J. (2004) The Educational Semantic Web: Visioning and Practicing the Future of Education: Journal of Interactive Media in Education 2004 (1)

Web 2.0
FRANKLIN, T. & VAN HARMELEN, M. (2007) Web 2.0 for content for learning and teaching in higher education. JISC www. jisc. ac. uk/media/documents/programmes/digitalrepositories/web2-contentlearningand-teaching. pdf.
O'REILLY, T. (2005) What Is Web 2.0 – Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software 09/30/what-is-web-20.html
Vicarious Learning
MAYES, J. T. & NEILSON, I. (1996) Learning from other people's dialogues: questions about computer based answers. IN COLLIS, B. & DAVIES, G. (Eds.) Innovating learning with innovative technology. Amsterdam: North Holland.
e-learning, technology enhanced learning
MAYES, T. & FREITAS, S. D. (2006) Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study. Bristol, JISC.
JISC Podcasts
listening and browsing the JISC podcasts can help you become oriented in the field.
JISC Publications
you may find it helpful to browse the JISC publications website to find relevant reports. Often you will find the reference list for such reports more instructive as a starting point for research than a host of google searches! link to JISC publications index

technology affordances, vicarious learning, personal learning environments, e-learning, technology enhanced learning, tel, web 2.0,

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

OER, bootstrapping a culture of change

Its always heartening to hear that you have a paper accepted, especially when its by an IEEE trans!

We are really proud of the progress we are making with the EdShare repository of educational resources, and its kid sib language learning repository called Faroes. This paper is looking at organisational learning rather than the nuts and bolts of repositories. It ties in nicely with previous work we have done on barriers and drivers for change. Apart from anything else, if we are going to continue to invest in technology enhanced learning, then we had better find a way from learning on the way about the processes and sharing lessons learnt - for good and for ill!

Big thanks are due to Hugh Davis who led the insights, corralled us into order, and got this paper off the stocks. Les Carr, aka repository man as ever injects shed loads of energy into our work, and Jessie Hey (now more of a lady of leisure) really had a whole load of experience to share. But (perhaps the secret of our success?) it really was a team effort.

I wrote a little bit about the context and the background of the paper in a previous post, you may want to take a look at that, and then probably best if I point you to the actual publication.

Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources
Davis, H., Carr, L., Hey, J., Howard, Y., Millard, D., Morris, D. and White, S. (2009) Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies . (In Press)

Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS

Another part of the work which I am doing here at Southampton is concerned with professional education of our students who study Computer Science and Information Technology in Education. As well as actually doing the teaching its important to find time to develop some well considered bases for the approach which we take.

The SIGCSE community is one where the underpinning values of this part of their studies is considered. This year I am taking part in a working group which will be hosted at the annual ITiCSE conference, this year to be hosted in Paris at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6, France).

The working group is being led by Ursula Fuller and Bob Klein from The University of Kent, and it is titled Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS. You can download a pdf of the original proposal here

Its one of a series of working groups at this year's conference the plan is to meet and write in the days immediately prior to the conference. Our report to the conference is scheduled for 11-11.45 on Wednesday 8th July, so its all pretty intensive.

Southampton input is coming from me and my colleague Diana Fitch who actually works in our careers service. Diana works very closely with our school. I find her help invaluable, she contributes to some of the teaching we do, hosts and organises special events for our students, as well as all the rest of her portfolio.

The group's work in progress is being supported by a group wiki. With so many thinks going on at work, its important for me to have loads of links to the background information, and we've scheduled regular meetings between Diana and myself to keep us on track.

First task is getting a survey of students experiences and beliefs. But at the same time I need to get my head round the literature, not too extensive, but all the more reason to know it back to front.

Apparently the seminal paper was developed a few years ago,

It seems to me that there is quite a lot of related reading, and a publications which have emerged following the work through. Documents which we will also be looking include:
  • The Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. Computing Curricula 2001: Computer Science, 2001.
  • UK QAA subject benchmarking statements for Computing (2007)
  • Professional statements from the BCS and IET - both of whom accredit our degrees here at Southampton.
  • Information Technology 2008: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree programs in Information Technology
Other more recent papers include

  • Fuller, Ursula and Keim, Bob. Should we assess our students' attitudes? Proceedings of the Seventh Baltic Sea Conference on Computing Education Research (Koli Calling 2007), Koli National Park, Finland, November 15-18, 2007, Raymond Lister and Simon, Eds, 2008.
  • Fuller, Ursula and Bob Keim, Assessing students' practice of professional values. Proceedings of the 13th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education, Madrid, Spain, 2008, pp 88-92.
while some of the original foundations are going to have us skurrying over to the University Library ( and I know they are there because I have taken them out before!) - basically looking back to the original work on educational objectives looking at just two of the three domains - congnitive (the one we always quote) and affective (the one which comes up less often). I guess in the area of professional values I am happy to concede that the psycho-motor domain is going to be less important.
  • Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H. and Krathwohl, D.R. 1956. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1 Cognitive Domain. Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, London.
  • Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S. and Masia, B.B. 1964.Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. Handbook 2 Affective domain. McKay, New York.

Our work
There is a survey to be done of students attitudes and experiences, and some data to collect from employers too ( Diana's contacts are going to be very valuable here)

Overall, apart from way in which a better understanding of this area can trickle into the curriculum, there are a few external reasons why this will be important.

We want the work we do in our professional modules to be really valuable to the students. Also it relates to current developments and focus areas of eSkills, the HEA-ICS Advisory Board ( and the rest of their community) plus perhaps the CPHC-LDG.

Friday, 22 May 2009

ALT-09 Manchester - why I will be there

The thing about conferences is that you get out of them what you put in. ALT-C 2009 is in Manchester this year, and I will be attending. We have an proposal for an exciting workshop on semantic technologies in the last stages of submission (details further down this post). I don't attend every year but I do think that ALT-C is a really interesting conference which reflects the whole range of activities fostered by the learning technologies communities across the UK. I found the Fringe events last year particularly rewarding, never mind the rest of the programme.

It's useful in many different ways. The various permutations of 'this what I did in my teaching' presentations serve to remind us of the breadth and wealth of different educational activities which are undertaken in classrooms across the world. Respect too the fact that many delegates are in relatively junior roles, without any significant budget, and the only way they are going to get a place at a conference is if the are actually presenting either a paper or poster. The best way to understand a tradition, I think, is to engage in a debate which discusses that tradition. Newcomers need to be welcomed and helped understand the existing discourse.

Admittedly ALT-C is UK centric, but it does attract a growing list of international delegates many of whom go on to be regulars. Plus there is no shame in it UK focus, since it soon becomes clear that there is much happening here which is world leading. The combined impact of educational drivers and supportive funding from bodies including the JISC, the Funding Councils, and the HEA mean that much work at the leading edge is taking place right here in our backyard - UK HE plc. Never mind additional input from a host of different institutional innovation grants, and even the odd bit of funding from the likes of the ESRC and EPSRC.

Now sufficiently established to have generated its own fringe F-ALT, the event in Manchester this year it titled "In dreams begins responsibility" - choice, evidence, and change" and promises to be the usual interesting and eclectic mix. You will find me at the fringe, catchup up with old chums, and (hopefully) running this rather interesting workshop of semantic technolgies in education. If this revision is accepted you can expect us to be putting out a call for participation, we are looking for expert discussants, and workshop attendees who feel they want to join in this important new development, so if semantic technolgies for education is in your sights, read on....

ALT-09 Semantic Technologies for Education

This is a slightly expanded version of the abstract which was constrained by the word limits of ALT

ALT workshop proposal
Semantic Technologies in Education – exploring the practitioners’ perspective
This workshop will collect and share insights into current understandings and future applications of semantic technologies in education.University education is embracing Web2.0 including social networks and the read/write-web. We are aware of predictions that the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) is imminent. Researchers are developing understandings of semantic technologies, and experimenters are utilising novel Semantic Web applications.
This workshop will :
  • augment the findings of a recent JISC survey on semantic technologies in education;
  • calibrate the findings against the experience and understandings of members of the ALT community;
  • use feedback to further develop the survey’s technology roadmap.
JISC commissioned an investigation into semantic technologies in learning and teaching (SemTech) due for completion early in 2009. The SemTech Project Website summarises information about semantic technologies in education and contains an analysis of the technologies and applications thus far identified.
Following a brief overview of our investigation of semantic technologies in education the workshop will consist of structured group discussions from selected perspectives (educational, technical and organisational).

We expect participants to come from a wide range of backgrounds with varying levels of prior knowledge and expertise, and will work carefully to make the activity as productive as possible for all participants irrespective of their different needs and expectations. The workshop structure will be fine-tuned to match the particular interests of participants, who will work in groups of eight using flip charts to produce a poster for a two-minute poster pitch. A second peer review group activity will comment on each poster. A plenary session will identify next steps

Each participant in the workshop will receive a copy of the SemTech report, plus detailed activity guidance notes which they can also take away and use in their own institution. Participants will use the workshop to:
  1. establish a base level of awareness of current developments in semantic technologies and the way in which they can be used in education
  2. establish a basic understanding of current range and use of semantic technologies in education, as identified by the SemTech study
  3. identify and share knowledge of semantic technologies in UK education.
  4. comment on and add to findings in the JISC report on Semantic Technologies in Education
  5. identify colleagues at other institutions who share their interest in semantic technologies in education
  6. discuss, plan and agree future collaborations to further their interest in semantic technologies in education
A summary record of the discussion will be available to participants after the event, and will be subsequently published electronically, via the SemTech wiki and a workshop blog-post

Basic Structure – total 90 minutes
1. Welcome and Overview of method (workshop team)Individual introduction plus explanation helping participants understand the role of their contribution. 10 minutes
2. Introductions - Tables amongst themselves Tables will each have been labelled with clear flag to encourage workable set formation (see activity 5 below) 5 minutes
3. Scoping of the proposed activities and tasks (Su White)
familiarising participants with the proposed structure of the workshop). 5 minutes
4. Findings thus far/Context Hugh Davis, Sheila MacNeill, Thanassis Tiropanis. 10 minutes
5. Small group activities (table groups of ~eight participants)
Overall Question: What is our understanding of the actual and potential role of semantic technologies in education? 15 minutes
Note: Guest discussants will be allocated to help lead table discussions. These additional contributors, beyond the workshop team, are not yet formally identified they will be identified/invited through a call for participation
Groups will each be tasked with producing a flipchart poster summarising their discussion/finding. After the discussion there will be a two minute poster pitch from each group
These contributions will reflect the expertise and interests of the participants and are likely to range across the spectrum of educationally led to technically led. Groups will be encouraged/directed to form around like interest areas exact size and number of groups will depend on number of participants and the range of interests, but groups will be table sets of ~eight. Max nine groups. Groups can choose to select one of the following focus areas from three predominant perspectives of educational, technical or organisational:
Exploratory: Identifying potential benefits accrued from the introduction of semantic technologies in their teaching/institution;
Application oriented: Identifying additional technologies and applications for the survey;
Technically Led: Discussing ways of augmenting or enhancing existing applications;
Socio-Technical: Identifying and discussing use cases (e.g. semantic technologies for distance education; the international student; the work place learner;
Organisation Challenges: Identifying and discussing barriers and drivers to greater use of semantic technologies in educational activities.
Groups produce flip-chart poster summarising
• Their perspective /discussion
• Any proposed next steps/action plan

6. Small Group Feedback via Poster Pitch
Two minutes per group - Groups to display FlipCharts on wall ready for peer review. 20 minutes
7. Comment/Feedback Round – Peer Review using post it notes for annotations (each group will be allocated another group’s poster to read/discuss and review). 10 minutes
8. Plenary feedback/discussion Next Steps and Action Plan (Su White) 15 minutes

Facilitating the workshop and ensuring success
An experienced educational developer who has run many events of this type on previous occasions is leading the session facilitation.

The workshop will be advertised to the wider learning and teaching community before the ALT-C2009 conference via a range of media including direct email, the ALT-C CrowdVine, Twitter, Blogs, the SemTech Blog and personal blogs of the workshop leaders. This advertising will also be used to identify any players who have emerged as active contributors since the publication of the SemTech report, or any players who are particularly keen to participate in this area.

It is proposed that the participants will work in small groups during the discussion phase using Flipcharts and pens to capture their contributions. During the annotation phase, they will use post-it notes to add comments and observations of the findings of the other groups. We will initially capture high quality photographic images of the flip charts (before and after annotation). It may be that this information is also reprocessed into alternative digital formats if that is considered to be particularly helpful/constructive.

Throughout the workshop a pair of colleagues will act as rapporteurs for the whole process, capturing the discussions and outputs for publication on the SemTech wiki ( and via an ALT-C09 blog posting.

Information will be captured as images of the outputs as well as notes of the discussions with extensive linking to referred information/resources.

ALT-C 2009: "In dreams begins responsibility" - choice, evidence, and change.
8-10 September 2009, Manchester, UK.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Research Teaching Linkages

Thinking about the relationship between research and teaching

The linkages between research and teahcing a something which I have been working on for some time. I have had a few publications in the area already, have been conducting some surveys, and I am presenting a paper on the topic at this summers ACM ITiCSE to be held in Paris in July 2009. In addition I am part of the CPHC Learning Development Group, and its a special interest for them too. We are planning a workshop for later in the year (September/October).

This blog is prompted by a Workshop at Dundee University which was looking at Research Teaching Linkages.

As a part of the research the initiative has produced a report which includes a list of graduate attributes, a set of case studies, recommendations for changes in the curriculum which can cultivate stronger links between research and teaching.

reporting on the work which has been done researching the relationionship between teaching and research in Scottish Universities. This work has been supported by the Scottish QAA
Activities included:
  • literature survey
  • desk survey
  • workshop
  • staff questionnaire
  • student questionnaire
  • interview
web site
has case studies, learning through research, learning about research, and both. The case studies cover maths and computing.

The workshop included presentations of some of the case studies, which gave further insight into the motivations and context of the ways in which colleagues integrate research and teaching. The examples were drawn from Computing and Maths.

Later year options in Computer Science investigated the activity of research projects

Mathematics - using mathematical modelling in cancer research, and fungal growth. Modelling is fundamental to mathematical research in Mathematical biology. The presented then spoke about the mathematical biology BSc, a range of modules were highlighted which build the research teaching links - in the early years the students learn the processes of research (predominantly) in the later units they learn and use the processes of research and learn to apply them. As they expressed it, both the context and content of research.
There are the following suggested students gains from linking research and teaching
  • enthusiasm and insight
  • knowing the state of the art
  • knowing the main players
  • being the main players
  • seminars, visitors conferences
  • phds and postdocs
  • interactions with industry
Observations from some of the the academics presented included beliefs that linking research and teaching,
  • enriches the curriculum through an up to date curriculum,
  • provides a meaningful link to pg studies,
  • and a meaningful link to employment.

Friday, 27 March 2009

CareerStep - more fabulous women in Electronics and Computer Science

Following on from my Ada Lovelace Day blog, I thought it would be timely to write about some of the things we are doing in ECS to help colleagues progress through their careers, and hopefully sustain and help grow the diversity of our researchers in the School.

The initiative has provided a discussion space for colleagues to identify and discuss the issues they face in furthering their individual careers, and is providing support through activities such as co-coaching to enable them to each actively progress their individual personal career objectives.

There are sound reasons for seeking greater diversity across our academic community, with a lot of evidence showing that balanced teams are significantly more effective than non balanced teams. I picked this info up from one of the guest speakers at a Girl Geek Dinner event in London last year.

Elisabeth Kelan , a researcher from Kings College London and the London Business School was reporting on studies into the effect of gender balance on the performance of teams (Innovative Potential: men and women in teams). A set of individual factors associated with successful innovation were considered in a study of over 100 teams drawn from a wide range of different organisations worldwide. A gender balanced team appeared to optimise perfomance against each factor, and although individual effects were small, it is suggested that together these impacts are significant. A further study looked at gender stereotypes, and considered the ways in which they are limiting, both to those who apply them, and those to whom they are applied.

Initiatives like CareerStep are not new, but as with many instances of organisational and cultural change, devising an approach which is effective in the particular climate and culture of an organisation works best with approaches which are given clear leadership but which also grow from the ground up.

Interesting work has been done in the US following an NSF initiative begun in 2005. The ACES project was hosted at Case Western Reserve University, as well as collecting substantial quantities of data on female academic careers, their project findings included some suggested models of transformation which are relevant to CareerStep.

Links, References and Further Reading
GirlGeekDinners - a women's networking community which combines face to face social networking with a programme of guest speakers on topical technology subjects. London Girl Geek dinners are the nearest regular venue, but meetings take place across the UK.

Women and IT Scorecard: joint publication from the BCS, BERR, eSkills and Intellect report providing an overview of participation, challenging some assumptions, and pointing to some ways forward.


In ECS our students (under grads and post grads) have a community with regular coffee and cakes, meetings, and guest speakers which provides a focus for women across the school.

Our school is based in the faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics. Pearl John from Physics leads this activity convening regular meetings, guest talks and activities which reach across the faculty. This provides many opportunities for our students to meet and make new friends and gain an insight into the activities of other schools in the context

Working with more senior women in the University in Science, Engineering and Technology. There is a regular programme of meetings and events, including the annual Campbell Lecture. WISET has run action learning sets to develop women with the specific objective of enhancing their promotion prospect. Currently it is supporting mentoring schemes across the University.

Reena Pau: post grad in ECS whose study is looking at the relationship between Career Choices and experience of IT among school age young adults.

Ada Lovelace Day

Was an effort led by Suw Charman Anderson to get people to pledge to blog about influential women in technology on March 24 2009. You can read about the event via some observations from Guardian correspondent Sue Schofield, or take a look at the map and list of posts.

Short Bibliography

Settles, Isis H.; Cortina, Lilia M.; Stewart, Abigail J.; Malley, Janet Voice matters: Buffering the impact of a negative climate for women in science, Psychology of Women Quarterly. 31(3):270-281, September 2007.

Gratton, L., Kelan, E., Voigt, A., Walker, L. and Wolfram, H.-J., “Innovative potential: men and women in teams”, report by the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business, London Business School, London, 2007

Diana Bilimoria, Breaking Barriers and Creating Inclusiveness: Lessons of Organizational Transformation to Advance Women Faculty in Academic Science and Engineering, ACES project (Power Point) 2007

Mary Frank Fox, Institutional Transformation and the Advancement of Women Faculty: The Case of Academic Science and Engineering, , in Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, vol. 23. Edited by J. C. Smart. Springer Publishers, 2008.

Dorota Bourne and Mustafa F. Ozbilgin, Strategies for combating gendered perceptions of careers ,International Journal of Career Management, 13,4 , p320-332

Mary Frank Fox, Carol Colatrella, David McDowell, and Mary Lynn Realff, Equity in Tenure and Promotion: An Integrated Institutional Approach, in Transforming Science and Engineering: Advancing Academic Women, edited by A. Stewart, J. Malley, and D. LaVaque-Manty. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2007

Mary Frank Fox, Women, Science and Academic, Graduate Education and Careers, Gender and Society (15) 5, p654-666, 2001

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ada Lovelace Day, Blogging for women

Commit to blog to inspirational women in technology they said. So this is my pledge for Ada Lovelace Day (#ALD09) Where do I begin? With the observation that it must be partly due to their scarcity factor that women in technology are inspirational?

At the University of Southampton I am in Electronics and Computer Science. We are lucky to have Wendy Hall, our previous head of school, first out of US head of the ACM, previous president of the BCS and professor and dame of the British empire. Wendy is a first class role model, fabulous and inspirational, which is a good job because there are only three female academics in ECS, among the 100 so total number of academics, so she had better be inspirational!

I'm trying to do my bit - I have got some cash from our diversity committee and have set up a self support scheme (called CareerStep) to empower female colleagues to progress up the career ladder. Other female colleagues contribute too. We work through ECSWomen for female undergrads and post grads in ECS, Theano supporting female undergrads and postgrads across the Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics and WISET working with women academics in our Faculty.

And when I think about it, I have to suggest that alongside Professor Dame Wendy, I have to list each one of our ECS Academic female colleagues; reader; senior lecturer; lecturer ( conveniently one representative at each academic level! I also want to recognise every one of our women senior researchers, researchers, postgrads and undergrads. I want to recognise the mature role models who have made their life choices ( and who help embody our understanding of the work life balance) and to the young women who I see coming of age and emerging as strong independent female computer scientists. I want us to recognise all the strong women (who have families as well as work roles, who have a life outside of their working hours and some of whom have made difficult life choices, challenging their family's assumptions, or throwing off their hijab to provide intelligent, independent statements which step outside of stereotypes) I want to acknowledge all those strong women who by their daily interactions in our male dominated environment show that women are just people who do stuff, and like all the members of our very special research group ( the Learning Societies Lab ) are making change happen.

LSL is special because its one place in the whole of ECS where we have a much larger proportion of females than anywhere else in the School (female academic ratio soar to 1:10.5, overall in LSL its 22:66) Its also a new research group which has grown phenomenally, and attracts a wide range of interests, and does research which is interdisciplinary mixing technical rigour with social areas of study/focus.

As a feminist and socialist, I believe that humanity should be treated with equal respect, women who work in contexts against the odds deserve respect for their doggedness surviving and flourishing in a climate which is sometimes hostile, and often uncomfortable. Our academic school is richer for its diversity, and will be stronger and even richer when it embraces diversity with greater enthusiasm.

LSL Women
EA Draffan, Jessie Hey (we share her with IAM), Yvonne Howard, Debra Morris (we share her with the Library), Susan Walters, Su White, Pei Zhang, Lauren Dampier Noura Abbas, Kikelomo M (Maria) Apampa, Ani Liza Asnawi, Norhidayah Azman, Lisha Chen-Wilson, Roziana Ibrahim, Ilaria Liccardi, Athitaya Nitchot, Dade Nurjanah, Asma Ounas, Clare Owens, Yulita Iskander, Reena Pau, Onjira Sitthasak

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Hiding Our/Their information

Just been working on an Open Educational Resources bid which is designed to establish a greater culture of sharing and change across our academic communities. As is often the case I observe some synchronicity in my experiences (actually an artefact, created by the focus of my attention, but here you go... )

Now I am someone who despairs at how off the shelf systems steer us to hiding information away. Let me give you a few examples...

Those who know me will remember that I believe that BlackBoard ( and indeed all such learning environments) is the tool of the devil.
Now I admit that part of this idea could come from blind prejudice, but
  • my experience as a tutor setting information up,
  • my experience as a user who gets frustrated using the system
so let's identify a few problems...

1) successive levels of indirection act as a barrier to use
  • its like sending students an extra long way round the campus to get to their lecture
  • its like making the academics spend an extra 15 minutes of admin each time they begin teaching
2) consistent look and feel is a barrier

  • its like making all the corridors and all the lecture theatres look identical,
  • we get confused, we get lost
3) dynamically allocating a different url to each instance of a document is a barrier
  • its like never letting anyone save their paperwork in their own folder to take home,
  • but forcing them to go to a special room whenever they want to take a look
  • ( oh and then making them go through some bizarre ritual before you hand the document over)
4 ) and did I mention that you can only look at a course if you are registered
  • you can't go back to look at a course notes for something you studied last year
  • a teacher can't go and take a look at colleagues notes
  • a student can't go and sit through a class which they are not actually registered for
its all a bit closed....

and then there is the university portal.. using that portal triggered this post.
I began of the arcane route which I had to take to find some notes for a special interest group.
  • login (annoyed already because they force you to change your password every six months)
  • got the the groups section (another click)
  • select the group (another click) - and the system decides to pop up a new window (when I want a new tab!)
  • another click neeeded to select my activity
but.... this is for the group only, and if I want to make my activities/information visible to the rest of the world
  • I have to create another copy, in another place, using another system
  • so any effort invested in the group site, and in the learning site, will have to be replicated for every different use
is there any sense in that?
  • its not findable by general engines
  • great for secret societies
  • not so good for things which benefit from being in the public domain)

compare the open systems I use, EPrints and EdShare.
  • OK, depositing information into the system is a bit arcane and could involve a few more steps than listed above
  • but don't begin to get me on the rigmarole of putting documents and information into Blackboard
once it is there
  • anyone can find it
  • it is indexed, findable and public
OK I can hear you thinking, so where is the synchronicity?

first off, I had been following a link on twitter this morning about user experience and found some insightful words on the A List Apart blog titled Look at it another way talking about how we should take the user perspective when designing systems.

and then, as I cycled home from work to catch up on my sleep after having submitted my bid JISC OER bid, what should I hear on the radio but James Boyle from Duke University being interviewed by Laurie Taylor on Thinking Allowed on the topic of copyright, digital commons, and all things open. Boyle is based at the Centre for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University, and has just published a new book titled The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.

There were a lot of fabulous ideas touched upon during this short interview, and you can get a sense of the breadth of what's covered by following up a few search result on for James Boyle book commons copyright duke university on google (like I did)

Inevitably I found myself muttering to Laurie, ' if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, copyright is like homosexuality. Ultimately, mass law breaking will lead to a change in the law'. It would be a miracle if publishers (of all types of media) did not try to defend their hegemony, but it does not mean that they will win.

But Boyle is a man who has made a career out of this study, and my trite comment is not backed up by his insight and understanding of the labrynthine realities of the law. In fact Boyle's title The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind is rather chilling, especially for us in the UK, who see how little of the commons persist, and observe how little of the commons' right have survived.

And his message was chilling too, for he argues that the exercise of ownership is a dead hand on creativity. ( ...and I think... and for post industrial societies, destroying our creativity is surely a route to our ultimate demise? )

And it is this reference to the blight on creativity which chimes most strongly with me when I think about what we do as academcs by locking up our intellectual resources. As an educationalist I think it is irresponsible not to make available to the widest possible community the outputs of my educational activities. Many times those resources may be fragments, better understood when they are situated with their context, the class, the duscourse. But they may have value, and surely I am being wasteful if I do not make them freely available.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bootstrapping the culture of sharing: refining our understanding of learning objects

or oooer as I like to think about it....

Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources
, Davis, H., Carr, L., Hey, J., Howard, Y., Millard, D., Morris, D. and White, S. (2009) Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies . (In Press)

We have been working on a paper for the IEEE Trans on Learning Technologies on some of the cultural change aspects of our experiences of working with repositories. Its about our experience of developing EdShare, but also reflects a rather richer back catalogue of experiences of establishing and using repositories, plus a few insights into the heady world of technology enhanded learning.

We are really proud of the progress we are making with the EdShare repository of educational resources, and its kid sib language learning repository called Faroes.

Thanks to shed loads of hard work on scholarly repositories led by Stevan Harnad and Les Carr from right here in ECS at the University of Southampton, we have built ourselves a real track record in that very important area.

EPrints is an open source repository which has blossomed thanks to the the hard working EPrints team with support from JISC. Our paper is not concerned with the technical aspects of the software, but more importantly about the organisational learning which we have derived from our intense usage of EPrints respoitories - probably most importantly because, compared to other well know repositories, we observe that EPrints users not only install their repository, they actually populate it.

Here at Southampton we have EPrints repositories for academic publications in ECS, and across the whole institution (University of Southampton). We are also using EPrints to drive our eTheses repository, and our EdShare repository of resources used educationally for teaching and the support of learning.

We not only have ground level experience of installing and running the repositories, but we are also getting increasingly sophisticated in our understanding of the most effective organisational drivers which can not only get the repository established but also get it used.

Many different colleagues have identified advantages from using the repositories, each individual will have a personal priority list. Findability figures big on the list. People like to be able to find their own stuff irrespective of moving on to new machines, or new institutions. We also like the fact that items in the repository are findable - classic search engines index the repository, and even if the paper is not world visible, will provide a pointer to its existence, often resulting in individual approaches for further information - thereby enhancing and enriching the scholarly knowledge network.

well that's enough of me blowing our trumpet, take a look at the paper if you want a little more information, oh and why don't you take a look at EPrints....

Potential users can find out more about the system and set in train further contactvia the software site hosted at

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Thinking about OER

Thinking about OER sends me to a long list of references.

JISC through CETIS have been hardworking in providing an OER Briefing Document - content to be listed way below.

Meanwhile a few web searches have turned up resources from various places, and I am using this space to collate theme here. My objective is to produce one or more concept maps which give a flavour of the objectives which can be addressed by a successful

The Shuttleworth Foundation in South Africa (clearly folk who do not listen to Radio 4) have been looking at open education, and suggested these high level documents.
  1. Open Sourcing Education: learning and wisdom from iSummit 2007 [1]
  2. Budapest Open Access Initiative declaration [2]
  3. Hewlett's A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement [3]
  4. OECD's Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources [4]
  5. OLCOS Roadmap 2012 [5]
They held a workshop, and there was a concept map and a mindmap from a couple of the groups which whilst not all encompassing, can be a starting point for some of the possible perspectives

JISC Briefing document - was originally produced in Word, the content below is more useful as you can follow the links (of which there are 40!). I will get round to making all the links live later on. For now at least you have them available in your web browser.

Briefing Paper on Open Educational Resources
(prepared to support bidders to the Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources funding circular)

This paper details a range of further reading and resources that may be useful to you in preparing a bid to any part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) programme. It is by no means a complete set of resources, neither is it required that bids reference any or all of them.

We have split this document into sections as follows

Briefing Paper on Open Educational Resources 1
What are Open Educational Resources? 1
What are the aims of this Programme? 2
Overviews and General Guidance 2
Intellectual Property Rights. 3
Technical and Data Management Issues 4

What are Open Educational Resources?

What are learning resources?
Whilst purely informational content has a significant role in learning and teaching, it is helpful to consider learning resources by their levels of granularity and to focus on the degree to which information content is embedded within a learning activity:
• Digital assets – normally a single file (e.g. an image, video or audio clip), sometimes called a ‘raw media asset’;
• Information objects – a structured aggregation of digital assets, designed purely to present information;
• Learning objects – an aggregation of one or more digital assets which represents an educationally meaningful stand along unit;
• Learning activities – tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome;
• Learning design – structured sequences of information and activities to promote learning.

What are open learning resources?
The following definitions and examples are taken from a paper prepared by Li Yuan at JISC CETIS concerning the state of open educational resources internationally. This has been a very well received paper, and can be accessed from the CETIS website (

The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was first introduced at a conference hosted by UNESCO in 2000 and was promoted in the context of providing free access to educational resources on a global scale. There is no authoritatively accredited definition for the term OER at present; the most frequently used definition is, “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research” (OECD, 2007).

Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives aspire to provide open access to high-quality education resources on a global scale. From large institution-based or institution-supported initiatives to numerous small-scale activities, the number of OER related programmes and projects has been growing quickly within the past few years.

According to OECD (OECD, 2007), there are materials from more than 3000 open access courses (open courseware) currently available from over 300 universities worldwide.

In the United States resources from thousands of courses have been made available by university-based projects, such as MIT OpenCourseWare and Rice University’s Connexions project: ( , )

In China, materials from 750 courses have been made available by 222 university members of the China Open Resources for Education (CORE) consortium.
( )

In Japan, resources from more than 400 courses have been made available by the19 member universities of the Japanese OCW Consortium. ( )

In France, 800 educational resources from around 100 teaching units have been made available by the 11 member universities of the ParisTech OCW project. ( )

In Ireland, universities received government funding to build open access institutional repositories and to develop a federated harvesting and discovery service via a national portal. It is intended that this collaboration will be expanded to embrace all Irish research institutions. ( )

And in the UK, the Open University have released a range of their distance learning materials via the OpenLearn project ( )

What are the aims of this Programme?

The joint JISC/Higher Education Academy Open Educational Resources Pilot programme has been designed to support institutions, consortia and individuals to release open educational resources for use and repurposing worldwide, by assisting the development of appropriate processes and polices to make this process an integral part of the learning material creation workflow.

The pilot year will help us understand the most effective ways of supporting this aim, and is intended as the precursor to a longer programme to promote the embedding of these processes across institutions.

Widely available learning content, and informational content, is fundamentally changing the relationship between students and their institutions as sources of expertise. This presents a challenge to existing models of the production of academic knowledge and the role of the institution in supporting student learning. Coupled to this, HE funding models are changing in response economic pressures, many institutions are re-examining their own business models in response to this.

Our objectives in investing in this area are to promote the sharing and reuse of learning resources, and to provide a reputational benefit to UK higher education through the promotion of high quality learning resources world wide.

We expect to see benefits to the institutions involved and the UK HE sector as a whole in terms of overseas recruitment and academic reputation as a result of the work started by this programme.

Overviews and General Guidance
A number of high-level studies have already been commissioned in this area, along with many projects and guidance notes. This section provides a general overview of the resources available to institutions, consortia and individuals with an interest in Open Educational Resources and the OER Pilot programme.

The Open CourseWare Consortium (OCW) is an international organisation offering guidance to institutions and organisations across the world investigating the open release of learning content. They have provided an online toolkit to support potential projects in exploring the issues related to this form of release.

The Open University’s OpenLearn project has opened access to a wide range of distance learning material via their website. In addition to these learning resources, OpenLearn have also provided advice for educators, which describes the nature of open content and the ways in which it can be used.

Get Started: Educators

“Creating Open Educational Resources” module

Pocket Project
This project is investigating the potential of migrating open content approaches in a range of disciplines across a number of different higher education institutions. The project will run from November 2007 until February 2009 and will be led by the University of Derby. The partner institutions currently working with the University of Derby on the POCKET project are: University of Bolton, Open University and the University of Exeter.

Good Intentions Report
The JISC information environment and e-learning teams have jointly commissioned a report entitled “Good Intentions”, examining various business cases for sharing learning materials. We would strongly recommend reading this as a precursor to identifying and describing your own business case.

Sharing eLearning Content
The JISC Sharing eLearning Content report is a synthesis of and commentary on findings across 30-40 JISC projects in a number of different programmes over the past 3-4 years. The conclusions it draws are aimed at JISC rather than individual institutions, but this is a useful overview of existing work in this area

LRA Infokit
The Learning Resources and Activities Infokit contains further links to previous and current JISC funded resources in this area.

RepRODUCE Programme
The RepRODUCE programme is addressing the repurposing of existing content for use within institutions and for subsequent open release. Helen Beetham has worked with the programme management team to provide resources concerning the evaluation of activity in this area. You may wish to view the slides linked to from:
and the evaluation plan and quality assurance plan linked to from:

Intellectual Property Rights.

JISC have recently published guidance on the various types of open licences suitable for resources released by projects in this call.

The CASPER project was established to support the RepRODUCE programme. It provides a range of online resources, including guidance on clearing background IPR, letter templates and licenses.

The Web2rights project was developed alongside the Users and Innovation programme. It creative an interactive toolkit to facilitate the consideration of relevant issues when using web 2.0 resources in learning.
An animation based on the work of this project has been released.

The JISC Legal service provides guidance to the community on various legal issues, including intellectual property rights.

The JISC IPR consultancy has also provided a range of materials in this area, including guidance specific to web 2.0, and useful background material for those unfamiliar with IPR issues:

The TrustDR project have produced a “development pack” dealing with IPR issues in content sharing:

Further guidance will be made available shortly after the release of the call concerning institutional IPR policies. This document will be updated to include a link.
Technical and Data Management Issues

The JISC CETIS innovation centre is active in most of the technical areas linked to the release of open learning content. The Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG) is a good starting point for engaging with open educational content initiatives and debates. EC SIG contact details and additional resources are available from:

Jorum is a online repository service for teaching and support staff in UK Further and Higher Education Institutions, helping to build a community for the sharing, reuse and repurposing of learning and teaching materials. Jorum is in the process of moving into a new phase that will be engaging with the open educational resources agenda. For further details of Jorum’s current and future direction visit:

A useful briefing paper on sharing learning materials through repositories, written by Andrew Rothery of Worchester University,

Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories - Structured Guidelines for setting up LO repositories

I will get round to making all the links live later on. For now at least you have them available in your web browser.