Tag Archives: OER

Open Education






Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

EUNIS 2017

Ed Stout was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner




Sheila MacNeill, Senior Lecturer in Digital Learning at Glasgow Calendonian University and Vice-Chair of ALT, led a very interesting keynote ‘Open Education – the Never Ending Story‘ at EUNIS 2017 with a discussion around what “Open” meant to us. We were all invited to submit the first word that came to our mind related to our understanding of what “Open” meant within an interactive Menti word-cloud. It very quickly became apparent that there is a very broad range of thoughts on the matter and that is was a very personal view.







In January 2017, the Open Education Consortium announced 2017 to be the “Year of Open”. Open Education has been progressing positively since the Budapest Open Access Initiative was  formed in 2002 and benefited from the Cape Town Open Education Declaration of 2007 and the Paris Open Education Resources Declaration in 2012. The underlying principles of Open Education are the beliefs that “everyone has the right to education” and that “education is a public good”.

We are seeing a continually increasing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered since their inception at Stanford University in 2011 covering a wide variety of courses. Sheila suggests that Open online learning does have a role to play within our educational landscape and that these courses are having an impact.





Shelia spoke about David Wiley’s 5Rs of Openness with Open Educational Resources (OER).

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).

A particularly pertinent closing to Sheila’s keynote speech related to an entity she refers to as “the Nothing”. “The Nothing” is a suitable metaphor for our current society and the problems which we face in it. Coincidentally, Sheila was giving her keynote on the day of the UK election and with that outcome now known, alongside the current climate of politics within the US (with its fake news/alternative facts) and recent questionable election outcomes including that of Brexit and Trump, I can’t help but feel aligned with Sheila’s concerns.

Sheila has kindly made a number of relevant and related resources available as below:







This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/2017/06/25/day-2-reflections/

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

MOOCs, flipped classrooms and game-based learning




Salman Usman
Academic E-learning Developer
Kingston University London

EUNIS 2015: Technology-facilitated pedagogy

This is the third in a series of blog posts on the EUNIS Congress 2015 and a pre-conference workshop on electronic management of assessment and assessment analytics. The first blog post was on the theme of assessment and feedback and second blog post covered learning technologies and tools. This post covers technology-facilitated pedagogy.

MOOCs have become a permanent fixture in education-related conferences and Eunis 2015 was no different with two presentations and several mentions in keynotes and discussions on the subject.

Yves Epelboin from Pierre and Marie Curie University in France argued in his presentation that MOOCs are transforming the pedagogical landscape. Salient points and arguments made in his presentation are as follows:

  • Whereas the growth of MOOCs has receded in the US, there is a surge in development of new MOOCs in Europe, mainly motivated by the desire to enhance institutional reputation and to contribute to change in pedagogy.
  • MOOCs are not a technology but a means to acquire knowledge.
  • A key challenge is how to design MOOCs that could cater to the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. This is also termed a reason for low MOOC completion rates.
  • All current VLEs have been designed to favour a certain pedagogy. There is currently no VLE that can cater to the divergent pedagogies and needs including those for MOOCs. Therefore there is a need for standardised interfaces (e.g. LTI compatible) that allow course designers to build a “bouquet” by assembling services offered by different platforms in order to deliver desired pedagogy. The Spanish MOOC platform MiriadaX is already working on this approach.
  • Designing future online courses, which are student-centred and adapt to individual needs of students, will not be an individual effort by an academic but will require teamwork involving software engineers, instructional designers and subject matter experts.
  • MOOCs have speeded the interest in and development of learning analytics solutions. Automatic alerts by data analytics systems on disengaged students will play a key factor in increasing the success rates in future MOOCs and online courses.

Yves’ point about current VLEs not being flexible enough to accommodate various pedagogies is pertinent and resonates with my own observations from VLE/learning technology reviews. However, in order to enable academics/course designers to choose desired services offered by different platforms, learning providers will not only have to conform to standards but will also need to review their business and licensing models. In addition to Yves’ suggestion of the development of effective learning analytics systems, there is also a need to develop effective assessment methods for MOOCs that go beyond objective-type questions or computer codes. Although objective type questions may be suitable for testing lower-order thinking skills in the Blooms taxonomy such as knowledge and comprehension, they may not be suitable for assessing higher-order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Full conference paper is available here.

Juan Antonio Martínez and Joaquim Campuzano from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain presented their analysis on the costs of MOOCs and its comparison with the costs incurred in traditional teaching. The authors have identified the direct costs of creating MOOCs in Spain to be between €35k-€75k for an 8-week MOOC, depending on the complexity of online resources. They envisaged that 70% of the cost of a MOOC is incurred in preparation and 30% or even less to run the course. Compared to MOOCs, the authors’ analysis estimated lower costs for preparing traditional courses, though it was more expensive than MOOCs to teach a traditional course and to repeat it in subsequent years. Whereas repeating a traditional course the second time will not lower the costs, the cost of MOOCs would come down in subsequent years.


The project conclusions

In view of the above, the authors propose that MOOCs can be sustainable if they are not created from scratch but rather developed to supplement existing modules/courses where they are used to replace some of the face-to-face teaching. Therefore the cost of creating a MOOC will be accommodated in the preparation costs of a traditional course. The same materials could then be offered to the wider world as a MOOC.

To implement this, the authors revised the teaching model of a module by replacing an hour long lecture with MOOC resources. This saved an extra hour of teaching each week. However the course lecturers decided to use the extra hour to offer additional support/tutorials to students by splitting the cohort into smaller groups. Student evaluations showed that the majority of respondents indicated a preference for the ‘MOOC-version’ of the course over the traditional course. The authors claim that this model not only helps in reducing the costs of MOOCs but also improves quality of teaching e.g. by providing extra time for supporting students.

Full conference paper is available here.

Online ICT courses for Polish secondary schools
Andrzej Zylawski from Warsaw School of Computer Science (WSCS) in Poland made an award-winning presentation (best e-learning paper) about an online IT school for secondary schools in Poland. Launched in 2012 by WSCS, the aim of the programme was to develop and enhance the ICT competencies and knowledge of computer science of secondary school students in Poland and to broaden the appeal of the discipline. The IT school resembles a regional network of schools similar to a multi-campus university with each secondary school represented by its teachers (called programme coordinators) and students. The online school offers teachers and students courses on a wide range of topics within the computer science discipline. The content is delivered via recorded video lectures, e-scripts, presentations, games and tests. Visits to IT firms are also arranged for students. Lecturers can monitor student activities and progress and use this information to personalise students’ learning. Students are also able to plan their learning and choose the topics they wish to study according to their personal interests and get immediate feedback on their tests. Competitions like most engaged school and best IT school of the year have been introduced to motivate and engage students. Students are also provided certificates at the end of a course.

The programme has been a roaring success with 534 registered schools, over 65,000 registered users and 18 million page views. Feedback by teachers and students has been very positive; almost all the teachers on the programme have found the content provided by the online IT school either useful or very useful with 50% of teachers using the online resources in every lesson. 81% of the teachers and 41% of the students have reported that the online school has helped in raising students’ ICT competencies to a ‘high or very high extent’.

The key to the programme’s success has been the involvement of school teachers in all stages of the programme design and delivery. All teachers are surveyed by the IT school at the start of the course in order to elicit their and their students’ needs for supporting computer science education. The resources are prepared accordingly with teachers involved in preparation of learning resources, together with university academics and scientists. Evaluations are carried out with both staff and students with the findings used to improve the programme.

I have found this project an excellent example of a university outreach programme as well as working in partnership with the stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is key to success of any project and this programme has ensured this by listening to the varied needs of teachers and then working together with them in developing the course resources. Another thing I have liked about the courses is the flexible curriculum leading to personalised learning; rather than a having fixed curriculum for all, students are provided with the flexibility to choose topics that meet their interests and needs.

Full conference paper is available here.

Flipped classroom
Jaime Busquets and Carlos Turró from ASIC-Universitat Politécnica de València presented preliminary results from a flipped classroom experiment carried out in the faculties of Computer Science and Business. For those who aren’t familiar, flipped teaching involves a lecture being replaced by a self-study resource that students go through in their own time. The lecture time is used for interactive sessions, discussions and practice exercises based on the content of the self-study resource. The researchers managed to have a control and an experimental group; one group of students received flipped instruction whereas the other group had traditional classroom lectures (I’ll have a hard time getting a project with control and experimental groups approved through my institutional ethics committee).

Student results at the end of the term showed that those with a good academic record in the flipped teaching group had better grades than their counterparts in the control group. However students with not a good academic record in the flipped teaching group performed worse than their counterparts in the traditional lecture group. This corroborates with research on flipped teaching and educational technology where the more academically-able students have generally benefitted more from educational technology-based interventions than those less able. Another issue with flipped approach to teaching that academics at my institution have come across is that some students come to lectures without going through the self-study resources. Thus there is a need to incentivise students to access the resources. An approach I have found useful is to release the content adaptively through the VLE: students do not have access to subsequent week’s resources unless they complete a quiz associated with the previous lecture’s content.

Game-based learning
With Dundee being one of the global hubs in digital games, the conference would have seemed lacking without having educational games on the conference agenda. Dr Phebe Mann (University of East London) and Dr David Wong’s (University College London) paper and presentation fitted the bill in which they talked about development of Serious EdGames (SEdG). SEdG is a game developed for built environment professionals with the aim to develop students’ understanding of topics that include planning law, planning applications and planning controls. The learners use an avatar to explore and survey a plot of virtual land with the goal of deciding alignment of a trunk road. Developed using Construct 2, the game also presented students with a series of questions to respond to. These are presented as a basketball game with a correct answer resulting in a ball through the basket and an incorrect answer resulting in a miss.

 Screenshot of the SEdG game. Image source: Conference paper (http://bit.ly/1FYhu14)

Screenshot of the SEdG game. Image source: Conference paper (http://bit.ly/1FYhu14)

Student responses to the project evaluation were mixed; 47% of the respondents agreed that they enjoyed learning through SEdG more than they did through traditional methods, whereas 21% disagreed. Other evaluation findings included 29% learners stating that the game facilitated more focused learning compared to books as opposed to 24% who didn’t. 29% of respondents said that the game helped them retain information as opposed to 24% who didn’t. It would have been interesting to find out the reasons why some of the respondents didn’t respond in a good light.

Full conference paper is available here.

Using technology to develop students’ employability skills
Employers are increasingly turning to social media for recruitment purposes. It is therefore important that university graduates have the skills to effectively articulate their capabilities and skills and promote themselves through online media. In view of the above, Andrea Cameron, Carol Maxwell and James Cobley from Abertay University decided to embark on a pilot project which aimed to develop students’ skills of using social networking platforms for professional and employment purposes. To this end, second year Sports students were asked to prepare and submit a webfolio that showcased their skills, strengths and experiences to prospective employers. Students were also asked to reflect upon achievements and set themselves goals and an action plan for personal development. The research team asked students to write their webfolios in the style of Linkedin profiles because it is the most popular social media network used by recruiters with 7.9 million users in the UK. Students were provided feedback by lecturers on the relevance of their content, communication skills and ‘netiquette’ and the ability to self-promote in a professional context. Student feedback was “very positive” as the exercise helped them reflect on their skills, become aware of their development needs and obtain know-how of effectively promoting themselves to prospective employers.

Presentation slide showing student feedback on the project
Presentation slide showing student feedback on the project

 With marketisation of higher education students want greater ‘value-for-money’ from their courses, with the ultimate goal of getting a job related to their degree. Although employability is high on UK universities’ agenda, in my own experience I have found that the development of students’ employability-related skills is often considered the domain of the institution’s careers and employability service, which may or may not be known to or availed by students. In this context, I think that this is a great project that has employability skills embedded in the curriculum, in turn benefitting the students, and is something I will be promoting at my institution. The project used Pebblepad e-portfolio tool for students to develop their webfolios. Those not subscribing to Pebblepad can use blogging platforms like WordPress and web-page creation tools like Google Sites for this purpose.

Full conference paper is available here.

Conference programme and abstracts are available here. The EUNIS Congress 2016 will be held at Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece from 6-10 June 2016.