Creating the eBook

Academic contributors:

We’ve been overwhelmed with support for our e-book on academic narratives about learning and teaching. The potential authors we approached were all keen to contribute and we’re now in the editing and organising stage. It’s nice work as David Lodge might say.

Workshop on eBooks:

We’ve also continued exploring possible formats for the book and, at the suggestion of our supportive ‘critical friend’ Teresa Connelly, we attended a workshop at the Open University last week on Educational Uses of eBooks and mobile learning. There were a number of inspiring case studies, and it was particularly helpful to hear the perspective of teachers who were teaching with eBooks.

Finding a format:

For some time now, we’ve been considering formats for our e-book of academic narratives. (The digital landscape has changed noticeably even during the course of this short project with applications such as iBooks Author, among others, appearing.) We want something that’s relatively simple to use,  elegant, capable of handling multimedia, and, of course, open. We’re trialling some software and formats and will have a final decision soon. (This aspect of the project will make an interesting mini-case study of its own, we think.)


Values and OER

We’ve been thinking about the concept of values and OER recently while preparing talks for  conferences in Bologna and Cambridge (OCWC), and drafting a chapter for a book on Literacy in the Digital University edited by Robin Goodfellow and Mary Lea. (Robin maintains a lively blog on the topic of digital literacy.)

We’ve been drawing on Bruce Macfarlane’s work on values and academic practice (Teaching with Integrity: the ethics of higher education practice, London: Routledge 2004) and wondered to what extent some of his ideas offer us a lens for thinking about digital literacy and OER.  One of our tentative findings, from work we’ve done with new-ish developers of OER materials, is that   personal and professional values are being shown to play a role in motivating academics to write and share open texts – for teaching and research.

Masterman and Wild (2011) have found some evidence of an association between an academic holding ‘open educational’ values (such as sharing, benefit of a common good and widening access of opportunity)  and being disposed to engage with OER. Interviews we have done with with teacher-creators of OERs tend to support this position, and we’re hoping to widen our study to see if this finding is confirmed with a wider sample.

Book gardens by Frederic della Faille

Time well spent at the Royal Mint

We attended a meeting of OER projects at the Royal Mint today and had some engaging conversations about our work that has really got us thinking. In particular, we spent about an hour with Dr Simon Ball from JISC TechDis, who volleyed a series of critical questions at us. (It felt a bit like being on BBC’s Newsnight without the sneers.) Having to respond to a set of thoughtful questions about the project has been hugely productive and we came away with new ideas about

  • our advisory group,
  • the writing of our ‘toolkit’ and
  • the broadening of our audience to include disciplinary specialists outside the institution.

Our enthusiasm has been newly minted.

Thoughts emerging from webinar

Yesterday we launched the project in our webinar Topics in Open Education as part of Open Education Week. We were really pleased with the participation and interest in the project. Issues emerging in the chat and discussion included

– alliance between Open Access research policies and OER

– an  interest in the disciplinary approach that this project is taking

– the potential for using e-books as a model for student writing and publication and the extent to which this could be linked to assessment practices. (In the project, we are using an e-book for the publication of academics’ narratives about learning and teaching in their discipline. But, we hope this could become a model for academics’ work with their students.)

Thanks very much to everyone who participated. The slides are available on our resources page and we’ll post the recording of the session soon.

Open Education Week Webinar – 6th March

Tomorrow, we’ll be hosting a lunchtime webinar as part of Open Education week:

Title: Topics in Open Education: what does Open Education mean in practice?

Date: 6th March, 1-2 pm

To join: Go to this link

photo: Andrei Ceru

We’ll be doing a couple of things in this session.  Firstly, we will be launching our Sustainable Texts: Disciplinary Conversations HEA/JISC project, and discussing some of the project ideas about OER practices with participants. Secondly, we will consider what Open Education might mean in terms of policy and practice within an institution.

Some of the types of questions we hope to consider are

  • Should all students in an institution have access to all VLE courses, in the name of openness?
  • How might OERs feature in external engagement work?
  • Can open resources foster links with the communities  beyond the university walls?
  • How can OERs help promote an institution’s work?

We hope that this will be a wide-ranging discussion about Open Education and, following the webinar, in order to sustain the conversation, we will operate a poll for the rest of the week exploring some of the topics raised in the discussion.

Sustainable Texts

Photo: Andrei Ceru

Welcome to the blog for the Sustainable Texts: Disciplinary Conversations OER  project, funded by the HEA/JISC and based at UCL. We’re passionate about texts and Open Education and in this project we’re aiming to accomplish several things.

Firstly, we will be building on work begun in an earlier project, CPD4HE, and we’ll be continuing to develop open resources for academic practice and CPD. In this case, our main resource will be an e-book of academics’ narratives, telling their stories about learning and teaching in their disciplines.

Secondly, we will be supporting institutional policy development in this area and encouraging conversations about OER practices.

Finally, we’ll be bringing together people interested in OER in order to create new links and interactions.

So, watch this space for further updates, resources and conversations.