DEVELOPING free open online education courses in formal and informal learning sectors can help to erase learning barriers in Scotland.
This view will be the focus of a major one-day conference in Edinburgh on Monday, September 11, organised by Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS), a £1.3 million, three-year project funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) that ended in July and was led by the Open University in Scotland.
The Promise of Open Education event will bring together expert speakers, practitioners and learners from across Scotland to discuss the opportunities and challenges open education offers, and to share knowledge and experience.
Free, openly-licensed, online courses are now part of the educational mainstream but the project has been aimed at opening them up to a wider range of learners, not just graduates.
Openly-licensed materials are freely available online to all and OEPS wants more educators and institutions to use these to widen access to learning at a time and pace that suits learners.
Using these licenses also enables materials to be copied, revised or redistributed which promotes development and sharing of knowledge.
A total of 15 such new open learning courses – with two nominated for digital awards – have been launched in the past three years in a collaborative effort involving universities, colleges, schools, unions, and the Third Sector.
These range from understanding Parkinson’s, supporting people with dyslexia and global trends In death and dying to how to become an open educator or make an open online course and how to do genetic testing or find out if your seaweed looks weird.
Co-director of the OEPS, Dr Pete Cannell, said the promise of open education for Scotland needed careful consideration if learning barriers were to be broken down.
“The project has been reviewing in depth how resources could be used more effectively to bring high-quality learning materials to new audiences and encourage a greater take up of learning,” he said.
“The availability of free, openly-licensed online courses and the ubiquity of digital technology is relevant to learners in the formal and informal learning sectors in Scotland.
“Open licensing and digital platforms open new possibilities for knowledge dissemination and exchange.”
The OEPS final report will be available at the conference as well as online.
“Scotland has been unique in establishing this project to explore the use of open, online educational resources from a social justice perspective,” said Dr Cannell.
“The importance of how open learning resources from a variety of sources can be used more effectively is clear as high quality learning materials available to new audiences can encourage a greater take up of learning.”
The Promise of Open Education Conference is being held on Monday, September 11 in Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh.
Notes to editors:
You can find out more about the work of OEPS at:
An Open Educational Resource (OER) is a resource which is openly-licensed.
An Open Educational Resource can be retained, reused, revised, remixed and/or redistributed provided that the original resource author is attributed.
Information on The Open University in Scotland can be found at:
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