Student Engagement with OER at University of Edinburgh
Together with LTW Director Melissa Highton and Stuart Nicol of Education Design and Engagement, Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) provided the initial impetus for the development of an OER policy at the university. A short paper presented at OER15 by Melissa, Stuart and Dash Sekhar of EUSA, reported that in 2014
“the EUSA Vice President for Academic Affairs challenged University senior managers to explore how learning materials could be made open, not only for students within the University, but across Scotland and to the wider world.”
Student-led OpenEd and wiping away the open wash by Melissa Highton, Stuart Nicol & Dash Sekhar, OER15.
The result was the University’s OER Policy which was approved by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee in 2016.
Reproductive Medicine Students, CC BY SA, Ewan McAndrew
The University’s Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, has also been instrumental engaging students in the creation of OER through a number of Wikimedia in the Classroom initiatives that have seen students contributing original articles in a number of languages to the world’s largest open educational resource – Wikipedia. Subjects that have incorporated Wikipedia into their courses include Translation Studies, World Christianity and Reproductive Medicine.
“It’s about co-operation from the get-go. You can’t post a Wikipedia article and allow no one else to edit it. You are offering something up to the world. You can always come back to it, but you can never make it completely your own again. The beauty of Wikipedia is in groupthink, in the crowd intelligence it facilitates, but this means shared ownership, which can be hard to get your head around at first.”
Reflections on a Wikipedia assignment by Áine Kavanagh
Meteorological Visibility Observations: A User’s Guide, CC BY, James Holehouse
Another course that has been instrumental in engaging students with OER is the Geosciences Outreach and Engagement course. Over the course of two semesters, students undertake an outreach project that communicates some element of the field of GeoSciences outside the university community. Students have the opportunity to work with schools, museums, outdoor centres and community groups to create resources for science engagement including classroom teaching materials, leaflets, websites, smartphone/tablet applications, and presentation materials.
“By taking this course, not only was I, as the student, able to learn about the values and excitement of public engagement with other disciplines, but I also developed a working tool for further scientific engagement for a new audience.”
A call for increased public engagement in geology higher education by Jane Robb in Geology Today, Vol. 29, No. 2.
For the last two years the University has also employed student interns during the summer months as Open Content Curators whose role is to repurpose materials created by staff and students around the University to ensure they can be released under open license and shared in places where they can be found and reused by other teachers and learners, such as TES. Reflecting on his time as our first Open Content Intern, Martin Tasker wrote
“Open Education is a large part of the reason I’m at Edinburgh studying physics, and I firmly believe that it is one of the keys to widening participation in education in a meaningful way. The proliferation of the internet among all classes in society means that a savvy university can reach those that would previously have had little access to education beyond their school years. And with our work in OERs, we can hopefully feed back some of the expertise of our academics into the classroom, raising the standard of teaching and taking some of the pressure off extremely overworked teachers.”
Wrapping Up: My Time as an Open Content Curator Intern, Martin Tasker
These are just some of the ways in which students at the University of Edinburgh are engaging with open education and OER. I’m sure there are many more around the University that I have yet to discover! Further information about many of the University’s OER initiatives is available from Open.Ed.
Lorna Campbell, Student Engagement with OER at University of Edinburgh, CC-BY