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Illuminating the global OER community with data

Javiera Atenas - January 29, 2018 in communication, Data, Featured, guestpost, oer, world

This is the first post of a serie of notes shared by the members of the Open Education Working Group Advisory Board. In this post, Jan Neumann (@trugwaldsaenger ‏) shares the latest news of the OER World Map project

Educators ask for a better copyright

Javiera Atenas - January 16, 2018 in communication, copyright, Featured, oer

Today we, the OEWG, publish a joint letter initiated by Communia Association for the Public Domain that urgently requests to improve the education exception in the proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive). The

OpenEdu Policies reports – JRC Research Centre

Javiera Atenas - January 15, 2018 in communication, Featured, oer, Open Policies

By Paul Bacsich   Co-coordinator and policy lead  of the Open Education Working Group — Hot off the press: OpenEdu Policies reports . These reports are the final outcome of one and a half intense years of research into open education …

Support the Petition for a Mediterranean Erasmus Generation & the Manifesto for a new Mediterranean of knowledge

Javiera Atenas - January 8, 2018 in communication, developing-world, Featured

Dear Open Education Fellows
UNIMED has launched its Petition for a Mediterranean Erasmus Generation. Your support, both as individuals and as institutions, is of crucial importance.

The Petition, which you can read and endorsed here, is aimed at

Webinar on Open Education and Open Science: a summary

Annalisa Manca - April 18, 2017 in communication, Events, oer, Open Science

This is a summary of a recent Webinar in which Guido Scherp, the Coordinator of “Leibniz Research Alliance Science 2.0” (LRA) and Lorna Campbell, one of our Advisory Board members and expert in open education, answered

Open Science Conference 2017: a Webinar with Guido Scherp

Annalisa Manca - April 6, 2017 in communication, Events, Featured, oer, Open Science

What do Open Science and Open Education have in common? Why is it important to speak about Open Education and Open Science? What do us Open Educators need to learn from Open Scientists and vice versa? Do we need to

The Open University of Brazil goes open

Javiera Atenas - September 29, 2016 in communication, Featured, guestpost, oer

In this post (reposted from Edaberta), Tel Amiel tell us about the new OER repository from the Open University of Brazil.
Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus, by Neil Palmer [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus, by Neil Palmer [CC BY-SA 2.0]

The Open University of Brazil (UAB), a consortium of over 100 public higher education institutions in Brazil, has just announced its open educational resources repository — eduCAPES, during the 9th meeting of UAB Coordinators in Brasília. The repository is part of a series of activities aimed at promoting OER within the UAB System.   Our research group has been engaged in promoting openness at UAB since 2010. In 2013 we begin researching the institutions that make up UAB in order to understand how they engaged in the production and dissemination of educational resources. We found valuable initiatives aimed at promoting openness at each institution. Different challenges and strategies had been tried and implemented, and this collective knowledge could be used to remove barriers and promote a system-wide effort towards the production and dissemination of OER. One of the biggest barriers to opening up resources was the lack of a national policy on licensing of resources by DED/CAPES (the organization within the Ministry of Education that coordinates the UAB System). screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-18-09-07 A series of initiatives took place: DED/CAPES hired consulting to identify possibilities for open licensingIED (OER Brazil) provided much needed awareness on OER, and multiple discussions ensued on the benefits of adopting a more liberal, copyleft, as a standard. The System produces a massive mount of resources — videos, books, simulations — which were only used within the courses offered by UAB. The next call for the production of resources (2017) will require an open license, preferably CC-BY-SA. DED/CAPES is also working directly with each Institution to open up older resources. Acceptable licenses also include CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, e CC-BY-NC-SA. The open license mandate is part of a larger set of initiatives aimed at promoting openness at UAB. We are currently developing (along with UFPR and IED) an open course on OER which will be offered in 2017. We are also finalizing a comprehensive questionnaire on the production, dissemination and use of educational resources to be sent to UAB personnel, in order to expand on what we learned during our research project; this knowledge will be used to tailor the course to their specific barriers, needs and interests. The eduCAPES portal is also “born open” in the sense that it operates with a focus on open licenses (primary CC, other compatible licenses accepted). It will host novel content but will also work in a federation model, aggregating metadata from institutional repositories. These activities benefit from the efforts of those who make up the System, as well as the folks at DED/CAPES, who together are working to make UAB more open More information on the CAPES press release (English or Portuguese original)
My presentation on the 9th meeting  (ODP ou PDF) – Portuguese.
More info on the UAB System on this interactive map.
A historical overview of licensing and OER at UAB by Duran, M.R. (Portuguese). — About the author telamielTel Amiel is a researcher at NIED, University of Campinas (UNICAMP) where he coordinates the UNESCO Chair in Open Education. He has previously been a visiting fellow at the University of Wollongong and a visiting professor at Utah State University. He currently conducts research funded by FAPESP and CAPES on schooling and teacher professional development at the intersection of open education, educational technology, and school improvement. UNESCO Chair in Open Education site (

New © reform proposal: we need to get a better copyright for education

Javiera Atenas - September 23, 2016 in communication, copyright, Featured, oer

In this new post, Lisette Kalshoven presents an interesting overview on the current issues of the copyright reform.   Open Education and copyright reform advocates are in this together: we both aim to give educators the flexibility to improve on the teaching materials they use, increasing access to quality education for to those who don’t necessarily have the funds, and to give teachers the ability to enjoy the advantages of modern technology without breaking the law. As Alek Tarkowski wrote last year: we are two sides of the same coin. COMMUNIA, which advocates for policies that expand the public domain and increase access to and reuse of culture and knowledge, asked copyright policy experts from civil society organisations like Wikimedia and Creative Commons on why the current copyright reform needs our input:
Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users?

Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users?

My side of the coin, the one arguing for copyright reform for education, has gotten some interesting news. Last Wednesday the European Commission presented its plan for a copyright reform. While the legislative process is far from over, what is in this proposal is worrying and can affect the daily practice of educators across the EU.

What the problem is with copyright for education now

The Commission is proposing changes to the EU copyright framework because it is outdated. The last major change to the copyright law is from 2001. In the years following the directive Member States implemented the directive specifically to their jurisdictions, creating a patchwork of different laws across the EU, including the possible implementation of an exception for education. While most member states implemented the optional education exception (see the databse) it does not mean we can easily share teaching materials across borders, as all implementations vary. There are some pretty outrageous things that teachers cannot do, for example: Finnish copyright law has no exceptions for creating derivative works in education. So creating translations from foreign language news sites is not allowed. The 2001 implementations of the education exception often left European educators with a pre-digital copyright. The EC heard our call for a more harmonised and modern copyright for education and proposed changes. Unfortunately, they are making it even more untransparent for educators what they can do legally.  
Copyright exceptions

Copyright exceptions

What is in the proposal

In short (and you can read more about it here) the Commission is choosing to not harmonise the existing exception we have in Europe, but adding a new mandatory exception:
  • It only applies to digital resources and online environments, leaving unharmonized most of the face-to-face teaching activities, and also distance learning activities that are developed offline;
  • It only benefits educational establishments, which means that online and digital uses made by teachers and students not affiliated with educational establishments will not be exempted;
  • In the classroom it only covers digital uses (e.g. whiteboards), and the online uses covered can only be made under the closed networks run by the educational establishments (e.g. intranet). Online uses in the open internet, namely uses of protected works in OERs and in MOOCs, will not be covered by the exception.
How the ‘old’ exception and this proposed new one will interact is unclear and will likely be confusing for teachers. As a last note, which is in my opinion the most worrying about the Commission’s proposal for education: the override of the exception if an ‘adequate’ license exists. This is a rule that in practice makes the exception powerless as a tool for supporting education. In short, this proposal is simply not good enough to support education in Europe. We need a better copyright reform for education.

What we are doing to help to keep copyright out of the classroom

As COMMUNIA we are launching a project called Copyright Reform for Education. In this project we are doing legal research to understand current exceptions better; we are asking innovative teachers about modern teaching methods – making sure we understand what a new copyright for education should account for; we are also raising awareness as much as we can, by likely doing a public campaign in the Spring of next year. We are aiming at bringing stakeholders in European education together, advocating for an effective change it copyright. Why? To make sure teachers can focus on what they are good at: teaching.   

Don’t be a stranger

If you would like to know more about why copyright reform is important for educators across Europe and beyond: please have a look at the COMMUNIA Copyright Untangled series on Medium. If you are curious on the legislative process and what is happening in Brussels around copyright that affects you: please follow the COMMUNIA blog and/or on Facebook and Twitter.
If you have questions about the Copyright Reform for Education project, please contact me at We are curious about your thoughts on the matter. If you would like to receive (sporadic) updates about the project, please also drop me a line. We will make sure you are in the loop.About the author lissete3-822x1233Lisette Kalshoven is copyright policy advisor at Kennisland and COMMUNIA in the areas of copyright, heritage and open education. She combines writing policy documents with practical interventions and training sessions for professionals. Creating access to information is always the reference point in her work. 

An Overview of Open Education Policy and Practice in Scotland

Javiera Atenas - September 21, 2016 in communication, Featured, oer, world

This post, has been written by Lorna M. Campbell, OER Liaison – Open Scotland, University of Scotland, and presents  an overview of current open education initiatives in Scotland. This report, which is based on a paper presented at the ALT Conference at the University of Warwick in September 2016, provides an overview of a number of open education initiatives taking places across different sectors of Scottish education throughout 2016.
Dunnotar Castle (by Macieklew - CC BY-SA 3.0)

Dunnotar Castle (by Macieklew – CC BY-SA 3.0)

Open Scotland

Open Scotland is a cross sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. The initiative was launched in 2013 and was originally supported by Cetis, ALT, SQA and the Jisc RSC Scotland. Since 2015, the University of Edinburgh has provided a home for Open Scotland, with additional support provided by the ALT Scotland SIG. Open Scotland maintains a blog which acts as a focal point to engage the community and disseminate news and developments relating to all aspects of openness in education in Scotland and further afield.

Scottish Open Education Declaration

Open Scotland also supports the Scottish Open Education Declaration an open community draft based on the UNESCO OER Declaration which broadens the scope of the guidelines to encompass all aspects of open education. The ALT Scotland SIG has contacted previous Scottish Government education minsters, Mike Russell and Angela Constance to raise awareness of the Declaration, and in both instances met with an encouraging but non-committal response. In May 2016, following a Cabinet reshuffle, John Swinney was appointed as the new Cabinet Secretary for Education and the ALT Scotland SIG will bring the Declaration to his attention in the autumn. Although the Scottish Open Education Declaration has not yet gained traction within Scotland it has generated considerable interest elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Slovenia where the Slovenian government are exploring the potential of adopting it.

Scottish Government

Although the Scottish Government allocated a substantial amount of funding to the Open University’s Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project in 2014, there have been no further open education funding initiatives and open education does not appear to be high on the political agenda. At best, open education is seen as being somewhat peripheral to Scottish Government priorities, primarily due to the perceived lack of a statistical evidence base supporting the impact of open education on learners.

Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project

The Open University’s OEPS project, which runs from 2014 – 2017, is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and aims to facilitate best practice in open education in Scotland. The project undertakes a wide range of activities include running workshops and events, providing expert guidance, collating case studies and supporting open practice communities. The project has been particularly successful in engaging with third sector organisations including Scottish Union Learning and Parkinson’s UK. OEPS recently launched a number of open courses developed in collaboration with partners including Understanding Parkinson’s with Parkinson’s UK; My Seaweed Looks Weird, with UHI and the Scottish Association for Marine Science; and Becoming an Open Educator.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University became the first university in Scotland to approve an interim open education resources policy in 2015  . The policy defines what OERs are, explains why GCU supports their creation, sharing and use, and gives advice on how to cite third party resources.  GCU Library is now undertaking advocacy work and providing training to raise awareness of OER and the policy. The University has also recently established the EdShare repository to manage teaching and learning resources; 300 resources have been deposited in the first 6 months of which 40% are open access.

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh’s has also approved an OER policy, which encourages staff and students to make informed decisions about using, creating and publishing OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience. This policy is underpinned by an OER vision which builds on the history of the Edinburgh Settlement, excellent education and research collections, traditions of the Enlightenment and the University’s civic mission. The University also has an OER Service which undertakes a wide range of activities that support staff and students to engage with OER, and help the institution to mainstream digital education across the curriculum. Rather than implement an OER repository, the University of Edinburgh releases OERs through a wide range of platforms, including flickr, TES, YouTube, Sketchfab, Wikimedia Commons and Media Hopper, the institution’s own media asset management platform. These resources are then aggregated into the University’s one stop shop for open education resources, Open.Ed. Edinburgh also recently became the first University in Scotland to employ a dedicated Wikimedian in Residence, as an advocate for openness the Wikimedian in residence delivers training events and workshops to further the quantity and quality of open knowledge and enhance digital literacy through skills training sessions and editathons, and redress the gender imbalance of contributors by encouraging more women to engage with Wikimedia and enhance the coverage of articles about women. Edinburgh’s efforts in supporting open education were recognized earlier this year, when the University was awarded Wikimedia UK’s Partnership Award for hosting the OER 16 Open Culture Conference, and the Association for Learning Technology awarded the Open Education Team third place in the Learning Technologist of the Year team awards.

University of Dundee

Although Dundee has not yet approved an OER policy, the University is hoping to progress to one in the future. Dundee are currently sharing open licensed student developed content through Vimeo and Flickr channels, including a showcase of OER from Masters in Medical Art students. The School of Dentistry is also using Sketchfab to share CC licensed dental models developed by students. MOOCs Many Scottish universities have developed MOOCs which are running on a number of commercial platforms including FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX. Although MOOCs are a significant part of the open education landscape, engaging with MOOCs does not necessarily equate to engaging with open education. Only two universities that run MOOCs have developed an OER policy, however anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of institutions are rethinking their MOOC production strategies with a view to making the process more open and sustainable.

FE Sector

The FE sector is still bedding down after the upheaval of regionalization and mergers. As a result merging institutional systems and creating shared infrastructure has become a priority, however engagement with open education is low. The Re:Source OER repository previously hosted by Jorum has been moved to a new repository ResourceShare, supported by the College Development Network. However while the sector is accepting of open educational practice and OER in theory, colleges tend to be cautious in actual practice and there is more interest in the walled garden approach to sharing educational content. The is some interest in the Blended Learning Consortium led by Heart of Worcestershire College and a number of Scottish colleges have subscribed to join the closed consortium.


Jisc announced the retirement of the national Jorum OER repository in 2015 and the service will finally close at the end ofSeptember 2016. Jorum customers have the option of migrating copies of their content from the repository and selected resources are being migrated to the new Jisc App and Resource Store which will host free and open licensed content alongside paid for content. It remains to be seen how receptive the sector are to this approach with some within the open education community cautioning against the risk of open washing.


The Association for Learning Technology is playing and increasingly active role in supporting open education in Scotland. In addition to supporting the Open Scotland initiative, the ALT Scotland SIG liaises with the OEPS Project, hosts annual events to showcase the use of education technology and open education across sector, brings together policy makers at an annual policy summit and raises awareness of open education at Scottish Government level.

National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland launched a new strategy in 2015 and continues to review its open licensing policy with a view to making more of the library’s collections openly available. All images up to 1000px, core metadata and OCR scanned resources are now licensed CC BY, unless the library does not own the copyright, metadata supplied to Europeana is licensed CC0 and high resolution images, extended metadata and manually transcribed resources are licensed CC BY NC SA. In addition, the Library is planning to share more images through Wikimedia Commons.


Although there is significant engagement with open education within individual institutions across Scotland, the Scottish Government has yet to recognise the value of open education to expand access to education, widen participation, and support social inclusion. However 2017 marks the anniversary of two significant open education initiatives; the tenth anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration and the fifth anniversary of the UNESCO OER Declaration. These anniversaries will be marked by significant global events and it is possible that these can be leveraged to raise awareness of the value of open education within the Scottish Government and to drive forward the development of national open education policy.


With thanks to Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen; Sam Coulter, University of West Scotland; Linda Creanor, Glasgow Caledonian University; Kerr Gardiner, University of Glasgow; Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University; Natalie Lafferty, University of Dundee; Kenjij Lamb, College Development Network; Joe Wilson,

About the author lornaLorna has almost twenty years experience working in education technology and currently works as OER Liaison – Open Scotland within the Learning, Teaching and Web division at the University of Edinburgh. Lorna has a long standing commitment to supporting open education technology, policy and practice; she leads the Open Scotland initiative and was co-chair of the OER16 Open Culture conference.  Lorna maintains a number of blogs including Open World and and is a Trustee of Wikimedia UK and the Association for Learning Technology.

the Open Educators Factory (OEF) project

guestauthor - February 23, 2016 in communication, Featured, guestpost, oer

This post introduces the Open Educators Factory (OEF) project, a research effort aiming to explore how to transform university teachers from “agents of resistance” into “agents of change” for openness in education. The project, led by Fabio Nascimbeni, is funded by the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR) and is part of the work of the TELSOCK Research Team within UNIR Research. The starting assumption of the project is that true progress in terms of openness in higher education (as well as in other educational sectors) requires a major cultural change in the mindset of all stakeholders from public policy makers to institutional leaders, to teachers and researchers, to students and parents. As rightly stated by the recent report Foundations for OER Strategy Development  it is fundamental to work on the OER Ecosystem in order to successfully develop sustainable strategies for openness in education. Within this ecosystem, the OEF project believes that the cornerstones for change to happen are educators. University educators (meant as professors, lecturers and tutors) represent in fact the biggest “resistance” to the Open Education revolution – mainly because they typically fear that their role might be undermined by open approaches and because they do not have a full understanding of the potential of Open Education – and at the same time they are the ones that could contribute the most to the adoption of Open Education practices from a genuine bottom up perspective. Following a phase of literature review and a number of interviews(1), the project has developed an original definition of Open Educator, aiming to help decision makers at different institutional and policy levels as well as the HE teaching population to have a clear “development target” towards which to work. Interestingly, while definitions of OER and Open Education are abundant in scientific literature as well as in practice, a definition that encompasses openness within all dimensions of teachers’ activities does not seem to exist: literature seems in fact to be focusing mostly on the “objects” of Open Education, namely Open Educational Resources and more recently MOOCs, or on its “practices”, such as Open Educational Practices, Open Pedagogy, Open Design, Open Scholarship. To fill this gap, we have worked out a definition which takes into account both the “objects” (teaching content and tools) and the practices (learning design, pedagogical and assessment approaches) of teachers’ activities. Our definition of the Open Educator is the following: —-

An Open Educator is a teacher/lecturer/tutor who choses to use open approaches, when possible and appropriate, with the aim to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning. She/he works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement his/her work, understanding that collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others.

An Open Educator implements openness by working across four activity areas. He/she: 
  1. Implements Open Learning Design, by openly sharing ideas and plans about her/his teaching activities with experts and with past and potential students, incorporating inputs and critics and transparently leaving a trace of the development process.
  1. Uses open educational content, by releasing his/her teaching resources through open licenses, by facilitating sharing of his/her resources through OER repositories and other means, and by adapting, assembling and using OERs produced by others in his/her teaching.
  1. Adopts Open Pedagogies, fostering co-creation of knowledge by students through online and offline collaboration, allowing learners to contribute to public knowledge resources such as Wikipedia.
  1. Adopts open assessment practices such as peer assessment, open badges or e-portfolios.
Starting from the four areas presented in the definition, we have developed a framework for teachers self-assessment and professional development, where the columns represent the four areas of activity of our Open Educator definition (learning design, content, teaching and assessment), and the rows indicate – with a necessary degree of generalisation – the different typologies of educators with respect to openness within each activity area. Starting from the bottom, for each column we have defined three levels of openness that an educator typically reaches once she/he goes through some transition phases that are transversal to all four components. The first transition phase has to do with being aware of open approaches, and represents still today the main obstacle for the teaching populations to opt for openness, while the second transition phase deals with becoming “fluent” with openness: once gone though this transition, an educator is expected to adopt open approaches as default in her/his work.

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  The definition and the framework are fully open for critics and suggestions: specifically until the end of February 2015 we are seeking contributions and comments to validate the work before starting with the pilot phase, when the framework will be tested in a number of universities. Please comment directly on the project wiki or by contacting (1): We would like to thank the experts who have contributed to the above work through interviews: Martin Weller, The Open University, UK; Wayne Mackintosh, OER-F, New Zealand; Rory McGreal, Athabasca University, Canada; Chrissi Nerantzi, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK; Antonio Texeira, Universidade Aberta de Portugal, Portugal; and Daniel Burgos, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja, Spain. — About the author: FabioNFabio Nascimbeni works as assistant professor in the International University of La Rioja, and is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), where he collaborates with the CEST – Centro de Estudos sobre Tecnologia e Sociedade. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN), of the Editorial Board of the EURODL Journal, as well as of a number of Scientific Committees in the field of learning innovation. He has been active in the field of innovation and ICT for learning since 1998, by designing and coordinating more than 40 research and innovation projects in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia. His main research interests are open education, learning innovation, e-learning, digital literacy, social and digital inclusion, social networking.