OER Schools conference
Last week the Open Education Working Group attended a hugely important open education event: the OER Schools conference held in Leicester. The event was organised to support a landmark decision by Leicester Council to give blanket permission to teachers in the Leicester area employed by the council to share their learning and teaching resources under an open licence. They are doing this through supporting the rolling out of OER policies at individual schools and offering guidance on OER and licencing issues. As Björn Hassler explained in his opening presentation “practice changes and policy plays catch up“. Leicester’s Digilit team’s work and the decision by Leicester council are an attempt to rectify this situation.
The conference was attended by around 50 school leaders, staff and governors from primary, secondary, SEN and specialist schools with the main purpose of introducing the central OER issues to school staff and sharing the guidance that has been developed by the Digilit team.
The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project has identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER). An understanding of OER and open licensing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge.
The Open Education Working Group contributed to the opening briefing session with a presentation on Open Education around the world (available on Slideshare). The session covered key legal and practical issues for schools – including copyright and open licensing, international approaches, and employment and policy. Videos are available of all the panel session presentations.
There were then a series of hands-on workshops introducing OER, accessibility, the Leicester policy requirements (they are suggesting use of a CC-BY licence) and OER resource building in the area of computing. The aim of the workshops was to raise confidence levels among those who will be involved in implementing the policy.
The event was a really great opportunity to talk to practitioners who are using OERs and may well be creating them in the future. I particularly enjoyed the workshop run by Miles Berry, principal lecturer and the subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton, working on a series lesson plans to aid teaching about open licensing. I’ll share more on this in a separate post. Leicester’s activities in this area will hopefully pave the way for other council’s to support their staff’s need to share and use openly licensed materials.
As an aside the Times Educational Supplement announced before Christmas that they are now asking that every free resource uploaded to the TES site is given a Creative Commons licence.