You are browsing the archive for Annalisa Manca.

“The night of the living MOOCs”: a feasible and high-impact proposal

- March 21, 2018 in guestpost, MOOCs, oer, Open Educational Resources

By Fabio Nascimbeni, assistant professor in the International University of La Rioja and member of the Open Education Working Group Advisory Board.

The current  #fixcopyright campaign that aims to modify the upcoming European Copyright Reform by instilling more openness for the benefits of citizens, educators, and researchers across Europe, can be summarized in one sentence: “Europeans deserve freedom to use digital content in education”. This very same sentence was used by one of the speakers during a recent webinar organized by EDEN in occasion of the Open Education Week 2018, and generated an interesting debate on how policy should make sure that education is treated with particular care, when it comes to guaranteeing access to open and quality learning resources.

Interestingly, within the webinar the sentence was not referred to online learning resources in general, but specifically to MOOCs. The claim of the speaker, a university teachers who is using MOOCs as a complement within the curriculum, was that MOOCs, that potentially represent an unprecedented set of online learning resources, are limited in their use by educators by one major issue.

Any researcher in the field of OER and Open Education would quickly say that this issue is the act that MOOCs contents are normally not released as Open Educational Resources (OER), making impossible for a teacher to adapt them to the specific needs of his/her context. While this is certainly true, our professor said that adapting the content of MOOCs is not the problem – she would not have time to do that anyway and if you are able to search for good quality MOOCs there is not that much to change, in her words – while the real issue is another, somehow a simpler one.

The fact is that typically MOOCs are “open” for participation only in some specific periods of time, and therefore cannot be used by a teacher as a curriculum complement in case the course that we want to complement takes place outside the MOOC duration. A quick non-exhaustive search on Class Central, one of the most complete directories on MOOCs, seems to confirm this. If we search for example for MOOCs on mathematics, we see that out of the 292 mapped courses 45 are actually “in progress” and 82 are self-paced, meaning that they remain constantly open. This makes 127 actually “usable” courses out of the overall 292, that is only around 44%. The situation is even worse for MOOCs on business studies (only 36% of which are actually available) or on medicine (32%). Further to this, what is most striking is the high number of so-called “finished courses” (33% in mathematics, 26% in business, 40% in medicine): the content of these courses is simply no more available.

This “MOOC demography” is striking: in our example on Business studies, out of a population of 1510 MOOCs the living people are a minority (36%), the not-yet born are quite a lot (Recently announced and Future Courses sum up to 38%) and the dead ones are 26%. In other words, this means that in general terms and with all due exceptions (such as MOOCs platform that might grant access to content also when the course is not running) the majority of content produced within so-called Massive Open Online Courses, not only is not open in the OER meaning, but is not even accessible Online.

Advocating for MOOCs providers to make available the content of the courses under development prior to the courses launch (the not-yet born) would probably be too much, but on the other hand allowing teachers (as well as any other user) to access the content of the Finished Courses (the dead ones) is something that could be easily done, and arguably would not represent a problem in terms of MOOCs business models. Bringing these finished MOOCs “back to life” would increase the amount of available MOOCs content by roughly 25%, and would allow teachers accessing them for their classes in a permanent way.

This would not transform MOOCs into OER, but would surely represent an important step, especially considering that MOOCs are increasingly being used as complementary resources integrated in the curriculum, towards the freedom that Europeans deserve to use digital content in education.

Cape Town Open Education Declaration 10th anniversary

- January 24, 2018 in #CPT10, copyright, oer

This week, Monday January 22nd, the Open Education community celebrated an important anniversary: 10 years since the publication of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, a global call to action that has helped inspire thousands of open education advocates across the world.
The Declaration starts by describing an “open education movement” which is pervading educational practices worldwide:

We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.

This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective.

And it goes on suggesting three strategies to increase the reach and impact of open educational resources:

1. Educators and learners: First, we encourage educators and learners to actively participate in the emerging open education movement. Participating includes: creating, using, adapting and improving open educational resources; embracing educational practices built around collaboration, discovery and the creation of knowledge; and inviting peers and colleagues to get involved. Creating and using open resources should be considered integral to education and should be supported and rewarded accordingly.

2. Open educational resources: Second, we call on educators, authors, publishers and institutions to release their resources openly. These open educational resources should be freely shared through open licences which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet.

3. Open education policy: Third, governments, school boards, colleges and universities should make open education a high priority. Ideally, taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources. Accreditation and adoption processes should give preference to open educational resources. Educational resource repositories should actively include and highlight open educational resources within their collections.

So, where are we now, after exactly 10 years from this? The 10 year anniversary was initially marked last year during the World OER Congress , in which a group of open educators, reflecting on progress made by the community over the last ten years and future challenges, collaboratively produced a new set of recommendations to inspire and focus the movement for the next ten years: the Ten Directions to Move Open Education Forward.

These directions complement and expand the three Open Education Declaration strategies by giving particular attention to elements such as communication, empowerment, educational development, open pedagogy, and copyright reform, among others. The Open Education Working Group has been involved in the last element through  Communia, a network of activists, researchers and open practitioners who advocate for improvements to the EU copyright framework. We believe that the copyright law is of fundamental importance to move Open Education forward. Indeed, “the availability of openly licensed educational resources continues to grow, a wide variety of cultural and informational resources that are critical for education remain locked up by restrictive copyright terms. Limitations and exceptions to copyright can give teachers and learners the necessary freedoms to use these resources for educational purposes, without having to ask for permission. Copyright reforms taking place around the world can strengthen these exceptions—or hurt education by weakening them”. Last week Communia sent a joint letter to all MEPs working on copyright reform, explaining the changes needed to facilitate the use of copyrighted works in support of education. As we are well aware of, education practices are embedded, and influenced by, social, historical and political dynamics. It is important that we educators become critically aware of these dynamics and become active in making sure that they do not disrupt our pedagogies.

Critical awareness of social, historical and political dynamics affecting educators’ practices is an important topic especially nowadays as globally, we are witnessing major migratory flows, which means that providing social and educational services have become pressing concerns in all regions of the world as we need to make sure everyone is able to access adequate education. The Ten Directions to Move Open Education Forward contain 3 particularly important strategies related to this issue: open pedagogy, educational development and empowerment. OERs have the affordances to be used as an instrument for education to social cohesion within a critical pedagogy discourse (Manca et al., 2017), with particular attention to the aforementioned strategies. Critical pedagogies refer to all those educational experiences promoting transformation, empowerment, and exposing the power dynamics affecting educational development and which can perpetuate social injustice. It is then of vital importance that open educators refer to these strategies (and the others) for both personal development and to design education in a way that helps learners develop the critical skills needed to uncover, observe and recognise how socio-cultural, power and emotion-related dynamics influence society.

With these new, 10 directions, Open education is not only moving forward, but it is becoming the vessel of a democratic pedagogy aimed at educating future generations to what sociologist Edgar Morin defined as “complex lessons in education for the future” (2002). These lessons include the ability to appreciate the common human condition, the way knowledge is (co)constructed and what are the possible errors in this process, the importance of understanding each others and, most importantly, the aptitude to confront and accept the uncertainties and complexities of the socio-cultural reality we inhabit (Manca et al., 2017). The Open Education Working Group is delighted to join the wider community of open educators on this vessel and moving towards these exciting, transformative  challenges.



Webinar: Open Access and its value for Open Education

- October 23, 2017 in events, openaccess, openaccessweek


In occasion of Open Access Week, the Open Education Working Group is organising a Webinar in which Teresa Nobre, Ivonne Lujano and Graham Steel will discuss Open Access and its value for Open Education.


The Webinar will be on

Wednesday 25th of October at 14:00 CET

and can be accessed on the


Teresa Nobre is an attorney-at-law based in Lisbon, Portugal, and a legal expert on copyright at Communia International Association on the Digital Public Domain. She is also Creative Commons Portugal legal lead. She coordinated the research projects Educational Resources Development: Mapping Copyright Exceptions and Limitations in Europe (Creative Commons, 2014), Best Case Scenarios for Copyright (Communia 2016), and Copyright and Education in Europe: 15 everyday uses in 15 countries (Communia, 2017). Teresa holds a university degree in Law from the University of Lisbon Faculty of Law (2003) and a LL.M. in Intellectual Property from the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center (2009).

Ivonne Lujano is a lecturer at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, working to advance future teachers education. Since 2011 she has been advocating for Open Access in Mexico and Latin America. First, in Redalyc (OA journals database) where she was part of the journals assessment department; and now as the ambassador of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in Latin America, where she currently collaborates with several universities and research centers promoting best practice and transparency in journals. She recently published a paper on journals evaluation systems in Latin America. Ivonne is part of the OpenCon community since 2014.


Graham Steel is involved in advocating for Open Access/Science/Data and acts in an advisory capacity for Open Knowledge and the Public Library of Science (PLOS). As of January 2015 – August 2016, he acted as Community Manager (then Social Media Manager) at ContentMine.

Open Education Working Group meet in Ljubljana

- October 2, 2017 in advisoryboard, guestpost

Post written by Lorna M. Campbell

(L-R) Cable Green, Fabio Nascimbeni, Lorna M. Campbell, Leo Havemann, Virginia Rodés and Sophie Touzé at the OER World Congress, Ljubljana.

Members of the Open Education Working Group Advisory Board had a rare opportunity to meet face to face last week while attending the UNESCO OER World Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  The theme of the Congress which brought together delegates from 111 countries, was “OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: From Commitment to Action” and there was a strong focus on how OER can help to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.

“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”

The main output of the Congress was the UNESCO Ljubljana OER Action Plan and accompanying Ministerial Statement.  The Action Plan  outlines 41 recommended actions to mainstream OER and to help Member States to build knowledge societies and provide quality and lifelong education.

Members of the Advisory Board took time out of the busy programme of talks, discussions, workshops and satellite events to meet and discuss recent activities and actions the group could take forward from the Congress.

Cable Green provided us with an overview of Creative Commons new Global Network Strategy which is focused around four platforms; open education, copyright reform, community development, and GLAM.  We discussed how the Open Education Working Group could engage with the Open Education Platform as we share many of the same goals.  The platform is open to all and provides a space to connect to global actions in open education resources, practice, and policy, plan and coordinate multi-national projects, and secure funding from Creative Commons and others.  You can find out more about Creative Commons Open Education Platform here: Invitation to Join: CC Open Education Platform.

We discussed whether the group should schedule a new series of open education webinars, or whether it would be more useful to curate and provide access to webinars run by other organizations and institutions.  We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.  Another idea we explored was whether it would be useful for the group to start mapping OER research and whether this could potentially be a starting point for a CC platform project proposal.

We also identified future events where group members could potentially meet face to face again including Creative Commons Summit (Toronto, April 2018), OER18 (Bristol, April 2018), OEC Global (Delft, April 2018), EDEN (Genoa, June 2018).  Fabio Nascimbeni suggested it would be useful to have an OER18 strand at EDEN to draw the themes of these two events together.  Sophie Touzé also encouraged the Group to engage with the Open Education Consortium around Open Education Week and this is something we were all very keen to explore.




Lorna M. Campbell currently works as OER Liaison within the Learning, Teaching and Web division at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Her areas of expertise include digital infrastructure for OER, open education policy and practice, and technologies for supporting the management and distribution of educational content. Lorna has a longstanding personal commitment to supporting open education; she founded the Open Scotland initiative, was co-chair of the OER16 Open Culture Conference and is a Trustee of Wikimedia UK and the Association for Learning Technology. Lorna is also the driving force behind the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

From 2002 – 1015 Lorna was Assistant Director of the Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards (CETIS) in the UK, during this time she contributed to the development of a number of learning technology standards and supported many national innovation programmes including the UKOER programme. Lorna maintains a number of blogs including Open World at and Open Scotland at and she regularly blogs and presents about a wide range issues relating to open education. Lorna has an academic background in archaeology and she has a long-standing interest in digital history and humanities. She can be followed as @LornaMCampbell on Twitter.

Open in a Nutshell: Monkey Nuts of Openness

- April 19, 2017 in guestpost, oer

Post written by Christian Friedrich & Kate Green


Peanuts, by Anna – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

After a couple of days at OER17 conference in London (if you haven’t yet, check out the recordings and documentation), we (Christian and Kate) visited the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) at Coventry University to join in further discussions around education, digital media and technology. It was a day that sat between the paradoxes of openness and closedness, publicness and privateness, of surveillance and care. In a group of about 25 researchers, activists and administrators we discussed openly, and many felt that we could do so in a closed space. In many ways, the DMLL represents this ambivalence quite interestingly. To access it, you need permission, you have to pass many gates and closed doors. But once you have reached the DMLL itself, you find yourself in an open location with workstations, semi-closed spaces, closed workshop rooms.

The first half of the day was framed by concepts of ownership and control in digital education technology. The DMLL is in the fortunate position to have two fellows who have been beating the drum of ownership, digital identity and of authenticity for quite a while now. These two fellows are none other than Jim Groom and Audrey Watters. This was also the first time that they would be presenting in the same space and you could sense expectation in the audience before Audrey kicked things off:

Keeping things casual for a Friday morning, Audrey communicated a strong message of ownership through a story of Prince and his relationship with technology. She told the story of how he wrestled with the music industry to have control over his own music, to own his master recordings and not vice versa. Much like how music artists sign away their art to record labels, students are compelled to sign over their work to their institution: “we tell them that this is simply how the industry, the institution works.” She concluded by saying that a Domain of One’s Own  is a step towards giving students and scholars control of their work, which segwayed into the second talk by Jim very nicely indeed.

Jim shared a webpage from a student from University of Mary Washington; she used it as a portfolio of her work. He then showed us what her website looks like now, after having been an artist and practitioner for a while: she uses it to showcase and sell work, it’s her online shop, her online business but also a central space for her online representation. This is her space that she has control over – a nice illustration for the delta between the technologies most Higher Ed institutions use (the LMS / VLE) and the Domain of One’s Own: the former one being a technology under control by the institution and software providers, of permission management, of default interfaces and pre-defined paths and structures for interaction; the latter one being a technology under control of each individual student, of free decision-making about one’s own representation and identity, of try-and-error, that represents the affordances of the web as its basic, modular form.

The talks were followed by a lively discussion that, intentionally or not, displayed the ambivalence around these issues quite nicely: while being recorded, we were discussing the implementation and (mis-)uses of the LMS, its logical next steps from an institutional perspective in terms of data analysis, surveillance and control. This was felt by some in the room who were hesitant about making comments, when it could potentially jeopardise their jobs.

After lunch, however, the cameras were folded away and everyone was ‘off the record’ so to speak. The afternoon session was vignetted as a kind of un-symposium. There wasn’t a theme or an agenda, but four guests were invited to present before opening up the room to collectively decide what to discuss or do during the final hour. There were presentations by Esteban Romero Frías from Granada on institutional approach to digital media in teaching and learning as followed by the Medialab UGR; Javiera Atenas presented a case for using Open Data in the classroom to both teach data literacy skills, as well as challenging narratives of migration presented by the media; Brian Lamb presented a cooperative model of collaboration around the development and implementation of technology in learning contexts; and finally, we presented the Towards Openness workshop that we facilitated at OER17 that centred around the theme of ‘safety in online learning’.

There were fewer people in this afternoon session than in the morning, now fifteen, but we could not help but observe that the diversity of the group was at least above average for a gathering at a European university centre. There were senior managers, educators, activists, researchers, artists and Ed Tech’s Cassandra. Over fifteen people, we represented nine different nationalities. Our ages varied over thirty years. Our experiences were all different. As far as we are aware, this group was invited to come together. And while having something that was invite-only does not feel very open, a group like that doesn’t come together just because you open up a space, it ‘required’ an invitation.


Whether it was because we spoke last or that Jim and Audrey framed the day with their thoughts over ownership and educational technology, the conversation that followed steered towards how we could “get to work” and do something about ‘surveillance capitalism’ that was raised in our presentation. We toyed with the idea of ‘gaming the system,’ when in fact students already do this through different means. This conversation of surveillance and control is international and it’s approached very differently between countries. While universities in the UK and the USA already implement systems that compile and use data of students both regarding their physical and online behaviors, seek correlations and patterns as a system of surveillance framed as care, other countries like Germany still fall behind in this regard. While the narratives around these technologies are quite similar internationally, their speed of implementation differs vastly. Surprisingly or not, in countries like Germany that have not yet implemented these structures, only few actors analyze intentional and unintentional effects while following the very same paths bound to to repeat the same ideas, be it regarding surveillance, repositories, the LMS and ‘digitization as centralization’ of Higher Ed.

The closedness of the space (we literally had to knock every time we entered the room) meant that an open discussion could happen. We weren’t being recorded. There isn’t any documentation of this discussion, until this vague blog, and to respect the privacy of others we don’t feel it appropriate to disclose details of the conversation. But also because there isn’t such documentation, our takeaways are individual and personal. As for our own personal opinions, we can safely say that the connections we made, the discussions we had, the aspects of control and ownership that we shed light on, will stay to make an impression on our work. Whether or not this was this unsymposium’s goal is hard to say, but we can say that we highly appreciate this outcome.



Christian Friedrich is member of the founding team of the Digital School at Leuphana University Lüneburg in Germany, where he works with faculty and staff to encourage open teaching and learning practices. He is one half of a german podcast on open education and he works as a consultant for digital collaboration and learning. Follow him on twitter @friedelitis.



Kate Green is a PhD candidate at Horizon Digital Economy Research, University of Nottingham. Once an open and connected learner of #Phonar, Kate has continued to support and leverage openness in her practice. Her recent work includes #PrivacyUG: an open and underground privacy class, and the co-development (through participatory design) of an OER for 5Rights Youth Juries. You can read Kate’s Blog here.

Webinar on Open Education and Open Science: a summary

- 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 some questions about the recent International Open Science Conference 2017.

The Conference, which had a special focus on OERs, was organised by Guido, and Lorna was an invited speaker with a keynote on “Crossing the Field Boundaries: Open Science, Open Data & Open Education”.

I started by asking Guido about the purposes of the “Leibniz Research Alliance Science 2.0” (LRA).

Guido: “LRA was founded in 2012 as an answer to the changing context of research, in particular the increasing digitalisation: researchers are now using blogs, twitter, social media, academic social networks and other various online-tools to share or conduct research, a phenomenon that has been named ‘Science 2.0’. These dynamics are changing the scientific system by producing new outputs and new publication formats. The scope of LRA is to examine the effects of Science 2.0 and Open Science on research and publication processes and to provide strategic instruments for interdisciplinary research among member institutions that are open for collaborations with universities and other research institutions.

Guido then explained the difference between Science 2.0 and Open Science with the example of using Google Docs to collaboratively write a research paper, which is then published in a closed access journal. This would be an example of Science 2.0 which is not, however, Open Science. Of course Science 2.0 fuels Open Science, and vice versa.

Of particular interest for the Open Education Working Group was the thematic focus of the conference, which was on OERs. Hence my question on the reasons for this particular choice.

It was interesting to learn that not only within LRA there is a special interest group Open Science in Education, but also some partners of the LRA have educational background and are involved in OER-related projects. For example one partner is building the OERInfo platform, a central hub for OERs in Germany.

Lorna highlighted that it is indeed very timely to bring the Open Science conference under the umbrella of Open Education this year, as 2017 has been designated as the Year of Open, as a result of a series of anniversaries that are taking place this year. For example it is the 15th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative  and the first Creative Commons licenses, the 10th anniversary of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration and the 5th anniversary of the Paris OER Declaration.

We also talked about the role of Wikipedia and Wikimedia in Open Education.

The role of resources like Wikipedia and all Wikimedia tools is very important in Open Education. Lorna nicely explained that “…certainly here in the UK we have an increased number of Wikimedia residents working at not just galleries and museums, but also at Universities […] and that is really about embedding open knowledge in higher education, so that Wikimedia effectively becomes a digital literacy tool and an open knowledge tool. So it’s not just about using the information out there but it is also about creating open knowledge by editing Wikipedia, using Wiki data etc…”.

The next question was about the value of Open Education in Open Science.

For Guido, the most important element in this discourse is that Open Science practices must be taught: scientists (and the public) must learn Open Science practices and OER can be used for this. So the main point is to “apply open science practices when you teach open science”.

Lorna agreed that there are many commonalities between Open Science and Open Education, and that each can benefit from the other. “Certainly in terms of Open Education there’s a lot that Education could give from having greater access to open data of all kinds and I think that if students and teachers have got access to open science data for example, that’s an immensely powerful learning resource. Javiera and Leo through this working group have written a very important report on Open Data as OERs and I certainly think that’s one area in which Open Science can contribute significantly to Education. But of course there’s the other way and I think Open Education has a lot to offer to Science Education and Guido spoke about the importance of public engagement, and I think that’s an important area”. Lorna went on describing a recent project at Edinburgh University, in which students were involved in public engagement and created some OERs.

I then asked Lorna, referring to her keynote, if she thinks the boundaries between Open Science and Open Education are still quite rigid and, in that case, how we could contribute to loosen them up.

Lorna’s insight was, as usual, really interesting: “Well, I think this conference is exactly the way we can start to break down these boundaries. I think there is a tendency that we work in our ‘Open Silos’… we have Open Education, Open Access, Open Science, Open Data…  and, you know, we are all working in one thing and making good progress, but there’s not quite enough inter-connection, I think, between these areas. So anything that helps break down these barriers could be a good thing, and especially conferences, like this one, that  really extends the welcome to people working in education are really, really important” […] “A lot of this has to do with keeping these communication channels open, and remembering that we do have a lot that we can learn from each other. I certainly tend to see Open Education, Open Science, Open Access, Open Data as all part of an Open Landscape and we just need to go ahead, learn how to navigate them and reach across these boundaries”.

So, that was a lovely share of experiences and insight from both Lorna and Guido, which definitely contributed to a better understanding of what Open Science and Open Education have in common, and also facilitated critical reflection on what us, Open Educators, need to learn from Open Scientists (and vice versa).

It is particularly interesting to see that the Open Landscape seems to be inhabited by several ‘Open Silos’, but the boundaries are definitely getting more and more blurred.


Open Science Conference 2017: a Webinar with Lorna Campbell & Guido Scherp

- 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 blur the barriers and boundaries that tend to separate these areas of openness, how and why?

To answer all these questions, and many more, the Open Education Working Group is pleased to host a Webinar with Guido Scherp, coordinator of the Leibniz Research Alliance Science 2.0.

Guido will kindly answer some questions on the highlights and outcomes of the International Open Science Conference 2017, which had a special focus on OER.

We will also have a very welcomed contribution from Lorna Campbell, who was an invited speaker at the conference and presented on Crossing the Field Boundaries: Open Science, Open Data & Open Education.


See below the Webinar recording.

An open pathway to learning for all: learning through making (OER) and by experiencing (OEP)

- March 29, 2017 in featured, guestpost, oer

Post written by Chrissi Nerantzi & Viviane Vladimirschi

Reflections on #OEglobal in Cape Town, March 2017

OEGlobal (#oeglobal) took place in Cape Town this year, 10 years after the Declaration of Open Education was signed there. With the Table Mountain backdrop, where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean blend into each other and with a turbulent recent history, open educators met to discuss, debate, share ideas and design a better future for the human race through learning with all for all.

Cape Town’s “City Bowl” viewed from Table Mountain in May (late autumn). Picture by By Andres de Wet; Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

We, OE researchers, Viviane and Chrissi, met for the first time at the OE Global Conference in Krakow in 2016 and then again at the OE Global Conference  in Cape Town this year… not so long ago. We are both PhD students and members of GO-GN and hope to contribute with new knowledge to the area of open education that will be of value for others to make our planet a more equitable place to live in  through the provision of accessible and free effective learning experiences and resources for all that bring us closer together. The conference was a fantastic opportunity to find out what is happening across the world in the area of open education, connect with ideas and people.

The first part of our stay in Cape Town was with our GO-GN colleagues. It was a great opportunity to share our projects, the progress we have made and  to continue providing ongoing support for each other and to get to know each other a bit better as well. A full set of presentations can be found at and a storify has been made available at with our Twitter interactions on these days.

Then the OE Global Conference started. There was definitely a buzz and so many interesting people there, with such diverse ideas but also a shared passion for open education based on democratic values that foster diversity and inclusion. Some we had met before, many who were new to us and some we had met online and saw for the very first time in the flesh so to speak. Among the presenters there were many of our GO-GN colleagues and their innovative research projects.


Learning through making (OER)

What we both noticed is that there was now more discussion about open educational practices, than last year. Is this a shift? Some years ago at the OER conference in the UK, I (Chrissi) heard Darco Jansen saying “Content is not education. Interaction is”. This stayed with me and it does make a lot of sense. This doesn’t of course mean that we don’t need resources, materials for learning. On the contrary, what we do need, we think, is to engage more actively with materials and resources. This for us can means to seize opportunities for learning through making resources through use of teaching theories such as constructionism, resource-based learning and project-based learning for example. Authentic and contextualised learning is really important. As there is currently a revival of the maker movement and individuals rediscover the power of making in the physical world, the technology now also enables us to make stuff, including resources in the digital world as well and share via social media and other technologies. Is the time now ripe for OER 2.0? As educators we spend a lot of time preparing resources, far too much! In order for students to learn, we need to engage them more in learning through making approaches that will help them digest, discover and make sense of the world around them and learn so much more than when we create the resources for them. What are we waiting for? David Wiley talked about the concept of open pedagogy.  Open pedagogy as defined by David Wiley capitalizes on learning by doing using the 5Rs. He sees these as an opportunity to re-think how we engage with OER and maximise on the potential they have for student learning through active, critical and creative engagement with these.


Learning through experiencing (OEP)  

Greater emphasis was played at the conference this year on open educational practices (OEP). Many related interesting and diverse projects from around the world were shared and discussed in a range of contributions. Examples from the Global North are the OER Hub and the cross-institutional collaboration Open Educational Practices in Scotland and from the Global South ROER4D. I (Chrissi) had the opportunity to meet some colleagues from  ROER4D and especially valued the conversation with Tony Carr. A lot of interesting work is being done in Africa to support teachers to develop their understanding of open education and develop practitioner and researcher capacity in this area as they will be the seeds and spread open education further. We said that we would stay in touch and explore possibilities to collaborate in the future and bring individuals from the Global North and the Global South together. I am really looking forward to this.

Cable Green shared an ambitious vision and perhaps an opportunity for a new type of university which at the heart has authentic learning to solve the big problems we are faced with. We could say that Cable proposes an action or even activities orientated approach to higher education. There is definitely potential there to make a real difference and create a better and more sustainable world through developing a new type of university, especially as it is often hard to change the existing higher education from within. Change might indeed come from outside and have a ripple effect on existing institutions. What needs to happen to make it happen?  

Learning through experiencing in the open rethinking and redesigning learning and teaching approaches so that we create inclusive and diverse learning opportunities and experiences. David Wiley talked about the need for open pedagogies. Opening-up existing modules and courses has so much potential to transform how we learn and teach today with so many advantages for students and educators. But how prepared and willing are educators, students and institutions to embrace such approaches? Can academic development help? My own work (Chrissi) has shown that it can make a difference and that academics as students experiencing OEP has the potential to transform practices.


Take away: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” African proverb.

Narend Baijnath said in his keynote “We need crazy visions for the future!” We totally agree! The time is right to put forward crazy visions that break free from conventions and present fresh pedagogical ideas that have the power to transform individual lives and the lives of all of us on this planet.

Imaginative and collaborative solutions are needed that will bring the Global North and the Global South closer together. Findings from the ROER4D studies in institutions in East Africa and in developing countries show that there is still a big divide as innovation is confined to a few converts and the use of OER/OEP is highly fragmented.

We can bridge this divide but it requires action from all of us. Cross-boundary collaborations will, we believe, lay the foundations for learning for all that enriches, unites and transforms institutions and nations across the globe.   

We found the conference valuable for our professional development as open researchers and open practitioners. We met old and new friends. I (Chrissi) particularly enjoyed the conversations with Christian, Anna, Carina and Rory. Thank you Jutta for your interest in my work and sharing your recent paper with me. I can see that we are on the same wavelength. I am looking forward to connecting with Paola and our GO-GN buddies. I (Viviane) particularly enjoyed my conversations and rich exchanges with Carina Bossu and José Dutra who have been following the progress of my work since last year and who always provide me with good solid advice as they know well the Brazilian educational context and reality. I look forward to connecting with them again and there are certainly plenty of opportunities for us to join forces and collaborate, which I am looking forward to.

Glenda and all the team organised a successful conference and congratulations to all OE Global Award winners.


We include below a few links to useful conference related resources

Insightful blogposts about the conference has been written by Catherine Cronin (you will also find loads of useful links and resources there) and Robert Schuwer. All presentations can be found at

Martin Hawksey has created a visualisation of actions and interactions on Twitter using the #OEGlobal and his wonderful TAGSexplorer.

There were also specific tools or frameworks that have been created to support openness and that received awards.


The next OE Global conference will be held in the Netherlands next year (see blog written by Willem van Valkenburg)


See you there!


Chrissi Nerantzi is an academic developer in the Centre for Excellence of Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, a passionate open practitioner and open collaborator who has conceived and (co-)founded a range of open cross-institutional  professional development initiatives for academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in higher education. Examples include @openfdol, @tlcwebinars, @byod4l, @fos4l, @LTHEchat, #creativeHE and the latest #101openstories. Chrissi is also an open researcher, PhD student and member of GO-GN. A key output of her research is the openly licensed cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework.

Viviane Vladimirschi (M.Ed. in DE) is an Educational consultant, trainer, and instructional designer. She is also a PhD student at Athabasca University. Her research is focused on exploring what role, if any, OER can play in the professional development of K-12 public teachers in Brazil.