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Introducing UCL’s Open Education initiative

- August 21, 2018 in communication, featured, guestpost, oer

Guest post by C. Yogeswaran

@OpenUCL  University College London, UK

Founded to “open up university education,” UCL’s OE focus has, since February, been supplanted with new energy and focus. The open education team have been exploring ways to support Connected Curriculum, Education Strategy, and Open Scholarship goals at the institution, facilitating communication between academia and the public and inspiring new ways of undertaking education by removing (economic, geographic, and other) barriers to usage.

To implement open educational practice at UCL, the project takes a three-pronged approach:

  • The launch of a proof-of-concept repository, OpenEd@UCL, dedicated to storing, sharing, and showcasing the university’s teaching materials – both academic and student generated.
  • Developing policy around open education at UCL to ensure it is embedded into community activities – this includes the repository and deposit policy and a planned OE policy, which will be determined through the Open Science Policy Platform.
  • Expanding the practice of open education across UCL through a programme of engagement. Thus far the project has run special interest group meetings, attended by those with an interest in open education, and also a workshop on open education at the recent UCL Open Science Day event. There is now a project website and Twitter feed, @OpenUCL, and we have also featured in two UCL Teaching & Learning newsletters, and internal Week@UCLstaff newsletter.

Sharing OER at UCL

As the project moves into the next phase, we are looking at increasing OER and metadata within the repository, to build a fuller and holistic picture of the teaching materials UCL has to offer, and embed more deeply open education practice at UCL. As London’s ‘Global University,’ we are keen to explore with practitioners how sharing OER can add value to teaching and learning and have wider global reach and impact.

In contacting content providers we have discovered a plethora of OER across UCL which has not been catalogued or brought under one umbrella. Part of this project therefore focuses on working with those who have published OER, to make their resources searchable and discoverable.

Showcasing student content and feedback is also a great way to demonstrate the outcomes of teaching/training, promote courses for prospective students, and engage students in the publishing process, and also encourages collaboration between students and staff.

Engagement activities

In the past six months we have established connections with Arena Open who provide CPD opportunities for teaching staff at UCL, and will be working with them in the new term to run workshops for staff on (a) creating open educational resources and (b) turning pre-existing teaching materials into OER. We will also be present, on a fortnightly basis, at regular research support drop-ins, to talk with UCL staff and create awareness.

Highlighting incentives to publish OER is important in our communication with teaching staff. The Academic Promotions Framework already rewards open behaviours including the publication of open teaching materials, and we are in discussion with the VP for Education about introducing an Open Education commendation at the next UCL Teaching & Learning Awards ceremony. Working with the other research support services we are also looking at ways to formalise the citation and attribution of OER, as professional/reputational growth is an important part of academia.

Learning more

More information about the project is available on the OER website, or you can follow us on Twitter @OpenUCL.


About the author

Claudia is the Open Education Project Officer based at UCL Library Services.

Changing Minds by Using Open Data

- June 26, 2018 in communication, data, featured, guestpost, oer

Guest post by

Erdinç Saçan & Robert Schuwer

Fontys University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras once said:

“if you want to multiply joy, then you have to share.”

This also applies to data. Who shares data, gets a multitude of joy – value – in return.


ICT is not just about technology – it’s about coming up with solutions to solve problems or to help people, businesses, communities and governments. Developing ICT solutions means working with people to find a solution. Students in Information & Communication Technology learn how to work with databases, analysing data and making dashboards that will help the users to make the right decisions.  Data collections are required for these learning experiences. You can create these data collections (artificially) yourself or use “real” data collections, openly available (like those from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) (

In education, data is becoming increasingly important, both in policy, management and in the education process itself. The scientific research that supports education is becoming increasingly dependent on data. Data leads to insights that help improve the quality of education (Atenas & Havemann, 2015). But in the current era where a neo-liberal approach of education seems to dominate, the “Bildung” component of education is considered more important than ever. The term Bildung is attributed to Willem van Humboldt (1767-1835). It refers to general evolution of all human qualities, not only acquiring knowledge, but also developing skills for moral judgments and critical thinking.


In (Atenas & Havemann, 2015), several case studies are described where the use of open data contributes to developing the Bildung component of education. To contribute to these cases and eventually extend experiences, a practical study has been conducted. The study had the following research question:

“How can using open data in data analysis learning tasks contribute to the Bildung component of the ICT Bachelor Program of Fontys School of ICT in the Netherlands?”

In the study, an in-depth case study is executed, using an A / B test method. One group of students had a data set with artificial data available, while the other group worked with a set of open data from the municipality of Utrecht. A pre-test and post-test should reveal whether a difference in development of the Bildung component can be measured. Both tests were conducted by a survey. Additionally, some interviews have been conducted afterwards to collect more in-depth information and explanations for the survey results.

For our A/B test, we used three data files from the municipality of Utrecht (a town in the center of the Netherlands, with ~350,000 inhabitants). These were data from all quarters in Utrecht:

  • Crime figures
  • Income
  • Level of Education


We assumed, all students had opinions on correlations between these three types of data, e.g. “There is a proportional relation between crime figures and level of education” or “There is an inversely proportional relation between income and level of education”. We wanted to see which opinions students had before they started working with the data and if these opinions were influenced after they had analyzed the data.

A group of 40 students went to work with the data. The group was divided into 20 students who went to work with real data and 20 went to work with ‘fake’ data. Students were emailed with the three data files and the following assignment: “check CSV (Excel) file in the attachment. Please try this to do an analysis. Try to draw a minimum of 1, a maximum of 2 conclusions from it… this can be anything. As long as it leads to a certain conclusion based on the figures.”

In addition, there was also a survey in which we tried to find out how students currently think about correlations between crime, income and educational level. Additionally, some students were interviewed to get some insights into the figures collected by the survey.



For the survey, 40 students have been approached. The response consisted of 25 students.

All students indicated that working with real data is more fun, challenging and concrete. It motivates them. Students who worked with fake data did not like this as much. In interviews they indicated that they prefer, for example, to work with cases from companies rather than cases invented by teachers.

In the interviews, the majority of students indicated that by working with real data they have come to a different understanding of crime and the reasons for it. They became aware of the social impact of data and they were triggered to think about social problems. To illustrate, here some responses students gave in interviews

“Before I started working with the data, I had always thought that there was more crime in districts with a low income and less crime in districts with a high income. After I have analyzed the data, I have seen that this is not immediately the case. So my thought about this has indeed changed. It is possible, but it does not necessarily have to be that way.” (M. K.)

“At first, I also thought that there would be more crime in communities with more people with a lower level of education than in communities with more people with a higher level of education. In my opinion, this image has changed in part. I do not think that a high or low level of education is necessarily linked to this, but rather to the situation in which they find themselves. So if you are highly educated, but things are really not going well (no job, poor conditions at home), then the chance of criminality is greater than if someone with a low level of education has a job.” ( A. K.)

“I think it has a lot of influence. You have an image and an opinion beforehand. But the real data either shows the opposite or not. And then you think, “Oh yes, this is it.’. And working with fake data, is not my thing. It has to provide real insights.” (M.D.)


Our experiment provided positive indications that contributing to the Bildung component of education by using open data in data analysis exercises is possible. Next steps to develop are both extending these experiences to larger groups of students and to more topics in the curriculum.



Atenas, J. & Havemann, L. (2015). Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Towards Transversal Skills and Global Citizenship. Open praxis7(4), 377-389.

Atenas, J., & Havemann, L. (Eds.). (2015). Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Case studies of emerging practice. London: Open Knowledge, Open Education Working Group. 

About the authors 

Erdinç Saçan is a Senior Teacher of ICT & Business and the Coordinator of the Minor Digital Marketing @ Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School of ICT in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He previously worked at Corendon, TradeDoubler and




Robert Schuwer is Professor Open Educational Resources at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School of ICT in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and  holds the UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources and Their Adoption by Teachers, Learners and Institutions.

Learning Analytics Policy Development

- June 25, 2018 in communication, data, featured, guestpost

Written by Anne-Marie Scott 

The University of Edinburgh has just launched their Principles and Purposes for Learning Analytics.

In order to develop institutional policy on learning analytics, in 2016 we convened a task group reporting to our Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, and our Knowledge Strategy Committee. The task group was convened by Professor Dragan Gasevic, Chair of Learning Analytics and Informatics. The group included Professor Sian Bayne, Assistant Principal Digital Education; representatives from academic Colleges; the Edinburgh University’s Students Association; and representatives from Student Systems and Information Services.

Our Director of Academic Services produced an initial draft of a Learning Analytics policy for review by our institutional task group. It was a relatively detailed policy which covered the following sorts of topics:

  • Definitions
  • Sources of data for learning analytics
  • Sources of data for learning analytics
  • Initiating learning analytics activities
  • Transparency and consent
  • Privacy and access to data
  • Retention and disposal of data
  • Validity and interpretation of data
  • Supporting positive interventions
  • Enabling students to reflect on their learning
  • Supporting staff to make the most of learning analytics
  • Oversight of Learning Analytics activities
  • Other relevant policies

Ethical values, legal obligations and the reasons for engaging with learning analytics were all embedded in the policy, but as we worked on revisions, considered inputs from external sources, and planned how to consult on a draft it became clear that this detailed policy was likely to beg more questions than it answered without being more explicit about our values and our ethical position upfront. We also had to contend with periods of time where there was limited data protection resource available to the task group, and where the legal basis for processing under GDPR that would be available to us was still being debated in the House of Lords.

At the same time as we were developing local policy, colleagues at Edinburgh (Prof Dragan Gasevic and Dr Yi-Shan Tsai) were involved with the EU Sheila project, developing a learning analytics policy development framework for the EU. There were several key outputs from that project that we used in pre-print form to inform our work:

In particular, the group concept mapping activity carried out by the Sheila project (surveying various European Universities) identified that defining objectives for learning analytics was very important, but also very hard ( As part of our local policy development, myself and Dragan Gasevic met and discussed what we felt were the 6 main purposes for learning analytics in an Edinburgh context, and these were written up into the policy as a means of tackling this issue head-on for Edinburgh.

The literature review on learning analytics adoption that the Sheila project produced also identified various challenges to adoption, and on further consideration I drafted a separate Purposes and Principles document which extracted various of the principles embedded in the detailed policy and responded to many of the challenges and concerns identified in the literature review. Given some of the challenges we were experiencing around clarity on new data protection legislation for resolving areas the more detailed policy, this was the point at which our task group decided to separate the two pieces and start with a consultation on Purposes and Principles only.

The Purposes and Principles were outlined and discussed at Senate in early 2017 and then taken to each School for discussion as part of the consultation plan that Academic Services devised for us. To support this consultation we also developed a webpage that outlined existing research and operational activities in learning analytics at Edinburgh (

This high-level values-first route proved to be an effective way to start, as consultation with many Schools identified that the level of knowledge and understanding of learning analytics was highly variable across the institution, and that there were significant pockets of concern about ethics and about support for staff and students to make more use of data.

The Sheila project also ran a student survey at Edinburgh during this time period and we were also able to finesse the Principles and Purposes to respond to student concerns and expectations.

In considering how to achieve oversight and governance in the absence of the more detailed policy, and in a potentially quite complex and changing area, we also proposed the establishment of a Learning Analytics Review Group. As we pursue more data-driven operational activities this helps close out an ethical review gap in our operational activities. This governance model is now of interest to colleagues working on institutional data governance activities more generally.

Once the Principles and Purposes were approved, with support from our Data Protection Officer, and more clarity on GDPR we were then able to tidy up the more detailed policy which defines the ‘mechanics’ of how activities can be initiated, what roles and responsibilities exist, what sources of data might be implicated etc. This policy was approved by our Senate Learning and Teaching Committee in May 2018. Importantly, this policy has also been able to link in to other work around data governance within the institution, and formally recognises the role that our institutional ‘Data Stewards’ have to play in the approvals process for learning analytics projects.

Important inputs to the development of policy (as well as the Sheila project inputs) included:


About the author

Anne-Marie Scott is Deputy Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, at the University of Edinburgh. Her background is in the design, management and support for academic IT services, particularly those used to support teaching and learning activities online. Amongst her interests are the use of new media and the open web in teaching and learning, scalable online learning platforms, and learning analytics.


Originally published in 

Copyright Reform – CREATe Resources

- June 13, 2018 in communication, copyright, featured

Guest post by Kerry Patterson

CREATe Community Manager

Copyright Reform is a few votes away. The European Union may require those who share news to obtain licences first (permissions against payment). The EU may require platforms to filter content uploaded by users (aimed at music files but also applying to new digital expressions, such as memes and parodies).

Following the adoption of a position of the Council of the European Union on 25 May 2018, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) will vote on the proposed Copyright Directive on 20 June. It is extremely rare for a later plenary vote to overturn the lead committee’s position. So, the destiny of the controversial directive may be settled shortly. This is an important junction in copyright policy, as the Copyright Directive could be the most far reaching European copyright intervention since the 2001 Information Society Directive.

CREATe is the UK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow. The Centre brings together an interdisciplinary team of academics from law, economics, management, computer science, sociology, psychology, ethnography and critical studies. CREATe believes that we can know who is right, and who is wrong. Our resource page [] tracks the progress of the European Commission’s Reform Package through the complex EU process of law making and signposts significant independent scientific research. It also offers a timeline of the policy making process for the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive, and access to draft documents where they have become available (sometimes as leaks).


Kerry Patterson -CREATe Community Manager 

Images Davide Bonazzi/Copyright User

Adopting Open Textbooks in the UK

- March 27, 2018 in communication, featured, guestpost, oer, OpenTextbooks

By Beatriz de los Arcos

In March of 2017 the Open Education Research (OER) Hub received a small grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to assess whether current US models of open textbook adoption would translate to the UK HE context. In a short space of time we put together under the UK Open Textbook Project a team of interested parties, which included David Kernohan and Viv Rolfe this side of the Atlantic, and David Ernst (Open Textbook Network) and OpenStax on American soil.

The cost of textbooks in the US is massive. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that textbook prices have increased by 88% in the past ten years. The average student enrolling in the 2015-16 academic year had to budget between $1230 and $1390 for textbooks and course materials. To put this in context, a loaf of bread is $2.50 and a pint of milk, 40 cents. That’s over 3000 pints of milk and nearly 500 loaves of bread that you’d need to go without in order to purchase your textbooks (and we all know in bad weather what’s the first thing that goes from supermarket shelves). Seriously though, academic performance is also taking a hit: Student PIRGS says that two thirds of students don’t buy a required textbook because they are too expensive, with cost having a negative impact on which and how many courses they register for. Can you imagine how you would cope in your course without the textbook? Research tells us that earning a poor grade, failing or dropping out would not come as a surprise.


The Open Textbook Library defines open textbooks as “textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost”. Because they serve to offset the cost of traditional textbooks, open textbooks have a reason to exist, and the fact that $5 million have been put aside by Congress to fund an open textbook grant program demonstrates that in the US the issue is treated with grave concern. However, is cost a valid argument to adopt open textbooks in the UK? In a recent report on the financial position of students in higher education in England, commissioned by the Department for Education we learn that:

“Compared with the cost of tuition fees, expenditure on direct course costs made up a smaller proportion of full-time students’ participation costs – they spent on average £512 (six per cent of total participation costs) on these items in the 2014/15 academic year. Fulltime students spent the most on computers (£253), followed by printing, photocopying and stationery (£105), then books (£101) and other equipment (£31).” (p. 279)

£101 does not sound like a lot of money, does it? Students in England are delivered a brutal blow by having to pay fees of £9000 a year, not by the amount of money spent on textbooks. It is true that we don’t want to add to their woes and anything we can save them comes as a bonus. What I’d like to highlight here is that if open textbooks are to be adopted in the UK, we need to look beyond cost and sing out loud what we (teachers and students) can do with an open textbook that we can’t do with a traditional textbook. My emphasis in the above definition has to be on “licensed to be freely used, adapted and distributed”.

As part of the work carried out by the UK Open Textbooks Project, the team ran a total of fourteen workshops in eight HE institutions in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of these was to raise awareness of open textbooks and to invite participants to review an open textbook from the Open Textbook Library. As it happened, I facilitated workshops in Glasgow Caledonian University, where registration fees are zero pounds, and NUIGalway, where students pay a ‘contribution’ of €3000 per year. Neither of these universities would see cost as the only swinging logic to use an open textbook in the classroom, but both could reasonably buy into the idea of an open textbook as a living creature that can be adapted ad libitum. An open textbook is more than free; it is free with permissions; permission to reorder chapters, localise examples, translate into any language, add content to, delete paragraphs, link to external sources, and more. More. More. Think about it. Ask your students to think about it.

UK Open Textbook Project 

If you do and you’d like our support, get in touch: @UKOpenTextbooks.

About the autor

Beatriz de los Arcos is a researcher in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, UK and Academic Lead for the Global OER Graduate Network. She has worked on a vast range of open education research projects, including OER Research Hub where she led the project’s work on the impact of OER use on teaching and learning in K-12.  Her work has been recognized with an Open Courseware Consortium ACE Award for Research Excellence (2014) and The Open University Engaging Research Award (2015). She can be followed as @celTatis on Twitter.

Illuminating the global OER community with data

- 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

The goal of the OER World Map project is to illuminate the global OER community with meaningful data. It is a structured educational network, which provides a unique identifier for each building block of the OER ecosystem, allowing educational professionals from different disciplines to share their knowledge with hitherto unknown precision and reliability.

Our current focus lies on three main user stories: Connecting OER actors with another, identifying OER sources and providing statistics on OER and Open Education. The underlying data set is extremely flexible and there are so many use cases for it, that it can facilitate interaction and collaboration by scaffolding a wide range of data led activities.

Since being funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2015, we have solved many practical challenges. Due to the expansive and generalised scope of the project as well as its high complexity we needed time for cautious approaching the right technical and organizational solutions required by the global OER community.

Last year we claimed to have reached adolescence in the sense that the project started to provide value for the community. Now we are happy, that our maturity level proceeded so that full adulthood will be reached in the course of the year. Nevertheless this does not mean that all problems have been solved and the work is done. Rather it means that the platform has evolved so much, that it is now ready to be adopted by the global Open Education Community with significantly increased intensity. The good news is, that we believe to have proven that centralized data collection makes sense and can be done with reasonable effort.

Lately we engaged strongly in supporting the current German OER funding line. For this, we adopted the platform, so that it can model programs and created a country map which shows only regional entries. The country map was integrated in OERinfo – a recently launched site which aims at providing quality information needed to mainstream OER. We also participated in the creation of a UNESCO-Report and the OER Atlas 2017 which are both characterized by the inclusion of quantitative data received from the OER World Map.

We believe that many of the lessons learned can be transferred to other countries. Especially we believe that country maps will be a reasonable way to address local communities and we hope that many maps for other countries will follow soon! Also we learned, that effective data collection works best, when being driven by a professional editor in cooperation with the local OER community. From this point of view we believe, that the OER World Map provides best results when “top-down” and “bottom-up” elements are combined.

At the same time we are continuously improving and expanding our platform: A German translation was provided, a Brazilian Portuguese version is on its way. In addition, our new functionality to set lighthouses and likes as well as the inclusion of OER awards will support users to find high quality initiatives and good practice examples more easily. Last – but by no means least – we are happy to announce that we launched our new landing page just some days ago!

And there are several exciting developments in the pipeline for 2018. Currently we are working on finishing the refactoring of our complete frontend, which will significantly improve the performance of the system as well as its usability. The inclusion of subscriptions and notifications will provide users with regular updates of information relevant for them. Another major milestone will be the inclusion of subcategories for all data types, which will bring browsing and searching to a greater level of granularity.

So what can you do?

  • If you have not done so yet, please register on the map and show that you share our vision of connecting the global OER community.
  • Please make also sure, that your initiative is on the map and share your lessons learned as a story.
  • For research institutes, government agencies or libraries it can be interesting to host a country map.

If you are interested in learning more, please have a look at our latest presentation. We would love to learn what function you would like to see on the World Map. If you do have any ideas, questions or comments, please contact us (


About the author

Jan L. Neumann is part of our advisory board and is working as Head of Legal Affairs and Organization at the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Centre (hbz) in Cologne, Germany. He studied law, economy and systems thinking and has more than 15 years of experience within international project management for different publishing houses and libraries. He is a member of the Education Expert Committee of the German Commission for UNESCO and blogs about Open Educational Resources (OER) on Since 2013 he manages the OER World Map project, which is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and aims at providing the most complete and comprehensible picture of the global Open Educational Resources (OER) movement so far. Jan is a frequent speaker at OER conferences and participated in the organization of OERde 14, OERde 15 and OERde 16 Festival. Nevertheless he considers himself a non-expert in OER to stress that having the courage to think by yourself is one important aspect of the empowerment which comes along with open education. He can be followed as @trugwaldsaenger on Twitter.

Educators ask for a better copyright

- 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 letter is supported by 35 organisations representing schools, libraries and non-formal education, and also individual educators and information specialists.


In September 2016 the European Commission published its proposal of a DSM Directive that included an education exception that aimed to improve the legal landscape. The technological ages created new possibilities for educational practices. We need copyright law that enables teachers to provide the best education they are capable of and that fits the needs of teachers in the 21st century. The Directive is able to improve copyright.

However, the proposal does not live up to the needs of education. In the letter we explain the changes needed to facilitate the use of copyrighted works in support of education. Education communities need an exception that covers all relevant providers, and which permits a diversity of educational uses of copyrighted content. We listed four main problems with the Commission’s proposal:


#1:  A limited exception instead of a mandatory one

The European Commission proposed a mandatory exception, which can be overridden by licenses. As a consequence educational exception will still be different in each Member State. Moreover, educators will need a help from a lawyer to understand what they are allowed to do.


#2 Remuneration should not be mandatory

Currently most Member States have exceptions for educational purposes that are completely or largely unremunerated. Mandatory payments will change the situation of those educators (or their institutions), which will have to start paying for materials they are now using for free.


#3: Excluding experts

The European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. All these are are excluded from the education exception.


#4: Closed-door policy

The European Commission’s proposal limits digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment. As a consequence educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud.

To endorse the letter, send an email to Do you want to receive updates on the developments around copyright and education, sign up for Communia’s newsletter Copyright Untangled.


You can read the full letter below or download the PDF.


Educators ask for a better copyright

Joint Letter on the education exception in the proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, 16 January, 2018

Dear MEP,


We, educators, teachers, students, vocational trainers, researchers, scientists, librarians, archivists and museum professionals, provide education on a daily basis. We teach, we learn, we create and exchange information for the benefit of European society. We want a copyright framework that enables us to provide modern, innovative education. Education fit for the Europe of the 21st century. Copyright needs to be reshaped in order to facilitate modern education which spans the lives of learners, and takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings, online as well as offline.


We strongly support the European Commission’s decision to update the framework of educational exceptions and introduce a new, mandatory exception. Unfortunately, the current proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM proposal) does not meet the needs of educators and educational institutions. On the contrary, it will function as a straitjacket that introduces a fragmented legal landscape and legal uncertainty. It might also mean significant, additional costs for some member states.


Instead of supporting a broad lifelong-learning sector that includes in particular adult education and workforce training – the reform will apply only a narrow range of formal establishments. Instead of supporting innovative use of digital communication to extend the mission of educational institutions, it will serve as a barrier to online education. And instead of facilitating use of a broad range of resources available to educators and learners today, it will support an outdated model that limits education to one-size-fits-all, mass-produced textbooks.


We would like to bring your attention to the following problems with the Commission’s proposal:


#1: A limited exception instead of a mandatory one

Educators should not need to be lawyers to understand what they can and cannot do. We believe in transparency. Educators would benefit from an education exception on which educators can rely across the European Union. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal will maintain the fragmented legal copyright framework when it comes to education as long as licenses can overrule the exception. The consequence of the proposal is that legal uncertainty will be maintained.


#2 Remuneration should not be mandatory

Some members of the European Parliament propose mandatory remuneration for educational uses. Currently, 17 member states have exceptions for educational purposes that are completely or largely unremunerated. In these countries educators can use copyrighted works for educational purposes for free. Payments should therefore remain optional and any changes to this model should be subject to consultation with Ministries of Education of all member states.


#3: Excluding experts

Learners benefit from receiving education from the best in the field. This is why education provided by educators, librarians, museum professionals and non-formal education providers who relate to the topic of study are incredibly valuable. For instance, 24 million adults take part in non-formal training activities in libraries every year within the European Union. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. All these are excluded from the education exception.


#4: Closed-door policy

In today’s Europe, educational activities are legitimately provided in many locations and through various means of communication. The consequence of the European Commission’s proposal to limit digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment is that educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud. All to the detriment of learners.

The future of education determines the future of society

We strongly urge you to avoid the above-mentioned pitfalls by granting a mandatory exception for non-commercial educational purposes that cannot be sidelined by licenses and that cannot be overridden by contract. We need an exception that includes all relevant providers of education and an exception that permits the diversity of educational uses – both digital and analogue – of copyrighted content.

We would like to stress that this is not just a concern to us, educational stakeholders, but to all citizens and society at large. Access to good education is a prerequisite for a thriving knowledge-based economy, and part of European culture. Providing access turns learners into co-creators of education, information and culture. The education exception is an investment needed to enable the advancement of science and innovation. It is an important condition not only to enable the advancement of science and innovation, but for the development of Europe and its societies.


We count on your good sense in policy and decision-making as you work to reform the copyright system in the European Union. We therefore urge all to help support access to inclusive, fair education for all in the European Union.




Communia Association for the Public Domain

European University Association

Lifelong Learning Platform – European Civil Society for Education

European Digital Learning Network

SPARC Europe

Open Education Working Group, Open Knowledge International

Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020)

Expert Group on Information Law of The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

The Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)

Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB-WEB)

The Association of History and Civics Teachers in the Netherlands (VGN)

European Association of History Teachers (EUROCLIO)

The Slovak Chamber of Teachers (SCT)

Centrum Cyfrowe



Platon Schools

Alliance for Open Education


Wikimedia Czech Republic

The Academy of Waldorf Pedagogy

Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic (AUACR/ATECR)

The Media and Learning Association

Neth-ER – Netherlands house for Education and Research

Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

The Center for Public Innovation

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)

Union of Informaticians in Education (JSI)

Mediawise Society Association in Bucharest

Centrum pro studium vysokého školství (cscš)

SOU Nové Strašecí

The Ecumenical Academy, Prague

AARTKOM s.r.o. Art of Communication

Zakladni Skola Chomutov  

Elisabeth N. Fotiade, Media Literacy Educator and Chair of Mediawise Society

Milan M. Horak, priest and teacher, President of the Ecumenical Academy, Prague, Member of the Czech Christian Academy, Member of the Academy of Waldorf Pedagogy, Czech Republic

Jonathan Mason – Brighton and Sussex Medical School, United Kingdom

Mario Pena – SafeCreative, Spain

FINAL 180115 Communia – Joint Letter – Educators ask for a better copyright

Infographic available here 

OpenEdu Policies reports – JRC Research Centre

- 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 policies involving many stakeholders, particularly ministries of education, research and science across Europe. ‘Going Open’ is a report bringing policy recommendations on open education at regional, national and EU levels. ‘Policy Approaches to open education’ is a report covering the 28 EU Member States, presenting case studies about how each country approaches open education policies. Both reports are part of the JRC’s OpenEdu Policies project –

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has just published a comprehensive overview report (164 pages) on Policy Approaches to Open Education across all of the 28 EU Member States.

The Foreword to the report, by Yves Punie (Deputy Head of Unit DG JRC Unit Human Capital and Employment) summarises the conclusions as follows: “The diversity of polices and approaches presented herein reflect the diversity that is intrinsic to the European Union. Each Member State has specific goals for education and priority areas to address when formulating its policies. However, this research shows that Member States are aware of open education issues and that in one way or another nearly all of them have implemented some sort of initiative or action plan in relation to open education, even though that goal is not explicit in some cases.” He goes on to describe the report as “another step taken by the European Commission (DG EAC and JRC) to meet Members States’ requirements for more research and evidence on open education in support of policy-making in Europe.”

The work for the overview report was carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) at the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR) in Logroño, Spain. An international team based in Spain (Daniel Burgos), Italy (Fabio Nascimbeni and Stefania Aceto) and the UK (Javiera Atenas and Paul Bacsich) carried out the work, with assistance from 28 ministry officials and other experts who agreed to be interviewed. The interview work was supported by substantial desk research across all Member States, for which a further large number of experts on open education were consulted, along with outputs from key projects such as OER World Map, OERup!, D-TRANSFORM, ADOERUP (for the European Parliament), POERUP and earlier JRC projects and reports on open education. In particular all identified policies were analysed using the OpenEdu Framework produced by JRC, which identifies six core dimensions of open education (Access, Content, Pedagogy, Recognition, Collaboration and Research) and four transversal dimensions (Strategy, Technology, Quality, Leadership). The report is available at

The report, together with additional research and expert consultations, forms the basis for the also just released JRC report “Going Open: Policy Recommendations on Open Education in Europe (OpenEdu Policies)”, which highlights policy options to further open up education in Europe. See

Our long report is, we believe, the first one of its kind to bring together at a detailed level policy work in open education for a complete geopolitical region. The team will be happy to explain the methodology to other interested research groups. We can see no reason why the approach, including use of the OpenEdu Framework for analysis, cannot be replicated for other geopolitical groupings such as Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie and more widely across Europe. Regarding the last, it would perhaps be most immediately useful if funding could be found for those countries in the European Economic Area and the European Neighbourhood to carry out similar work.

Inevitably in such a detailed report, there will be items at the Member State level that get rapidly out of date. Indeed, we hope that such reports as this and the overview reports from JRC will foster an increased climate of policy formation and creation of initiatives at MS level, not only at EU level. As part of its ongoing work, the Open Education Working Group will continue to make its email list and blog available to interested researchers and specifically to encourage them to produce similar and updated material for their countries. For more details see


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

- 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 increasing the mobility of students and university staff  in the Euro-Mediterranean region by strengthening the International Credit Mobility dimension of the Erasmus+ Programme, supporting South-South mobility, reinforcing Capacity Building and supporting the integration of refugee students and academics.

UNIMED would like to invite you to sign the Petition, both as individuals and, when possible, as institutions and, if you are interested, to disseminate it among your contacts

The European Commission is in the process of preparing the new Erasmus Programme for the 2021-2027 period . The result of the petition could be very important to invite the policy makers to pay more attention to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and instruments.

On the 4th of December, UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union launched its Petition for a Mediterranean Generation and its Manifesto for a new Mediterranean of knowledge. By signing the Petition, you will support UNIMED in asking the European Commission for measures aimed at: strengthening mobility between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean, including South-South mobility, reinforcing Capacity Building and supporting the integration of refugee students and academics. The Manifesto, in turn, calls for giving Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts a more important role in the Euro-Mediterranean Education and Research cooperation programmes in order to foster the sustainable development of the Mediterranean basin through, among other things, strengthening dialogue with Southern Mediterranean countries.

To read and sign the Petition, click here.

To read the full Manifesto and to endorse it, click here.

The objective is to present the signed petition during the “UNIMED WEEK in Brussels”, which will be held from the 10 to the 12 of April 2018.

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.