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Open Educating at OKFestival

- July 21, 2014 in communication, data, events, featured, okfest, okfest2014

This year’s OKFestival, the biggest open data and open knowledge event to date, brought together over 1000 attendees from more than 56 countries. People got together to create, share, network, converse, learn, hack, brainstorm, listen, debate, contemplate and party!


The event was held at the Kulturbrauerei (a name most of us could only say after a large beer!) in Berlin. The Kulturbrauerei is huge architectural complex originally built and operated as a brewery and OKFestival occupied a courtyard and the surrounding buildings – a truly amazing space.

The result of much planning meant that OKFestival was a unique experience, which was encompassed by a host of fantastic fringe events, a dynamic unfestival lineup and countless meet ups.

Rob Farrow, Beck Pitt and Martin Weller from the OERResearch Hub and Open University drink to Open Education

Rob Farrow, Beck Pitt and Martin Weller from the OERResearch Hub and Open University drink to Open Education

At times the size and diversity of the event left some of us attendees a little unsure of which path to take, but in true festival style the most exciting gems are those that are found serendipitously and stumbled upon.

Open Education played a staring role in the event and is increasingly becoming an important part of the OKFestival eco-system. As Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, commented in her keynote: “The best investment we can make is education and that too must be open.” Neelie went on to talk about the crime of teachers not being able to access materials, she is a great advocate of open education and was a true inspiration for attendees.

So here are some of the best open education sessions I managed to attend:

Open Educational Resources and Policy: Overview and Synergies with Fellow Open Movements

The OER and policy session was led by a stellar panel comprising of Alek Tarkowski (Director, Centrum Cyfrowe / Creative Commons Poland), Timothy Vollmer, Policy Manager, Creative Commons, Delia Browne (National Copyright Unit to the Australian Schools and VET sector), Nicole Allen (Director of Open Education, SPARC) and Melissa Hagemann (head of Open Access to Research and Open Educational Resources initiatives at the Open Society Information Program).

After an overview of current policy in countries including Poland, Brazil and Macedonia we broke out into different groups to look at specific angles on policy. In the group I attended looking at overlaps between government, data and OER it was great to hear new perspectives. For example an attendee from South Korea explained how a liberal city council and president and a curriculum driven by government has allowed Seoul to make more use of OERs. Unfortunately this trend is not played out in other South Korean cities. In Amsterdam in the Netherlands there has been activity around city budgets and education with attempts made to create textbook versus OER costings. However in the Netherlands the situation is problematic due to an existing law which states that new development must not diminish existing industy – which OER can do for the publishing industry. Other examples included the US and the Utah K12 OER work, SouthAfrica with initiatives from Siyavula and Italy.

Open Policy Session by CC BY, attributed to Gregor Fischer

Open Policy Session (CC BY) by Gregor Fischer

The session concluded by an agreement that education should feature more prominently in the Open Government Declaration endorsed by the Open Government Partnership.

Open Education Smörgåsbord

The Open Education Working Group’s Smörgåsbord offered attendees a taster of different aspects of open education

We ended up with 6 tables:

  1. Kristina Anderson from CC Sweden offered people a chance to think about why teachers aren’t using OERs.
  2. Miska Knapek, an information experience designer from Denmark involved with OKF-Finland, and Irina Radchenko, an Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, created dataland and had attendees think about open data repositories.
  3. Alek Tarkowski from CC carried out a follow up session for the OER policy one mentioned above and worked on an OER policy map and infographics.
  4. Tom Salmon, teacher and open development researcher, facilitated an open badges session where people had to run through a series of exercises using his open data in education posters. [more information]
  5. Marieke Guy (me!) from the Open Education Working Group ran a Open Education Handbook role playing activity [more information]
  6. Darya Tarasowa, a PhD student at University of Bonn, Germany, ran through Slidewiki with attendees and created a Slideset on Slidewiki for educators.


We all had some great conversations and will be following up on learnings in the very near future. Our session etherpad has notes from the session.

How to Teach Open Data

The session on teaching open data facilitated by School of Data, Peer to Peer University, Datakind UK and Open Tech School was incredibly well-attended. It involved a ‘speed dating’ type of activity (we moved round different tables) that allowed us to hear about various aspects of data training. The best tips I picked up were:

  • How to organise tech and data workshops – have a good ratio of learners to coaches, read the room and adapt material, finish with asking ‘what worked?’ ‘what would you change?’, take regular breaksand don’t over facilitate.
  • Building effective curriculum and accreditation – know your audience and adapt, keep your community alive online, mix skill groups, include visualisations (always very popular) but then teach core skills too.
  • Type of education activities: a blended offline, online – keep to smaller issues – if you design a data expedition around a huge issue you won’t finish it.
  • Designing passion driven communities – ensure that you enable well-defined tools and learning experiences, have a diversity of questions, remember that not all learners are the same, design for diversity.

The session provided an opportunity to hear about some great initiatives related to data teaching. I particularly enjoyed finding out about The blended learning approach the School of Data had taken where they had people sign up for two online MOOCs (introduction to data journalism and introduction to journalism) and then supported these with a Google group and weekly 2-hour meetups which allowed contextualizing of the MOOC content and group support.

With Sally Deffor (Open privacy) and attendees from Sierra Leone

With Sally Deffor (Open privacy) and attendees from Sierra Leone

Even more…

I attended a lot of other great sessions. There is too much to share here but I want to highlight a few choice moments:

Open Data in Cultural Heritage – OpenGLAM in Germany: There are so many amazing goings on around opening up cultural heritage objects including high resolution images and an increasing amount of activity building on this content through hackathons and coding sessions. The Twitter account @ddbkatzen, a cat meme with images from Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, and Coding Da Vinci are clever examples of this. Coding da Vinci involved 16 cultural heritage institutiuons , 20 open data sets, 150 participants at hackathon, 180 at awards, 26 project ideas, with 17 ideas going through to fruition. Impressive stuff!


Open Data in Developing Countries: Research Sharing – this event showcased the results of the World Wide Web Foundation research project: Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries. A synthesis report from the project has just been released and makes great reading. Of particular interest here is investigations in to use of open data in the governance of South African higher education looking at the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET) online, open data platform providing institutional-level data.

Open Development Working Group fringe event: There are so many join-ups between open education and open development and this day workshop (sponsored by Making All Voices Count) gave us an opportunity to explore some of them. The session on measuring impact raised some very big questions about how we gauge success – no easy answers but agreement that metrics are not enough and we need to look to innovative case-studies (for example looking at champions, the long-term benefits of conversations around data and the data value chain). I also participated in an open science/open education/ open development cross-over session which was hugely useful. It was fantastic to hear about the Pedagogy of the Oppressed and the democratic school movement in Brazil – all this offers a good grounding for more work around open learning and teaching practices.

OKFestival left me feeling inspired, invigorated and at many times humbled. There seems no better way to end this post than with a quote from Neelie Kroes: “I want to thank everyone at OKFestival14 – you are a real inspiration for me. The Future Is Open and you lead the way“.


Photos from the event can be found in the Flickr Pool, Tweets are available using the #OKFest14 hashtag, videos of the keynotes will be available in due course. You can offer feedback on the event using this form.

Smörgåsbord Dishes: Badges, data and roleplaying

- July 9, 2014 in featured, okfest, okfest2014

Just a week to go till our Open Education Working Group Open Education Smörgåsbord session [Wednesday, July 16 from 14:00 – 16:00] at OKFestival in Berlin.

We’ve outlined the session already on the blog but have a few more details to share about 2 of the tables – the session will comprise of 5 tables in total.

Table 3: Open data in Education

BadgeOn table 3 Tom Salmon, teacher and open development researcher (@Fishytom) will be focusing on:

  • Using Data in Education
  • Metadata and Open Education Resources
  • Government Data for Education
  • Leveraging Open Badges in Education
  • Mobile Learning with Open Data

He’s explained these areas in more detail in a great post on his The Hum of Dewey Digital blog. Tom will also be awarding 8 different open badges which will recognise attendees participation and exploration of each of the areas.

Table 4: Open Education Handbook

materialsOn table 4 I will facilitating an Open Education Handbook role playing activity. By taking on roles we will be able to think about open education from different perspectives and evaluate the coverage of the handbook. We will also be thinking about the future of the handbook and how it can be embedded in the community.

The resources from the session are available as a PDF.

We will hear more about the other tables in due course and make sure we share all our learnings from the day.

We have a session etherpad so please do take a look, add your name and ideas if you’d like to be involved!

If you want to join in the fun on the day then get yourself to OKFestival! Tickets are still on sale!

OKFestival: Open Education Smörgåsbord

- June 5, 2014 in communication, okfest, okfest2014

The OKFestival programme is now live! The Open Education Working Group have an exciting workshop session lined up for any one keen to participate in, or to find out more about open education: Open Education Smörgåsbord. The plan is to allow people to sample our smörgåsbord and get people interacting, collaborating, sharing, making and ultimately learning about what the future of education could be. We plan to make some OERs along the way and may even have nibbles to tempt you with! Our workshop will be running on Wednesday, July 16 from 14:00 – 16:00.


We have a session etherpad so please do take a look, add your name if you’d like to be involved and add your ideas!

At the moment we have 5 tables planed though things could change and we may even end up with more.

  • Table 1: Miska, Kristina and Irina: The open Teacher kit. On this table we will be making a best practice plan for openess can help teachers with ideas around how sharing and reuse can become a normal part of education.
  • Table 2: Alek: OER policy made crystal clear. On this table we will be creating an infographic explaining the basic policy model for implementing OER.
  • Table 3: Tom: Make mobile use of open data for education. On this table we will be making a plan for how mobiles can make better use of open data for education.
  • Table 4: Marieke: Make an Open Education Handbook Q&A – On this table we will be looking at the questions that open education throws us and thinking about how we can answer them. So for example “How is open data shaping the way teaching practices or activities of learning are perceived?” “What affect does open education have on education?” “How can OERs help the developing world?” “Are MOOCs open washing open education?”.
  • Table 5: Darya: SlideWiki Starter Session: On this table we will trying out Slidewiki and seeing how open courseware tools can be used by educators.

The tables will be facilitated by

  • Kristina Anderson – Kristina works for CC Sweden. @kalexanderson
  • Marieke Guy – Marieke is the Open Education Working Group Co-ordinator. @mariekeguy
  • Miska Knapek – Miska is an information experience designer from Denmark involved with OKF-Finland, working with making new (open) knowledge building cultures, and visual tools for the same. @miskaknapek
  • Irina Radchenko – Irina is an Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. @iradche
  • Tom Salmon – Tom is a teacher and open development researcher. @Fishytom
  • Darya Tarasowa – Darya is a developer and | maintainer of platform for collaborative authoring of | OpenCourseWare. @SlideWiki
  • Alek Tarkowski – Alek is the director of Centrum Cyfrowe, Polish NGO focusing on open issues and Public Lead of Creative Commons Poland and European Policy Fellow with Creative Commons. A @atarkowski

If you want to join in the fun then get yourself to OKFestival! Tickets are still on sale!


Open Education comes to OKFestival

- May 23, 2014 in communication, featured, okfest, okfest2014, okfestival

This year’s OKFestival is taking place in Berlin at the Kulturbrauerei from 15th – 17th July. The programme is now online and there’s lots of Open Education stuff to get excited about!


The Open Education Working Group have pulled together a session called Open Education Smörgåsbord led by Marieke Guy, Alek Tarkowski, Tom Salmon, Kristina Anderson, Miska Knapek, Darya Tarasowa and Irina Radchenko.

Open Education is about breaking down barriers to learning. This may be through changing teaching practice, shifting policy, releasing data or sharing resources. In the Open Education Smörgåsbord we want to get people interacting, collaborating, sharing, making and ultimately learning about what the future of education could be. This interactive workshop session will Involve five ‘table’ leaders who will introduce themselves, their projects and explain the activity they will be facilitating. The tables are: The Open Teacher Kit, OER Policy made crystal clear, Mobile use of open data for education, Make an Open Education Handbook Q&A and open courseware collaboration with Slidewiki. Attendees can join any of the 5 maker tables and make and learn!

Creative Commons will be leading a session on Open Educational Resources and Policy: Overview and Connections to Others.

There are also sessions on open data, open science, open access, open coalition, open development and openness of other flavours!! Here’s a few potentials:

  • How to Teach Open Data – Milena Marin (Open Knowledge School of Data) & more
  • Low-Tech Data: Story-Finding and Storytelling – Rahul Bhargava (MIT Center for Civic Media), Gabi Sobliye (Tactical Technology Collective)
  • Maintaining a healthy and thriving Public Domain – exploring the notion of originality and copyright when digitising analogue works – Joris Pekel (Europeana), Paul Keller (Kennisland), Lieke Ploeger (Open Knowledge Foundation), Thomas Margoni (University of Amsterdam) & OpenGLAM Open Knowledge Working Group
  • Open licenses for a free press – Hauke Gierow (Reporter ohne Grenzen)
    Open Movements – Alek Tarkowski (Centrum Cyfrowe), Nicole Allen (SPARC), Delia Browne (P2PU), Melissa Hagemann (OSF)
  • Openness Divide? — How Openness Can Help the Unfinished Arab Spring – Salwa AbdelTawab (Al-Jazeera), Bilal Randeree, Rawan Damen
  • Building the open coalition – developing a wider community of open – Stevie Benton (Wikimedia UK), Bekka Kahn (P2PU)
  • Opening up ‘open’: how do we strengthen the base of people who care about open? – Elliott Bledsoe
  • Tracking development in the open – Mark Brough, Shreya Basu (Publish What You Fund)
  • Skills and tools for web native open science – Kaitlin Thaney (Mozilla Science Lab), Karthik Ram (rOpenSci)

OKFestival are also encouraging people to plan and run fringe events which will complement the Festival, both before and after the official programming, so potentially even more exciting stuff.

Early bird tickets are on sale now at a cost of only €120 – hope to see you there!

Open Education at OKFest

- March 5, 2014 in featured, okfest, okfest2014

OKFest, the Open Knowledge Festival, will take place in Berlin, July 15th – 17th. The Open Knowledge Festival gathers open movement makers, thinkers, activists and researchers to enable them to work together to tackle local and global challenges, understand our world, expose inefficiency, challenge inequality and hold governments and companies to account.


The OKFest team have designed the festival around three themes: Knowledge, tools and society. This is an attempt to avoid having too many streams that focus on just one area. It will also ‘mix it up’ a little. So the idea is to have open education sessions in every stream. For example, sessions on OERs in Knowledge, open source educational tech in Tools and open education/access to education issues in society. They are hoping that by breaking down the topic silos there will be more cross-domain collaboration – which is a good thing!

We have also been discussing having a separate open education fringe event – though there is still some thinking going on behind this and it may not happen. We will share any new information as soon as possible.

The closing date for proposals is 16th March, which doesn’t leave us too much time!

A small number of us are working on an Open Education Working group proposal, our first official session as a group.

Hopefully lots of you are also working on proposals individually related to your specific activities or areas of interest. If you aren’t then get writing! There is now a new set of tools for sessions planners, including a discussion list for people to connect and team up, a page with tips and tricks and two live hangouts to be held Friday March 7th 21:00 GMT and Monday March 10th, 10:00 GMT. All this information is available from the OKFest website.

It would be great to hear more about ideas on the mailing list, or at the working group call next week – OKFest is down as an agenda item.

See you at OKFest!