UKOER10 – Open Educational Resources International Symposium

Feeling slightly fragile after one or two beverage at the Fringe Thursday evening I made my way to the quite amazing Holborn Bars bright and early Friday morning for UKOER10.

Many people were involved in the organisation and planning of the event but it was very much David Ks baby and he deserves a great deal of credit for pulling together such a high profile OER event – one that very much put JISC in the mix as far as global players in this area I think.

After David did his early intro Sarah P, Head of Innovation at JISC, did some scene setting and got us started with some positive messages and then handed over the lectern to Mary-Lou Forward from the Open Courseware Consortium (OCWC) who gave an uplifting whistle stop tour of open education activity around the world – I enjoyed the presentation but did pick up a feeling amongst some of the audience that it was a little naively positive. That might well have been true but I think the tone of an opening keynote often sets the tone for the day and positivity made a nice change from alot of what we have been facing lately!

I then attended the session on Promoting OERs led by Peter Robinson from OpenSpires at Oxford and Russell Stannard from Multimedia Training Videos out of Westminster. I enjoyed the quick fire nature of Peters talk and his outline of the work they did with iTunesU and also having openly available content outside that platform. The anecdotal evidence of how much the academic staff enjoyed their new digital profiles was interesting and I would have been interested to hear more about that but all-in-all very interesting.

I’m in two minds about Russells talk. Nothing he spoke about was wrong and his project is a real success almost entirely due to his own efforts and knowledge. That said his use of social media tools is exactly the sort of thing that makes me uncomfortable and is almost the exact opposite of how I have chosen to operate in that space these last 5 years or so. That said I think more people are coming round to that way of thinking and it is certainly an effective way to build traffic so more power to him. It is just not my cup of tea.

The lovely lunch was made even better with multiple conversations with old and new friends alike. One thing I will miss about leaving JISC is the community and contacts I have built up over the years – it is only really at these kind of events you get to appreciate things properly.

I enjoyed the Discovering OER session though one way or another I had seen/heard/discussed all the individual elements of the individual talks – it is obviously really starting to come together though and you can see that bit by bit some real ideas about an infrastructure for discovery are reaching maturity and it is only a matter of time before someone cracks it.

The closing keynote was an inspiring performance by Brian Lamb – it was a unique style and his combination of video, wiki content and live web pages plus a truly energetic presenting style really kept the audience rapt. I’m not going to write too much about his talk as you can read it all on the wiki and it is well worth a read. I will say that it was brilliant to here someone put OER/open education in the wider context of an ‘open web’ with mentions of things like open source, open access, open data and others things. This is very much the foundation of my belief system around ‘open’ in general but it often seems to get passed over with OER in favor of attempts to align things more closely with traditional learning and teaching.

All-in-all it was a brilliant event, all the elements came together perfectly (even the wi-fi held up despite getting a real hammering and there was power everywhere!) and I’m looking forward to my entirely freelanced visit to Barcelona in November now for some fringe activity at OpenEd (as I won’t be attending officially) and hopefully being involved in the Mozilla Drumbeat festival.

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