EMLT Meeting at De Montfort University, December 11th 2013

Winter morning

Welcome and overview of meeting

Sarah Horrigan opened the event with a quote from Martin Weller (2013) about openness.

“Openness has been successful in being accepted as an approach in higher education and widely adopted as standard practice.  In this sense it has been victorious, but this can be seen as only the first stage in a longer, ongoing battle around the nature that openness should take.  There are now more nuanced and detailed areas to be addressed, like a number of battles on different fronts.  After the initial success of openness as a general ethos then the question becomes not ‘do you want to be open?’ but rather ‘what type of openness do you want?’.  Determining the nature of openness in a range of contexts so that it retains its key benefits as an approach is the next major focus for the open education movement.

Open approaches complement the ethos of higher education, and also provide the means to produce innovation in a range of its central practices.  Such innovation is both necessary and desirable to maintain the role and function of universities as they adapt.  It is essential therefore that institutions and practitioners within higher education have ownership of these changes and an appreciation of what openness means.  To allow others to dictate what form these open practices should take will be to abdicate responsibility for the future of education itself.” (Weller, 2013)

Weller, M. (2013), The battle for open – a perspective. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, available from http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/article/2013-15/pdf, date accessed 13th December 2013

PechaKucha presentations

We then had some PechaKucha presentations from EMLT members.

Martin Cooke (Jisc RSC East Midlands) – Balabolka

Watch Martin’s presentation about the free text-to-speech tool Balabolka.



Lucy Atkins (De Montfort University) – Digilit Survey Results

Having presented on the development of the framework and survey at the July EMLT meeting, Lucy presented the findings of the DigiLit Leicester Survey for 2013.

Lucy’s slides can be seen at http://www.slideshare.net/lucyjca1304/digilit-pecha-kucha


Mark Berthelemy (Wyver Solutions Ltd) – Sustainable Open Education

Talked about the need to consider whether Open Education is a sustainable model. He proposes that without a sustainable business model these initiatives will disappear once funding for them stops. He looks at the Manager Tools site as a potential model for others to explore.

Mark’s slides can be seen at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1keEwIGgLtiW3wuf5rKzkM8sJzPlgWghqb_8_CQN8An4/edit?usp=sharing

Mark explores this further in a blog post on the EMLT website http://eastmidslt.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/sustainable-open-education/


Rob Weale (De Montfort University) – Sharing Practice via online case studies

This presentation will give an overview of how good practice in the use of learning technologies is openly shared via an online ‘Commons’. The site provides links to online case studies which use text summaries, videos, and audio to help articulate what was done.

Rob’s slides can be seen at



Round the room round-up

We asked the room whether there was anything that they wanted to share with the other attendees.

Calls for information/participation

  • Implementation of tools to support HEAR (Rachel Challen, Loughborough College) – Rachel is looking to start the process of putting a tool in place to help with the HEAR system and would like to hear from anyone who has experience of this to give her an idea of where to start.

  • Lecture Capture – (Charles Shields, Loughborough University) – Charles is interested in hearing from others who have or are looking to roll out Lecture Capture across the institution. They are looking at implementing an opt out system.

  • New Build Projects (Charles Shields, Loughborough University) – Loughborough University is looking to build a new facility at the Olympic Park in London, Charles is interested in hearing from those with experience of new build projects or designing learning spaces to effectively integrate learning technology.

  • Digital Literacy (Sarah Horrigan, University of Derby) – Sarah has recently been visiting a number of universities to talk to them about their digital literacy initiatives for both staff and students.

  • Digital Literacy Project in FE – (Geraldine Murphy, Loughborough College) Looking for FE tutors to contribute to the project by completing an online survey. Contact geraldine.murphy@mail.bcu.ac.uk.

  • Bring your own device (Jon Tyler, De Montfort University) – Interested in hearing from anyone currently looking at the support for Bring Your Own Device approaches to learning technology.



  • Web Editor (Online Learning Editor) (Hannah Stanley-Scott, University of Derby (Online Learning)) – to be advertised soon.

Interesting Projects / News

  • Mini moocs (Duncan Greenhill, University of Leicester) – Duncan has recently been working on a project looking at mini moocs for biological sciences. They are aimed at A Level students and help them to get an idea of what it would be like to study at the university.

  • Award Winner!! (Lucy Atkins, De Montfort University) – DigiLit Leicester Project is one of the five winners of the Reclaim Open Learning Innovation Contest – more about this can be found on the DigiLit blog http://lccdigilit.our.dmu.ac.uk/2013/09/16/the-award-winning-digilit-leicester-project/

If I have missed anything, please add it as a comment on the blog post.

‘Thinking about openness’ – workshop

As part of the meeting we had a discussion about openness and sought to discuss the following three questions.

1. What are some of the benefits of ‘open educational practice’ from our perspective as learning technologists (these can be general and/or organisational/institutional)?

  • Simpler – don’t have to worry about authentication

  • Saves us from re-inventing the wheel – makes it easier

  • Don’t have to make the same mistakes as others

  • EMLT as space in which we can be open about failure / the reality of learning – smaller versions of ‘open’ can be useful

  • The process of being open – healthy learning community which is transparent

  • Easier for the learner – can use the tools they are used to using, e.g. Google etc.

  • Education as a collaborative pursuit – helps working together

  • Efficiency gains / economies of scale

  • Prove capability

  • Can help to build networks, social media as open publishing platform (beware of protectionist barriers)

  • Good for informal sharing

  • Marketing – institutional, organisational or corporation using open educational practices as a marketing device.  Also on an individual level – the individual as a ‘brand’.

  • Openness is a mindset?

  • Can draw on sources of talent etc – especially within this group – develop own skills

2. What are some of the barriers to ‘open educational practice’?

  • Licensing restrictions

  • Knowing where to find openly licensed resources which you can build on

  • Others not working in an open manner – can conflict with an intention to be open

  • High stakes areas can make open difficult, e.g. research areas can be very closely protected

  • Plagiarism

  • Openness is not valued by the system – what is the value of academic / professional blogging if it is not professionally validated in some way? The value can be personal but the organisation can struggle to relate that to itself.

  • Openness is a cultural / mindset issue

  • Quality – confidence in the quality of resources / how does the resource represent the institution or employer?

  • The environment in which you operate can be a barrier, e.g. being frank and honest in a fully public environment may not be appropriate.

  • Openness is potentially a huge game changer – the money has to be found from somewhere.

  • Does open = free?  Can it?

  • Is open inclusive?  Does everyone want to work in that way?  Can they?  Do they have the tools that will enable them to work in that manner?

  • No budget for ‘open’

  • Legal issues – can it be published openly?  Do organisations facilitate open publication?

  • Ethical issues – especially using visual content and permissions haven’t been sought.

  • Issues of ownership – who owns open?

  • Control of resources – people can be quite closed / competitive

3. How can we as learning technologists help to overcome some of the barriers to open educational practices?

  • Opening discussions with colleagues – highlighting gaps in policy and aiming for clarification etc

  • Leading by example – share openly and talk about real examples

  • Incentivise it – give people a reason to share their work.  Help open practitioners feel that what they’re doing has value within their community.

  • Work out what matters and frame open educational practices around that issue.

  • Provide support for those who need additional help – de-grey the grey areas (especially copyright!)

  • Make language accessible

  • Provide a suitable platform, e.g. iTunes, WordPress etc – and provide support for whatever it is that you choose

  • Create opportunities to be open such as networking opportunities.  It is an organisational / cultural thing – if that’s open, it feeds through to everyone within that organisation

  • People like talking to people – help create those points of personal contact.

  • Flattery – help people celebrate and recognise the quality of what they’ve done – it then becomes their idea to share with others

  • Link open with something of benefit to the organisation, e.g. share your Moodle courses with others and we’ll provide free CPD for you

  • Support the use of tools and technologies which facilitate openness – basics, case studies, step-by-step instructions, examples, openness to technologies that are open (outside core tech of institution) – provide mechanisms by which the tools of open can be accessed

  • Tap into support resources which already exist externally / openly

  • Challenge the status quo

  • Amplify the voices that matter… ‘you said we did’… meeting student expectations.  Getting the student voices into case studies etc, finding ways to connect the right people

  • Tell stories

Wrap-up and next meeting details

We finished the meeting by asking attendees for potential themes for the next event

  • Increasing participation at a distance

  • Lecture Capture

  • Student generated content with Audio and Video

  • Bring your Own Device

Thank you to De Montfort University for hosting and a special thank you to Rob Weale for organising things at DMU and Richard Hall for funding the yummy food.

The University of Derby has kindly offered to host the next meeting in March or April.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The EMLT Steering Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *