open educational resources

#OER17 Opening comments

OER17 Welcome slide

Notes from my opening comments:

Alek and I are delighted to welcome you all, so hello to everyone who is here with us on site, everyone who is attending the conference at distance, everyone who is experiencing the wonder of #oer17 in real-time, and everyone who is joining us from the future. We’re delighted to be part of a conversation with you all that is going to help shape the direction of the global open education movement.

On the 20th of April 2016, we announced the theme of OER17 would be ‘the Politics of Open’, in all of its aspects. In between then and now, #OER17 has become probably one of the most timely education conferences of the decade. This has quite a lot to do with Brexit (the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union) and the election in the US of Trump, but it’s not only because of these events. It’s also got to do with the ambition and the maturity of open education – where we are as a community and a movement. And it’s linked to the ongoing persistence of structural inequality – which isn’t at all new – and the emergence of the web as an everyday space.

I’m sharing a quote from American feminist activist Jo Freeman, who was writing 40 years ago, in the Tyranny of Structurelessness, about the ways in which organisations and movements are always structured by power relations implicitly.

“For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit.”

If we fail to acknowledge these relations explicitly, we mask power – we fail to acknowledge what is actually going on . And similarly, I’ve included a quote from French philosopher Hélène Cixous

““I’m not political” we all know what that means! It’s just another way of saying: “My politics are someone else’s!”

Typically the politics of organisations and movements that emerge without scrutiny are mimicking and adopting the existing forms of discrimination. So this conference is a really important and timely event for us collectively to explore, reflect on and challenge issues of diversity, equality and inclusion, both within the community, within our community, and in relation to the work of that community.

You can see a round up of the responses to #OER17 over at the conference website.

You can view the ‘bookend’ blogposts to this one from my co-chair Alek Tarkowski: Politics of Open: five ideas for the OER17 conference

And you can join the #OER17 organising committee online at our follow-up webinar on 20th April 2017.

Open Education Week 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 12.18.16I’ve been supporting a range of great open education initiatives, contributing to this years Open Education Week activities and celebrations.

The new Learning and Work Institute  – an independent policy and research organisation, which joins the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and the Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion – held an OER Jam in Leicester, as part of the Institute’s work on Open Education Resources (OERs) across Europe. The face-to-face event supported adult education practitioners in using OERs for teaching and learning.  The Jam was designed as a follow-up to the OERUP! Online training  – with supports people working in adult education, and can be started at any time.

I provided the wrap up talk for the day, focusing on the work we’ve carried out with schools across Leicester.

In March, I lead a webinar for the European Commission’s ExplOERer Project, which is designed to promote sustainability through OER adoption and re-use in professional practice. My talk supported week 2 of the project’s online Learning to (Re)Use Open Educational Resources course, and focused on introducing Creative Commons licences, and thinking through some key questions in relation to beginning to use and create OER.

I was also delighted to be invited to keynote at Opening Educational Practices in Scotland‘s fourth annual forum – #OEPSforum4. Following in the footsteps of some amazing open education luminaries – including Laura Czerniewicz, Lorna Campbell, and Alison LittleJohn, my talk focused on the mainstreaming of OER in education represented by the everyday use of sites such as Wikipedia and TES Resources, and approaches to making sustainable cultural and organisational change that put open education at the heart of professional practice.

In my next post, I’ll write in greater detail about the key challenges to centring OER in education practice across the sectors I outlined in the #OEPSforum4 talk, and how we can overcome these.


Open Education for Schools – Policy & Practice

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free. Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop – but many schools are not familiar with open licensing and OER. These resources are designed to enable school authorities, districts, trusts, and individual schools get the most out of open education.  They have already been adopted and adapted by people working in a range of sectors – including further and higher education, and adult education.  They are released under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence, which means you are free to share and adapt the materials, as long as you provide appropriate credit. Information about how to credit material is provided on each document.

OER Policies – for authorities, districts, trusts, and individual schools

By default, the rights of work created in the line of employment are assigned to the employer, unless a specific agreement has been made. Leicester City Council is the first local authority in Europe to give blanket permission to employees at 84 community and voluntary controlled schools across the city to create open educational resources (OER), by sharing the learning materials they create under an open licence. This permission makes sharing resources simpler for everyone at these schools, and helps raise awareness of issues relating to intellectual property, including copyright and OER.

Giving permission for school employees to openly licensing digital resources incurs no additional cost to the employer or to the school, but provides a wide range of benefits. These include:

  • Supporting digital literacy – especially in relation to copyright education and practice, and working with and creating digital resources.
  • Making publicly funded works available for public benefit.
  • Communicating intent – supporting open licensing sends a clear, positive message in support of access to knowledge for all.
  • Capacity building – the creation and use of openly licensed resources can promote the development of connections and collaboration and the sharing of expertise across professional communities.
  • Strategic planning for the use of technology to support education – open licensing policies enable staff working across institutions to take advantage of the affordances of technology through collaborative working, without having to seek multiple permissions for single projects. For example, the production of e-text books that are produced, updated and shared by staff from multiple intuitions; the collaborative creation and management of online courses to support learners unable to attend schools physically, or to support differentiation, or to enhance on site learning.

Policy Resources:

This document provides permission from the authority for employees to openly license educational materials created in the line of their work. This document can be used by authorities, districts or trusts to implement their own permission:

This document answers frequently asked questions about why an employer is implementing an open licensing policy, and what the benefits for employers and employees are:

This document provides a template for schools who have been given permission to openly license educational resources by their employer (for example, a local or district authority):

This document provides a template for schools whose employer is local – for example, in the case of academy schools or voluntary aided schools, where their governing body is the employer:

G1OER Guidance for Schools

Leicester City Council  released a range of resources to support school staff digital literacy, and to help schools get the most out of open licensing and open educational resources.

The pack consists of four key guidance documents, and a range of supporting materials.

You can also download the guidance as a single, print ready version:

Alongside the four guidance documents, there are six supporting additional resources, which include workshop activities, and step-by-step walkthroughs to help staff find, use and make open educational resources.  You can download zip file packs containing all of the resources (the guidance plus supporting documents) here, in the version that suits you best:

  • OER Guidance for Schools Resource Pack (2015) – a zip file containing PDF documents. The documents are provided with graphic design, but, like all PDF, can’t be edited easily. These documents are great if you want to use or share the resources as they are.

If you are wanting to edit the documents, for example to create your own versions, you can download an editable version. These are provided in zip files containing Word and OpenDocument text documents. These versions are not as attractive as the PDF versions, and are provided without the graphic design. All text and images are included. These are best for editing.

Additionally, the supporting documents draw on a range of existing open educational resources and openly licensed information. These can be found online by following the links provided in the documents. For convenience (for example, if you want to run an OER workshop) they can also be downloaded in a zip file here:

A zip file with the InDesign files and other graphic files is also available for staff and schools who would like to make use of these

All of the original resources provided are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) so that they can be shared and adapted openly, as long as attribution is given. All other resources included are available under their respective licences.

Print Ready OER Schools Guidance

OER GuidanceStaff at Hazel Primary School in Leicester taking part in Open Education Week


Very happy to share this print ready version of the Open Educational Resources Guidance for Schools document:
OER Guidance for Schools 2015 print version (PDF)

This version includes the four key guidance documents – Open education and the schools sector; Understanding open licensing; Finding and remixing openly licensed resources; and Openly licensing and sharing your resources. It also includes a very nice cover.

The OER Guidance for Schools was originally commissioned by Leicester City Council as part of the DigiLit Leicester project. In November 2014, the African Virtual University translated the OER Guidance into French and Portuguese, for use on their teacher educator programmes.

The original guidance can be accessed at and is also available below, shared under open licence (CC-BY 4.0) for other educators to use and build on. All documents were updated in January 2015.

Main guidance documents, G0-G4 all in one PDF, with cover:

Main guidance documents, as individual PDF files:

Supporting Documents (activities, walk-throughs and information) (PDF)

All documents are available in editable versions (Word and ODT) from



Introducing the Open Schools Network

OER schools icons

At the end of the 2014/2015 school year, the DigiLit Leicester project put out an open call to all schools in the Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme to participate in a new collaborative open schools network. Network members will support their schools in developing staff digital literacy in relation to copyright and the creation and use of electronic resources, building on the council’s work on open educational resources (OER). They will also provide support for other BSF and primary schools across the city who want to develop their work around the use, creation and sharing digital resources.

Last year, the council became the first in Europe to provide school employees with formal permission to openly licence educational resources created in the line of their work. Providing this permission helps raise awareness about OER and open educational practice, and sends a clear message of encouragement for staff to find out about, and make best use of, openly licensed resources. You can read more about our work in relation to this here, and access and download resources to support your local authority and school implement their own OER policies.

We also provided schools across the city with OER guidance, resources, activities and information, which are also shared openly.

The newly formed group currently consists of ten network leads and two network coordinators, representing 12 city secondary and special schools. The network is made up of school support staff, teachers and leaders from a wide range of different types of schools:

Open School Network Coordinators

Coordinators will help facilitate network activities, and ensure everyone gets to hear about what is achieved.

Suzanne Lavelle, Researcher, Children’s Hospital School Leicester

Nora Ward, Assistant Headteacher, St Pauls Catholic School

Open School Network Leads

Antoinette Bouwens, Business Manager, St Pauls Catholic School

Harjit Kaur, ICT Network Manager, Keyham Lodge and Millgate School

Pearl King, Assistant Headteacher, Rushey Mead School

Sharon Malley, Head of Mathematics, Crown Hills Community College

Michael Richardson, e-Safety and Communications Officer, Ellesmere College

Sera Shortland, Citizenship Coordinator, Hamilton College

Lucy Stone, Computing Teacher, Sir Jonathan North Community College

Mark Sutton, Assistant Curriculum Leader for Design and Technology, Soar Valley Community College

Christine Turner, Science Teacher, English Martyrs’ Catholic School

Peter Williams, Maths Teacher, The City Of Leicester College

The network will be taking part in a range of activities over the next academic year, including:

  • Developing their own knowledge of open educational practice, open educational resources and open licences
  • Support school governing bodies in implementing school based OER policies
  • Promoting school staff understanding and awareness of what open educational resources are, how to find them, and how to reference them
  • Promoting the use, creation and sharing of OER across schools
  • Supporting Leicester primary schools and other BSF schools in relation to staff awareness and use of open educational resources