Joe Wilson

UNESCO Experience V What it is like back in a Scottish College #oer18 – Guest post by Joe Wilson


[Joe Wilson at Bett18 cc Leon Cynch @eyebeams]

Joe’s original blog post can be found here –

Those of you that know me, know I’ve wandered around both the practical doing things landscape in many sectors of education and the more reflective shaping and writing policy landscape too, this mainly around the vocational and assessment areas.

The former in Scotland at least can be easier.

If there is not a big sign saying don’t do this then I think that gives anyone permission to innovate and experiment. It is a view that I wish more folks working in education and learning would take.  But, too many wait at the institutional or national policy bus stop before setting off in any direction. I think they are worried about setting off in the wrong direction. I think many are still waiting in some queue to seek permission to innovate.

I’ll return to that metaphor.

Policy making sounds good, you can influence policy and that you may actually be able to change things. The  first part can be fun in the planning but often – the planning is killed off at the drafting stage as both other policy makers and the constituencies they serve, can be very cautious, conservative with a small c.  What about the unintended consequences! Better to do nothing! is too often the mantra.

‘Sorry, we are too busy;  creating frameworks for educational content procurement, dealing with chronic under-funding, the impact of Brexit on education, figuring out what narrowing the attainment gap actually means, creating a new funding formula for, a new model for educational leadership etc etc…

When you propose!

‘Imagine we mandated that schools, colleges, universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public sector were obliged to share these. That could be useful for learners’

You don’t get much notice from policy makers, even direct approaches to successive education ministers don’t make much headway, beyond polite and supportive acknowledgements, though thankfully Open Scotland continues to attract both a grassroots following and a great deal of interest internationally – thanks in a very large part to my co-founder Lorna Campbell and support from ALT.

When UNESCO, say that schools, colleges, universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public should be obliged to share these. You get a bit more notice.  But policy for schools, colleges and universities is actually quite dispersed and in Scotland no one has a brief to look after open education – it is even actually quite hard to get anyone to respond to UNESCO officially from within the administration.

The systems that exist are designed to measure output performance and impact of  input measures are rare – in schools teaching and learning is inspected but it is patchy across the system. Open Education is a new area and no-one in government really knows what it means.

That is why #OER18 and the community around it is so important.

Now I am back in a College and following my mantra – I am just going to push things on.

At the moment we have all the usual learning tech tools; a VLE, a plagiarism checker, a couple of e-portfolio systems, nationally ill defined competencies for staff and learners around digital capacities and lots of conflicting priorities.

Open educational resources are just part of open educational practice and perhaps a much bigger open and closed societal change,  there isn’t a stop sign , so I will just push on . The vehicle I am going to use is called Citylearning4.0 I know lots of my network across the UK and Internationally will help us on our journey . I’ll leverage the #oer community , ALT , JISC, the Wikimedia Foundation   and many other networks as we make the changes that will help learners across Glasgow and beyond.

And through Open Scotland we’ll keep lobbying to get the national policy bus to head in a new open direction and most importantly we will get everyone on board.

If you are a newbee to #OER18 – start learning to be an open practitioner and carry the message back to your institution and to your national policy makers.