Writing in Book Sprints

Link: Writing in Book Sprints (OER13 Conference Paper) (PDF)
Link: Writing in Book Sprints (OER13 Conference Paper) (MS Word .doc)

Outlines a novel approach taken by Jisc and Cetis to synthesise and disseminate the technical outputs and findings of three years of HEFCE funded UKOER Programmes. Rather than employing a consultant to produce a final synthesis report, the authors decided to undertake the task themselves by participating in a three-day book sprint facilitated by Adam Hyde of BookSprints.net. Over the course of the three days the authors wrote and edited a complete draft of a 21,000 word book titled “Technology for Open Educational Resources: Into the Wild – Reflections of three years of the UKOER programmes”.
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The Learning Registry: social networking for open educational resources?

The Learning Registry: social networking for open educational resources? (OER13 Conference paper) (PDF)
The Learning Registry: social networking for open educational resources? (OER13 Conference paper) (MS Word .doc)

This paper reflects on Cetis’ involvement with the Learning Registry and Jisc’s Learning Registry Node Experiment at Mimas (The JLeRN Experiment), and their application to UKOER initiatives. Initially funded by the US Departments of Education and Defense, the Learning Registry (LR) is an open source network for storing and distributing metadata and curriculum, activity and social usage data about learning resources across diverse educational systems.
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New approaches to describing and discovering open educational resources

Link: New Approaches to Describing and Discovering Open Educational Resources (OER13 Conference paper)(PDF)
Link: New Approaches to Describing and Discovering Open Educational Resources (OER13 Conference paper) (MS Word .doc)

This paper reports and reflects on the innovative technical approaches adopted by UKOER projects to resource description, search engine optimisation and resource discovery. The HEFCE UKOER programmes ran for three years from 2009 to 2012 and funded a large number and variety of projects focused on releasing open educational resources (OERs) and embedding open practice. The Cetis Innovation Support Centre was tasked by JISC with providing strategic advice, technical support and direction throughout the programme. One constant across the diverse UKOER projects was their desire to ensure the resources they released could be discovered by people who might benefit from them; if no one can find an OER no one will use it. This paper will focus on three specific approaches with potential to achieve this aim: search engine optimisation, embedding metadata in the form of schema.org microdata, and sharing “paradata” information about how resources are used.
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Cetis Analytics Series: Case Study, Engaging with Analytics

Link: Cetis Analytics Series Vol 2, No 1. Case Study, Engaging with Analytics
Link: Cetis Analytics Series Vol 2, No 1. Case Study, Engaging with Analytics (MS Word .docx)

Jean Mutton, Student Experience Project Manager, University of Derby, shares with us some approaches she has been spearheading in terms of using data and analytics to help improve the student experience. Through their participation in Jisc development programmes, Jean and her team (including paid student interns) have taken a service design approach that focuses on the needs of end user first.

This case study explores the wider issues around using data to inform decision making, and the strategies the University of Derby are developing to improve their student enhancement processes by addressing key questions such as:

  • What is actually happening to students, how can we find out?
  • What are the touch points with between students and the institution?
  • What are the institutional “digital footprints” of our students?
  • What really matters to our students?

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MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education

Link: MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education (pdf)
Link: MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education (MS Word docx)

This report sets out to help decision makers in higher education institutions gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and trends towards greater openness in higher education and to think about the implications for their institutions. The phenomena of MOOCs are described, placing them in the wider context of open education, online learning and the changes that are currently taking place in higher education at a time of globalisation of education and constrained budgets. The report is written from a UK higher education perspective, but is largely informed by the developments in MOOCs from the USA and Canada. A literature review was undertaken focussing on the extensive reporting of MOOCs through blogs, press releases as well as openly available reports. This identified current debates about new course provision, the impact of changes in funding and the implications for greater openness in higher education. The theory of disruptive innovation is used to help form the questions of policy and strategy that higher education institutions need to address.

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CETIS Analytics Series: Infrastructure and Tools for Analytics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 11. Analytics Tools and Infrastructure (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 11. Analytics Tools and Infrastructure (MS Word .docx)

Analytics is notable in that it is a headline grabbing trend in many domains, but has also been around for a long time under various other labels. One consequence of that longevity is that there is a bewildering array of tools available that can support an analytics process in some way.

An exhaustive overview of all such tools is near impossible, and probably out of date the moment it’s finished. What is possible, however, is to provide a map of the major categories of tools, and highlight some landmark tools that are available now.

Because of the diverse history and practice of analytics, many different categorisations are possible, but we choose to group them by tradition, or established approach. One reason is that such an approach makes tools more easily comparable, because they have been developed to meet the needs and expectations of their communities over time. The other reason is that it tallies closely with other papers in the CETIS Analytics Series of which this briefing is a part.
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Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources

Reflections on three years of the UK OER Programmes.

Between 2009 and 2012 the Higher Education Funding Council funded a series of programmes to encourage higher education institutions in the UK to release existing educational content as Open Educational Resources. The HEFCE funded UK OER Programme was run and managed by the JISC and the Higher Education Academy. The JISC CETIS “OER Technology Support Project” provided support for technical innovation across this programme. This book synthesises and reflects on the approaches taken and lessons learnt across the Programme and by the Support Project.

This book is not intended as a beginners guide or a technical manual, instead it is an expert synthesis of the key technical issues arising from a national publicly-funded programme. It is intended for people working with technology to support the creation, management, dissemination and tracking of open educational resources, and particularly those who design digital infrastructure and services at institutional and national level.


Published by University of Bolton, Deane Road, Bolton, BL3 5AB

ISBN: 978-0-907311-35-5 (print on demand: book (£3.36) printed by Lulu; or free pdf to print yourself)
ISBN: 978-0-907311-36-2 (ebook, Kindle: free download; or from Amazon (77p))
ISBN: 978-0-907311-37-9 (ebook, ePub: free download)
ISBN: 978-0-907311-38-6 (ebook, pdf: free download)
(All prices are the minimum for the distribution channel)

Licence and source

Creative Commons Licence Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources by Amber Thomas, Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker and Martin Hawksey (Eds) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) to remix (to adapt the work) and to make commercial use of the work under the proviso that you attribute the origin of the work (if possible please include the title, the names of the editors / authors and a link to this page).

To help you re-use this work editable formats are available. We originally wrote the book using the BookType, an online collaborative authoring and publishing platform. Booktype will allow you to clone our source, contact Phil Barker if you would like to do so. There is also a Word .docx file that we used for the final published versions.

Errors and bugs?

There are some minor bugs in some versions: bullet points don’t display well on the kindle version, reference links are erratic on the ePub version (more for some readers than others), the images on the print pdf have white lines on them. We hope none of these are serious problems for you. If you do find a serious problem please contact Phil Barker.

CETIS Analytics Series: The impact of analytics in Higher Education on academic practice

CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 10. Analytics for Teaching Practice (pdf)
CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 10. Analytics for Teaching Practice (MS Word .docx)

Many strong claims have been made for Learning Analytics and the potential which it has to transform the education system, which deserve to be treated with caution, particularly as they regard teaching practice.

The introduction of these techniques cannot be understood in isolation from the methods of educational management as they have grown up over the past two centuries. These methods are conditioned by the fact that educational managers are limited in their capability to monitor and act upon the range of states which are taken up by teachers and learners in their learning activities. Strategies for simplification have been developed which classify the range of knowledge as a number of subjects, reduce the subjects to courses, and assign students to cohorts which carry out the same activities. Teachers, meanwhile, deal as best they can with the full variety of learners’ needs in their practice. Over the years, an accommodation has developed between regulatory authorities, management and teaching professionals: educational managers indicate the goals which teachers and learners should work towards, provide a framework for them to act within, and ensure that the results of their activity meet some minimum standards. The rest is left up to the professional skills of teachers and the ethical integrity of both teachers and learners.

This accommodation has been eroded by the efforts of successive governments to increase their control over the education received by both school and higher education students. Learning Analytics radically reduces the effort involved in gathering information on the way in which lecturers deliver the curriculum, and also to automate the work of analysing this information. An alliance of these two trends has the potential to constrain teaching practice, and therefore it is necessary to take a systemic view when assessing the impact of analytics on teaching practice.

Three types of analytics intervention are discussed, in terms of their impact on practice.

  • efficiency in the wider functioning of the institution, which has few implications for teaching practice,
  • enhanced regulation of the teaching and learning environment, which has potentially negative impact on teaching practice,
  • methods and tools intended to help lecturers carry out their tasks more effectively, which have the potential to be a useful tool in teaching practice.

It is concluded that Learning Analytics should not be seen as a short cut to providing teaching professionals with universal advice on ‘what works’, and that its use to increase the accountability of teachers to management may have unintended negative consequences. Rather, the most promising area for enhancing teaching practice is the creation of applications which help teachers identify which of the many interventions open to them are most worthy of their attention, as part of an on-going collaborative inquiry into effective practice.

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CETIS Analytics Series: A Brief History of Analytics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series vol 1, No 9. A Brief History of Analytics (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series vol 1, No 9. A Brief History of Analytics (MS Word .docx)

The potential of analytics according to this definition is to help us to evaluate past actions and to estimate the potential of future actions, so to make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies as organisations or individuals. Analytics allows us to increase the degree to which our choices are based on evidence rather than myth, prejudice or anecdote.

Several factors are coming together at the moment to stimulate interest in making more use of analytics. One of these is the increased availability, detail, volume and variety of data from the near-ubiquitous use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) throughout almost all facets of our lives. This aspect tends to be the focus of the news media but data alone is not enough to realise benefits from analytics. A less popularised factor driving effective exploitation of analytics is the rich array and maturity of techniques for data analysis; a skilled analyst now has many disciplines to draw inspiration from and many tools in their toolbox. Finally, the increased pressure on business and educational organisations to be more efficient and better at what they do adds the third leg to the stool: data, techniques, need.

This paper, one of the CETIS Analytics Series, is aimed at readers who wish to be introduced to the range of techniques that are being pieced together and labelled as Analytics. It does this by outlining some of the most important communities – each with their own origins, techniques, areas of limitation and typical question types – and suggests how they are contributing to the future, with special reference to the context of post-compulsory education.

The diversity and flexibility of some of the techniques lined up under the analytics flag is evidenced by the numerous different applications of analytics: financial markets, sports analytics, econometrics, product pricing and yield maximisation, fraud, crime detection, spam email filters, marketing, customer segmentation, organisational efficiency and even tracking the spread of infectious disease from web searches i. Behind these applications we can find the roots of analytics in the birth of statistics in the eighteenth century but since then different applications of statistics and IT have led to different communities of practice that now seem to be merging together. We see that Web Analytics pioneers are now expl oiting data from the “social web” by using Social Network Analysis and that the techniques of Information Visualisation are supporting interactive and exploratory forms of analysis rather than just the graphs in management reports. Subjects that some see a s old-hat such as Operational Research and others that are often perceived as futuristic such as Artificial Intelligence are each making contributions in surprising ways. Meanwhile, the education community has made its own contributions; Social Network Analysis and Artificial Intelligence have both emerged from academic research and we are now beginning to see sector – specific variants of analytics being put to work in the form of Educational Data Mining, Learning Analytics and bibliometrics.
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CETIS Analytics Series: Institutional Readiness for Analytics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 8. Institutional Readiness for Analytics (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 8. Institutional Readiness for Analytics (docx)

This briefing paper is written for managers and early adopters in further and higher education who are thinking about how they can build capability in their institution to make better use of data that is held on their IT systems about the organisation and provision of the student experience. It will be of interest to institutions developing plans, those charged with the provision of analytical data, and administrators or academics who wish to use data to inform their decision making. The document identifies the capabilities that individuals and institutions need to initiate, execute, and act upon analytical intelligence.

For the purpose of this paper, the term Learning Analytics (LA) is used to cover these activities using the definition of:

Analytics is the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data. (CETIS, 2012)

The proposition behind learning analytics is not new. In the school sector particularly, good teaching practice has long involved record keeping with pen and paper and the analysis and reflection on this data to inform courses of action, and more recently using technology. Similarly, in different ways, all higher education (HE) and further education (FE) institutions use data to inform their decision making in assessment boards and course committees. However, as institutions increasingly use technology to mediate, monitor, and describe teaching, learning and assessment through Virtual Learning Evironments (VLEs) and other systems, it becomes possible to develop ‘second generation’ learning analytics. The large data sets being acquired are increasingly amenable to new techniques and tools that lower the technical and cost barrier of undertaking analytics. This allows institutions to experiment with data to gain insight, to improve the student learning experience and student outcomes, and identify improvements in efficiencies and effectiveness of provision.

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