In 2015 Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) was the first Higher Education institution in Scotland (and one of the very few in the UK) to approve an Open Educational Resources Policy. I risk making her blush but I won’t lie if I say that this very important document saw the light of day mainly thanks to the efforts of Senior Librarian Marion Kelt.
I count myself lucky to have caught up with her twice since the launch of the policy: first on the phone a few months ago, and most recently in Glasgow during one of the training sessions to introduce the edShare@GCU repository. What you are reading now are snippets of those conversations.
Marion’s original involvement with OER is in the field of Information Literacy and dates back to even before her engagement with the coPILOT community of practice. A desire to promote OER among staff and students at GCU resulted in her putting together the library guidance on OER, which would then become the basis of GCU’s policy:
‘When I was talking to lecturers and people who were actually creating resources, nobody really knew what open educational resources were outside library staff and a few selected learning technologists. The message hadn’t got through to the bulk of the lecturing staff, the people who were actually doing it day to day. (…) So I thought, if I put together these pages [the library guidance on OER], I can refer people back and say ‘look, it is all here in plain English, you can check it out and then we can talk’. Well, that’s all very well but do we know where we stand officially with regard to management? People won’t move forward without a policy, (…) so that’s how I ended up with this project to write [GCU’s OER Policy]’.
The belief that it would be more widely adopted if it was seen as a bottom up policy, written by practitioners doing things day to day rather than senior managers, also persuaded Marion to push forward. Leeds University OER guidance, published under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license served as an ideal starting point and provided grounds for adaptation:
‘We started to do the policy, which we had based on the Leeds University Guidance, but we changed it a wee bit because what I wanted to do with our policy was a wee bit different. I wanted to make sure that there was dual attribution, so it wasn’t just attributing to GCU, I wanted the author to have their name on because I think, especially for early career people, they want to have their name on [the resources they create] so they can take their resources with them throughout their working lives, they can evolve them and they can grow them, and evidence the development and the work they’ve done; they can use them almost as the start of a portfolio’.
This idea of double attribution is fundamental also for one other reason, and that is facilitating sharing:
‘If people get their own name on [a resource] then they are not going to mind sharing it; that gets around the whole problem of moving on to other jobs, because they don’t have to worry about the university owning it and saying no, you can’t use it because you moved to [another institution]’.
And sharing is precisely at the heart of Marion and her colleagues’ plan to implement GCU’s OER policy: the recently created edShare@GCU repository encourages GCU staff to create educational resources and share them with their colleagues, students and the whole world, and it is directly linked to the policy’s guidance on copyright, IPR and licensing issues.
‘People will see the point of the policy because they can see that it feeds into running the repository, it is not a thing that’s appearing in isolation. How we are implementing it is very much tailored to how our users have said they wanted [the repository]. The message came back that they very much wanted a very flexible, self-deposit, user-driven system that wasn’t very bureaucratic; they wanted an easy thing they could put their files in themselves. (…) so when you see the joined up package, that’s when you are going to notice the difference’.
What advice would Marion give to anyone who would like to write their institution’s OER policy?
‘Talk to people who have already done it and take their advice. Check out what’s already out there, because there might already be an existing thing that you can use without much editing or changing it around. Be very clear what you want to do, be clear what your intended outcome is, what you want to say. Try and figure out the pathways; some universities might have a clearer procedure for getting things adopted, so perhaps, if I was doing it again, I would maybe try harder at the beginning – I had assumed that my contacts at lower level would know clearly the routes to have things adopted at higher level but it wasn’t so, so I’d say watch out for who might be a higher level champion on the executive board (…) at the start rather than at the end. And check for other policies that are in the university for overlaps and things to refer to, that is also another good thing to do’.
‘8 steps to creating an institutional open Educational Resources Policy at Glasgow Caledonian University’, Marion Kelt’s presentation at OER15, Cardiff 2015.
Marion was interviewed by researcher Bea de los Arcos