Engineers Without Borders have never been so… borderless

We went down to London, to the temporary offices of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) who are one of the charities involved in the CORE-SET project. In order to encourage open education engagement we spoke about the  pitfalls of  sharing copyrighted resources, the ideas behind open education with reference to others already involved, and the benefits in both reuse of resources and the marketing it brings.

EWB operates with volunteers mostly which is fine although the question came up ‘Who owns the copyright of a volunteer?’ The answer to this of course (as with students as well) is the author. The volunteer themselves owns the copyright to their work, and here we can explore another benefit of Creative Commons(CC). If a volunteer releases their work  under a CC license, then the organisation they are working with can use and distribute the work without having to build a legal clause into any contract.

It was both a productive and enjoyable visit, with the whole of the charity now understanding IPR, CC and OER (and many other acronyms) much better, and being fully on board with the philosophy of open education in their future activities and organisational operations.

Tutorial Videos

During visits to our partners in the CORE-SET project it has become apparent that not only professional bodies, but individuals within those bodies are at different stages in their journey into opening their resources. Some are up to date on what open education is, but do not know how to make their resources available, other are the opposite and know all about the technologies but the legal side and philosophy is not well understood.

In part to solve this, a series of short tutorial videos have been made, which should allow individuals to fill the gaps in their knowledge and take the journey at their own pace.

More videos are to follow, but several are available from the links below.

The basics of Creative Commons
The Creative Commons license selector
Embed a Creative Commons license into a document
Uploading to flickr with Creative Commons

Building upon Expedition Engineering Resources

Following up on our visit to the Engineering Workshed Developers Conference last Friday, We had an hour’s teleconference with Oliver Broadbent and Diana McCann at Expedition Engineering to agree a selection of their resources to release under open licenses to appropriate fileshare sites. We’re aiming to release everything under a CC-BY-SA license. We identified a few images that may need to be re-sourced due to Copyright restrictions. Resources will be themed as follows:

Construction Materials:



By releasing these resources on fileshare sites as OERs, we hope to:

(i) reach a wider potential audience
(ii) make it easier for others to reuse the resources, by download, embed, etc
(iii) harness the power of social media to allow users to interact with the resources (rating, comments, etc)

Training session with Ceram

Yesterday we ran our first training session, on making the company’s resources open and educational, for one of our partners – Ceram, a global expert in materials testing, analysis and consultancy.

The morning session given an overview of existing file-share repositories, such as Flickr, Scribd, YouTube etc, their functionalities and benefits of use (including market intelligence built-in these sites). It introduced licensing practices based on the company needs. It also showed how to embed licenses and re-use open resources in preparation of the company’s resources. Working together we have prepared three collectons of open educational resources (OERs) – on Ceramics, Healthcare and Sustainability.

The afternoon hands-on activity has given a chance to all participants to upload the prepared resources to the file-sharing websites such as Flickr, Scribd. In the end we have shown how the resources from Ceram on the file-sharing sites are drawn together into one place for students/academics/users arranged in themed collections – the CORE-SET site. We have also discussed an educational added value of the Ceram resources and the ways to embed them into teaching and learning practices.

Wellcome at Ceram office in Stoke-on-Trent

OER Networking Event

One of the benefits of participating in this week’s OER Programme Meeting in London was to see a lively and growing community in the UK – projects were represented from OER3 Themes (CORE-SET being one of those), from JISC Content (where there is a focus on OER digitisation), from the Higher Education Academy, and from the JISC Rapid Innovation initiative. Through the use of techniques, such as ‘Open Space’ and ‘World Café’, there were numerous opportunities during the day for projects to discuss issues and to share ideas relating to their OER developments.

From the morning discussions, we were able to relate to the many common challenges being faced by project teams – e.g. How to increase the visibility of OERs within communities of practice and in HEI policies / strategies? What technology and legal constraints to address in releasing open resources? We appreciated sharing solutions – e.g. How to involve learners, practitioners and managers in projects; and from the start? What to learn from past OER project experiences, and from expertise available on the day provided by a range of JISC-related services? Beneficial ideas emerged, in particular for CORE-SET relating to project evaluation – e.g. the importance of: (1) establishing a project baseline; (2) of gaining evidence beyond quantitative measures of resource ‘hits’; (3) of making effective use of evaluation buddies; etc.

The afternoon discussions centred on: (1) Student engagement with OERs; (2) Embedding OERs: the senior management perspective and institutional policy / practice; and (3) Collaboration and partnerships around OERs: opportunities. Again, relevant ideas emerged for CORE-SET – specifically from the former group, on how to actively involve students in projects, and on how to make use of OERs in enhancing learning and teaching. It was also great to have a number of students contribute to the discussions, and to share their opinions as both learners and project members.

All in all, a useful day to focus in detail on the development of CORE-SET, and our connections with associated OER projects and JISC-related services nationally.


Open Education Week at School of Engineering, The University of Liverpool

Open Education Week logo

The first ever Open Education Week started today! It runs from 5-10 March 2012 online and in locally hosted events around the world. The purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness of the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.


The University of Liverpool established CORE-Materials, a collection of subject-based open educational resources in the first OER national programme in 2009. The School of Engineering has sustained these resources, and is now extending the collection by including electronic OERs from sectors outside HE (CORE-SET project).

We have dissemenated CORE-Materials to senior managers, academics and students within and beyond the School of Engineering. We have also contributed to training sessions with colegues in the library and the institution e-learning group. Today we have compiled OERs in materials science and engineering into collections of videos and images, which are dynamically shown on a number of public display screens through the School during the whole week.

A flying visit to an AirSpace, Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford

What an exciting visit to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford (just outside Cambridge)! IWM Duxford is set within the spacious grounds of the famous former First and Second World War airfield. Opened in 2007, AirSpace tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation. Its Aircraft Hall is home to over 30 aircraft including an iconic Spitfire, a legendary Lancaster and the fastest-ever Concorde.

We were impressed with the quality of materials and creativity of the staff from Department for Learning at IWM Duxford, and the strong connections they have forged with HE sector. There is much here for us to promote on behalf of the Department for Learning drawing extensively on the already prepared educational material. A surprising example is the technology management case studies related to aircarft development, which are being used at the Judge Business School and the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge for last 10 years. We will package this material together to make it both open and accessible through multiple delivery platforms. HE will benefit from contextualized resources and the Department for Learning will be able to disseminate to a wider audience.

Duxford 64

A visit to a science park in Cambridge (TWI)

We have met up with staff from Electronics and Sensors sector and Information Services of The Welding Institute (TWI) in Cambridge. There are many collections we could build on the basis of the company electronic resources and the technical staff will make final judgements on this in a few weeks. Suggestions put forward relate to MEMS, electronic packaging, wire bonding processes and coatings. For a themed collection in environmental technologies TWI will explore their hosting of elements within the national KTN (in areas of healthcare technologies, renewable energy and composite materials).

A specific need, identified during the meeting was for clarification of CC issues to gain seniour management support for implementation of open licensing in commercial context. The visit was timely, given TWIs recent steps into YouTube, and internal discussions relating to social media presence. As part of this project we will provide TWI with relevant guidance on this to inform discussions and provide the means for the company to take forward such developments.

Focus on User Experience

Yesterday we attended a workshop hosted by JISC at their office in London. The workshop focused on User-Centred Design, an approach to user interface design in which a users requirements are given extensive thought throughout the process. The philosophy behind this is a design should focus on your user’s actual goals and needs. This may sound obvious, but in practice it is very easy to charge head on into a design that the designer likes, but may not actually give the best user experience. This is an approach we are adopting in all our projects, working closely with the end users in order to provide the best possible website experience.

Wikipedia explains this far better than I could:

Awkward Bathroom

The design of this bathroom was not done with the end user in mind.


Sellafield Ltd – experts in Nuclear Technology

We met with our partners this week from the Technical Directorate of Sellafield Ltd, based in Cumbria. Discussions were held with staff involved in the development of a part-time Foundation and BEng top-up degree, aimed at the company’s in-house junior scientific trainees. This is being developed in partnership with local universities and training providers, such as GEN2.

Scientists and engineers from Sellafield Ltd are delivering a number of modules, and acting as trainers, for parts of these courses leading to the BEng qualification in Nuclear Related Technology. From our discussions, our partner will be operating more as a user of OERs, in contributing to the modules they are developing, rather than being a main provider of electronic collections in areas related to nuclear technologies. For the latter, certain learning materials relating to Sellafield Ltd will come indirectly from their collaborators in universities and training organisations.