Project aims

Open Educational Practice: knowledge in the open web - heutagogical open weaving. #KNOWHOW

Using a connectivist learning approach this project will evaluate, curate and create resources to enable students and staff alike to understand and access the learning opportunities available through open, connected practice.

This project aims to help to address the knowledge and skills gap that exists for both teachers and learners to give wider awareness of how to locate and contribute to opportunities for learning through connecting in open digital spaces. We will be investigating the steps needed in order to normalise safe and effective open practice and work confidently in the new digital domain for scholarship. The project participants will explore existing networks in order to weave together resources for a self-access MOOC to enable others to benefit from OER.  The need for further exploration in this area is identified in a paper by Czerniewicz (2016). The project follows on from a previous WIHEA student experience project which revealed an interest in open practice and a core of students from that project are eager to continue and build on the work started under that project. We are also continuing to advance the collaborations across SMLC and synergies we have with CAL and CEP on learning and teaching. For example, the Linguistic Landscape project (SMLC Hispanic Studies) has demonstrated the value of using social media (twitter @HSLingLands) to alert students to the many physical manifestations of the language they are studying that exist in the real world, sharing them openly with their twitter channel. Opportunities exist to build on this further, curating the shared pictures and building a clear way of working which, if adopted in other contexts can successfully help cross the formal/informal learning divide, bringing greater student engagement in their learning. The lessons learned through the Clavier project which also successfully crosses the borders of formal and informal learning and demonstrates effective online intercultural exchange will be able to inform other disciplinary activity into telecollaborative practice through the networking the project will engender.


Project spaces

The project is centred on the importance of understanding and managing online presence. The project team enact that through accessing and sharing resources online in a variety of spaces. 

These include:




Project challenges

The ambition of this project is to get a sense of the level of understanding of online identity management that happens across our campus. The concept of open practice is quite abstract for many, especially those who are suspicious of any online activity. Arriving at a point where any individual feels confident in sharing their work and revealing a professional online identity to others involves a series of complex decision making processes which may need to be actively managed over time. 

Some of the team members had taken part in an earlier WIHEA project. For those that did not have that background I shared some important take-aways to give context. The resources and interactions use a range of online spaces and it takes a while to get familiar with them, just managing your passwords, mastering permissions and navigation requires lots of practice. 

Beyond these practical hurdles we were also dealing with the very personal decision making processes that we all have to engage with if we are active online. There are no quick answers here. In the early stages of the project I undertook a piece of action research for the #LERMOOC course, a cognitive review of the research approach with a staff team member which highlighted that we may be find this area difficult to explore. 

Opening up education.


Opening up education report

Defining the concept of “openness”.


The following extract is taken from “Opening up education” a report from the European Commission and forms the background to the definition of open practice which will be used in this project.


“The concept of 'openness' in contemporary open education is constantly evolving, assuming different meanings in different contexts and discourses (Inamorato dos Santos, Punie and Castaño-Muñoz, 2016). Traditionally, based on a model commonly adopted by open universities in the late 60's, ‘open’ means open entry, easier access to study. This view of openness, termed as 'classical' by Mulder and Janssen (2013), did not cover all the aspects that openness covers today – free of charge access, choice of start times, global availability, etc. (McAndrew 2010). Over time, the concept of openness has evolved to also mean open availability of content and resources, largely as a result of advances in the digital technologies used for educational purposes. The Cape Town Open Education Declaration (2007) stresses that open education is not limited to "just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning". Openness is the opposite of secrecy. At a societal level, there is a move towards openness, for example through open government, where public records are open to public scrutiny and individuals have access to information previously available to only a few (UNESCO policy brief, 2014). In education, openness is a concept that advocates transparency and the lowering or removal of barriers at all levels within an institution, including the processes involved in research, teaching and learning. However, openness does mean different things to different people (UNESCO policy brief 2014). Defining 'openness' would be an ongoing task, since it is a flexible concept which embeds a number of different 'opennesses'. Its definition is therefore contextual, and due to its comprehensiveness, is an umbrella term. 'Opening' up education indicates the process undertaken by educational institutions when they carry out open education. Mulder and Janssen (2013) argue that the term was well chosen in the sense that it implies movement and indicates that not all education should be equally open in every respect.”


The report identifies 10 dimensions of open education:


  • Content
  • Access
  • Pedagogy
  • Technology
  • Recognition
  • Quality
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Strategy

The project will attempt to include each of these through practical investigations, reflecting upon experiences and contributing to the ongoing evolving understanding of open in relation to Higher Education.


The practice of teaching is a social activity which takes place through communities of practice, often but not exclusively in formal institutions such as schools and colleges. In higher education and beyond, knowledge sharing is no longer limited exclusively to academic publishing and conferences. Technological developments have enabled social interaction through social media tools which are rapidly changing the way we live and work, providing new networks for learning. Ubiquitous technology use, the development of social sharing and mobile technologies enable teaching and learning practitioners to connect and engage with geographically remote communities to form distributed networks of knowledge sharing which benefit academe. The participants will experience some of the new digital practices which are currently transforming access to learning and reflect on the barriers and challenges they hold.