School of Open: Open Research Course Update!

Hi there

This is Beck Pitt from the OER Research Hub with an update on our four-week Open Research course which will open for sign-up on School of Open on Monday 25 August 2014. The course itself will begin on Monday 15 September and look at open research, ethics, dissemination and reflection.

Some of you might remember seeing our course feature for community review (see here) a couple of months back… Thanks again to everyone who offered feedback and suggestions; we really appreciated your input. I’m now super excited to announce that we now have a draft version of the course available on School of Open, which you can view here.

There are a few minor things left to go in (e.g. our team photo!) but otherwise we’re almost set. If you have any feedback, suggestions or thoughts before we open for sign-up and begin to promote the course (w/c 8/25), please don’t hesitate to get in touch… Thanks so much!

Finally, there were a couple of questions that I hoped the community could offer thoughts on:

  1. Whilst we were finalising the course and discussing the assets (video and audio) that we created, we questioned how accessible these were. For example, here at the Open University (where the OER Research Hub is based) we have alternative descriptions of all images, transcripts for our audio and video or give alternatives etc. We are hoping to create video/audio transcripts etc. for future iterations of the course but I wondered if anyone had any suggestions, thoughts or experiences…

  2. As noted above, we’ll be kicking off promotion of the course around 25 August 2014. We want to ensure that we don’t miss anyone out so I’d be really grateful for any suggestions (e.g. research group mailing lists) that people think would be a great place to advertise the course.

Thanks in advance and sending all best wishes

I haven’t looked at the whole course, but I have gone over many of the sections, and here are some things I really like:

  • You’ve chunked the material quite nicely. We just did one page per week for Why Open, and it’s a bit much on one page. I like the sections idea, so each page is shorter. Of course, this is helpful if the main course discussion is happening in the Disqus area below each section. You can’t have too much going on in each section or the discussion will get too chaotic.
  • Somehow I also missed the ability to put line breaks between text in the course pages, which would have helped visually for Why Open too! I really like how that helps to organize the material visually and make it seem less “full” and more manageable.
  • Having the “further reading” area for some of the sections is excellent. It’s a great cue that these things are optional but also allows those who want to go further to do so.
  • Giving a time estimate for each activity is really helpful. It also makes it not seem like the work is too daunting to take on. If you have 20 minutes, you can do this activity!
  • The short video interviews are a great idea to break up the otherwise text-heavy nature of at least some of our courses (Why Open included!).

I wish I had some ideas on making transcripts or alternative descriptions, but I’ve never done this before.

Just a question: we are using Discourse for our course discussion in Why Open, and I think it’s working quite well so far. Just wondering if you thought of doing that and why you chose to use the forum below each page instead. I can see some possible reasons:

  • If most of the discussion is taking place via forums, it’s annoying to have to move back and forth between the course and Discourse all the time (though you can do so with links).
  • And also, if most of the discussion is taking place on the forum, then it may be hard to find the right “place” in Discourse to add what you want to say, or read what others have said on that topic. Using Disqus right below makes that easier.
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Hey Christine

Thanks so much for your great feedback and insightful comments on the course; we really appreciate it and I’m so glad you think the way we’ve presented the course will be useful to participants. Funnily enough I discovered the line break function entirely accidentally… but agreed that it definitely helps to break up dense text : -)

Jane mentioned Discourse to us earlier in the week; I’m planning to take this idea back to the team early next week (we’re definitely not 100% wedded to using the forum) so it is really useful to know that it’s working well so far with Why Open. It’s also really useful to hear your thoughts about why the forums might work better (e.g. navigation of discussions etc.) I had a quick look on how you were using Discourse for Why Open yesterday but will go back and check out in more depth over the weekend.

Thanks so much again for these comments and feedback Christine and have a wonderful weekend.

Hi Beck!

Gonna post additional comments/thoughts here as I go over the draft another time:

  1. Google form results are public which is great. But I think we should note that this will be made so in either About or Participating in course section, as long as a note after each link to Google form. This will allow people to use a moniker if they choose.
  2. I think you’re missing the Google form here:
  3. For the image credits page, all the licenses should be linked to the appropriate deed. I was going to do this but then I realized I didn’t know which version they are licensed under, eg. 3.0 or 4.0? Also, many images are listed as being available from a URL, but no license is mentioned on its use. Does that mean it is under the default BY-SA 3.0 license? I would specify.
  4. In the Thank you for participating section, it says the course is CC BY-SA by default; that should also be linked to the specific version, eg. 3.0 or 4.0.
  5. I think we should mention in the About section somewhere that the course is CC BY-SA except for all images which are governed by different licenses and by third parties according to the Image Credits page.
  6. If it helps, here are

I’m happy to take another look and help edit credits page myself once I know what the licenses on the works are!


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Thanks for these comments, Jane - that’s awesome and really useful. I’ll go through each of these today and get back to you shortly.

Thanks again

hey Beck - i noticed that the course generated a bit of positive feedback on twitter, which is great.

i wonder if there is a way to let people pre-sign-up to capture those who might come across it now, but might forget to return after aug 25 (when sign-up opens)?

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Hi there

Thanks so much for this suggestion - that’s really useful. I’ve been “favouriting” retweets and positive comments on Twiter (but only on my own account and OER_Hub although Vanessa did send me a screenshot of positive feedback and retweets on P2PU too : -))… When we open for sign-up, I will tweet a link to these guys as a (gentle) reminder just incase they want to sign-up…

Not sure if there’s a better approach (suggestions, anyone?) but I’ll also try and search Twitter for anything I/we might have missed this end…

Thanks so much again

Hi Jane

Just to quickly update following my earlier message. I think I’ve managed to cover everything (fingers crossed)…

  1. Thanks for advising on this - I’ve added a sentence along these lines in both the About and Participating section plus each time an activity using Google forms is used. Hope it looks OK now?
  2. Thanks for spotting this! Form is now available.
  3. Fingers crossed that I’ve sorted out the image credits now - all should link to original source of image and be linked to appropriate license information
  4. Thanks for spotting this! Hopefully sorted now and correctly linked.
  5. Thanks again for spotting this - hopefully all good now (have also changed section to cover the assets too as videos and images are CC-BY)

Phew! Thanks so much again for these comments/suggestions - hopefully looking a lot better now : -)


Hi Beck,

It looks great to me! Yay!

Looking forward to announcing via blog post soon. :smile:


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Hi Jane

Great news! Glad it all looks good : -) I’m just polishing up the blog post draft so should have this with you shortly. In the meantime I think we’re going to try out Discourse for the course (thanks again to Christine for her useful feedback)… I’ve just created a profile on Discourse but I can’t seem to see how you can create a new category for the course - can you advise (not sure if you need admin rights for this?) Once there’s an “Open Research” category up I can then go in and start to create the relevant sections for the forums etc.

Thanks again and all best

PS) Would it be OK to use the P2PU Hackpad space for the course? I created one pad “Open Research course” but wanted to double check if this was a) OK and b) in the right place. Was planning to create a pad for each call and link directly to each… Current pad is here:

Thanks again for your anticipated advice

Hi Beck,

You do need an admin account, so I created the category here:

If you send me the desc you would like, I can paste that into the About post. But you and anyone else should be able to create topics/posts under the category now.

Re: Hackpad - of course! Feel free to use hackpad, discourse, and whatever other tools are available. I would caution against tool overload, however, eg. when possible, try to consolidate communication through a few tools.


Hi Jane

Thanks for advising; that’s fantastic. I’ve created Hackpads for each week’s Google Hangout and added these into the course. I’ve also started to create the Discourse topics for each activity … However, it appears that there’s a limit on the account as to how many new topics that I can create per day. Is there any way to change this limit so I can get these in as soon as possible? Thanks so much. Also, can I reorder the topics? Although they link to the relevant topic from the course, it would be great if they were showing in order when you go to the “Open Research” category page. I think they only reorder if you edit something within a pre-existing topic…

I’ll be emailing you the blog post text we discussed later today (am just finishing up!). In the meantime, here’s the description for the “About” post. I had a quick look at what Vanessa and Christina had done too, which was useful (thanks, guys!)

Thanks again for all your help to date, Jane!

Kind regards

The Open Research category is the place to explore all the forum activities which relate to the School of Open Open Research course. This four-week course explores what open research is, ethics, dissemination and reflection/evaluation and runs from Monday 15 September 2014 - Sunday 12 October 2014.

The course was created by the OER Research Hub, a Hewlett funded open research project which collaborates with organisations, projects and initiatives around the world to investigate the impact of open educational resources (OER) on learning and teaching.

PS) Apologies Jane, another quick question! Will we need to ask everyone to sign-up for a Discourse account so that they can participate in the forums or will they be able to do this through their P2PU account? Thanks.

Hi there

Just a quick update:

  1. Please ignore my PS) as I’ve worked this out now - sorry for the silly questions!
  2. Big thanks for upping the number of new topics I can create - I’ve now added everything into the category.

Thanks and best

Yup – everyone can sign in with an existing Google account or create a new Discourse account if they don’t have a Google account or don’t want to use it for some reason. This is the text we used at Why Open?

Participation is required for everyone taking the course. Participation in the course will be through discussions on the P2PU Discourse page: You will need an existing Google account or to create a new Discourse account in order to participate. Remember to choose the Category ‘Why Open?’ for every post you create. Be sure to check the general Why Open Discourse page for all the threads in the course:

I actually did not up your settings - so maybe @vanessa did? I don’t know how to reorder topics either. perhaps @vanessa can help?