Day 3: Issues and challenges for researchers

Welcome to the final day of this Espresso Course!

In the previous two days, we’ve looked at the value of building your researcher identity, ideas for selection of best-fit tools, and highlighted ORCiD, Mendeley and Kudos.

Today, let’s focus on some of the challenges and issues.

The Tower of Babel, by jaciXIII, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, downloaded 13/11/17

Challenges and disincentives

Academics described their concerns around emerging tools (Nicholas et al., 2015) as a rise of ‘a scholarly Tower of Babel’, a confusing multiplicity of ways of providing recognition for scholarly work. In the same paper, other groups reported:

  • a lack of time and incentive to engage fully with these emerging mechanisms
  • that newer platforms don’t carry the weight or legitimacy of well-established more traditional channels and options
  • weaknesses in the underpinning semantic systems or perceived insufficiently established trustworthiness of platforms.

In the news…

The broader scholarly communications environment within which researcher identity is one aspect, has thrown up a lot of reasons to be wary. The complexities faced by researchers and scholarly communities – and society at large – are illustrated in the following recent examples.

Some academics took down their profile due to the online platform’s proposal to charge authors for recommendations.

Research Gate has come under fire with Publishers demanding the removal of research articles from the site because they breach publishers’ copyright. A lawsuit has been filed alleging widespread copyright infringement (Van Noorden, 2017).

  • As Dr Danny Kingsley Deputy Director Cambridge University Library – Scholarly Communication and Research Services tweeted, there’s renewed scrutiny on user obligations in the updated ResearchGate Terms of Service.


  • This case highlights the very real challenges time-poor researchers face in navigating the parameters within which scholarly outputs can and can’t be shared. This applies not only in the context of digital researcher profile tools, but more broadly in our complex publishing environment.

Top tip: Contact your institutional repository for expert guidance on publishing your research outputs. ANU staff and students can contact Elke Dawson and the team from ANU Open Research at

Protect your hard-earned identity and reputation

Given these concerns and challenges, what are some protective measures you can take to guard your scholarly reputation if:

  • you are published in a predatory journal?
  • you are erroneously listed as an author?
  • your research is claimed by someone else?

The key message is to take immediate action says Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian at the Australian National University.

Check out what steps to take when your research identity and reputation come under fire.

Cyber savvy – top tips

Your online identity is incredibly valuable. What would the implications of harm to your reputation or potential lost research be if you were hacked and lost control of your online identity?

  • If using a number of online profile tools, consider either having one identity for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your academic profiles OR keep your professional/academic identity separate from general social media. There are pros and cons for both approaches.
  • Two-factor authentication on your Facebook account is a good idea if using your Facebook ID to create accounts with researcher profile tools. The same principle applies to any online storage account like DropBox or Google Drive where you store your research or manuscripts.
  • If you decide to no longer use (leave) a platform, delete your profile. Leaving unused profiles that may link into other active online accounts is a potential backdoor for hackers.
  • Find more suggestions from ANU IT Security, including keeping your software up to date on computers and personal devices.

Learning activity 4

Check out responses to #DeleteAcademiaEdu on Twitter.

Share your thoughts in the comments section on one or more of the following talking points. As always, building upon other’s ideas is encouraged.

  • What stands out for you about the conversations around #DeleteAcademiaEdu? Have you or any of your colleagues acted on #DeleteAcademiaEdu?
  • What issues have you or colleagues experienced in the use of researcher identity tools?
  • Has discussing the issues within this community of practice helped reduce some of the researcher identity “fear-factor” for you? What concerns remain?
  • Let’s do a bit of Blue Sky thinking…In a perfect world, what would the ultimate researcher identity tool look like?

Face-to-face event

10am, Thursday 16 Nov, Coffee Lab, ANU Pop-Up

We invite you to join us for a friendly discussion about topics related to the course, and have a coffee on us!

Please RSVP to 

Resources and further reading

LSE Impact Blog. “Algorithmic accountability in scholarship: what we can learn from #DeleteAcademiaEdu” 2016.

LSE Impact Blog. “Should you #DeleteAcademiaEdu? On the role of commercial services in scholarly communication.” 2016.

Nicholas, David, et al. “New Ways of Building, Showcasing, and Measuring Scholarly Reputation.” Learned Publishing 28.3 (2015): 169-83.

Riley, James. “The evolution of our online identity” 2017. Accessed 9 November 2017

Times Higher Education. “The A to Z of Social Media for Academia: Your Definitive Guide to Using Social Media as an Academic.”  2017. Accessed 9 November 2017.

Van Noorden, Richard. Publishers threaten to remove millions of papers from ResearchGate: Take-down notices “imminent” as lawsuit is filed alleging widespread copyright infringement. 2017 Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.22793


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Day 2: Tools – ORCID, Mendeley, Kudos

Welcome back!

Yesterday we considered the benefits of establishing your online researcher identity and some of the factors to think about when selecting best-fit tools for you. Today, we’ll have a brief look at three suggested tools, along with further resources to read, watch and consider.


ORCID is an international, interdisciplinary, open, and not-for-profit registry of unique researcher identifiers. It is a hub that connects researchers and research outputs. An ORCID iD is an Open Researcher and Contributer ID, a persistent digital identifier able to be integrated with key research workflows and systems, such as manuscript and grant submissions. Sign up for an ORCiD in 30 seconds or watch this video to find out more:


You can promote yourself by adding your ORCiD to your resume, thesis, web page, email signature and your public profiles – see below for an example.


Mendeley Research Network is an academic social network that can help you collaborate with others online and discover the latest research. Register for a free researcher profile. Create your list of publications and follow curated bibliographies shared by others in your field.

This video demonstrates how to set up your profile. (NB: the interface has been updated; use this step-by-step guide for the current interface).


  • Works with Mendeley Reference Manager
  • Recommended papers are based on your reads, your Mendeley library and your topics
  • Join or create interest groups
  • Track who is reading your work
  • Researcher insights via the Mendeley blog

Here’s an example of a researcher profile:



Kudos is more like a researcher’s toolkit rather than a networking site or a publications listing. Kudos enables you to explain your work in everyday terms (plain English), share your work via a range of communication channels, and track metrics around who is reading and citing your work. The following video explains the three easy steps to using Kudos. Registration is free.


  • Multiple metrics help you determine which activities and channels are most effective for communicating about your work
  • ‘Profiles’ for your publications – including lay summaries, impact statements and supplementary content – which are more engaging for a digital readership
  • Combination of functionalities offered by other platforms, all in the one tool.





Learning Activity 3: Connections

Let’s get hands-on!

One of the brilliant aspects of this imperfect digital world (we’ll talk about that in Day 3), is the simplicity of making connections between many of these researcher profile tools.

  1. Select one of the options below. There’s no one size fit’s all and these are just suggestions. You might have a better idea!

Need inspiration? Take a look at Digital identity health check for academics for some further practical suggestions.

  1. Share your experience of this activity
  • Tell us about the tools, your challenges or quick wins, or ask questions of this group.
  • For more practiced participants, share your top tips. It’s your time to shine!

Respond to at least one other participant’s post by saying what you learned from their experience.

Face-to-face event

10am, Thursday 16 Nov, Coffee Lab, ANU Pop-Up

We invite you to join us for a friendly discussion about topics related to the course, and have a coffee on us!

Please RSVP to

Resources and Further Reading

ORCIDorg. “ORCID Feature: default privacy”. YouTube, 18 Jan. 2013.

Meadows, Alice. “Six Things to Do Now You’ve Got an ORCID iD.” 2015

Perkel, Jeffrey. “‘Kudos’ Promises to Help Scientists Promote Their Papers to New Audiences: Increasingly Popular Social-Media Tool Says It Can Maximize Reach and Impact of Research.” Nature.536: 113–14.

Rapple, Charlie. “Kudos Where It’s Due: An Interview with Charlie Rapple.” Discover the Future of Research 2013.

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Day 1 – Why build your online profile as a researcher?

Build your researcher profile

Written by Imogen Ingram and Candida Spence, The Australian National University

By geralt, sourced from Pixabay, downloaded 10/11/17

Welcome to the last ANU Online Course for 2017!

In this three day Espresso Course we’ll assist you to establish or refresh your online researcher profile, and suggest a number of tools you might like to consider.

We’ll also explore some of the issues and challenges around researcher profiles and platforms in the digital environment.


What is meant by researcher identity?

Let’s hear about researcher identity from Roxanne Missingham:

Why have an online researcher identity?

Enhancement of scholarly reputation through a digital presence is increasingly recognised as a legitimate aspect of scholarly activity, output and measurement of those outputs. Being able to maximise the effectiveness of available reputational mechanisms and platforms has become a core researcher capability in the digital environment (Nicholas, et al. 2015).

These mechanisms and platforms (which we’ll call tools from now on), contribute to your online researcher identity. These tools help you to establish, build and enrich your researcher profile over time.

Here’s some examples:

Learning Activity 1: Joining the community

As your first activity, head to the comments section and introduce yourself (you can access this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page). We’d love to know:

  • Your name
  • Your university or sector
  • Your role, and
  • Do you have an ORCID ID? (it’s okay to say No)
  • Do you regularly use academic social networking platforms? If so, which one/s? (it’s okay to say No)

What are the motivators?

Investigations into the role that ‘emerging reputational mechanisms and platforms are playing in building, maintaining and showcasing scholarly reputation in the digital age’ (Nicholas, et al. 2015) revealed interesting trends amongst various scholarly communities.

Motivators for the use of popular platforms such as, ResearchGate and Mendeley are varied (Nicholas et al. 2015) and include:

  • Article and paper suggestions
  • Sharing and reading full-text papers*
  • Project collaborations
  • Reputation
  • Tracking of research outputs & metrics
  • Going beyond the publications and citations paradigm
  • Research promotion
  • Job suggestions

*(As part of setting up an online profile, be aware that sharing published versions of your work, even if the platform allows it, breaches the law. We’ll touch on this in Day 3.)

Let’s hear from Dr Anthony Dona, about the importance of building your researcher identity and maintaining your collaborative networks:

Best-fit for you?

Funny van, by Michael Coglan, Sourced from Flickr, downloaded 10/11/17

It’s a good idea to consider your motivations and to investigate how the digital tools you choose will fit into your workflows.

What kind of support do you want at different phases of the research cycle?

Academic social networks – the Swiss Army Knives of scholarly communication provides insightful and detailed analysis of usage and functionality across a number of platforms throughout the following phases:

  • Preparation
  • Discovery
  • Analysis
  • Writing
  • Publication
  • Outreach (impact/engagement)
  • Assessment

The holistic approach

We’d like to emphasise the importance of the holistic persona in this discussion around online researcher identity. This issue is creatively tackled by QUT’s Pimp my Profile initiative (Thompson and French, 2016).

With this approach in mind, other factors in your decision might include the points listed below:

  • Does the community you are signing up to align with your values – personal & professional?
  • If you’re already highly visible within your scholarly community, is this a digital tool that genuinely enhances your scholarship and reputation?
  • How much “maintenance” is required – can some aspects be automated and what user support is available?
  • Who “does it well’ – who can I emulate to get max value from a particular digital tool?
  • Your disciplinary field – where are collaborators or peers in your discipline more likely to be found?
  • Data reuse conditions and business models that underpin various platforms as discussed by Lambert Heller in this LSE Impact Blog post.
  • Your legitimate concerns around online identity – Dr Mark Carrigan addresses researcher concerns

Learning Activity 2

Share your thoughts on one or more of these questions in the comments section:

  • Do the motivators and concerns raised in this post ring true for you?
  • Do you have a clear distinction between your professional/academic identity and your personal online presence? Or, do you have a crossover between the professional and personal?
  • Why are you using – or not using – certain researcher identifiers and profiles?
  • In your disciplinary area, what are the most popular tools?

We encourage you to look over the comments posted by others and respond to at least one other person who raised a perspective that you either haven’t considered, or builds on your own ideas further.


ResearchEx. “Online identity”. YouTube, presented by Mark Carrigan, 1 Nov. 2011.

Innovations, 101. “Academic Social Networks – the Swiss Army Knives of Scholarly Communication.” Innovations in Scholarly Communication: changing research workflows 2016.

LSE Impact Blog. “What Will the Scholarly Profile Page of the Future Look Like? Provision of Metadata Is Enabling Experimentation.” 2015.

Nicholas, David, et al. “New Ways of Building, Showcasing, and Measuring Scholarly Reputation.” Learned Publishing 28.3 (2015): 169-83.

Thompson, Ellen, and French, Sally. “Pimp My Profile and the Researcher Profile Health Check: Practical, Individualised Researcher Support Initiatives Co-Created by Library and Faculty.” ALIA National Conference 2016. 2016. Print.


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Build your researcher profile

Build your researcher profile

Written by Imogen Ingram and Candida Spence

Are you seeking to establish or refresh your online researcher profile? There are many online digital tools that can assist you to achieve this. In this coffee course, we will show you three digital tools – ORCID, Mendeley and Kudos – that will help to uniquely identify you as a researcher, explicitly link you to your research outputs, and contribute to increasing your visibility in the scholarly environment.

These three options are free and will boost your scholarly profile, showcase your publications and research projects and help get you noticed by potential collaborators.

Course Dates

This course will run from Monday, 13 November to Wednesday, 15 November 2017.


  • Day 1: Why build your online profile as a researcher?
  • Day 2: Tools – ORCID, Mendeley, Kudos
  • Day 3: Issues and challenges for researchers


Imogen Ingram is part of the Information Literacy team at the ANU Library, working as a research skills trainer for Postgraduate and Higher Degree Research students. Imogen is the co-ordinator of the Library’s Small Private Online Course project aimed at building researcher capabilities to navigate the scholarly communications and publishing environment.


Photo of Candida SpenceCandida Spence is part of the Information Literacy team at the ANU Library, working as a digital literacies skills trainer for Postgraduate and Higher Degree Research students and specifically focuses on information management, Word for academic writing and Presentation techniques.

All are welcome

We welcome all staff, including tutors, demonstrators, professional staff, and academics at the Australian National University and beyond to join us for this final course of 2017. Professional development recognition is available for all ANU staff through HORUS. Log in to HORUS, and find the course called AOC011 – “Build your researcher profile” under the Training Catalogue. To receive recognition, you will be required to post a comment on every blog.

How does the course work?

All you need to do is Subscribe for Updates by visiting our blog and entering your email in the block on the right-hand side. We welcome you to comment and discuss on each post as they are added. Feel free to participate as much or as little as you prefer.


Please feel free to contact with any questions.

Day Five: ‘Nothing new’ or radical reality? Putting openness into practice.

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland

Image source: CC0, downloaded 27/10/17

Welcome to the last day of our second Coffee Course on open education.  During this week, we’ve highlighted a few areas of practice that are specifically enabled by open practices, and the possibilities that arise when one moves beyond simply providing access. Many of you would have realised by now that it is an area fraught with hidden complexity, and that OEP is a broad term that tries to capture a number of behaviours and activities. Any one of the facets of OEP could in fact be expanded into its’ own course, but the most interesting part of the discipline is that practitioners globally are attempting new ideas and pushing the boundaries and refining an understanding of openness.

Today, we’ll tie together the topics that have been presented over the first four days and give an opportunity for reflection.

The Role of Context

The priorities for action that were reused from Susan D’Antoni’s work in 2008 are now almost a decade old. The open educational resources movement celebrated fifteen years earlier in 2017. However, the priorities for action still remain very similar despite the passage of time and neither OER, nor OEP enjoy mainstream adoption across the sector.

The themes at a global level – mirrored by the OE Global conferences – have shown a desire to change this.  In 2016, practitioners at the conference heard the message ‘from advocacy to action’ from all geographic areas and researchers; this year the call to action became ‘from action to accountability’, reflecting a need for open education to demonstrate value and accountability in practice. In either case, an uncritical acceptance of openness as a ‘societal good’ – as many of the earliest research articles were presented – is not acceptable; evidence and examples of repeatable practice become the currency of openness.

In order to gain traction globally, open education resources, and OEP need to focus on enabling reuse and repurposing for localisation of education. Creative Commons and Public Domain licencing remain key levers for this process, but providing resources in non-proprietary formats (rather than assuming access to software) is an essential part of a sustainable movement. The considerations that drive repurpose-enabled resource and learning design only arise from a combination of awareness-raising and regard for the context of other practitioners. Discounting the role of context in open education, however, implicitly empowers a very different, marginalising agenda.

Learning Activity 9:

Based on what you have read this week, what has been the one concept or idea that you have found either most interesting, or most surprising, about openness, and why?

Radical Realities?

When describing the complexity of open practice, I’ve used the work of Urie Bronfenbrenner, especially his ‘Theory of Human Development’. In short, Bronfenbrenner sought a divergent path to other development psychologists by stating that phenomena not only need to be observed in natural settings rather than the laboratory, but also that environment (at a number of levels) was experienced uniquely by each human being. The environment (which he referred to as the ‘Ecology of Human Development’) differed for each person based on their experiences, the constraints and affordances of their local area, the norms of one’s culture, and experiences beyond the control of the individual (in higher education, for example, we are all affected by Federal government educational policy, but the individual doesn’t have a lot of control in shaping said policy).

Image source:
CC0, downloaded 27/10/17

I bring this up because it has the potential to help us understand engagement with open educational practice.

Firstly, if we accept the integral role of context in not only OEP, but in education globally, it is accompanied by a commitment to the notion that each educator and learner applies their own experiences, assumptions, knowledge, and values to an educational encounter. Paolo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed (1996) notionally rejects education as ‘banking’ – that is, that students are ‘empty accounts’ that are enriched only when the teacher makes a ‘deposit’ (of knowledge). Freire argued that accepting the banking metaphor was tantamount to ‘dehumanising’ the learner by actively discounting and devaluing their existing knowledge and experience in favour of prevailing information (which he linked to education as a tool of the oppressor).

Secondly is the somewhat problematic nature of semantics in the open education discourse.  ‘Adoption’ of open practice has become part of the vernacular to describe the process whereby a practitioner accepts (‘adopts’) OEP; with an implied outcome of transforming practice to include openness. A more realistic description would be ‘engagement’; wherein a practitioner explores OEP through the lens of their own context. If we accept that ‘student engagement’ focuses on ‘time on task’ and willingness to apply time and skills to a task, then perhaps in OEP, we can repurpose the same definition for practitioners, namely:

‘the time and effort that [practitioners] put into their teaching practice, that leads to experiences and outcomes that constitute success, and the ways an institution allocates resources and organises [professional learning opportunities] and support services to induce [staff] to participate in, and benefit from such activities’ (adapted from Garrison & Vaughan, 2013, p. 27).

So, if context needs recognition for not only the learner, but also the practitioner, then we also need to seriously consider how OEP is presented. Often OEP is heralded – as we’ve previously mentioned – as a self-evident force for good. When challenging, or reshaping existing realities, this is simply not enough. Again we turn to Bronfenbrenner, for inspiration.

Bronfenbrenner was influenced by Piaget’s notion of child development as a series of rationalisations between the self-constructed imaginative world and the ‘constraints of objective reality’ (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 10), and that this internal environment is in a constant state of refashioning to become more compatible with achievable reality. The highest form of development, he argues, is the ‘growing capacity to remould reality in accordance with human requirements’ (1979, p. 10). This stance is mirrored by Gadamer (1989) in the construction of ‘the lifeworld’ (that an individual is the product of history and culture) that he asserts exists not only as an individual reality, but as part of a communal whole. The lifeworld is therefore influenced by, and able to influence, broader reality. A concurrent, cyclical development process is thus possible as the individual undertakes internal development (such as capacity – and knowledge-building that may alter values and priorities) that allows greater agency for external development within the achievable reality. That is, new realities are more achievable as a result of internal development processes.

The role of individual and communal realities is an important touchstone for OEP as it is not just the individual’s ability to conceive changes to their reality (and the means by which to achieve them), but also the positioning of openness. It could be argued that if openness is presented as a too radically ideological reality, it dis-incentivises engagement. Presenting OEP in combative terms (i.e. ‘the battle for open’) or as a ‘disruptive’ idea that will lead to the destruction of traditional education systems may be counter-productive to gaining traction in higher education.

A more strategic approach for OEP to gain a significant foothold in higher education is one designed around achievable, local aspirational realities, coupled with opportunities for professional learning and support – all of which requires contextual understanding for success implementation.

Image source:
CC0, downloaded 27/10/17

I want to leave you to consider this position about context and reality (a heavy topic for just one cup of coffee – I’ll understand if you, like me, go for a second cup). In many ways, uncritical approaches, and terms like ‘battle’ and ‘disruption’ have done more to hamper OEP than provide reasons for change. During this week, we’ve had a chance to be critical through the discussion in the Comments, and identify key points where OEP is not always the best fit. My belief is that practitioners need to consider OEP as one possible approach in their ‘learning and teaching toolkit’, in the same way that we consider the integration of technology, different theories of learning, and even modes of study. In some cases, OEP will be a good fit, but just like technology more harm than good comes from trying to ‘make it fit’.

Learning Activity 10:

As the last word for this week, I’d like you to consider one aspect of OEP that you might integrate into your own practice. What is the concept, and how might you use it? It’s certainly okay if you can think of more than one.

I’ll be keen to see what you’re taking away, and will see you in the Comments. Thank you all for joining us this week to learn more about and discuss OEP.


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.


Bronfenbrenner, U (1979).  The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design.  Cambridge: Harvard university press.

D’Antoni, S. (2008).  Open educational resources: the way forward.

Deliberations of an international community of interest.UNESCO.Retrieved from

Friere, P. (1997).  Pedagogy of the oppressed, revised edn. London: Penguin.

Gadamer, H. (1989).  Truth and method, 2nd revised edn.  London: Continuum.

Garrison, R. & Vaughan, N (2013).  Institutional change and leadership associated with blended learning innovation: two case studies, Internet and higher education, 18, pp. 24-28.




Day Four: Designing for (Re)use

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland

On our penultimate day, it’s time to look at some of the more practical elements of OEP. For those of you who attended the ‘Practical Openness’ presentation and panel yesterday, you would have noticed that openness isn’t as easy as many first think. This, like open assessment, is an issue that has been recognised recently, but translating this into action has been slow.

you need to read what is on the cassette, by RHINO NEAL, CC-BY-NC-ND, downloaded 25/10/17

Some of us might recall having our own ‘Awesome Remix Tape’, a less-than-legal method of remix, but a common one. Sitting by the radio with your finger on the Pause button (as Play and Record were already locked down), waiting for ‘that song’ to play took a lot of time. Then if you wanted to share it with a friend there were technology barriers (did they have a dual tape deck?), storage barriers (were their enough spare minutes on their blank tape?), and of course sequencing barriers (it took a very specialised set of skills to splice audio).

If you want, use that as the frame of reference that will extend into today’s discussion.

Open for sharing

It bears mentioning again – because of the fundamental nature of OEP – that it’s not about ‘free resources’ (well, not just about that). The ability to Retain, Reuse, Remix, Revise, and Repurpose through open licencing is the powerbase of OEP. If practitioners are only concerned with OER, then the questions are:

  • What licence do we want to use and promote?
  • Where will we store the resulting resources?

However, for OEP, the questions become more complex, namely:

  • How do we enable others to easily (re)use our work?, and
  • What is the best place to store OER so that others can find, (re)use, and share them?

The potential answers will challenge your existing practice, and your institutional norms.

Learning Activity 7

In the Comments section below, I’m interested in three things:

(1) What is the function of the resources you create as part of your work?

(2) What file formats do these resources take?

(3) Where do you most commonly store these resources?

No PDF please, we’re open

I suspect (and this will play out in the Comments) that many of you create text materials in .pdf. There is nothing wrong with that at all; it’s a file format that is ubiquitous, you don’t need proprietary software to read them (for example, Sumatra is a free open source alternative to Adobe products), and they are (within reason) fairly easy to share. Taking legacy content that already exists, and adding a Creative Commons Licence seems like a good start to engaging with OER.

Most practitioners begin their open journey with existing content, so there is nothing wrong with this approach. However, in the longer term, proprietary file formats are difficult to remix – consider what it takes to revise a PDF without the source file. Most university staff don’t have access to the full suite of Adobe products, and this presents an immediate barrier. There are plenty of ways around this, but a degree of persistence is required.

It might seem as though I’m maligning the PDF alone, but the same applies to Windows Media Player files, iTunesU lectures, and any proprietary file format (such as Amazon’s version of EPUB3, the .azw file that means you can’t read your Kindle books without a Kindle or the Kindle app).

Here’s the challenge to consider: if you are serious about sharing your work and have a desire for others to (re)use the material, provide it in multiple file formats. For example, I use Open Office to compose text documents (all the work for this course was done in .odt files). I need to create this base file if I wanted a .pdf, or if I wanted to upload it to a Learning Management System (LMS) anyway so it’s not an extra step. When I store the contents of this course, I simply upload the original working document (.odt), with the resulting other file formats. The same would apply if you were creating material for a platform like iTunesU. You need to create an .mp3 (audio file) or .mp4 (video file) to upload, so it isn’t extra work to provide a link to the source file for others.

Check back over the Comments section now and see if you can spot any trends in the file formats most often used. Do they help with OEP?

The Selfish Giant, and higher education

Dromoland Walled Garden by sportsilliterate, CC-BY, downloaded 25/10/17

For those of you unfamiliar with the Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Selfish Giant‘, here’s the link to a Public Domain version that you can read now. Go on, this is an online course, so I’ll still be here when you get back.

The Selfish Giant’s Walled Garden is a place of beauty, but for it to be enjoyed by more than himself, the children need to circumvent the security and essentially break in. At the risk of labouring the analogy, university repositories are the same way – lots of brilliant material is locked away with no access unless you’re either part of the staff or doing something illegal.

Due to Federal Government funding arrangements, taxpayers money was spent on repositories with the mandate to open up research to society in general. Whilst the repository movement has caught on strongly in learning and teaching, the sharing notion has not. I’d be interested to know if your institution has an open repository for educational resources, not just research.

Furthermore, many of the initial projects in OER (and some more recent ones) have been focused on building new repositories; which is counter-intuitive in light of the research. One of the key barriers to adopting OER has been that there is no ‘one central location to find them’, so obviously building another repository is the answer to that barrier?

Align that with the funding that institutions allocate to their repositories. The technical infrastructure, security, staffing, training, and the like are all expensive budget lines for a university, so I’ll suggest a challenging alternative.

Learning Activity 8: Opening the gate to the walled garden

Let’s use some hypothetical figures for our case, and say that the total real cost of running an institutional repository is $200,000 per annum. In this case, the university manages the infrastructure, security, technical support, professional learning to use the systems, upgrades, and of course staff. Even if their repository is open, potential users need to know about it in order to search.

What if a different business model existed? Find an existing, robust, supported repository (like the OER Commons) that has global contributions, and an on-site authoring tool that automates licencing based on your choices. Instead of the institutional repository, have staff store all resources at the OER Commons. Now, as the ‘common good’ is at the heart of OEP, the institution pays $100,000 per annum as a ‘gift’ to the OER Commons, contributing to a centralised ‘common good’.

If you wanted to take it one step further, it could become institutional practice to search the open repository first for material to (re)use or revise before authoring or purchasing original content – which includes textbooks. This would be a significant change in culture, and may have long-term value for the university.

The questions are:

(1) Would there be any merit in pursuing this sort of business model?

(2) What are the major challenges in adopting a model like this?

Preparing for tomorrow

Coffee8, by
Tanay Mondal, CC0, downloaded 25/10/17

This represents a very different way of thinking about not only how we go about ‘the business of education’, but also the value and mission of the university. As you can see, OEP extends beyond just the practitioner, potentially influencing every level and operation of university that would like to claim to be ‘a truly open university’.

This foreshadows tomorrow heavily, but there is a blend of reconceptualisation, and ‘nothing new’ in openness; the value is finding the right blend, and – we have mentioned before – honouring context.

It’s been a great experience spending the week with you all; let’s see what the discussion brings today.


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.

Day Three: Open Assessment

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland

Reminder!  Today at 10.30am QLD time (11.30am NSW/ACT/VIC/TAS time), USQ will live stream ‘Practical Openness‘; results from our OEP Grants Program. You’ll be able to post questions and have them answered by folk who have grappled with OEP for almost a year.  Find out more information here.

“One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time” by Kate Ter Haar, CC-BY, downloaded 23/10/17

Welcome to Day Three, everyone. In the previous days, the grounding for Open Educational Practice, and the issue of quality have been explored, which dovetails very nicely now with open assessment. Today is a slightly different format as the learning activities are at the end of the post, not scattered throughout. This is intentional, because there is a little bit of ‘front-loading’ that needs to occur. I want you to engage with the reading and videos purposefully though, and as you do so, think about this question:

What are the opportunities for universities that embrace open assessment? Would this practice effectively position universities as providing a ‘societal good’, as well as equipping students with life-long skills?

It’s a big question, but revisit it after each section and reflect. You might even post your reflections as a ‘stream of consciousness’ in the comments, or keep notes as you progress so that you can see the progression of your ideas. I’ll come back to these points at the end.

Why open assessment?

Open Educational Practice (OEP) tends to ask deeper, more complex questions of our practice, and open assessment certainly qualifies. Essentially, open assessment occurs whenever students are co-creators of openly-licenced content that meets an authentic need. Whilst such assessment is possible within closed systems, it means that you need to appropriate student copyright, and that the sharing is extremely limited. If the material created by students is monetised in some manner, then it essentially reinforces that knowledge is simply a commodity for purchase – instead of as asset owned as part of a ‘common wealth’ of society.

Rajiv Jhangiani, a professor of psychology (now working at the University of British Columbia as an advocate for OEP), describes this aspect of open pedagogy in very human terms:

“Incorporating openness into pedagogy is simultaneously liberating and terrifying. It challenges instructors to reflect on their practices and move away from the traditional top-down model of pedagogy by assigning open-ended problems and empowering students to act as co-creators (Rosen & Smale, 2015). But whereas it takes a degree of courage to untether oneself from the security and predictability of the staid research essay, once accomplished, the benefits to the learning process are sizable. For one, students and instructors work collaboratively towards creating resources for public consumption, adding tangible value to the world outside of their classroom. Second, students tend to invest more effort and care more deeply about the product when they know that their work has a larger potential audience than just their instructor (Farzan & Kraut, 2013). Third, open pedagogy unleashes the students’ creative potential, allowing them to ascend the rungs of the cognitive process dimension in Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)”.


From: Jhangiani, R (2017). E-xcellence in Teaching Essay: Ditching the “Disposable Assignment” in Favor of Open Pedagogy [blog post], Society for the Teaching of Psychology,

Rajiv explains this further in a video interview from last year:

I want you to keep these benefits in mind as we explore some examples of open assessment, as I’ll use them as a type of criteria for assessing fit-for purpose open assessment.

The disposable assignment

Supporting a greener future by waferboard, CC-BY, downloaded 23/10/17

It’s also worth explaining the term ‘disposable assignment’: it was coined by David Wiley to describe any piece of assessment that was constructed by the student, and marked by the lecturer, only to have the student read the mark and the feedback – and then throw it away. Wiley (and many others that we’ll meet in the examples below) argue that this does not lead to deeper student learning, nor does it invest students in their learning – you can read more about this here.

At this stage, some readers may consider this a worthy argument against the much-maligned essay. In the last decade, the essay (like the exam), has been criticised as outmoded assessment unfit for ’21st century learners’ (whatever one of these might be). What is often lacking in the argument against essays is a discipline-nuanced critical discussion about the role of this assessment in developing core disciplinary skills, and the way in which essay writing is embedded in the curriculum. Often the rationale and process of essay writing is opaque to students; that is, the purpose to write one, the structural elements, and the link to the broader disciplinary narrative are not explained – so the format is perceived as ‘disposable’ when this simply isn’t the case.

I don’t want us to get side-tracked on essays, but it serves as a very good example of why we need a critical, discipline-based lens when examining assessment, and not simply dispose of entire formats due to prevailing fads.

What does it look like?

Open assessment can take many forms, but luckily, there are emerging examples of good, successful practices. Let’s take a look at three:

  • Amin Azzam (UC-San Francisco School of Medicine) and his students recognised that for many people, Wikipedia is the first source of information for public health. In fact, public health articles on the site are viewed by 200 million people per month for a variety of reasons. The course assessment documented quality improvement changes made by students to Wikipedia articles in this discipline; and the articles improved by twenty-eight students were viewed more than 975,000 times during the semester.
  • Rajiv Jhangiani’s Social Psychology course includes assessment whereby students design and contribute question banks linked to the course learning outcomes for future students to use as revision. Students were provided with learning activities about writing effective questions, and providing constructive peer feedback.  One of the drivers for this activity was the closed nature of commercial textbooks that offer question banks, slides, case studies, and other resources as ‘value added services’. Students who can’t afford or access a textbook though, are denied access to these resources.
  • Robin De Rosa (Plymouth State University) realised that the anthology of early American literature prescribed for her course was simply a collation of readings in the Public Domain, packaged and sold by a publisher. To make the book more freely accessible, and to engage students with the literature, Robin asked students to source the Public Domain versions of the examples, and then write an introduction to each reading explaining it’s background and relevance. The result has been freely shared here.

In all these cases, the assessment ‘lives on’ beyond the course. Students can refer others to their work, it does ‘make a difference’ for other learners, and the content can be updated in future course offerings by other students – making it ‘renewable assessment’ instead of ‘disposable assessment’.

I think we’ve worked hard enough today, so let’s go back to the original question driving our reading and start discussing this one in the Comments. I really look forward to hearing your thoughts, as I’m currently working with a few lecturers on open assessment ideas, so I have an authentic context to learn from you too.

Learning Activity 6

Please post your responses to this question in the Comments.

What are the opportunities for universities that embrace open assessment? Would this practice effectively position universities as providing a ‘societal good’, as well as equipping students with life-long skills?

Until tomorrow, we’ll see you in the Comments!


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.

Day Two: ‘I’ll know it when I see it’, or, usefully defining quality in openness

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland

Common Good Books by Kathleen Tyler Conklin CC-BY, downloaded 20/10/17

I’ve used the image on the left in a number of my presentations and it never fails to elicit chuckles in the audience when they read through the categories this book store offers. As a former librarian, I’m still not certain what ‘Quality Trash’ is (and it might be better left as a mystery), but it makes one wonder what criteria a book needs to be shelved under that heading.

There are a few topics that are absolutely guaranteed to generate robust and vigorous discussion in teaching and learning – and one of them (at least among my network), is ‘quality’. If you cast back to Susan D’Antoni’s report from yesterday, quality was the fifth highest priority globally (after Awareness raising, communities, capacity development, and sustainability) and cited as a priority in all geographical regions.


Learning Activity 3

Before we try to make sense of the debate around quality standards, measures, and proxies, I’d like you to reflect on what quality in learning and teaching means to you. It’s a big question, so when answering in the comments, pick one indicator and explain why it is important to you.

For example, you might think that strong teacher-student interaction is a sign of quality, or that the resources selected for the course are particularly current or topical. There aren’t any right answers here, we’re establishing some basic perceptions of a very complex concept.


Building on the notion of OER and OEP is how the discussion around quality is framed. In the earlier course, we touched on a number of barriers to OER adoption. One was the perception that institutions would only share resources that could not be commercialised – the adage ‘you get what you pay for‘ was the root of this criticism.

Direct and indirect measures of quality pervade higher education and often the two are conflated. David Wiley, an influential scholar in Open Education, more precisely states that there are direct measures, and indirect proxies for quality in OER. That is, a number of criteria are often used to encourage the perception of quality, but do not always have a direct correlation to it.


Learning Activity 4

Read David Wiley’s short post about OER quality standards, and in the comments below reflect on two aspects of the post:

Firstly, in the context of your own work or practice, do you agree with his perception of measures and proxies? Through the lens of open educational practice (the focus being on learning design that leverages openness, organisational cultures that value and recognise openness), do you think that the measures and proxies refer to OER, OEP, or both?

Secondly, have a look at the date of the post (I’ve deliberately chosen it based on the currency). Is this applicable to discussions at your institution, or has there been significant change?


Following on the learning activity is a much more recent post on the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) blog by Professor Daniel Burgos. He discusses the role of quality in light of an abundance of OER, and in possibly normalising quality measures used in mainstream educational systems.

Many repositories for open resources – and especially open textbooks – have included a peer-review process for the resources, as a way of supporting lecturers in their choice of learning materials. Here is one example from the BC Campus Open Textbook Collection (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the reviews).

Quality, by Tony Hawk, CC-BY-NC, downloaded 20/10/17

When discussing OER, there are some clear attributes that can be examined – most of them drawn from other mechanisms that have been used for closed materials. Traditionally, Faculty, Librarians, and Learning Designers have exercised a role as arbiters of quality in various guises; and now the same is true in open education. Whether OER needs to be ‘fenced off’ separately to other resources in the quality debate is still under discussion.

However, open education practitioners need to consider additional facets of quality in their work. The Australian Open Education Licencing Toolkit provides a visual representation of these facets, framed by Legal, Technical, and Accessible concerns. The ‘most open’ resources are those that adhere to the criteria at the top of the list, and the level of openness decreases as you move down the page. We’ll revisit this on Day 4.

It would appear that there is a perception that open practitioners need to demonstrate that their work still meets quality standards in order for OEP to be a viable and sustainable practice. This leads us into the last learning activity for the day.


Learning Activity 5

Today has really only skimmed the surface of quality in OEP, and there are many types of discussions waiting to happen. From the list of three questions below, select one, and post your thoughts in the comments below. I’d encourage you to also engage with other participants, remembering that this is a professional space.

  • Do open educational resources need their own version of quality?
  • Ultimately, who decides what quality looks like in open educational practice?
  • Do you think that mainstream measures of quality (such as peer-review) need to be applied to open resources in order to normalise the practice of using them?


We look forward to speaking with you all in the comments before we move on to a (perhaps) less contentious issue tomorrow – open assessment!


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.

Day 1: From Resources to Practice: why ‘mere access’ isn’t enough

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Written by Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, University of Southern Queensland

Sharing Coffee, by januarylark, CC-BY, downloaded 20/10/17

Welcome to the second Coffee Course on Open Education. You may have taken our first coffee course back in March as part of International Open Education Week, or you may be new to the ideas that we’ll discuss. Either way, your participation, and conversation are encouraged. You’ll find that the richness in this sort of course comes from discussing ideas with colleagues and we always learn from the participants too.

Through the daily posts, we’ll explore deeper aspects of openness (‘down the rabbit hole’) and discuss some of the practical elements of creating, (re)using, storing, and sharing Open Educational Resources. There will be one or two Learning Activities each day; you can respond to these in the comments section below.  The flexibility of this course is that you can engage when you have the time – to paraphrase Gandalf from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’a learner is neither late nor early to a Coffee Course; they engage precisely when they intend to.

Learning Activity 1: Joining the community

As your first activity, please go to the comments section and introduce yourself (you can access this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page).  You should include:

  • Your name
  • Your university or sector
  • Your role, and
  • What ‘being open’ in education means to you.

I’d then encourage you to look over the comments posted by others and respond to at least one other person who raised a perspective that you either haven’t considered, or builds on your own ideas further.


You’ll probably see that ‘open’ means many different things – and it’s possible to have a discussion about openness with a wide range of views represented, and respected.

Why ‘mere access’ isn’t enough

Open Educational Resources (OER) became quite the discussion for higher education starting almost twenty years ago. With the advent of the Creative Commons Licence, creators had a mechanism that allowed clarity of reuse, that could be ‘ported’ into local legal systems (Australia has done this). It means that creators can set the terms of legal use (and reuse) for anyone.

At this point, you might like to watch a short video explaining the rationale and use of the licences:

However, ‘mere access’ to resources is not enough. If uploading content to a website doesn’t guarantee learning, then how would open educators expect that filling repositories with open content would change or supplement educational systems?

Reading Activity

At this point, Daniel Ulf-Ehlers and Grainne Conole coined the term ‘Open Educational Practice’ (OEP) to denote that in order to be successful, OER needed more.  In the definitive article Unleashing the power of OER, they outlined the dimensions of openness and the factors that influence whether the movement would be successful. If you would like to gain an understanding of the main concepts, read pages 1-5 of the article.

So let’s bring this all together:

  • The heart of open education is about the freedoms that come with free and open licencing. Creative Commons allows for free sharing, (re)use, repurpose, revision, retention, and remixing. Open isn’t just about ‘free resources’, but should always include the freedoms associated with sharing. Read more: What difference does it make?
  • When one moves from resources to practice, the conversations change dramatically. Instead of asking questions about how one makes content open, and where it should be stored, institutions ask ‘what teaching practices are now possible that weren’t before?’, ‘how do we work with others to co-create resources?’, and ‘how do we create an environment in which engaging with OEP is recognised, supported, and rewarded?’. You can see that the second set of questions are much deeper – and much more complex – but need discussions for open education to be sustainable and usable.

As you can see, open education started to move beyond a simplistic notion of providing access to learning content, but how to use it, share it, grow it, and recognise open practitioners.

Context drives priorities

Whilst the freedoms to (re)use materials, and a recognition that open education needed to move beyond access were important steps, the third part of the discussion should be context.  Whilst reading today’s post, you might have thought ‘I’m not sure that would work for me’, or ‘what if open practitioners knew about this great tool at my institution?’ – and you should, because context matters.

Your approach to learning and teaching, role, discipline, school, institution, country, local policy, access to technology, and many more criteria make up the context for your use of OER. It’s a complex environment that needs to be acknowledged before any plans for OEP can be put in place.

An example of context mapping occurred in 2007 through an international community of interest led by Susan D’Antoni. The resulting report showed critical differences in openness priorities by geographic region, but as we’ve already discussed there are many more factors to consider than just location. Whilst the report is now a decade old, more current literature drawn from these participating countries shows very little shift in the priorities identified by D’Antoni’s work.

The priority list for respondents included (in no particular order):

  • Awareness raising
  • Communities and networking
  • Sustainability
  • Quality assurance
  • Copyright and licencing
  • Capacity development
  • Accessibility
  • Financing
  • Standards
  • Learning support services
  • Research support
  • Policies
  • Technology tools
  • Assessment of learning

It’s certainly possible to merge some of these priorities, and suggest a few more, but we’ll work with this list for our closing activity today.


Learning Activity 2

Consider three contexts: your immediate practice; your team (this could be a work team, a discipline team, or a organisational unit like a School/Faculty), and your institution.

From the list above, select up to two priorities for action for each context, and provide a brief explanation outlining why they apply to those contexts.

Please post your responses in the comments.


Today has set the scene for exploring different facets of openness. Tomorrow, we throw the ‘quality cat’ into the ‘learning and teaching pigeons’ – discussions about quality in higher education are always lively, so we look forward to your company.


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.  All images and videos retain their respective licences.

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

Open Education: From Resources to Practice

By returning facilitators Adrian Stagg and Emma Power from the University of Southern Queensland!

Mug Parade by Marc Wellekotter; used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non- Commercial Licence.

During Open Education Week in March this year, the coffee course ‘Open Educational Practice: An Introduction’, introduced OER and some of the foundational considerations to ‘adopting’ open education. In this course, you’ll explore some of the deeper issues surrounding open education; specifically, practical decisions and questions that should be asked when developing, reusing, and collaborating on open education activities.

Course Dates

This course ran from Monday, 23 October to Friday, 27 October 2017 through this blog but is accessible online to anyone interested. There are 5 blog posts that will take about 10-15 minutes to work through.


  • Day One: From Resources to Practice: why ‘mere access’ isn’t enough. We’ll cover the concepts of Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Educational Practice (OEP) as a way of showing that openness is more than just making content. We’ll consider the role of open teaching practices, open assessment, and the very practical elements of working in this way. Participants will have the chance to share their experiences, and reflect on how their own version of open practice would work.
  • Day Two: ‘I’ll know it when I see it’, or, usefully defining quality in openness. One of the core criticisms levelled against openness is that ‘you get what you pay for’ – inferring that free resources and open practices are only shared when they can’t be commercialised. Today, we’ll discuss a range of emerging issues about open quality, and the activities worldwide that seek to address and guide quality practice.
  • Day Three: Assessment in an open world: beyond the disposable assignment. Open educational practice provides affordances that are not present in a closed environment, especially in regards to assessment. Drawing on successful global examples, we’ll not only consider how openness potentially transforms assessment, but what this means for a ‘university education’. Are there elements of open assessment that you can re-purpose in your own practice?
  • Day Four: Designing for reuse: PDF and the open practitioner. If the most powerful aspect of openness is the ability to share, reuse, and, re-purpose, how do we support this practice? Today, we’ll cover issues of access and reuse, and how you can design educational materials and experiences that encourage others to reuse.
  • Day Five:‘Nothing new’ or radical reality? Putting openness into practice. As the course concludes, we’ll reflect on the topics of the previous four days and bring them together in a ‘Potential Plan’. Participants will be guided in assessing their own practice and identifying areas for potential OEP. We’ll also support this day with a synchronous online event, so bring your coffee (or beverage of choice) and meet the wider community.


Photo of Adrian StaggAdrian Stagg is the Manager (Open Educational Practice) for the University of Southern Queensland. His career has included over 14 years in both public and academic libraries, followed by 7 years in positions as a Learning Technologist and eLearning Designer. Adrian holds a Master of Applied Science (Library and Information Management) from Charles Sturt University, and he is now a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania researching the Australian practitioner experience in the reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER). He also has an interest in the role of educational policy and openness. See Adrian’s publications.


Photo of Emma PowerEmma Power is a research assistant for the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Office (SILS), at the University of Southern Queensland. Her Bachelor of Science and Master of Counselling qualifications have influenced her work as researcher for the 2015 to 2017 Open Educational Practice (OEP) Grants offered by USQ, as she is particularly interested in qualitative interviewing and research ethics. Her OEP Grants research is centred on investigating and understanding the experiences of academic staff engaging with OEP and creating Open Educational Resources (OER). See Emma’s publications.

All are welcome

We welcome all staff, including tutors, demonstrators, professional staff, and academics at the Australian National University to join us, as well as colleagues at other institutions.

How does the course work?

All you need to do to join future coffee courses is Subscribe for Updates by entering your email in the box on the right-hand side of the blog. For information on how to participate in coffee courses, please see this post for more information.


Please feel free to contact: with any questions.