Open Education and the Connected Learning Curriculum at UCL

By Suzan Koseoglu, Academic Developer at TaLIC, Goldsmiths, University of London. 

University College London (UCL) held a fantastic afternoon symposium last week on Open Education at UCL. The symposium “explored different approaches to Open Education and how these are practiced by staff and students at UCL.” This was a well thought out event with speakers discussing many important issues such as the ethics of open data, policy and organisational frameworks for opening up HE, pedagogy, and student and staff experience.  

One interesting thing I learned at the symposium was UCL’s Connected Learning Curriculum (Fung, 2017), and how this pedagogical framework/vision gives directions and purpose to Open Educational Practices (OEP) at UCL. According to the UCL website, “Connected Learning Curriculum is at the core of UCL’s Education Strategy 2016-21 and UCL 2034, the university’s 20-year institutional strategy.” In connection with opening up UCL, one objective of the strategy is:

We will provide a distinctive digital  infrastructure to connect students with each other, with staff, with research and with the outside world to support networked, research-based and interdisciplinary education.

You can see the six dimensions of Connected Learning Framework below, from Leo Havemann and Jo Stroud’s presentation, “Open Educational Practices for a Connected Curriculum.”

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What was interesting to see in Havemann’s talk and throughout the symposium was the intersection between Open Education and Connected Learning Curriculum in the form of open practice at UCL, such as opening up assignments and the use and production of Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

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One example for this would be the collaborative and interdisciplinary Wikibooks writing project presented by  James Everest and a group of students: Guy Phillips, Constance Grave, Kseniia Panteleeva, and Andrei Andronic: 

As Havemann and Stroud noted in their presentation, “Connected Curriculum and Open Education propose that students create assignments for real audiences, rather than traditional, ‘disposable’ assignments.” The Wikibooks project very clearly showed the audience (1) how educators can create assignments for real audiences, and (2) how designing an OER is not just about producing Open Access content. First, students and their teacher created a set of learning objects, which can be defined as “a collection of content items, practice items, and assessment items that are combined based on a single learning objective.” Some examples would be the sandboxes students worked on, their final wiki chapters, and the rubric James Everest used to assess this assignment. Second, students learned many valuable meta skills during this process such as “copyright, referencing and awareness of quality of resources/ sources to be used in academia,” open licences and media literacies, and “working collaboratively” with others. And I think they enjoyed the process and were happy to share their experiences with us.

The symposium also showed the audience how practice needs to be supported by policy and infrastructure, but more importantly by a clear pedagogical vision. UCL is doing a fantastic job with using the Connected Curriculum Framework as a roadmap for their open practices. It was inspiring to see on the day how institutional vision and pedagogy can lead to open practices that are meaningful for both students and teachers.

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