15th March 2012, 9:10am
Lincoln's approach to open education heralded online
Traditional educational resources The University of Lincoln's work to embrace web technologies as a means for academics and students to create and share knowledge has been highlighted by a national education funding body.

JISC, an organisation which champions the use of digital technology in UK further and higher education, has outlined Lincoln's pioneering Student as Producer project as an example of how universities can adopt the core values of open education.

Student as Producer is a three-year HEA-funded project, led by Lincoln's Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD). Its aim is to reconnect research and teaching - the core activities of universities - by encouraging students at all levels to see themselves as active producers, rather than passive consumers, of knowledge.

Undergraduates are given opportunities to collaborate with academics, postgraduates and support staff on real academic research. This principle of research-engaged teaching now underpins the curriculum across all subject areas at Lincoln.

Use of web technologies, particularly those which provide open access to academic literature, sharing of open source software or data, and re-use of scientific or creative work through open licensing, has played a defining role.

Staff and students have worked together on a series of JISC-funded projects which use technology as a means for creating and disseminating knowledge or improving academic life. This has included creating new open source software for publishing and annotating online documents, developing a new library search system for academics and students, and devising an online calendar service which helps students better keep track of class timetables, library loans and assignment deadlines.

In November 2011, Lincoln hosted a three-day student 'hackathon'. This event, called DevXS, brought together around 200 computer science students from universities across the UK to work on a series of programming challenges.

Joss Winn from CERD said: "We see Student as Producer as a vehicle for demonstrating how the values and practices of openness are historically grounded in the work of universities and academic life. These core values of autonomy, sharing of knowledge, transparency and peer-recognition are also apparent in the motivations of the early Internet pioneers and in today's open source movement. It's logical then that use of web technologies should play a central role in Student as Producer. We're very flattered that JISC has recognised how the work done here at Lincoln could be an example to others."

JISC invited universities and colleges to share examples of best practice for Open Education Week, which ran from 5-10 March 2012.

Amber Thomas, programme manager at JISC, said: "These case studies paint a rich picture of how institutions are already making use of open approaches to further their distinctive missions. JISC is supporting many academics and managers in their exploration of new ways of working and the Open Educational Resources Programme in particular is highlighting some really innovative and forward-thinking work."

To see JISC's case study about the University of Lincoln's approach to open education, visit: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/topics/opentechnologies/openeducation/lincoln-university-summary.aspx