OpenLIVES workshop success

The project team held a workshop on 23rd May, as part of the HEA OER seminar series, ‘Collaborative working using open research data to create open educational resources for the humanities.’ This interactive event was attended by local Southamptonites and welcome visitors from further afield, and was the first time that the whole project team have been together to present our work. It proved to be an exciting and inspiring day!

The data to be published:

Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez described why she became involved with the OpenLIVES project: she explained how she had collected a wealth of research data for another project, but then it been archived on “on the shelf,” destined to gather dust forever…however, the JISC project had offered the chance for that material to have a continued life. The materials that she had collected were primarily oral testimonies from Spanish emigres who had left Spain during the civil war, and had either remained exiles, or had returned at some point in the intervening years. Alongside the recorded testimonies were images, drawings, ethnographic notes from the original research team and other ephemera. All of this will be digitised and published under a creative commons licence for the OpenLIVES project. She admitted to being “totally seduced by this concept” of openness for her data, and by the enticing prospect of seeing students across different institutions producing new materials based on her work, and of collaborating with colleagues in innovative and inspiring ways to produce OERs.

She noted that for her, there had been some worries about how the data may be used, or misused – she felt it would be important to make sure that metadata and the context of presentation reflected “the spirit in which the materials were collected.” She also noted that this particular group of interviewees had experienced extreme cultural oppression, and had a mistrust of officialdom – this meant that the issue of requesting additional permissions for open sharing was one which required great sensitivity. Alicia’s presentation led to an interesting group discussion on licensing, permissions and creative commons. The group agreed that increased sharing will be the situation in the future, and all staff and students need to become literate in how to do this effectively.

The OERs and embedding into teaching:

Alicia was followed by her project colleagues showcasing their ongoing work embedding the research data into their teaching. Irina Nelson, at Southampton, revealed how she is creating learning objects, using the LOC tool (an authoring tool developed at Southampton featuring an in-built pedagogical template), on the topic of research skills for oral history, for example, one LO deals with how to create effective questions for interviews. These materials will be piloted and evaluated by students in the next academic year, and made available as OERs.

Miguel Arrebola, from the University of Portsmouth, has been actively using the OpenLIVES interviews in his teaching in the last semester and he could provide current examples of his students’ work. He got his year 2 students to create interactive magazines based on the life experiences of the emigres and this involved them researching around the stories, collecting other information to use as illustrative material, collaborative working to produce the magazines and acquisition of technical skills. The magazines are currently being checked and marked but will all become OERs in their own right once this has been done. Miguel conducted interviews with his students to document their experiences of creating the magazines and you can see his video of their comments on HumBox. He noted that he was impressed by their conscientious approach to obtaining permissions from third parties for use of content.

A glorious cross-institutional collaboration – students as producers

Miguel also showed a video that he had recorded with one of the interviewees (Germinal Luis Fernandez) in Barcelona. His students had recorded questions, in Spanish, to put to Germinal – and Miguel videoed his responses. When Miguel returned to Portsmouth, he passed the video to Irina, in Southampton, who set some of her students the project of subtitling it -which they did magnificently. The Southampton students worked as a team to understand subtitling conventions, methods and techniques for good subtitling, and to decide who would subtitle which sections. Then they taught themselves how to use the technology to do it – and they did it! This video is available as an OER.

A new module based on OpenLIVES materials

Antonio Martinez-Arboleda, from the University of Leeds, spoke about his plans for a new module which will run in the next academic year: Discovering Spanish Voices Abroad in a Digital World. This final year module will require students to work with the primary data and to create their own responses to it in the form of video documentaries. Students will acquire a range of technical, critical and research skills – and will be encouraged at every stage to make their work available as open content and “give it back to the community.” Antonio also intends to create a series of autonomous learning activities which other teachers can use in conjunction with the OpenLIVES interviews in working with their own students. See an example on HumBox.

The afternoon saw workshop participants setting up accounts on HumBox and looking through the resources. Alison LeCornu, from the HEA, attended as Academic Lead for Flexible Learning and explained the work of the HEA and the various events and funding opportunities available through that body. She recommended becoming an HEA Associate…which one of our team noted sounded like a free employment agency – which has to be a good thing! She also flagged up the Learning and Teaching Development grants on offer, and played a key role in workshop discussions and activities.

It was an excellent day representing a project which is a joy to be part of, and which is producing a rich and creative collaboration from all involved – the project runs until January 2013…follow us and see what happens next!

Kate Borthwick, LLAS

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Los Niños de la guerra – 75th anniversary

On 12/13 May, the University of Southampton hosted a weekend-long event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Basque child refugees in Southampton. The children were housed in a camp at Eastleigh and were welcomed warmly by the local community (if not by the UK national government) and were entirely maintained by public subscription and local support. This report by ITV tells the refugees’ incredible story.

The event was attended by about 250 members of the public, niños and their families, the Spanish ambassador, members of the Basque government and senior leaders within the University. One of the organisers of the event, Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez, is also one of the OpenLIVES project team, and it is her primary research that will be published as open content as part of the project.

The OpenLIVES team (plus our excellent student helpers) were there on the day, taking pictures, recording interviews and videos. Find these open resources on HumBox and learn more about the project.

Kate Borthwick

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75th Anniversary: Los ninos in Southampton

The 12/13 May will see celebrations in Southampton to commemorate the arrival of ‘los ninos’ (child refugees) in Southampton. They were fleeing the civil war in Spain and were welcomed and given a home in the Southampton area (amongst other areas in the UK and across the globe).

On the 12th May, there will be a ceremony to hand over the archive of the Basque Children’s Association officially to the library at the University of Southampton, and on the 13th May, there will be a day devoted to discussion around how the stories of the Basque children have been represented in film: When history meets memory and the arts: The story of Spanish Civil War evacuee children in film. Two key OpenLIVES researchers have been involved in organising the weekend of activities (Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez and Irina Nelson).

Research work around the stories of the Basque children is related to the work of the OpenLIVES project. However, we intend to digitise and publish a broader range of emigrant testimonies relating to returning migrants and refugees who fled to countries other than the UK and at different times during the civil war. I will attend the weekend event to document and collect new materials for sharing as part of the project.

Kate B

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OpenLIVES the latest

This is such an exciting project with so much potential for creating OERs and engaging students that it is easy to forget about the routine and rather less exciting business of licensing and attribution. However, we have managed to tear ourselves away from the fun stuff and are getting on with sorting out the permissions issues which are still outstanding – we now have a lovely, friendly Spanish letter which we are sending to everyone who gave their testimonies explaining what we are doing and confirming that the permissions given when the data was collected still stand. We have also produced an attribution statement which explains the context in which the testimonies were given and their purpose, which is our way of doing justice to the stories that were told by people who wanted to share them with the wider community. It was interesting to meet others at a recent OER project meeting (26th March) who were taking a similar approach. These opportunities to share with other projects are very welcome as it is all too easy to become rather inward-looking, so getting outside the project is very helpful for keeping things in perspective.

And now back to the fun!

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Innovative new module planned at Leeds with OpenLIVES

As part of my contribution to the OpenLIVES project, I have proposed a new Spanish BA Final Year module at the University of Leeds called “Discovering Spanish Voices Abroad in a Digital World”, which is intended to run from September 2012.

The module can be categorised as a professional skills and language-in-context module, but even such a long-winded and specific label does not help us much to figure out what the module actually is about. To make matters more complicated, I think most people looking at the list of skills and knowledge outcomes of the module without considering the educational rationale supporting it would think that it features a rather unusual combination. Why is this?

Currently, in most Arts and Humanities degrees programmes, the only form of socially relevant and tangible output that students are engaged in, as producers, is the “essay”, one of the many non-collaborative and writing genres that can be found in life outside academia. Modules are designed for students to be able to face the academic essay and this often leads to essays being seen as the best way of assessing modules. That’s one of the reasons why this new OpenLIVES module does not fit in within the rest.

In this module, students will produce their own audio documentaries in Spanish using soundtracks from the OpenLIVES interviews as well as their own interviews with other Spanish migrants. In order for students to prepare for such a challenge, the skills and knowledge scaffolding provided will have to depart completely from what students would do in a single module and even in a single degree.  In the context of their work, students will learn about Spanish Society and Economy, as the interviews in OpenLIVES need to be contextualised; will learn how to deal with linguistically complex oral texts in informal/familiar registers in Spanish; will learn how to present and discuss their research in Spanish; will learn how to process critically primary and secondary sources and incorporate them into their own research; will learn how to design, produce and publish their own audio documentaries and will learn about editorial, ethical and legal issues surrounding research and documentaries production and publication.

How well will they learn these skills and contents? Well enough to produce outputs that most of them would have never dreamed of producing in their lives if they had taken a traditional academic module on, let’s say, Spanish migration, instead of the OpenLIVES module.

To allow for further contributions and debate, I will only add one last reflection. Producing tangible outputs, in the form of contributions to culture, education, business, government or science is what our students will end up doing in their professional lives. Most of them will do this as part of an organisation. This means that if we, in education, do not cover the whole cycle of production of tangible and socially relevant outputs, other than an essay, side by side with our students and from scratch, most of them will never do it by themselves either. If we do not cover the full cycle of at least two or three specific production processes, someone else, whose priorities may be different to ours, will do it for us. Do we want to take up that responsibility in Higher Education as part of our mission?

Antonio Martinez-Arboleda

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OpenLIVES at Inted2012

Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez and Irina Nelson from the University of Southampton, UK, will be at Inted2012 this week to talk about the project. You can hear about their experiences, as researchers, of embracing the open publication of their research data, and how they intend to collaborate with practitioners at two other UK universities to create open educational resources using their data. Their plans involve a high level of student collaboration and are really exciting!

Their talk is tomorrow (Tues 6th March), 9.30am.

Good luck, both!

Kate B

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OpenLIVES goes to Spain

Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez and Irina Nelson, the two researchers from Southampton who collected the oral testimonies that will be published through the project, will be attending the Inted Conference in Valencia, Spain, from 5th – 7th March 2012.

They will be talking about the project and appealing to other tutors in Spain to join in with the work of the project. Their paper has been greeted with excitement by the organisers and they have been invited to chair a session – so look out for them and say hola, if you are attending.

Kate B

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