This year, The Open University celebrates its 50th anniversary. Happy birthday to us!
As part of this celebration, the university is hosting an exciting programme of events and activities.
Yesterday I watched my colleague Martin Weller discuss the ongoing (and increasing influence) of openness in education. (You can access a recording of Martin’s lecture from the link in the previous sentence. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to watch the recording.)
It seems fitting, given the complementary nature of our work, that I was scheduled to deliver my inaugural lecture in this programme shortly after Martin.
Watching the lecture
If you’d like to attend the lecture on 12th March (6-7pm GMT) in person, select How to register. (It’s free to attend, but you need a ticket.)
From 5pm on the day, colleagues will be demonstrating various examples of engagement outside the lecture theatre.
To watch the lecture online, select Watch the webinar. The link will become live shortly before the start of the event. You can submit questions via email or Twitter from the same page.
The lecture will be recorded and made freely available after 12 March.
Pathways to Excellence in Public Engagement (STFC, 2018).
Recent STFC-sponsored research explored how physical science researchers in the UK are responding to the requirements to plan for, assess, monitor and report impact (Holliman et al. 2018).
The STFC-sponsored research found that the current system of Pathways to Impact Planning is struggling to consistently deliver rigorous, well-resourced programmes of impact-generating activity, including public engagement.
Upstream planning for pathways is a key requirement for improving the overall quality of the peer review system that underpins impact. How might this be achieved?
‘Navigating pathways to research impact’ is a short video offering entry-level advice on how to plan upstream for Pathways to Impact within the context of an application for research funding.
To access a copy of the transcript for the video, select: Navigating pathways to research impact’ is a short video offering entry-level advice on how to plan for Pathways to Impact (Transcript).
I’ve recently had a paper published as part of a collection that explores professionalisation in science communication (Trench, 2017). In the paper, I review the purposes, definitions and criteria designed to embed ‘engaged research’ as a strategic priority with universities, and explores some of the challenges of implementation (Holliman, 2017).
I argue that surveys of academics have shown various understandings of, and attitudes to, the practices of engaged research, but also impediments to realising the aspirations it expresses.
Drawing on my experience as the academic lead for engaged research at the Open University, I go on to explore questions of professionalisation, for example, through training, support mechanisms and measures of recognition for engaged research.
I conclude the paper by arguing that, if done well, engaged research can promote epistemic justice. So what is epistemic justice, and how can engaged research deliver what Medvecky (2017) calls ‘fairness in knowing’.
Since early January 2017, the School of Computing and Communications (represented by Senior Lecturer in Networking, Andrew Smith), the Open Media and Informal Learning (OMIL) Unit and the Open University’s Development Office have all been working with Cisco on a sponsored project to create content about computer networking for teachers (and school children). The content covers the national curriculum ‘computing’ domains of computer hardware and network engineering.
The resources are hosted on OpenLearn Create – the creative commons portal of the OpenLearn MOOCs.
Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University. Credit: Michael Francis.
I’ve recently agreed to take on a new role at the Open University (OU) as the Academic Lead for Engaged Research. I’ll be based in the OU’s Research and Academic Strategy (RAS) Unit for half of my time from 1st August 2017.
A key objective for my work in this new role will be to align the principles and practices of engaged research with the OU’s recently-approved Academic Strategy for External Engagement, in particular addressing the following aim:
“We will create new knowledge through research, scholarship and professional practice that meets the needs of external stakeholders and extends the reach and impact of our research on society, culture, economy and governments across the UK and internationally.”
The Engaging Research training I completed in March 2017 didn’t feel like work, but the fact that the week was fun doesn’t mean that the skills and discussions we had during the training weren’t really valuable and important.
Over recent years, the change in weighting of required research outputs has given much greater importance to engaging end-users outside of our academic spheres with our science.
A lack of wider engagement can even impact on whether your research gets funded. As PhD students at the beginning of our academic careers we are at a advantageous point where we can decide if we want to incorporate engagement activities into our work and really embrace this movement from the outset.
It was back in 2015 that we attended the course, learning how to communicate our research more effectively and how to engage stakeholders with our research. This included spending time experimenting with language and using metaphors to explain what our research was about and who could use it in outside of academia.
It was the first time that many of us spent quality time thinking about how our research could be engaged with other researchers, NGOs and industry; an exchange of knowledge that would improve our research quality and increase the impact of our work.
Week 1: l-r, Melanie Stone, Kate Newton, Eleni Wood, Richard Holliman, Rosalinde Nicholls, David Pettifer, Stacy Phillips, Clare Warren, Jasmine Wareham, Slawomir Michniewski, Lucy Garrett, Kate Baker, Janet Sumner, Gerard Giorgi-Coll and Chris Nedza. Photo: Gareth Davies.
During the academic year 2015-16 I worked with a group of 22 teachers from 12 different schools (primary and secondary) across the Enigma Maths Hub. I’ve recently published a report about this work (Lee, 2016).
The purpose of the programme was to support teachers in applying some of the ideas from research about Maths resilience to their practice and therefore to improve the classroom experiences of children learning Maths.
The teachers took part in a year-long action research project to introduce mathematical resilience into their classrooms. The teachers worked in pairs in their schools supporting and challenging each other to work differently and to make a difference.