This practice presentation will reflect on how the University of Edinburgh’s strategic support for open knowledge and open educational resources (OER) enabled it to respond rapidly to the complex challenges presented by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to the pandemic, UNESCO has issued a call for joint action to support the continuation of learning and universal access to knowledge through OER.
At the University of Edinburgh, we have a strategic commitment to OER and open knowledge in line with our institutional vision and values; to discover knowledge, make the world a better place, and ensure our teaching and research is diverse, inclusive, accessible to all and relevant to society. The University’s commitment to OER is reflected in its OER Policy and Service, established in 2015, to encourage staff and students to use and create OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, expand provision of learning opportunities, and enrich our shared knowledge commons.
This commitment extends to our online courses. Together with our Online Learning team, the OER Service helps to ensure that online resources are open, sustainable and accessible. With this support framework in place, the University’s MSc Critical Care team was able to rapidly launch a COVID-19 Critical Care online learning resource. Hosted by FutureLearn, the resource was accessed by over 34,000 learners in the month following its launch.
This approach has also enabled the University to build up an Open Media Bank of legacy MOOC content, which includes resources that directly address the challenges of the pandemic, e.g. Critical Thinking in Global Challenges.
To address the lack of personal protective equipment, labs and maker spaces around the University began producing visors and face shields. 3D visor models adapted by colleagues have been shared under open licence on Sketchfab where they can be downloaded and re-used by all.
To support home schooling the OER Service shares open licensed teaching and learning materials through TES Resources. Aimed at primary and secondary school level, this collection was co-created by undergraduates and student interns in collaboration with the School of GeoSciences, supported by the OER Service.
In addition to sharing open content, the OER Service runs a digital skills programme focused on copyright literacy, open licensing and OER. This equips staff with the knowledge and confidence to move their teaching materials online to prepare for the shift to hybrid teaching, while minimising the risk to the University of breaching copyright.
Caring for mental health at a time of unprecedented stress and uncertainty is a priority and the OER Service has shared a wealth of resources to support mental health and wellbeing including open licensed podcasts, videos, colouring-books and treasures from the University’s collections.
Participants joining this session will benefit by learning from practical exemplars how investing in support for OER and open knowledge at a strategic level can enable universities to fulfil their civic mission and respond rapidly to the growing complexity brought about by the global pandemic, ensuring that knowledge and resources reach those that need them most.
FutureLearn. (2020). University of Edinburgh launches free COVID-19 critical care course for NHS staff. fenews. Available at: https://www.fenews.co.uk/press-releases/45022-university-of-edinburgh-launches-free-covid-19-critical-care-course-for-nhs-staff [Accessed 30.04.2020]
UNESCO. (2020). Call for Joint Action- Supporting Learning and Knowledge Sharing through
Open Educational Resources (OER). Available at: https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/covid19_joint_oer_call_en.pdf [Accessed 30.04.2020]
University of Edinburgh. (2016). Open Education Resources Policy. Open.Ed. Available at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/openeducationalresourcespolicy.pdf [Accessed 30.04.2020]