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Introducing UCL’s open education initiative

Patrycja ABarczynska29 August 2018

Today, C. Yogeswaran from UCL’s Open Educational Resources (OER) project writes about open education at UCL.

What is open education?

Open education, like open access and open data, centres on a commitment to provide access to high quality education and educational resources to a global audience.

As the Open Education Consortium declares, “sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built”.

Open education typically involves the creation and sharing of openly-licensed learning materials – open educational resources (OER) – that can be re-used and enhanced by the community. OER can include lesson and course plans, exercises, diagrams, animations, video or audio lecture recordings, presentations, handouts, mock papers/tests, reading lists, and so on.

There is also alignment with open scholarship, open science, and open society ideals which foster communication between academia and the public. It also inspires new ways of undertaking education by removing (economic, geographic, and other) barriers to usage, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to use published OER.

How is research relevant to open education?

Research papers, when openly published, can be used not only for further research, but also as a basis for teaching, providing practical, current, and tangible content to tackle discipline-specific questions.

Curating and packaging research-based studies, which include additional descriptive and support documents such as workbooks and educational guidelines, allows for focused and supported reuse for teaching. 

Such research-based OER can be used to teach research methods and, once embedded, can give students real-world and practical tools to learn with and use for inter-disciplinary study, increasing the use and impact of research.

Why share educational materials?

Publishing teaching/training resources (which can include student-generated content) will have wider global reach and impact, and attributing the UCL brand to your output should provide quality assurance for other users.

Published OER can be cited and referenced by others and can be included in publications (tying into the Academic Promotions Framework, which rewards open behaviours, for example), adding value to teaching and research, and raising professional reputation.

What are the benefits?

While the initial creation of educational materials from published research outputs can require some consideration, sharing these will allow the creators to promote good practise, collaborate with other educators and learners, and respond to UCL promotional criteria that require publication of educational materials.

There is some evidence that re-using high-quality OER is a time- and cost-saving activity, as one can edit existing educational materials to make content specific to a programme or class. OER use can also provide the chance to learn in different ways, i.e. a flipped classroom, and insight into the research-based teaching approaches of fellow practitioners in another field might lead to collaboration, inspire teaching and research, or contribute to original output.

Showcasing student content and feedback is also a great way to demonstrate the outcomes of teaching/training, promote courses for prospective students, and engage students in the publishing process.

Getting involved and learning more

If you have any content you would like to upload to the repository or if you require further information, please contact the OER team at oer@ucl.ac.uk who will be happy to support you.

To find out more about open education or to contribute to this practice at UCL, ask to join the mailing list by emailing  oer@ucl.ac.uk, or attend the next meeting of the open education special interest group (SIG). This will be held on Tuesday 11 September 2018 11am-12pm in room 712, Maple House.

We will also be present at RDM/RITS drop-in sessions if you’d like to talk to us or learn more about creating OER from your research data. Information about upcoming SIG meetings and RDM/RITS drop-in sessions can be found here.

More information about the project is available on the OER website, or you can follow us on Twitter @OpenUCL.