Sustainable Support for OER

This blog post was originally posted on Open.Ed as part of a series of posts for Open Education Week 2019. 

Sustainability is key to supporting open education and OER, and one factor that lays the foundations for sustainability is aligning the value proposition for OER with an organisation’s institutional mission and strategic vision.

At the University of Edinburgh, we believe that supporting OER is squarely in line with our institutional mission and vision to provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students, challenging the boundaries of knowledge, and making a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

In 2016 the University launched an OER Service, based in Information Services Group, to support the institution’s new OER Policy.  This policy, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, was approved by the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, situating OER directly in the domain of teaching and learning.  Both the policy and the service are part of the University’s strategic vision for OER which is founded on traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment, excellent education and research collections, and the University’s civic mission.

At the University of Edinburgh one of the key value proposition for OER is that it mitigates the risk of what Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web services division, and the architect of the University’s OER vision, has referred to as copyright debt; the cost and risk accrued when copyright of teaching and learning resources is not cleared and they are upload to institutional systems.

In order to develop a sustainable approach to address this issue, the OER Service focuses on developing digital skills, copyright and information literacy for staff and students in schools and colleges across the University.  The OER Service embeds digital skills training and support in the institution’s strategic initiatives including lecture recording, academic blogging, VLE foundations, MOOCs and distance learning at scale, to build sustainability, enhance digital literacy, and minimise the risk of technical debt. 

The wide range of digital skills development activities supported by the OER Service includes online courses such as the award winning 23 Things for Digital Knowledge, playful learning initiatives such as Board Game Jams and Gif It Up!, workshops including Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile, and student internships.  All the digital skills training materials we create for these activities are made available as CC BY  licensed open educational resources from our Edinburgh’s OERs showcase.  We hope you find these resources useful.

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