1a) Constraints and benefits of different technologies

In this section I will describe the technology strategies adopted by the University of Edinburgh for the management and distribution of open educational resources, reflecting on their success and how they have influenced other institutions both within the UK and internationally. 

In my 2017 CMALT Portfolio, I described and reflected on consultancy work I had undertaken on behalf of the University of Edinburgh in 2015 on Technology Approaches to OER Management [1].  In this report I advised that the University should

“use existing web based media sharing sites, which are already familiar to staff and students, to create a central register of resources released on these sites, and to explore the use of Solvonauts open search engine to aggregate resources.”

This report informed the development of the University of Edinburgh’s one stop shop for open educational resources, Open.Ed, which was launched in 2016. Rather than being constrained by a single dedicated repository,  this approach allowed the University’s support for OER to grow organically and incorporate a wide range of resource sharing channels, including the University’s media asset management platform, Media Hopper Create, TES Resources, Flickr, Sketchfab and Youtube. 

In my current role as OER Service Manager, I have been responsible for managing Open.Ed [2] and the University’s OER Service, since late 2017 and I am pleased that the strategy I advocated, of using the web as the platform to manage and distribute OERs has proved to be appropriate, scalable and robust.  Since 2016, over 200 open resources and collections have been shared through the Open.Ed showcase, over 5000 open licensed videos have been uploaded to Media Hopper Create, and 67 student-created OERs for school teachers have been shared on TES Resources

Screen shot of the OER Showcase website.

The OER Showcase on Open.Ed

In 2021 the University approved a new OER Policy [3], which I co-authored, that re-stated this technology strategy for resource management. 

“The University recommends that open educational resources should be published in an appropriate repository or public-access website in order to maximise their discovery and use by others.”

There has been considerable interest in the University of Edinburgh’s approach to OER management and I have been invited to provide advice and guidance to a number of institutions both nationally and internationally about this strategy.   This has included the following invited talks: 

  • “Open.Ed. Supporting Open Education at the University of Edinburgh”, University College London Open Education Symposium, 2019. [4] 
  • “Open Content Management at the University of Edinburgh”, University of Leeds, 2020. [5]
  • “Opened To All: OER as infrastructure at the University of Edinburgh”, CONUL Libraries and Open Educational Resources: The Present and the Future conference, 2021. [6]
  • “A Culture of Sharing: Strategic Support for OER at the University of Edinburgh”, ETH Zürich and ZHAW OER Conference, 2021. [7]

I have also been invited to sit on the Advisory Group of NUI Galway’s Open Press [8] project, and have provided advice and guidance on platforms for managing OER to the University of Copenhagen as they sought to launch their own OER platform. 

In 2021, I also secured a University of Edinburgh Student Experience Grant to undertake the Open eTextbooks for Access to Music Education Project [9], a project which I led and managed.  As part of this project I identified and evaluated, with input from our three student interns, a number of open textbook platforms; GitHub Pages, Manifold, PressBooks and Edinburgh Diamond, a service provided by Edinburgh University Library based on Open Monograph Press. Although PressBooks, with its WordPress based interface and ability to autogenerate multiple content formats from a single source, was ideally suited to hosting our open textbook, given our constraints on time and budget, we chose to use the University supported Edinburgh Diamond Service instead.  I shared the findings and outputs of this project in presentations at the OER 2021 [10] and OER22 [11] Conferences, the University of Edinburgh’s 2022 Learning and Teaching Conference [forthcoming], and the final project report, which is available on the OpenTextbooks blog [12]. 

Screen shot of OER21 presentation with student interns

Presenting at OER21 with student interns Ana Reina Garcia, Kari Ding, and Ifeanyichukwu Ezinmadu.


I’m encouraged that the technology approach I advocated for managing and disseminating open educational resources in 2015 has proved to be sustainable and fit for purpose, and I have appreciated the opportunity to communicate and disseminate this strategic approach to colleagues in other institutions.  However it should be noted that one element of this approach did not reach fruition.  Despite two rounds of technical development, and the implementation of a prototype, we have not been able to roll out the Solvonauts open search engine to aggregate open resources stored in different platforms and channels.  This means that there is no automated way to cross search all the University’s OER channels.  That being said, I still believe that the web remains the best platform for managing and disseminating open educational resources, and that the benefits of enabling colleagues to use a range of different channels and applications for managing OER, outweighs the drawbacks of not having the ability to cross search from a single interface.  

Despite the closure of a number of high-profile national open education repositories over the last decade, including Jorum and the OEPS Hub, the idea of centralised repositories re-emerges every few years, often in the guise of “disruptive” technology.  Although there are some notable exceptions to the rule, such as MERLOT and OER Commons, I am still of the opinion that centralised hubs and repositories have a tendency to be costly and unsustainable, and that it is often difficult to encourage staff and students to engage with them.  

More widely, the impact of the COVID pandemic and longer term trends in education, technology, and academic publishing are having a significant impact on how we engage with content online, and these are likely to influence how we manage and disseminate open licensed educational resources going forward. Universities are producing vastly more media in the form of recorded lectures, webinars, workshops, conferences and events.  Much of this content is hosted in the cloud and rising cloud storage costs represent a significant overhead for institutions.  Although only a small percentage of educational media is currently open licensed, the volume of open licensed media is increasing, so this may be a consideration for the future. 

In addition, institutions are facing rapidly increasing ebook costs as they increasingly move from print to digital media and resources, as highlighted by the eBook SOS campaign, among others.  This has resulted in a resurgence of interest in open textbooks as an alternative to costly commercial ebooks with restrictive licences, and a number of universities have set up new open presses.  Although open textbooks have been the predominant form of OER in North America for many years, they are much less commonly used in the UK.  Managing the Open Textbooks for Access to Music Education project and sitting on the Advisory Group of NUI Galway’s Open Press project, has given me a timely opportunity to learn from staff and students both within the University of Edinburgh and beyond, and to gain some insight and experience into strategies and technologies for managing the creation and distribution of open textbooks which I plan to explore further.   Although the workflows embedded in Open Monograph Press, the platform adopted by the Edinburgh Diamond Service, are better suited to the publication of monographs than open textbooks, working in collaboration with library colleagues, I was able to find work arounds that enabled us to successfully publish the very first open ebook on the platform. I hope to be able to contribute to the creation and publication of more open textbooks on Edinburgh Diamond, and I am also keen to explore the affordances of Pressbooks for hosting open textbooks in the future. 


  1. Barker, P. and Campbell, L.M. (2015), Technology Approaches to OER Management, a Cetis technical briefing for the University of Edinburgh. 
  2. Open.Ed. The website of the University of Edinburgh’s OER Service which I manage. 
  3. The University of Edinburgh’s Open Educational Resources Policy, which I co-authored. 
  4. Campbell, L.M., (2019), Open.Ed. Supporting Open Education at the University of Edinburgh, UCL Open Education Symposium, UCL, London, (slides). 
  5. Campbell, L.M. (2020), “Open Content Management at the University of Edinburgh”, University of Leeds
  6. Campbell, L.M., (2021), Opened To All: OER as infrastructure at the University of Edinburgh, CONUL Libraries and Open Educational Resources: The Present and the Future, online, (recording). 
  7. Campbell, L.M., (2021), A Culture of Sharing: Strategic Support for OER at the University of Edinburgh, ETH Zürich and ZHAW OER Conference 21, online, (transcript).
  8. Open Press at NUI Galway I sit on the Advisory Group of this project. 
  9. Open eTextbooks for Access to Music Education project blog.   
  10. Campbell, L.M., and Moran, N., (2021), The Scale of Open: Re-purposing open resources for music education, OERxDomains Conference, online, (transcript / recording). 
  11. Campbell, L.M. (2021), Open eTextbooks for Access to Music Education Project Final Report.