3b) Understanding and engaging with policies and standards

In this section I will focus on my contribution to the development of open education policies specifically and learning technology policies more generally.

In the 13 years that I have worked in the domain of open education I have contributed to a wide range of national and international policy developments and initiatives including the UKOER technical guidelines (2009), the Creative Commons Open Policy Network (2012), the Scottish Open Education Declaration (2014), the University of Edinburgh’s first Open Educational Resources Policy (2016), the European Open Education Policy Forum (2016), and the UNESCO 2nd OER World Congress (2017).  

In  2017 I co-authored the ALT policy paper Open Education and OER – A guide and call to action for policy makers [1] along with senior colleagues Maren Deepwell, Martin Weller and Joe Wilson, and I co-wrote an article for WONKHE on this initiative to coincide with Open Education Week [2]. More recently in 2020, I was one of a number of policy experts who reviewed and provided input and comments to the Open Education Policy Lab’s Open Education Policies: Guidelines for Co-Creation [3][4].  In addition, I continue to blog regularly about issues relating to open education policy on my Open World blog [5]. 

In my role at the University of Edinburgh, I line-manage the institution’s Education Technology Policy Officer, and I regularly provide input, relating to copyright and open licensing, to the development of institutional policies, including the Lecture Recording and Virtual Classroom policies. In 2021, together with our Policy Officer Neil McCormick,  I oversaw the revision and updating of the University’s Open Educational Resources Policy [6]. This policy encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, expand provision of learning opportunities, and enrich our shared knowledge commons. The policy also reiterates the university’s strategic commitment to openness and achieving the aims of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In reviewing this policy, we considered developments at other UK and European universities with existing OER practice. A summary of this research is outlined in this blog post I wrote for the University’s Teaching Matters blog: A new OER Policy for the University [7].

In keeping with current global practice, I recommended that the new policy adopt the definition of OER from the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Education Resources.  The update also brings the OER Policy in line with our Lecture Recording Policy and Virtual Classroom Policy. With the increase in media being recorded, knowledge of data protection has become essential when creating and sharing open content. The policy clarifies what personally identifiable information colleagues should be aware of when creating open resources, including names, images, voices and personal opinions of individuals. 

The new OER Policy has been released under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence, as part of the University’s collection of open licensed learning and teaching policies [8], to enable it to be shared, reused and repurposed by others. In 2021, Neil and I submitted this collection of policies to Open Education Global’s Open Policy award, and we were all immensely proud when they won the award [9]. 



One significant aspect of the University of Edinburgh’s OER policy, which I highlight when presenting about the institution’s strategic support for OER, is that it is informative and permissive.  It encourages staff to use and create OER, it does not mandate that they must. This is important given that open education practice is highly personal and contextual.  The policy positively encourages colleagues to engage with OER, and provides them with the reassurance that they have permission to share their teaching and learning resources under open licence.  

Although it’s difficult to definitively measure the impact of this permissive policy, there is ample evidence of increased engagement with OER across the institution, including 5000+ open licensed videos on the University’s media asset management platform Media Hopper Create, 67 student created OERs for primary and secondary schools on TES Resources, and almost 300 OERs on the Open.Ed showcase. In addition, a number of courses across the University have incorporated OER creation assignments into the curriculum.  

OER policies have sometimes been criticised for focusing on resources rather than practice, with critics pointing out that resources alone cannot bring about the transformative affordances of open education, which can only happen through open practice.  However, in order to create and use OER, you do need to engage with open practice, so I would argue that OER policies are important enablers of open practice, even if the focus of the policy itself is on content rather than practice.  I’ve reflected further on the nature of permissive open education policy and its impact on practice at the University of Edinburgh in this blog post from 2020: Policy, Practice and Permission [10]. 

While permissive policies are effective in encouraging practice at the individual level and across the institution, there is also a role for mandatory policy, particularly with regard to publicly funded educational resources.  My contribution to Open Education Policies: Guidelines for Co-Creation [3] centred on the tension between normative (mandatory) policy and informative (permissive) policies, both of which I believe are necessary: 

“Campbell (2020b) notes that while organisations in receipt of public funding to create resources should be mandated to make these freely and openly available to the public, institutional OE policies focusing on the educational practices of staff and students should be primarily permissive rather than mandatory, thereby empowering those engaged in learning and teaching to come to their own decisions about whether and how to engage with OEP.” [3]

I still believe strongly that publicly funded educational content should be freely available to the public under open licence.  This is one of the founding principles of the Scottish Open Education Declaration [11], an initiative which I have led from 2014 onwards, which calls on the Scottish Government to support the use of open licences for all educational materials created with public funds.  Despite lobbying three successive Cabinet Secretaries for Education, most recently in 2021 with support from Creative Commons [12], the Declaration has not gained traction with the Scottish Government, although it has been influential in shaping open policy developments in other nations and has been an important advocacy tool for promoting OER and open education. 


  1. Deepwell, Maren and Weller, Martin and Campbell, Lorna and Wilson, Joe (2017) Open Education and OER – A guide and call to action for policy makers. Association for Learning Technology.  An ALT policy paper I co-authored with senior colleagues. 
  2. Deepwell, M., and Campbell, L.M., (2018), Openness in education: a call to action for policy makers, WONKHE. An Open Education Week article I co-authored about the ALT policy paper. 
  3. Atenas, Javiera, Havemann, Leo, Neumann, Jan, & Stefanelli, Cristina. (2020). Open Education Policies: Guidelines for co-creation. Zenodo.  The Open Education Policy Lab’s publication that I contributed expert input to. 
  4. Campbell, L.M., (2020), Open Education Policies: Guidelines for Co-Creation, Open World Blog.  My blog post reflecting on the above publication. 
  5. Campbell, L.M. Policy, Open World Blog. Blog posts I have written relating to Open Education Policy. 
  6. University of Edinburgh Open Educational Resources Policy 2021. New OER Policy which I oversaw revision of. 
  7. Campbell, L.M., (2021), A new OER Policy for the University, Teaching Matters blog. A blog post I wrote to launch the University of Edinburgh’s revised and updated OER Policy. 
  8. Open Policies for Learning and Teaching, Open.Ed. The University of Edinburgh’s award winning collection of open licensed policies which I maintain on the OER Service website, Open.Ed. 
  9. Campbell, L.M., and McCormick, N., (2021), Open Policies for Learning and Teaching, OE Awards for Excellence.  Our entry for the Open Education Awards, which I led and co-authored. 
  10. Campbell, L.M., (2020), Policy, Practice and Permission, Open World blog.  A blog post I wrote reflecting on the permissive open education policy and its impact at the University of Edinburgh. 
  11. Scottish Open Education Declaration.  An output of the Open Scotland initiative, which I have led since 2014. 
  12. Campbell, L.M. and Wilson, J., (2021), Open Educational Resources: An equitable future for education in Scotland, Open Scotland Blog.  A blog post I co-wrote to coincide with our approach to the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.