(This post originally appeared on Open.Ed.)
Last week, in response to the disruption of education caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO issued a Call for Joint Action to support learning and knowledge sharing through Open Educational Resources (OER). Estimating that 1.57 billion learners have been affected worldwide, the call highlights the important role that OER can play in supporting the continuation of learning in both formal and informal settings, with a view to building more inclusive, sustainable and resilient Knowledge Societies.
“Today we are at a pivotal moment in history. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a paradigm shift on how learners of all ages, worldwide, can access learning. It is therefore more than ever essential that the global community comes together now to foster universal access to information and knowledge through OER.”
~ Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information and Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education
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. This commitment to OER is reflected in the University’s OER Policy, which encourages 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 strategic support for open knowledge and OER has enabled the University to respond rapidly to the uniquely complex challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Critical Care Learning Resources
With support from the Online Learning and OER Services, the University’s MSc Critical Care team was able to rapidly launch a COVID-19 Critical Care online learning resource for frontline clinical staff supporting critical care patients. Hosted by FutureLearn, COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application has been accessed by over 34,000 learners from 185 countries since it was launched on 6 April.
Open Media Bank
Our longstanding commitment to OER and open knowledge has also enabled the University to build up an Open Media Bank of high quality legacy MOOC content, which includes a number of resources that directly address the challenges of the pandemic, such as videos from our former Critical Thinking in Global Challenges course from the School of Biomedical Sciences.
To address the lack of personal protective equipment, labs and maker spaces around the University have been producing 3D printed visors and face shields to help protect NHS workers. 3D visor models based on existing open licensed models have been developed by colleagues at uCreateStudio and the School of Informatics and have been shared under Creative Commons licence on Sketchfab where they can be downloaded and re-used by all.
Free Teaching and Learning Resources for Home Schooling
To support home schooling the OER Service has been sharing and disseminating free open licensed teaching and learning materials through TES Resources. Aimed at primary and secondary school level, this diverse collection of fun and creative learning resources has been co-created by undergraduates and student interns in collaboration with colleagues from the School of GeoSciences, supported by the OER Service.
Digital Skills for Remote and Hybrid Teaching
The OER Service’s digital skills programme, which focuses on copyright literacy, open licencing and OER, helps to equips staff with the knowledge and confidence the need to move their teaching materials online in preparation for the shift to hybrid teaching, while minimising the risk to the University of breaching copyright. Videos of our popular digital skills workshop Will it bite me? Media, Licensing, and online teaching environments are available from our website, and a new version of the workshop is in the pipeline and will be launched shortly.
Caring for Mental Health and Wellbeing
Caring for mental health at a time of unprecedented stress and uncertainty is a priority for us all, and the OER Service has shared a wealth of resources to support mental health and wellbeing created by colleagues around the University. These include Mental Health: A Global Priority podcasts and videos, a mental health and wellbeing booklet for children aged 12+, the lovely we have great stuff colouring-book, and treasures from the University’s collections.
Get in Touch
If you are creating resources that you would like to share to support teaching and learning and to help those who have been affected by the global pandemic, get in touch with the OER Service. We can provide advice on copyright, open licensing, and understanding Creative Commons, and we can help you to share your resources through our open channels to ensure that they reach those that need them most.