A Vision for Open Educational Resources at University of Edinburgh

Splendid poster made by Stuart for use at conferences.


The University’s mission is the creation, dissemination and curation of knowledge. As a world-leading centre of academic excellence we aim to: Enhance our position as one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities and to measure our performance against the highest international standards; Provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students; Make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world, promoting health and economic and cultural wellbeing.

As a great civic university, Edinburgh …. will continue to look to the widest international horizons, enriching both itself and Scotland. (University Mission)

‘Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.’ (Capetown Open Education Declaration)

  1. During academic year 2013-14 an OER Short-Life Task Group was established to explore possible ways to take forward an OER strategy for University of Edinburgh and to report findings and recommendations to Learning and Teaching Committee. This paper includes a proposed vision, policy, guidance and support level.
  1. The sharing of open educational materials is in line not only with University of Edinburgh’s mission but also with a global movement in which research- led institutions play a significant role. The proposed OER vision for University of Edinburgh has three strands, each building on our history of the Edinburgh Settlement, excellent education, research collections, enlightenment and civic mission.

‘For the common good’:

Teaching and learning materials exchange to enrich the University and the sector.

  • To put in place the support frameworks to enable any member of University of Edinburgh to publish and share online as OER teaching and learning materials they have created as a routine part of their work at the University (e.g handouts, teaching materials, lesson plans, recorded lectures, research seminar content, blended-learning content, datasets, problem sheets and tools).
  • To support members of University of Edinburgh to find and use high quality teaching materials developed within and without the University.

‘Edinburgh at its best’:

Showcasing openly the highest quality learning and teaching:

  • To identify collections of high quality learning materials within each school department and research institute to be published online for flexible use, to be made available to learners and teachers as open courseware (e.g. recorded high profile events, noteworthy lectures, MOOC and DEI course content).
  • To enable the discovery of these materials in a way that ensures that our University’s reputation is enhanced.

‘Edinburgh’s treasures’:

Making available online a significant collection of unique learning materials available openly to Scotland, the UK and the world, promoting health and economic and cultural well-being.

  • To identify a number of major collections of interdisciplinary materials, archives, treasures, museum resources to be digitised, curated and shared for the greater good and significant contribution to public engagement with learning, study and research (e.g. archive collections drawn from across disciplines, e.g. History of Medicine/Edinburgh as the birthplace of medicine/Scottish history/social change).
  • To put in place policy and infrastructure to ensure that these OER collections are sustainable and usable in the medium to longer term.


  1. The expertise to deliver each of these strands exists within the University through partnership between Schools and Information Services. This vision builds upon work, custom and practice already in place within the University but offers an opportunity to take a strategic approach to publishing open educational resources at scale.
  1. The delivery of this vision is contingent on several areas of activity. The University is well placed to adopt an open licencing approach to learning and teaching materials for which the copyright is already held within the University.
  1. Information Services currently offer a limited copyright advisory service to academic colleagues and students, with additional resourcing this service could be enriched to provide an OER service including training, staff development and guidance to support colleagues in making informed decisions about licencing options for their OER.
  1. It is proposed that the service is resourced by IS for 2 years in the first instance. Once the support service is in place the ‘Common Good’ activity will be supported as part of business as usual though guidance and training.
  1. A new short-life task group will be established to consider the resource needed to deliver the other two strands of the vision.


  1. Establishing a clear vision for OER at University of Edinburgh will mitigate the reputational risk which may follow as a result of colleagues referring to online learning materials as ‘open’ when they are available under closed or unclear licence.
  1. The new support service in IS will mitigate the risk that colleagues are unclear about the decisions they should make regard to the licencing, sharing and use of online materials.


  1. OER contribute to sector-wide initiatives on openness, access, equality and diversity by enriching the knowledge commons and promoting sharing and reuse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *