Open educational practice: creating Open Educational Resources as part of a course assignment

A guest blog post by Celeste McLaughlin, Head of Academic Development for Digital Education, Institute for Academic Development.

This post focuses on the Open Educational Resources (OER) assignment element of a 10 credit optional course which is part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice programme offered by the Institute for Academic Development. The Digital Education course is a six week online course and participants are expected to demonstrate a critical awareness and understanding of the key themes and issues in digital education, as well as gain an understanding of the influences of digital environments on pedagogic practices. One of the themes introduced in week 3 of the course is open educational practice and I find the following definition useful:

“…collaborative practices that include the creation, use and reuse of OER, as well as pedagogical practices employing participatory technologies and social networks for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation, and empowerment of learners”

Cronin, 2017:18

We explore participatory technologies, peer learning, as well as the empowerment of learners during the course, and I’m going to focus on the creation, use and reuse of OER during this post.

Participants were introduced to the concept of open education and were asked to create an OER on the theme of Scottish history and culture (with thanks to the OER service for the suggestion), and then share their OER with peers. This was an opportunity to gain experience of creating, re-purposing and sharing OER and applying an appropriate license. Participants were provided with a list of useful resources including the how to guides from the OER service and the Copyright and Open Educational Resources things from the University of Edinburgh 23 Things open course, and I plan to incorporate the Will it Bite me series of videos which give a good overview of licensing in online teaching environments including Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons licensing.

 A screenshot of the Scottish history and culture Open Educational Resources shared via a Padlet.

The OER Assignment

The OER assignment required participants to create an OER they could use with their students as part of their teaching. The formative element of the assignment asked participants to share an outline of their OER with their peers, who would then provide feedback. As well as creating an appropriately licensed OER, participants were also asked to provide a commentary outlining the rationale for the OER, the learning objectives it seeks to address and how they might incorporate the OER into a course they are teaching. They were also required to engage with appropriate educational literature and to reflect on the formative feedback they received from their peers. Participants were free to choose an appropriate tool to create their OER and to decide what platform to publish it on. This was the second iteration of the course, and I was able to provide links to exemplar OER from previous course participants.

The OER produced included PowerPoint presentations made available on SlideShare, videos made available on YouTube and Media Hopper Create, and an online tutorial using open access software and made available on OER Commons.

Despite participants already having gained experience of creating an OER, many found the licensing aspect of OER a challenge and got in touch with me prior to the assignment deadline to ask questions and seek clarification. Some participants struggled with the concept of openly licensed teaching resources and opted to apply a more restrictive license such as the CC BY-NC-ND license whilst others were happy to license using the CC BY license which allows modification of their resource. Some participants demonstrated a good understanding of the re-use aspect of OER by incorporating appropriately acknowledged OER in their resource.

Participants also found the openness of platforms a barrier. One or two participants had a real issue with making their teaching resource openly available and were more comfortable publishing through a password protected platform. Another participant created a fantastic CC BY OER and reflected in her commentary about her frustration when she discovered a similar OER on her chosen topic which she could have re-purposed.

Despite the barriers, participants produced useful resources which demonstrated a good understanding of the potential of OER, and some reflected on how they are going to explore open practice further during their commentary. Some examples are given below:

  • An intention to build on their first attempt at an OER and to create more resources which align to the value that teaching resources should be made available beyond the university.
  • To incorporate the OER into their teaching and offer students the opportunity to engage in peer discussion using the OER.
  • To create a series of video based OER which students can use outside the classroom.
  • To provide the OER as a starting point for students and encourage them to create and share their own OER with their peers.

Several participants reflected on their intention to explore co-creation of learning with their students and begin to engage with the “empowerment of learners” aspect of open educational practice. I always enjoy the digital education course and as it gives me the opportunity to explore my own open educational practice further.


Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and Praxis: Exploring the Use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(5).

Celeste McLaughlin, University of Edinburgh 2019 CC BY