Building open capabilities: A national approach :async:

Catherine Cronin (National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching, Learning in Higher Education)

Since March 2020, when every teacher became an online teacher and every student a distance learner, interest in using open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) in teaching and learning has increased noticeably. Ample evidence, over many years, has shown the potential value of OER and OEP for designing authentic assessments, building/adapting textbooks, developing digital/data literacies, fostering student-staff partnership, and furthering equity. However, as the UNESCO (2019) ‘Recommendation on OER’ makes clear, supporting the creation, use and adaptation of inclusive and quality OER requires coordinated action in multiple areas.

Ireland's National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education has, since its inception in 2013, supported open education principles, practices and policies in Irish higher education – recognising that this requires the development of open capabilities at multiple levels: individual, programme, institutional and national. Inspired by the UNESCO OER recommendation, and following publication of national OER/OEP guides in 2019 and 2020, the National Forum published a new national resource in 2021: ‘Using OER and OEP for Teaching and Learning’. The aim of the resource is to be relevant to those who teach and those who learn in Irish higher education and to complement and support open education initiatives already in place within institutions. Through consultation across the sector, diverse representation on the development team, a staged development process, and using a permissive open license (CC BY), it is hoped that the resource will be useful to all who learn, teach, support and lead in Irish higher education, and beyond. This session will share the new resource and Ireland's national approach to building open capabilities, as well as invite feedback and suggestions.


National Forum (2021). Supporting open education.

UNESCO. (2019). Recommendation on OER.

Extended abstract: OE_Global_2021_paper_87.pdf 📄

Presentation Details

UNESCO OER Action Area: Building capacity
Format: Pre-recorded Presentation
Language: English


Pre-recorded presentations will be added below by the author(s). Watch them anytime during the conference.

Join or start the conversations with the author(s) by replying below with questions or comments, paying particular attention to the relationship to the OER Recommendation Action Areas. Please also share related resources.

Welcome! Thanks for visiting this page – below are links to the video and slides for ‘Building Open Capabilities: A National Approach’. These describe the approach taken by the National Forum (Ireland) to build open capabilities and support the development of enabling policies for digital and open teaching & learning, in the higher education sector in Ireland.

You can find all the resources shared in the presentation on this web page: I’d be delighted to be in touch with anyone doing similar work, or anyone who might have questions about the ideas shared here. Looking forward to #OEGlobal2021 :slight_smile:

Building open capabilities (video presentation)


Building open capabilities (slides)

I hope Australia follows in Ireland’s footsteps with the national/sectoral approach. I think we’re still working at the ‘single institution’ level here. Thanks for your presentation.

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Thanks for commenting here, Eseta. We face many challenges, of course, but collaborating at a national level has been helpful in being able to articulate shared aims (across institutions) and identify ways forward. Best of luck to you in your work – happy to engage outside of OEGlobal also :slight_smile:

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Hello Catherine,
Nice to see you today at the OEG 2021 webinar. I was fascinated by the Student Partnership and Raising Capacity (SPARC) project that and wondered if any of those examples of faculty/student partnership have been documented?

Also love Galway photo (my mother’s home) and Seamus Heaney. Had the pleasure of hearing him live in San Francisco some 25 year ago or so … was just like having a cup of tea at his house … no pretensions at all.

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@unatdaly Hi Una, it was lovely to see you at that webinar yesterday! I believe SPARC @Paola is planning to document their work as they proceed, as you say – it is a wonderful project.

Glad you enjoyed the Galway connection :slight_smile: I remember that you have roots in Galway (and hope we’ll have you visit us here one day). And Seamus Heaney! I saw him also, and it is a gift that keeps on giving – hearing his poetry in his voice, always. Take care and talk soon, Una.

Hi, my dear @catherinecronin and @unatdaly!
I am not sure you’re talking about SPARC Europe: it is likely you are referring to SPARC NA. They are two different foundations: one based in Europe (and I am involved in this one) and the other one based in North America (and we have regular meetings around our signs of progress but not - yet! - working on common projects). I would be happy to help anyway so please let me know if I can, somehow.
Hugs to you both, miss these hugs in person :slight_smile:

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thanks for clarification @Paola… and yes, I look forward to in-person gatherings again! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Hello dear @Paola … so fondly remember the time in Milan (such great community knowledge building and chocolates!!) and look forward to in-person again. I apologize to you both @catherinecronin, I was referring to the Student Partnership and Raising Capacity project mentioned on the National T & L forum It speaks to faculty working with students to co-present at conferences or co-author articles. The project was run at University of Waterford and I wondered if any case studies were available. Again sorry for the confusion and happy weekend!


Hi Una… great seeing you last week, and confusion cleared up now! I just want to say I have forwarded your question to the project leader for that SPARC project. She will contact you directly or I’ll be able to pass some information on to you, when I hear back. Talk soon! :slight_smile: