The Open Umbrella :async:

Derek Moore (Weblearning)

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in South Africa are implementing a five-year programme that was conceptualised within the framework of the South Africa – European Union Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP). The objective is to “assist the Government in transforming the education, training and innovation system so that it contribute to improved economic performance of the country". One of the Department's undertakings is to commit towards lecturers professional development and address barriers to skills and knowledge development learning experienced by lecturers. A proposed initiative in this programme is the adoption and customization of the “Open Umbrella” ( a self-evaluation tool & field-guide, intended for digital or hybrid educational settings. The open umbrella is licensed under Creative Commons and the tools and resources will be made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) on the DHET portal.

The open umbrella offers manageable steps to course improvement by using open education resources. It is focused on eight practice areas (assessment, teaching and learning strategies, learning activities, communication, administration, design and student support) that relate to course design and delivery. This project has been designed to support the implementation and improvement of digital teaching and learning within these practice areas with open education resources.

The umbrella offers lecturers a systematic and continuous capacity building resources on how to create, access, make available, re-use, adapt, and redistribute OER that correspond directly to their digital courses. Educational practitioners, who have previously used digital modalities, will use the open umbrella to self-evaluate their current provision against baselines within these practice areas. The resources available allow them to re-consider the current approach to digital education, participate in demand led professional development and make benchmarks against which they can measure improvements to their courses. Those who use the self-evaluation tool and companion resources to work through the eight practice areas and identify the particulars associated with their implementation of technology in their course, will derive value from the combination of ed tech expertise and online pedagogy.

In this proposed interactive activity, participants will be 1) invited to review their current online courses using the current baselines within the open umbrella 2) Visit the accompanying field guide to set benchmarks for their future courses 3)Annotate the whole resource using

Extended abstract: OE_Global_2021_paper_95.pdf 📄

Activity Details

UNESCO OER Action Area: Building capacity
Format: Asynchronous Interactive Activity
Language: English


This activity can be completed at any time during (or after) the conference.

Instructions and materials for the activity will be added below by the authors. They will provide specific details on how to participate and what to share back as a response to the activity.

Hello peeps!

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. My name is Derek Moore and I run a small consultancy called Weblearning. I’d like to show you the “Open Umbrella” a professional learning project intended to enhance educator’s capacity to make considered use of technology for teaching within the post schooling education and training system. I’d like to invite you to take three steps and

  1. Reflect on your course with the self-evaluation tool
  2. Consult the field-guide and set your own benchmarks and
  3. Comment on the resource

Step 1 | self-evaluation
The open umbrella offers a manageable framework that delineates between various common practices that occur in a digital learning environment. Once you have worked through the app’s eight dimensions and identified the types of implementation, a picture of the width and depth of digital adoption, in the form of coloured panels set into the umbrella, will emerge.

Step 2 | own benchmarks
The open umbrella is intended to support educators that are currently already working to implement digital on their connected courses and assist with capacity development.
During campus closures, educators had a unique vantage point on course delivery as they designed their own responses to remote teaching. They saw their students’ challenges and explored approaches that worked. They found new ways of reaching students with technology and built grace and flexibility into the routines and expectations. The open umbrella does not start at zero. It seeks to build upon evidence based practice drawn from the literature and from the tangible experiences of educators who had first hand challenge of teaching online, during the pandemic and during #feesmustfall and were able to weave these responses back into their classes.

Step 3 | comment please
We think that the self evaluation tool and field guide might be used collaboratively with all colleagues in a department, tech support and academic development. With top-down support that focuses on the policies, procedures, and climate across institutions, primarily faculty level. And bottom-up peer recognition that focus on practices and successes within specific departments. There would be the opportunity for the individual academics to submit their efforts for peer review and departmental acknowledgement for progress. But we would like to hear hear your thoughts and feedback. And so you are invited to share your thoughts and comments via

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