University of Edinburgh Short Online Courses: Making a Global Impact :async:

Lizzy Garner-Foy (University of Edinburgh)

This session will provide an overview of the work of the Online Course Production Service at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on how we support academic teams to design, develop, build and run engaging online learning courses that inform, inspire and motivate. By working with Schools across the University, we build capacity of stakeholders to create, access, use, adapt and redistribute OER through the creation of digital learning experiences.

My objectives for the session are to share and celebrate the work we do within the Educational Design and Engagement department at the University. I also aim to highlight how our short online courses support the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide ‘a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future’.

The University has been delivering a large, diverse digital education portfolio for nearly two decades, and part of this portfolio is our catalogue of short online courses. We have created more than 80 courses since 2012, hosted on three partner platforms: edX, FutureLearn and Coursera. With every one of these courses, we demonstrate our commitment to providing free, open access learning on a global scale.

Our approach to developing and delivering digital education opportunities champions the fourth SDG, to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, as learners anywhere in the world, at any stage of life, can gain access to free, flexible, accessible materials on a broad range of subjects. We work closely with the University’s Open Educational Resource (OER) Service to source, create and publish all course materials under open licence, making a critical contribution to achieving the aims of the SDGs.

Two recent standout courses are: Sustainable Global Food Systems (SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production) and COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application (SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing). With the average pass mark of over 80% on Sustainable Global Food Systems, and 50,000 enrolled on COVID-19 Critical Care from 200 countries, it is clear that our courses are making a real difference in open education to improve human and planetary health.

Working in a pandemic-hit world can be challenging when working with multiple teams, large and small, to collaboratively design and develop learning materials. We now run ABC Learning Design workshops in a fully online format, provide media equipment to academic teams for remote filming and audio recording, and we are flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and project timelines. This ensures restrictions do not hinder our progress as a service that delivers valuable, open content across the world.

The University of Edinburgh’s short online course portfolio continues to develop and grow. With every course, we endeavour to discover and share knowledge in a way that is accessible, open and inclusive. We create, use and re-use OERs to spread critical messages to make a global impact.

Extended abstract: OE_Global_2021_paper_28.pdf 📄


Presentation Details

UNESCO OER Action Area: Building capacity

Format: Pre-recorded Presentation

Language: English


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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.


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Find out more about the Online Course Production Service and OER Service at the University of Edinburgh.

You can also explore our Short Online Courses website for more information about our portfolio.