N-TUTORR sectoral white paper on open education practices:

Open Education Practices in Higher Education

N-TUTORR exploration of openness in higher education, focussing on responsiveness, innovation and inclusivity

Dr Rajiv Jhangiani, Dr Tom Farrelly, Dr Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin and Darragh Coakley

While there is much to commend in terms of current higher education policy and practice in Ireland, there is a need for the Irish higher education sector to reflect on the lessons from the pandemic and consider how the sectors can become more responsive, innovative and inclusive by adopting new or adapting and expanding existing strategies, policies and initiatives.  

One such strategy in meeting current and future challenges is the wholesale adoption of Open Educational Practices (OEP) as a general principle and the specific adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) within and across institutions.

This sectoral white paper, which advocates for the adoption of OEP and OER as strategies to address current and future challenges in the sector, is published under the Digital Ecosystems stream (Stream 3) of the N-TUTORR programme.

Key recommendations:
  • Recommendation 1 encompasses five elements that emphasise the need for a National OEP Strategy aligned with UNESCO's Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. Such a strategy should focus on building stakeholder capacity, developing supportive policies, ensuring equitable access to quality OER, creating sustainability models, and fostering international cooperation. Individual technological universities, institutes of technology, the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), and associated groups are encouraged to join UNESCO's OER Dynamic Coalition and initiate national conversations to develop a comprehensive OEP strategy. Elements of this strategy may include a national OER policy, shared services, collective advocacy, and a common recognition framework.
  • Recommendation 2 encompasses 12 elements and highlights the importance of supporting institutional capacity building for OEP. This involves assessing institutional maturity in supporting OEP, investing in technology and infrastructure, providing education, and training opportunities, aligning incentives, establishing partnerships, and aligning institutional policies with OEP objectives. The recommendation underscores the need for leadership commitment, cross-functional steering groups, and explicit integration of OEP into institutional strategies.