Photo of Rob Farrow

Dr Rob Farrow BA (Hons); MA; PhD; Pg.CHEP; FHEA, MAODE

Senior Research Fellow

I’m a Research Fellow in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University (OU).

I joined the OU in 2009 in the final stages of my Ph.D. By training I am a philosopher (analytic & continental) and educational technologist. My main research focus is open education. I lead several research strands with the Open Education Research Hub where since 2012 we have focused on providing an evidence base for the impact of OER and building research capacity globally.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy who is working towards Senior Fellowship. I act as reviewer for dozens of academic journals (not Reviewer 2) and international conferences. I also act as an expert consultant for many high-profile organisations.

My current research interests are in the use and evaluation of technology systems for learning and behavioural change; theoretical frameworks for learning and innovation; ethics; technology as a route to social justice; and generally in empowering people and what that means.

I have previously published work in the fields of: accessibility; action research; artificial intelligence; automation; collaborative research; critical pedagogy; critical theory; data visualisation; ethics; evidence hubs; impact; innovation; lifelong learning; methodology; mobile learning; MOOC; OER impact; open education; open textbooks; pedagogy; phenomenology; policy; theory.

I believe it is important to be a good generalist and retain a critical perspective.

I currently co-supervise three PhD students:

•Janesh Sanzgiri

•Helen Crump

•Renato Cortinovis

I support doctoral students worldwide who are working in the field of open education through the Global OER Graduate Network. I also mentor for the Open Education Leadership Program (SPARC) and Open Education for a Better World (UNESCO).

I hold degrees from the University of Kent at Canterbury, The University of Essex, and The Open University (UK) and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Rob holds several degrees in Philosophy, including a PhD. Rob completed his graduate study at the University of Essex, focusing on modern European philosophy in the critical tradition, and writing his PhD thesis on the normative foundations of the critical social theories of Jurgen Habermas and Axel Honneth.

Since 2009 Rob has worked on many high profile research projects in education and educational technology.  These have EU funded projects like Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning (MOTILL);  European Unified Framework for Accessible Lifelong Learning (EU4ALL) and BizMOOC which involved working with a range of European partners.  He has also worked on many projects funded by philanthropy with a focus on open education, such as the Hewlett funded Open Learning Network (OLnet); OER Research Hub; OER World Map; Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) and UK Open Textbooks projects.

Rob is a keynote speaker who has presented his work in many countries.  

Rob has acted as a referee for a number of academic journals, including International Education Studies, British Journal of Educational Technology, Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice and Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.  He is an associate editor of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education.






  • Farrow, Robert (). Constellations of Openness. In: Deimann, Markus and Michael, Peters eds. The Philosophy of Open Learning: Peer Learning and the Intellectual Commons (New ed) New York: Peter Lang.







  • Arnedillo-Sánchez, Inmaculada; Arrigo, Marco; Crehan, Freida; Dal Grande, Paola; Di Giuseppe, Onofrio; Farrow, Robert; Fulantelli, Giovanni; Gabor, Andras; Gentile, Manuel; Kismihok, Gabor; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes; Merlo, Gianluca; Peasgood, Alice; Pettit, John; Seta, Luciano and Taibi, Davide (). Best Practices. In: Arrigo, M.; Di Giuseppe, O.; Fulantelli, G.; Gentile, M.; Merlo, G.; Seta, L. and Taibi, D. eds. MOTILL Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning: Best Practices Italian National Research Council - Institute for Educational Technology, pp. 34-37.


  • Farrow, Robert (). 'Adorno'. In: Mullarkey, John and Lord, Beth eds. The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy London: Continuum, pp. 279-280.
  • Farrow, Robert (). 'Habermas'. In: Mullarkey, John and Lord, Beth eds. The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy London: Continuum, pp. 299-300.
  • Farrow, Robert (). 'Frankfurt School'. In: Mullarkey, John and Lord, Beth eds. The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy London: Continuum, pp. 294-295.
  • Farrow, Robert (). Habermas. In: Mullarky, John and Lord, Beth eds. The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy Continuum, pp. 299-300.


EMC-LM (European MOOC Consortium: Labour Market) 2019 - 2021


GO-GN (Global OER Graduate Network) 2016 - 2019
BizMOOC (Knowledge Alliance to enable a European-wide exploitation of the potential of MOOCs for the world of business) 2016 - 2018
OER Research Hub 2012 - 2014
OER World Map 2016 - 2018
Study on models for Online, open, flexible and technology enhanced higher education 2016 - 2017


Invited Talk

7th February 2019

Open Education in Theory and Praxis

Rector's Conference Frankfurt

Conference Presentation

9th November 2018

MOOC and the workplace: key support elements in digital lifelong learning.

Upgrading business competence globally for today and tomorrow. Cracow University of Economics, Poland

Invited Talk

19th September 2018

Conference Presentation

18th June 2018

Conference Presentation

26th April 2018

Conference Presentation

24th April 2018

Conference Presentation

8th March 2017

Researching Open Education: A systematic review of GO-GN theses

OE Global Conference 2017 Cape Town, South Africa

Conference Presentation

19th April 2016

Conference Presentation

19th April 2016

Categories and strategies of OER usage

OER16: Open Culture University of Edinburgh, UK

Conference Presentation

13th April 2016

‘Action Lab: The Open Research Agenda

Open Education Global 2016: Convergence Through Collaboration Kraków, Poland


15th March 2016

Constellations of Open

3rd e-Learning and Distance Education Conference Lahore, Pakistan


Open Courseware Consortium ACE Award for Research Excellence

Annually awarded for outstanding research in open education

The Open University Engaging Research Award

A competitive internal award which recognises excellence in outreach and impact