Research · Editorial

OU open education experts and projects recognised at the OEGlobal awards

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Open University (OU) researchers and projects have recieved awards in two categories at the 2023 OE Global, Open Education Awards for Excellence, with distinguished finalists representing the OU's Institute of Educational Technology and OpenLearn.

OEGlobal is an international non-profit organisation supporting the development and use of open education around the world. Its annual Open Education Awards for Excellence recognises the outstanding contributions from leaders, projects and initiatives in the open education community.

This year, the OEAwards awards winners were selected from a highly competitive 172 nominations of open education excellence representing 38 countries.

Leadership in Open Education

Patrina Law, Head of OpenLearn, the OU’s multi award winning free learning platform, was selected as winner in the Leadership award category.

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Currently leader of OpenLearn at the Open University, Patrina has led projects and policy to extend the reach of OER, drive its scholarship, and support learners with career and life-enhancing content.

Commenting on the selection, Patrina said:

"To have won the OE Global Leadership Award is deeply humbling and I’m truly grateful that the work to reshape OpenLearn over the last 10 years is recognised. The team that develops, commissions and drives the technical infrastructure of OpenLearn are some of the most committed people I have ever worked with and who are also driven to support the social mission of the Open University. Providing digital badging for free learning has been a passion of mine and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to develop this over the years and for us all to see the impact this has had. It knits together a range of open standards and endeavours in openness by recognising learning achievements for those that need them most. "

Professor Weller, Prof of Educational Technology at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET), was also shortlisted for the leadership award. Prof Weller Presently leads the OER Hub research team, running a portfolio of projects examining the impact of open educational practices. Professor Weller is a champion of open education in the OU, also leading the Global OER Graduate Network.

Commenting on the nomination, Prof Weller shared:

“It’s an honour to be nominated for the Leadership award, and to be in the company of three other excellent leaders in the open education field. The OEGlobal community is one we have worked with consistently over the 10 years of the GO-GN project, so this nomination, along with the other ones for GO-GN resources and members is a mark of the Open University’s standing and reputation in the global open education research community.”

Special Award category nominations

OpenLearn’s Responsive OER for Ukrainians was selected as the special award winner in the Open Resilience category, recognising that the learning platform has both translated into Ukrainian their key learning materials and developed new courses and resources aimed at serving the refugee population in the UK, and the people accessing content remotely from Ukraine. Read the background to the project and the impact it has had here.

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In April 2022, the collection of free online resources for Ukrainians settling in the UK and Ireland was launched. The collection included practical courses on English, German and French language; additional work and study skills courses and content; mental health and wellbeing support; plus external links to key refugee support organisations.

On the selection, Patrina Law said:

OpenLearn is constantly striving to reach those who need free education and the invasion of Ukraine was a huge motivation to modify our technical systems to take on the Ukrainian alphabet within OpenLearn, not just for some specific courses, but in its navigation and layout. The content we were able to translate aligned with what we knew Ukrainians were studying, all of which was a complete departure from what they had been studying prior to the invasion. It was a huge effort by the team to get content translated and functioning on OpenLearn in a few months but also gratifying to see so many learners using it. Hence, we’re enormously grateful for an organisation like OE Global to recognise and award this work.

In the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion category, the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) was shortlisted for its research exploring EDI in Open Education with a focus on Africa and Latin America. Based in IET, GO-GN is a global network of PhD researchers who are conducting their doctoral studies on an aspect open education. The GO-GN EDI Guidelines guidebook, led by Dr Carina Bossu, Senior Lecturer in Academic Professional Development in IET, focuses on regions that are often marginalized from the main discourse. Read more about the guidebook here.

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Additionally, a number of members of the GO-GN have been nominated for awards in various categories, representing of the global reach of the GO-GN network.

Congratulations to all winners and shortlisted nominees!

The OE Awards for Excellence were be announced via YouTube livestream on Wednesday 13th September.

Find out more about the awards here.