An open Oxford education

Thanks very much to the University of Leeds for inviting me over to their recent “Talking about Teaching” event. The event was presented by Melissa Highton, head of Oxford University’s Learning Technologies Group, who gave us a thoughtful and  inspiring insight into their journey and extensive successes with;

a) institutional podcasting support, making audio and video resources freely available through iTunesU and other high profile platforms to millions of people across the world


b) producing Open Educational Resources (OERs), often from these same podcasts or other collections, making them available not just for individual use but also offering them back to the education sector under liberal Creative Commons licences for reuse, redistribution and re purposing.

Screenshot of Oxford University on iTunesUWhile making your stuff available for free is not a particularly new thing, it is timely to revisit now; Oxford has been doing this pretty much since iTunesU launched in the UK, clocking up over 12million downloads, and is now in a position to reflect on whether it has actually been worth it and to start thinking about what next. Meanwhile an institution like York can listen and learn much.

Although extensive notes were taken on the drivers, benefits and impact the most striking thing for me was the idea that we need to think carefull about what we can really offer in this space. Is it Oxford style audio and video podcasts delivered to a potential audience of billions through iTunesU? With so many already in the market what can our contribution bring to the table? Is it MIT or Harvard style open courseware and free education? Could this ever provide a true reflection of the York experience and have we got the millions of dollars to throw at this? So the question remains, what is it that we currently do, produce or already own that we could offer to the world to support our claim of being a world class institution?

I’ve got a couple of ideas but your answers on a postcard are very welcome…


Making Academic OER Easy: Reflections on Technologyand Openness at Oxford University –Melissa Highton, Oxford University; Jill Fresen, Oxford University; Joanna Wild, Oxford University

STEEPLE – educational podcasting JISC project:

OERs from podcasts – JISC project:

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