OEPS Final Report

The OEPS Final Report  brings together the learning from the 3 years of the project. It highlights key successes and challenges encountered by the project and makes recommendations for the future of open education in Scotland. The executive summary is provided here, however it is useful to read the full document.

Download the full OEPS final report


Executive Summary

  • The availability of free, openly licensed online courses and the ubiquity of digital technology is relevant to learners in the formal and informal learning sectors in Scotland.
  • Openly licensed educational resources are regarded by some educationalists as having the potential to open up new pathways into higher education; however, currently their use is heavily skewed towards existing graduates.
  • Developments in open education have tended to focus on technology. To ensure effective use there is a strong case for reorienting effort on practice, pedagogy and new models of student support.
  • Open licensing and digital platforms open new possibilities for knowledge dissemination and exchange.
  • Digital technology and open licenses open new and innovative possibilities for curriculum development. These include greater use of collaborative development and the provision of short courses and micro-credentials that provide flexible pathways for lifelong learning and support transitions into formal education, between further and higher education, between education and employment and in the workplace.
  • Free, openly licensed, online courses are now part of the educational mainstream. However, the educational practices, organisational and business models to make best use of these resources are not fully developed.

Project outputs

  • The project worked with 68 organisations across Scotland, including universities, colleges, schools, third sector organisations, unions and businesses. It held 79 workshops, gave 44 presentations, organised four one-day open forums and one seminar and co-organised a two day symposium. The project website1 hosts an archive of the project’s activity and outputs. The entire range of project outputs, comprising exemplar courses, reports, briefings and resources are hosted in the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland collection.
  • The project outputs include fifteen new openly licensed courses co-created with organisations in Scotland.
  • All but one of the OEPS courses offered recognition through Open Badges and the project established evidence of the use of badges at scale.

Project findings

  • Awareness of open education among educators and policy makers in the university and college sectors is low. There is a case for including open education and open licensing in initial professional development programmes like the TQFE and PGCert and in subsequent CPD.
    Co-production of online resources with organisations in the informal learning sector has benefits for academic institutions, their partners and for students.
  • There remains a need for a cross-sector approach to supporting development.
  • The informal learning sector in Scotland is leading the way in the use of Open Badges.
  • Policy discussion on open education is too narrowly focused on the use of MOOCs in the university sector.
  • Developments in learning technology are affecting all parts of the education system. The availability of free openly licensed content poses new challenges for colleges and universities. In this context open practice has the potential to support learning journeys and enhance the quality and reputation of Scottish Education. To achieve this, however, systemic change that starts from student centred pedagogy is necessary.


  1. Colleges and universities and the Scottish Government should consider formal adoption of the Scottish Open Educational Declaration.
  2. Professional development is critical to the future development of open education in Scotland. The study of open pedagogy should be incorporated as a mainstream part of teacher education, the TQFE and higher education Post Graduate Certificates in Learning and Teaching.
  3. Educational institutions in Scotland should release much more of their content in openly licensed format and should consider adopting an approach of open by default. In addition the SFC should consider encouraging sharing and collaborative initiatives between institutions.
  4. To enable widening access to colleges and university, as well as to support lifelong learning, colleges and universities should work in partnership with the informal learning and third sector to create open resources and open practice. This can include supporting transitions into education and professional development in employment.
  5. The creation of open courses and other openly licensed materials should be recognised by the Scottish Funding Council as a component of knowledge exchange and appropriate funding arrangements established.
  6. There should be consideration by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council of the systems, support mechanisms, and policies required to facilitate and sustain institutional collaborations in open education. Outcome agreements might be one avenue that could be used.
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