Making academic OER easy: Reflections on technology and openness at Oxford University


  • Melissa H. Highton Oxford University
  • Jill W. Fresen Oxford University
  • Joanna Wild Oxford University



Due to its stringent entry requirements, academic reputation and world ranking, Oxford University in the United Kingdom is perceived by some as being a closed, exclusive, and elitist institution. As learning technologists working in the institution, we have experienced an enthusiasm amongst academic colleagues for openness in publication and practice enhanced by new technologies, which reflects their long-demonstrated commitment to publication and the dissemination of new knowledge. Advances in digital technologies and the emergence of online platforms for global dissemination have enabled Oxford University seminars, lectures, and public addresses, many by famous figures, to be shared with an international audience. This article charts the journey Oxford has made in opening up educational content and describes the ways in which we have worked to ensure that the value added by technology aligns with current academic practice in the institution.

Author Biographies

Melissa H. Highton, Oxford University

Melissa has management responsibility for the Learning Technologies Group in the Oxford University Computing Service; she has institutional responsibility for e-learning strategy, the VLE, and IT skills and training. She is a Fellow of Kellogg College and works closely with the E-learning Research Group in the Department of Education. She is the senior manager responsible for Oxford’s current OER initiatives and the development of open-source learning technologies.

Jill W. Fresen, Oxford University

Jill has extensive experience as a learning technologist in a variety of higher-education institutions. Her portfolio includes working closely with academics to identify needs and opportunities for effective use of a variety of technologies, particularly the institutional VLE. She is responsible for designing and developing help and support resources, and academic staff training courses and materials.

Joanna Wild, Oxford University

Joanna has been involved in researching the area of technology-enhanced learning since 2004. Her main field of research is learning design, evaluation of learning technologies, and (currently) open educational practices. Recently she was involved in the JISC-funded OER impact study and the ESRC/EPSRC-funded Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE) project. Joanna also has experience in supporting academic staff in their use of new technologies, an important part of her former role as a learning technologist.