Western Education launches OpenEdu

March 08, 2024

The online open educational resources hub offers an equitable experience for accessing relevant materials and programs developed by education researchers.

Just in time for Open Education Week, Western University’s Faculty of Education has launched an online open educational resources (OER) hub that looks to break down the barriers that may arise when attempting to access educational programs and materials.

OpenEdu offers access to a diverse array of OERs tailored to address pressing issues in education and beyond.

The resources are developed by Western Education and community partners, allowing users to trust that what they’re accessing is effective and backed by research.

How it works

OpenEdu resources are split into four categories, with the first group intended to support teaching and the second intended to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The final two categories are resources developed by the Centre for School Mental Health (CSMH) and resources developed by the Faculty of Education’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC).

One example of an OER is the recently launched Daily Physical Activity in the classroom Toolkit. This toolkit includes more than 100 videos, activities, and posters dedicated to helping educators lead daily classroom physical activity.

A screen capture of what users see when accessing OpenEdu.

Elsewhere, there are also several training courses on violence and harassment prevention for employers and workers in a variety of sectors, as well as the general public.

These courses include the Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence online training for front-line responders and other service providers, a similar course tailored to post-secondary settings, and a course that can support anyone who is concerned about people who experience intimate partner violence.

Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos, the Dean and a Professor for the Faculty of Education, says the diversity found in the OERs and the groups they serve illustrate the wide variety of research that is conducted at Western Education.

“Typically, when people think about faculties of education they think about teachers, and it’s true. Our teaching and research are more expansive,” said Kotsopoulos.

“When you look at the kind of OERs that are available, they cross every segment of society because that is in fact what faculties of education do.”

A commitment to open educational resources

Kotsopoulos, who led the development of OpenEdu, says the initiative was inspired by student advocacy she witnessed on campus a few years ago.

Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos, the Dean and a Professor for the Faculty of Education.Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos, the Dean and a Professor for the Faculty of Education.

In 2018, the University Students’ Council and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance campaigned for Ontario university faculty to adopt free, open-access textbooks into their curricula.

Kotsopoulos learned about this campaign when she walked by a booth ran by student advocates inside Western’s University Community Centre.

“I was working with students who were really having difficulty, not only with tuition, but with housing insecurity and meeting their financial obligations,” Kotsopoulos said.

“This was a really early opportunity to think about how I could use OERs in my teaching”

Kotsopoulos would later go on to produce research about her own use of open educational resources in an undergraduate business course she taught to break down financial barriers

When Kotsopoulos began in her role as Dean in 2021 she was further inspired by the number of OERs already available at Western Education.

One such example includes The Online Teacher, a virtual program made of several comprehensive courses that help educators transition to online teaching with confidence. To date, more than 10,000 teachers have completed the program.

Looking to do away with the logistical burdens that come with searching for OERs, Kotsopoulos sought a centralized hub that could be easily navigated by anyone. And so, OpenEdu was born.

“We’ve been doing this work. This platform allows us to share it in an accessible and coordinated way.” Kotsopoulos added.

“This is the first in Canada for a faculty of education.”

To access OpenEdu, click the following link: