Open educational resources, open science and open data practices are reshaping knowledge production and use in HEIs. Educators and students can capitalise on the open approach to create bespoke education programmes, benefitting from the latest relevant information, making quality education more accessible and equitable, as well as affordable. Researchers can share the results, have access to the latest findings and data and can reuse and reproduce content, accelerating their own research agendas. An HEI that embraces open education, open science and open data commits to open outputs, open infrastructure and culture change.
In order to fully embrace the opportunities of open education, open science and open data, an HEI should develop and implement a specific action plan as part of its overall strategy for digital transformation. Such action plan should include, and not be limited to:
- An explanation of what it is and why it is important, including FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable)
- Training plans for the development of researchers, data managers and educators, through mechanisms such as champions, training and workshops
- Plans for fostering communities of practice around open education, open science and open data (cross faculty and interdisciplinary)
- Support for infrastructure development and linking to compliant repositories
- External engagement and partnerships – through identifying key external bodies and activities for access to resources and learning (including for citizen science)
- Communication and internal engagement - through awards, competitions and case studies
- Consideration for privacy and ethics
A key incentive for embedding open education, open science and open data in an HEI is the development of a reward system and associated benefits. This may include rewards through the recognition of roles and responsibilities, financial incentives, awards and competitions.
The training and support for the use of open education, open science and open data should be for all staff, no matter what their stage of career. This creates an open and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data and research culture.
According to the Horizon Europe programme guidelines on FAIR data, data should be “as open as possible and as closed as necessary”. This means there is a fine balance between the reusability of research results and the protection of the privacy of subjects. Each data set made available should consider the benefits of data sharing with the data protection obligations and ethical and regulatory requirements. For the HEI, the plan should set out how the privacy, confidentiality, safety and well-being of staff and students will be addressed while promoting their innovative and creative efforts.