Key projects

Embedding and sustaining inclusive STEM practices
Dr Trevor Collins, HEFCE Higher Education Funding Council for England, 1 Year

The proportion of students with disabilities registered on undergraduate STEM programmes has increased significantly over the past decade. This project addresses how inclusive processes and academic practices become embedded within institutions, to enable equality of opportunity for students with disabilities studying STEM disciplines.


Cardiff Council Evaluation 
Professor Martin Weller, HEFCW Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, 5 Months

Evaluating support for teachers in the Cardiff Council area shifting to online teaching, convened by OU Wales.


Digital Decisions: Understanding teachers’ choices in online learning design and their impacts on learners in Sub-Saharan Africa
Dr Tim Coughlan, British Council, 7 Months

This project will analyse the decision-making processes of educators in SSA HE as they move to deliver some or all of their teaching online. It will focus on the ways in which decisions are made and the particular impacts of these where digital engagement by teachers and students is generally feasible but constrained, and the emergency responses made to the pandemic are leading to longer-term shifts towards online and blended teaching.


Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange
Dr Mirjam Hauck, EC: non-FP non-H2020 European Commission: non-FP (inc. Erasmus), 2.5 Years

EVOLVE aims to mainstream Virtual Exchange (VE) in HE by developing and upscaling it as a collaborative international form of learning across the curriculum. Beyond the immediate consortium members, the project will engage university associations (Coimbra Group and Santander Group/SGroup) in setting up new VEs, training educators and other facilitators for running exchanges by using an innovative online “Co-Laboratory” approach. The pillars of the Co-Laboratory are an educator training package and a platform where the training and the materials used will be hosted. Skills recognition for educators will be implemented through an Open Badges system such as the one managed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

The impact of the VEs implemented by trainees who have completed the Co-Laboratory will be measured through research targeting outcomes at both educator and student level. Close collaboration with decision-makers in universities, university associations will raise awareness for VE and contribute to establishing VE as an innovative educational practice underpinned by rigid academic study. This, in turn, will contribute to the European agenda for implementing VE on a larger scale by creating a safe online space where young people can meet to exchange views and ideas with the aim to increase intercultural awareness, and – as a by-product, also enhance their digital literacy skills, their social presence online in particular.


Developing a community-based mental health improvement programme in Guyana through inter-disciplinary participatory action research
Dr Ann Mitchell, BRITAC British Academy, 1.5 Years

In August 2018 a week-long scoping exercise assessed the mental health training needs of multi-disciplinary health practitioners in Guyana. From this, we developed an innovative research strategy and commitment to developing a community-based mental health improvement programme capable of being adopted by Guyana and other Low- and Middle-Income Countries with similar socio-economic conditions. Our approach focuses on promoting community mental health resilience through participatory digital technologies that build on The Open University’s global leadership role in distance learning. Our research will:

  1. Establish a baseline of social, environmental and mental health status within three case study communities;
  2. Co-design with community members, practitioners and agencies a capacity building programme for community-based mental health improvement in readiness for a period of engagement within the three case study communities focusing on improving mental health resilience through our ‘community-owned solutions’ approach.
  3. Support, through a process of action research, the practitioners as they apply and evaluate the resilience/‘community owned solutions’ approach within the case study communities, and monitor intervention impact with respect to a baseline state.
  4. Apply lessons learnt to strengthen the practitioner capacity building programme for major out scaling within Guyana (through the University of Guyana’s BSc in Mental Health Nursing) and in other LMICs.


NERC Community for Engaging Environments – (via
Janice Ansine, NERC Natural Environment Research Council, 2 Years

This 36-month national programme connects NERC scientists advancing the frontiers of environmental science with those communities identified as most at risk* from environmental change in cities and coastal regions across the UK. This sustainable public engagement strategy of national scope is centered on listening, dialogue and capacity building. Building on a stage 1 bids, we will establish a national community of practice (CoP) known as NERC Community for Engaging Environments (NC4EE).


CONNECT Inclusive open schooling through engaging and future-oriented science
Dr Ale Okada, EC (European Commission): FP (inc. Horizon Europe, H2020, ERC), 3 Years

CONNECT is an inclusive, sustainable model for enabling more secondary schools to adopt open schooling by embedding ‘science-action’ projects in the core curriculum, using participatory science approaches with universities and enterprises. A science-action makes science more relevant to students by showing them how scientific research and innovation can affect their lives, and how they can use science to make a positive impact. CONNECT targets disadvantaged learners who lack science capital, making them more confident with using science, giving them contact with science professionals and engaging family members to improve their attitudes towards science careers. CONNECT outcomes are to facilitate partnership interactions for productive learning linked to R&I, maximise the value of partnerships and reduce barriers to entry, and make science careers more inclusive for disadvantaged learners.


GO-GN Phase 3- Extension
Professor Martin Weller, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 3 Years

To extend and develop the existing successful GO-GN project for a further 3 years. This maintains a global network of OER doctoral researchers and will seek to broaden the reach and impact of the existing network.


European Network for Catalysing Open Resources in Education
Dr Rob Farrow, EC: non-FP non-H2020 European Commission: non-FP (inc. Erasmus), 2 Years

The European Network for Catalysing Open Resources in Education (ENCORE) is an innovation initiative to respond to European policy priorities of opening up and modernising the European Higher Education sector through the creation of a coordinated European OER area for innovation. ENCORE will support the uptake of OER through business and academia by taking a leading role in sharpening existing value propositions and implementation strategies for OER in academia and, for the first time, transferring them to the world of work – thus bringing both sectors together into a Knowledge Alliance leading to a European OER area.


Professional Learning on Professional Learning
Dr Vicky Murphy, EARLI European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, 1 Year

A mentorship visit by Victoria Murphy hosted by Professor Regina Mulder at the University of Regensburg. The visit will involve staying for 2-4 weeks in Regensburg to participate in activities to develop Victoria’s career.


Promoting students’ successful trajectories in Higher Education Institutions. (face-to-face and online).
Chris Edwards, EC: non-FP non-H2020 European Commission: non-FP (inc. Erasmus), 3 Years

Relatively little attention has been given to the progression of students through their studies. When it has been done, we see that it focuses on a unique HEI and adopts a perspective of efficiency, which ends up proposing retention policies. We intend to broaden the scope in various ways:

  1. if the angle of vision of the trajectory followed by a student, rather than that of the particular HEIs, was that of the system, then the definition of “success” would probably be given by the completion of a university degree at the end of its trajectory, regardless of whether this has been more or less complex. From a systemic point of view, it makes sense that even a complex trajectory can be a path to success.
  2. most HEIs that have data on their students’ progress develop the relevant indicators to pass the assessment processes of their degree programs. The perspective behind such indicators is usually one of efficiency, but rarely one of equity. However, one of the most widely accepted missions of the university is to promote equity and social cohesion. In fact, since the Prague communiqué in 2001, the social dimension of higher education has been one of the elements that have been insistently pointed out as being fundamental for the construction and consolidation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). It is therefore essential to pay attention to the particular trajectories of disadvantaged groups and to compare their trajectories in different contexts.


Accelerating the transition towards Edu 4.0 
Professor Bart Rienties, EC: non-FP non-H2020 European Commission: non-FP (inc. Erasmus), 3 Years

According to the new EU agenda for higher education, the success of the European project depends on the EU’s capacity to build a better future for European citizens. This is a key message of the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe. Higher education plays a unique role. Demand for highly-skilled, socially engaged people is both increasing and changing with the changes in the industry. In the period up to 2025, half of all jobs are projected to require high-level qualifications. High-level skills gaps already exist. Driven by Industry 4.0 and digital technology, jobs are becoming more flexible and complex. People’s capacities to be entrepreneurial, manage complex information, think autonomously and creatively, use resources, including digital ones, smartly, communicate effectively and be resilient are more crucial than ever. Europe also needs more high achievers who can develop the cutting edge technologies and solutions on which our future prosperity depends.

Therefore, it is the main objective of this project to respond to the horizontal priority of the programme: “Supporting educators, youth workers, educational leaders and support staff”, since the TEACH4EDU4 project activities are designed to enable the creation of the environment for implementation of new learning and teaching approaches in computer science and related disciplines. The project includes higher education institutions joined in the partnership to enable its teachers and students a unique exercise in acquiring new skills and new teaching methods in line with the developments in Industry 4.0.


HS 1.029 Optimising Training and Education Efficiency of the Defence Learning Environment (DLE) and Flexible Classroom Pedagogies
Professor Anne Adams, DSTL Defence Science and Technology, 1.5 Years

The RINA team is clear that the requirement is to deliver evidence-based and future-focused research aimed at enabling Defence to better exploit the Defence Learning Environment (DLE) in training and learning and to investigate the range of flexible and blended approaches to learning in order to achieve sustainable efficiencies without adversely affecting effectiveness.

This project comprises two distinct tasks related to rendering Defence Training and Education more efficient through appropriate application of learning technology. The MOD Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), known as the Defence Learning Environment (DLE) is an open-source Moodle instance coupled with Mahara, an e-Portfolio application and Learning Locker. Together this package enables three standard functions:

  1. Learning Management: a repository and management system for learning courses, activities, assessments, games and evaluation.
  2. Learner Management: a systematic archive of evidence or learning, progress, progression and advancement.
  3. Learning Content Management: organised version control, maintenance of currency and differentiation.


GO-GN Phase 3 
Professor Martin Weller, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 3 Years

GO-GN is a global network connecting PhD researchers & the broader OER research community to develop the OER research base. GO-GN provides various services to support and improve the quality of the PhD studies and grow the OER research community. These include the GO-GN Seminars, linked to relevant global events, a series of online events & community-building activities. To extend and develop the existing successful GO-GN project for a further 3 years. This maintains a global network of OER doctoral researchers and will seek to broaden the reach and impact of the existing network.


DEI Phase 2
Dr Corina Bossu, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 1 Year

The project seeks to develop a strategy to help OER communities such as the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring their work incorporates the perspectives and experiences of the underrepresented. Following on from a successful project looking at this issue in Africa, this one will explore Latin America.

By working closely with colleagues in Brazil, we will strive to better understand the different contexts/realities of these researchers, in order to create a more supportive culture within GO-GN, and advise similar communities on how they can be more diverse, eliminate barriers to participation, and ensure the voices of all those they seek to serve are heard, giving them the support they need to flourish.


EDUcating Citizens and organisations in Citizen Science methodologies
Dr. Christothea Herodotou, ESRC, 5 months

The proposal “EDUcating Citizens and organisations in Citizen Science methodologies” (EduCS) aims to (a) facilitate capacity building in organisations not normally involved or engaged with Citizen Science (CS) methodologies including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the national weather service, Met Office UK, (b) collaborate with citizens in devising CS investigations, testing and extending the functionality of nQuire (; an Open University CS learning platform designed to promote the development of scientific skills by allowing participation in all the stages of scientific research, and (c) launch a CS investigation to test the potential of the proposed CS methodology to impact learning and educate citizens in thinking scientifically.

The proposal tackles the need for “collaboration with communities to test approaches to co-designing research questions”(see call), through two collaborative workshops with national organisations (BBC, Met Office), citizens, academics, and software designers to design a weather-related CS investigation and pilot CS tools in a participatory manner, as well as the need for “digital innovation pilots in citizen science”, with a focus on testing and extending the functionality of nQuire, by developing data visualisation charts and configuring google analytics for capturing learning and participation. The vision of the project is to empower citizens in directing their own learning and educating themselves in scientific thinking, through engagement with a dynamic technological solution and national organisations with developed CS capacity.


AHRC GCRF Development Award: Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)
Dr.Koula Charitonos, AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council, 1 year

The MAP Network Plus Development Award will enable us to strengthen collaborative and equitable partnerships across multi-linguistic countries including Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz, Russian, Uzbek), Rwanda (Kinyarwanda, English, French, Swahili), Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia), and Nepal (Nepali). The main objectives of the Development award are:

1. To establish effective and equitable communication for the co-production of the project involving stakeholders at all levels, with a particular emphasis on youth.

2) To enable South-South and North-South learning across cultural and linguistic differences; exploring translation software and processes.

3) To situate the project in the social, cultural, and political contexts of each country and to introduce cultural forms and research methods.

4) To establish a monitoring and evaluation system using arts-based approaches.