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Professor Freda Wolfenden

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Professional biography

My professional work is concerned with enhancing the quality of  pedagogic practices and teacher development particularly in low income contexts.  I have lead the conceptualisation, planning and delivery of teacher education programmes with a  focus on the use of open practices at scale in the pursuit of equality in participation in learning. 

I am currently Education Director at the Girls Education Challenge (GEC)  fund manager.  The GEC is a large DFID funded programme supporting the learning of over 1.3M marginalised girls in 17 countries.

Until early 2019 I was Academic Director of the TESS-India programme (, a large scale Open Educational Resources (OER)  teacher education initiative working across 7 Indian states to reach up to 3 million teachers and funded by DfID (£10M).

I also led the Open University component of the GIrls Education Challenge (GEC) Project in Sierra Leone 'Supporting Marginalised Girls in Sierra Leone to complete Basic Education with Improved Learning Outcomes'. The OU is responsible for the Learning Assistant strand of activity, supporting young women to develop the skills - academic and professional, and confidence to enter Teacher Training.

Since joining the OU I have held a number of leadership positions including Associate Dean (Curiculum, Qualifications and Scholarship) and directed several teacher education programmes for both UK and global cohorts including the online professional development programme for teachers,, and the Masters in Education.   

From 2008 to 2012 I was Director of the TESSA programme.  TESSA – Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (, is a large research and development initiative exploring the use of Open Educational Resources to improve the quality of pre-and in-service teacher education at scale.  I secured over £2.5M to support TESSA development; TESSA OER use is now embedded in teacher education programmes across 10 countries and I am now focussing on leading research associated with the programme. In 2009 the Open University was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for TESSA and in 2011 TESSA was a WISE Award winner (

In 2009 I established the Malawi Access to Teaching Saltire Scholarship programme; this enables women in rural areas to achieve qualifications and relevant school experience prior to entry to teacher training.  In 2013 this model was extended to Sierra Leone as part of a Girls' Education Challenge project. 

I came to the OU in 2004 from a background in secondary school science teaching in London and overseas.  I have also worked as an Advisor for a local Education Authority in England, materials producer, project director and manager in a number of education organisations in the UK and in Asia. 

Research interests

The primary focus of my work is enhancing teacher learning in development contexts and the ways in which new technologies and in particular OER (Open Educational Resources) can influence pedagogy and teacher change.  I adopt a socially situated theoretical stance and prioritise engagement with applied research to enrich the interplay between scholarship, teaching and innovation and to maximise the impact on practice (as evidenced by external grants).   A key characteristic is leadership of collaborative activity with colleagues from different institutions, cultures and contexts

Current Funded Projects  

2015 -2016

‘Engaging with the ‘world beyond’: the impact of OER on practices in teacher education institutions in East Africa’   ROER4D   (

  £28,000 Principal Investigator (PI)

2014 - 2017 

'Developing and modelling collaborative creation of local OER in Teacher Education Institutions in Ghana’  William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

$300,000 Principal Investigator (PI)

Teaching interests

I teach on the Masters in Education  at the OU and between 2007-2010  directed this programme.   I initiated a course in education and development (ET821) and I have taught on a number of other courses in the programme.   I am currently writing for a new module, EE814 Addressing inequality and difference in educational practice,  available from October 2015. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CREET: Educational Studies Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Exploring open digital badges in teacher education: a case study from India (2020-03-20)
Wolfenden, Freda; Adinolfi, Lina and Cross, Simon
Journal of Learning for Development - JL4D, 7(1) (pp. 108-111)

An exploration of agency in the localisation of open educational resources for teacher development (2019)
Wolfenden, Freda and Adinolfi, Lina
Learning, Media and Technology, 44(3) (pp. 327-344)

MOOC adaptation and translation to improve equity in participation (2017-07-31)
Wolfenden, Freda; Cross, Simon and Henry, Fiona
Journal of Learning for Development - JL4D, 4(2)

Developing academics' assessment practices in open, distance and e-learning: an institutional change agenda (2016-07-31)
Evans, Jessica; Jordan, Sally and Wolfenden, Freda
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 31(2) (pp. 91-107)

TESS-India OER: Collaborative practices to improve teacher education (2015-09-30)
Wolfenden, Freda
Indian Journal of Teacher Education, 1(3) (pp. 33-48)

Capturing changes in Sudanese teachers' teaching using reflective photography (2013-08)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
Teaching and Teacher Education, 34 (pp. 189-197)

Developing a pedagogy of mutuality in a capability approach - teachers' experiences of using the open educational resources (OER) of the teacher education in sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme (2013-05)
Murphy, Patricia and Wolfenden, Freda
International Journal of Educational Development, 33(3) (pp. 263-271)

‘Give courage to the ladies’: expansive apprenticeship for women in rural Malawi (2013)
Safford, Kimberly; Cooper, Deborah; Wolfenden, Freda and Chitsulo, Joyce
Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 65(2) (pp. 193-207)

OER Adaptation and Reuse across cultural contexts in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) (2012)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison and Keraro, Fred
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (p 16)

Harnessing open educational resources to the challenges of teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa (2009)
Thakrar, Jayshree; Wolfenden, Freda and Zinn, Denise
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(4)

The TESSA OER Experience: Building sustainable models of production and user implementation (2008)
Wolfenden, F.
Journal of Interactive Media in Education(3)

Teacher educators and OER in East Africa: Interrogating pedagogic change (2017-10-26)
Wolfenden, Freda; Auckloo, Pritee; Buckler, Alison and Cullen, Jane
In: Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl and Arinto, Patricia B. eds. Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 251-286)
Publisher : ROER4D | Published : Cape Town, South Africa

Teacher learning in Sudan: building dialogue around teachers' practices through reflective photography (2014-12-10)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
In: Miles, Susie and Howes, Andy eds. Photography in Educational Research: Critical Reflections from Diverse Contexts (pp. 79-95)
ISBN : 978-0-415-85495-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

New modes of teacher pre-service training and professional support (2012-09-10)
Anamuah-Mensah, Jophus; Banks, Frank; Moon, Robert and Wolfenden, Freda
In: Moon, Robert ed. Teacher Education and the Challenge of Development: A Global Analysis. Education, Poverty and International Development (pp. 201-211)
ISBN : 978-0-415-60071-2 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Brazil: building national regulatory frameworks (2012-08-17)
Moon, Bob and Wolfenden, Freda
In: Moon, Bob ed. Teacher Education and the Challenge of Development: a Global Analysis. Education, Poverty and International Development (pp. 101-110)
ISBN : 978-0-415-60071-2 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Adapting OERs for professional communities: The Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa experience (2012-03)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
In: Connolly, Teresa; Okada, Alexandra and Scott, Peter eds. Collaborative Learning 2.0 - Open Educational Resources
ISBN : 9781466603004 | Publisher : IGI Global (In Press)

OER production and adaptation through networking across Sub–Saharan Africa: learning from TESSA (2012)
Wolfenden, Freda
In: Glennie, Jennie; Harley, Ken; Butcher, Neil and Van Wyk, Trudi eds. Open Educational Resources and Change in Higher Education: Reflections from Practice (pp. 91-105)
ISBN : 978-1-894975-53-7 | Publisher : Commonwealth of Learning | Published : Vancouver, Canada

Teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa: issues and challenges around teacher resources and practices (2012)
Moon, Bob and Wolfenden, Freda
In: Griffin, Rosarii ed. Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa
ISBN : 978-1-873927-36-6 | Publisher : Symposium Books | Published : Oxford

Harnessing OER's, mobiles and other technologies for teacher education in Africa: the TESSA and DEEP projects (2008)
Wolfenden, Freda
In: Needham, Gill and Ally, Mohamed eds. M-libraries: Libraries on the Move to Provide Virtual Access (pp. 71-82)
ISBN : 9781856046480 | Publisher : Facet Publishing | Published : London

Transforming classroom observation and professional development with 360-degree video and mobile VR (2018-11-07)
Cross, Simon; Wolfenden, Freda and Adinolfi, Lina
In : 8th Annual mEducation Alliance Symposium (6-8 Nov 2018, Washington DC, USA)

Extending the MOOC footprint: supporting capacity building in India (2017)
Wolfenden, Freda; Henry, Fiona and Cross, Simon
In : 8th Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF8) (27-30 Nov 2016, Kuala Lumpur,)

Promoting gender inclusion in a distance learning course to increase female recruitment to teaching (2014)
Wolfenden, Freda and Murphy, Patricia
In : Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7) (2-6 Dec 2013, Abuja, Nigeria)

Supporting induction to the teaching profession for women in Malawi (2014)
Wolfenden, Freda
In : DETA Conference 2011: Ensuring the highest possible quality of education in a changing Africa (3-5 Aug 2011, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique) (pp. 171-196)

Supporting induction to the teaching profession for women in Malawi (2011-08)
Wolfenden, F.; Gallastegi, Lore and Chitsulo, J.
In : DETA (Distance Education and Teacher Training in Africa) 2011 (3-5 Aug 2011, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique)

Using OERs to improve teacher quality: emerging findings from TESSA (2010-10)
Wolfenden, Freda; Umar, Abdurrahman; Aguti, Jessica and Abdel Gafar, Amani
In : Sixth Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (24-28 Nov 2010, Kochi, India)

OER adaptation and reuse across cultural contexts in sub Saharan Africa: lessons from the TESSA consortium (2010-03)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison and Keraro, Fred
In : OER10 (22-24 Mar 2010, Cambridge, UK)

New modes of communication technologies and the reform of open and distance learning programmes: A response to the global crisis in teacher education and training (2009-06-09)
Banks, Frank; Moon, Bob and Wolfenden, Freda
In : 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning (8-10 Jun 2009, Maastricht, The Netherlands)

New modes of communication technologies and the reform of open and distance learning programmes: A response to the global crisis in teacher education and training (2009)
Banks, F.; Moon, B. and Wolfenden, F.
In : 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning (8-10 Jun 2009, Maastricht, The Netherlands)

Building new modes of teacher education: research analyses for the Teacher in Education in Sub Saharan Africa programme (2008-09)
Wolfenden, Freda
In : BERA Annual Conference 2008 (3-6 Sep 2008, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)

TESSA: an open educational resource site for teacher education in Africa (2008-05)
Wolfenden, Freda
In : eLearning Africa: 3rd International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training (28-30 May 2008, Accra, Ghana)

Open educational resources, international co-operation and teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa (2007)
Moon, Robert and Wolfenden, Freda
In : EADTU's 20th Anniversary Conference (8-9 Nov 2007, Lisbon, Portugal)

A new paradigm for teacher education: supported, open teaching and learning at the Open University (2006-09-16)
Hutchinson, Steven and Wolfenden, Freda
In : European Educational Research Association Annual Conference (13-16 Sep 2006, Geneva)

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development in India: Interim Project Report (2020)
Cross, Simon; Adinolfi, Lina; Charania, Amina; Ramchand, Mythili; Wolfenden, Freda; Sen, Sohini; Paltiwale, Sumegh; Balli, Omkar and Chatterjee, Ananya
The Open University & Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Education Workforce Initiative: Initial Research (2018-04-30)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison; Santos, Cristina and Mittelmeier, Jenna
International Commission on Financing Education Opportunity (The Education Commission)

Qualities of effective teachers who teach disadvantaged students: insights from the Varkey Teacher Ambassador Community (2018-03-16)
Akyeampong, Kwame; Vegas, Emiliana; Wolfenden, Freda; Saldanha, Kaitlynn; Dia Al-Attia, Haifa; Wigdortz, Brett; Oduro, Evelyn and Weinstein, Jose
The Varkey Foundation, UK.

It takes a village to raise a teacher: the Learning Assistant programme in Sierra Leone (2017-05)
Crisp, Martin; Safford, Kimberly and Wolfenden, Freda
The Open University and Plan International

Moving towards more participatory practice with Open Educational Resources: TESS-India Academic Review (2017-05)
Wolfenden, Freda; Adinolfi, Lina; Cross, Simon; Lee, Clare; Paranjpe, Sandhya and Safford, Kimberly
The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Schools and continuing professional development(CPD) in England - State of the Nation research project (T34718): Qualitative Research Summary (2008-09)
Storey, Anne; Banks, Frank; Cooper, Deborah; Cunningham, Peter; Ebbutt, Dave; Fox, Alison; Morgan, Bethan; Pedder, David and Wolfenden, Freda
Cambridge University/The Open University