Presentation Open Access

The ZHAW OER Community at the heart of fostering strategic aims of the university: digital transformation, lifelong learning, societal integration, and sustainability

Krüger, Nicole; Klein, Yvonne; Flühler, Roger

The ZHAW – Zurich University of Applied Sciences defines five focus topics that are to be pursued by all departments and which are cross sectional topics at the basis of research and teaching at ZHAW; namely “energy”, “societal integration”, “digital transformation”, “sustainability”, and “lifelong learning” (1).

With regard to teaching, four of these five focus topics can be strengthened by publishing learning materials under open licenses as OER – open educational resources.

OER support the digital transformation in higher education by enhancing the variety of teaching materials available – and supporting new didactic concepts. They enhance lifelong learning, as materials are available for learners outside of the institutional learning paths. In the same way, they can enhance societal integration. As UNESCO states, OER for example contribute to the achievement of gender equality and to reduced inequalities within and across countries (2).

However, UNESCO also stresses in its recommendation on OER that an implementation on an international level is needed (3). For the achievement of the goals connected to OER it needs collaboration and a mindset shift towards a culture of sharing.

Hence, from the very beginning of its implementation in 2019/2020, the focus of the OER team at the ZHAW university library lay on community outreach, on building a network and a community.

With strong support through the initiative “ZHAW digital” (4) and the OER policy (5) of the ZHAW, the library as a central service unit across departments was in a very good position to create a community around OER at the ZHAW from its own network. An online kick-off event was organized where besides a keynote speech delivered by a renowned speaker, teaching staff had the opportunity to introduce their openly-licensed materials to the community highlighting the challenges, obstacles and motivation in developing them. Today, the community shares information on published OER on the community platform and several connections across disciplines have been established Right now, the OER team is reaching out to the next generation of OER creators. Students of the ZHAW are asked to take part in a competition, where they produce their own OER addressing one of the 17 SDG of the UN.

In this project Students4OER (6), which is supported by the Sustainable Impact Program of ZHAW (7), the OER team reaches out to students through the OER community, student groups on sustainability, social media, or workshops. Likewise, the aim is to strengthen the strategic aims of the ZHAW, i.e., “sustainability” in this case, through the promotion of OER.

In this presentation, we focus on best practices in establishing an OER community. We present outreach activities of the OER team and its embeddedness into funding lines, strategic initiatives, working groups, and teaching projects across ZHAW. Furthermore, we demonstrate the role of the library in strengthening strategic aims of the university through the promotion of OER.

  1. https://www.zhaw.ch/en/focus-topics/
  2. https://en.unesco.org/themes/building-knowledge-societies/oer/recommendation
  3. ibid.
  4. https://www.zhaw.ch/en/focus-topics/zhaw-digital/
  5. https://gpmpublic.zhaw.ch/GPMDocProdZPublic/Fuehrungsgrundlagen/Z_PY_Policy_Open_Educational_Resources_engl.pdf
  6. https://www.zhaw.ch/hsb/students4oer (in German only)
  7. https://www.zhaw.ch/de/fokusthemen/zhaw-sustainable/sustainable-impact-program/
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