Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility’s (ECRF) on Rainbows and Their OER Strategy

picture of geometric shapes with the colours of the rainbow
Image Credit: Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

For our seventh post for the Mini-series “Open for Good: Five Years of Open Education Resources at the University of Edinburgh”, Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, Open Education Resources Advisor within Education Design and Engagement  talks with Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility’s (ECRF) OER enthusiasts, Jo Merrifield, ECRF Education Manager, and Danielle Marlow, ECRF Development Coordinator about their aim to spread clinical research information with their own OER strategy.


Charlie: What started your interested in open educational resources (OERs)?

Danielle: I came to one of your copyright training courses, and you mentioned OER in the course. We’d considered trying to do more online courses, then with Covid kicking in as a catalyst we decided that OERs were a good way forward for us. So, I attended every OER course that you ran over the summer.

Charlie: Yes! You even came to the OER Gif It Up course!

Jo: I was on maternity leave and came back in September last year. I found out about OER through Danielle at the same time as I was discovering that there is a vast amount of free material out there. It was really nice when Danielle said we should be delivering this content for free as well as our paid courses, that we should be reaching out.

Charlie: We’ve really appreciated how enthusiastic Danielle has been in inviting us to run training courses with you and seeking out OERs. You’ve also been making a number of OERs is that right Danielle?

Danielle: Yes, I have about five in the bank that I’ve shared with the team. It’s been quite fun. Jo has been working on a website platform that we can add them to. We’re looking forward to that all coming together.

Charlie: How did this turn into developing an OER strategy for ECRF?

Jo: [Laughing] I like knowing how we can get from vision to reality. I put that document together and it definitely opened our eyes as to what is needed in terms of accessibility and how we are going to store these resources. Where the strategy will really come in is when we try to expand out and involve other people, making sure that we do things in a systematic way.

Charlie: It sounds as though you’re building up to being able to provide a lot of interesting OERs.

Danielle: We want these to be small building blocks that will then lead into bigger projects for us. Starting with infographics to then use in a short video or presentation, and then those together would build into one of the Xerte courses, which then itself could sit as part of an online course. It’s created a nice spectrum where we can shuffle about the resources as different colours as it were to slot it into our rainbow. That’s what the OERs have been for me during the pandemic, I’ve seen the OERs as a little rainbow, a pathway forward for us.

Charlie: Are the OERs part of a strategy to promote your courses?

Danielle: The OERs might help people new to clinical research or new to certain topic areas, to determine if they’re going in the right direction. Then they can think about the courses on offer which are more in-depth. We’re also thinking of our patients and members of the public who don’t need in-depth knowledge, but are interested in the care and treatment that they’re receiving. They can access these wee resources to keep them informed.

Jo:  We do receive funding from the NHS to exist, and we want to share back with the community. A lot of people in the NHS work shifts and can’t attend our courses, we don’t want them to miss out. We want to be central within the clinical research community and not make it exclusive to people who can afford to come on our courses.

Danielle: The clinical research pathway is very complex for anyone new coming in to research. What I hope in the years to come is that we will be a hub of information where people can come to find out about clinical research in Edinburgh, Lothian, and beyond.

Charlie: Has your practice or approach to OERs spread to other areas of your work?

Danielle: It’s given us the perspective to consider what might be pedagogically engaging as well. So, it’s bringing up our standard. The other groups and committees that I’m involved with I always try to steer them in that direction now too.

Jo: Our education team, everyone has embraced it. Even our admin staff are involved in the captioning and accessibility side of the OERs. There are a lot of digital skills involved. As a team we’ve learned a huge amount over the last year. There’s always that thought in the back of our mind as to what else we can do and to look at the bigger picture.

Charlie: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your OER journey?

Danielle: Make use of the resources and the people that are available. Make use of the OER service, the website, and even the blogs. There’s been so much that your team have offered. We came on the training, decided that there’s definite value there for us, then put our own spin on it and have taken it forward.

Jo: It’s definitely broadened the way I do things. We’re so used to teaching in a didactic lecture presentation format, but there’s so many options out there and I think that’s what’s exciting about it.


Photo of the authorDanielle Marlow

Danielle Marlow is the Development Coordinator for the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility Education Programme, she holds an M.Res degree and a PG Dip in Science Communication and Public Engagement. She has a wealth of practical experience in the conduct of research, the education and training of healthcare professionals and in the design and delivery of postgraduate education.


Photo of the authorJo Merrifield

Jo Merrifield is the Education Core Manager at the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility (CRF). The CRF is a joint venture between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, with the Education Core responsible for providing courses, events and learning opportunities for the local and national clinical research community. She is a Registered Nurse with a passion to make quality education accessible to all.


photograph of the authorStephanie (Charlie) Farley

Stephanie (Charlie) Farley  is the Open Educational Resources (OER) Advisor with Information Services Group(ISG), providing OER, copyright and open licensing training across the University. Charlie is an advocate of playful engagement and learning, running the popular OER Game Jams and Gif It Up workshops, and the creator of the award winning 23 Things for Digital Knowledge programme. In 2018/19 as part of an Innovation Fund project she developed a Playful Engagement Strategy for ISG.

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