Open Covid Pledge for Education FAQ

Why an open covid pledge for education?

Universities, colleges and schools all over the world are responding to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19. Many classes and non-academic activities are taking place online or in a blend of online and face-to-face settings in what has been described as an ‘online pivot’.

At the same time, on-site learning has been radically transformed in a bid to keep staff and students safe.

The whole enterprise of education is under stress, from day-to-day conversations to fundamental issues of purpose and value. There are disagreements about the best way forward. But the opportunities to learn together are great. New resources for educators have flourished. New research programmes have sprung into being, and established researchers have refocused their efforts. New evidence is emerging all the time about the impact on teaching practice, student participation and working lives. 

It is a practical and moral imperative that we share what we are learning. We don’t have time to learn these lessons alone. We can’t afford for inequalities in education, as in healthcare, to become more intractable. Knowledge about how we can teach and learn in a post-pandemic world, and how staff and students can thrive, must be shared by everyone who can benefit from it.

The pledge was inspired by the Open Covid Pledge for researchers in science and medicine, reflecting the same urgent need to respond collectively to the current crisis.

It meets the aspirations in UNESCO’s report: Education in a Post-Covid World: to ‘strengthen education as a common good’, ‘advance global solidarity’ and ‘make free and open source’ resources available to all who can benefit.

It is put forward in solidarity with many other international initiatives in open education.

Who should sign?

Anyone can sign the pledge who is involved in understanding the effects of and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic in education and learning, including:

  • Educators and education professionals, and their representative bodies

  • Researchers, research institutes, departments and organisations

  • Publishers and data owners

  • Funders, policy makers and policy leaders

  • Students and their representative bodies

  • Other networks and organisations aligned with the aims of the pledge

Can I sign on behalf of an organisation?

The pledge is a statement of intent. It is not legally binding on people or organisations.

We encourage you to have the conversation about whether your organisation can support the pledge. This is how we can change policy and realise the pledge in practice! We understand this is difficult and we will be sharing ideas to support you.

If you are uploading an organisational logo you should:

  • Be authorised to make this statement of intent on behalf of the organisation

  • Have consulted with members of the organisation 

  • Have read these FAQs, and be able to direct members of the organisation to the information they need to help them share their work

What should be shared?

The pledge is to share all forms of evidence about education and learning. At ths time we feel the most crucial forms are:

  • Open educational resources for educators – helping educators and their students to sustain and enhance the work of learning

  • Research findings, reports and publications via open access

  • Open data - anonymised for public release where necessary

  • Research instruments and applications

  • Cases and examples from policy and practice, especially when it is based on evidence

Evidence may be about: open, online and digital learning, on-sit learning, associated pedagogies and platforms, staff, students, prospective and former students, organisations and policies, educational practice, education in its social and political contexts, keeping staff and students safe in educational settings.

Evidence may be shared at any freely and openly accessible internet location. Ideally it will be shared via an open access repository, journal, or other recognised open site.

What do I do next?

By signing you become of the Open Covid for Research in Education community! Please also:

Consider sharing evidence via the OER World Map

How do we share safely, ethically and legally?

One reason for sharing openly is to model ethical practice in the capture, sharing and use of data. If you do not already have a robust Open Data policy at your organisation, please read these Guides from the Open Data Institute (you can also use them to check your policy is fit for purpose at this time).

UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition has produced a statement on the protection of learners’ personal information during and after the pandemic.  The EU has also produced five simple principles for data ethics

Make sure before sharing that:

  • You have the right to share (e.g. you/your organisation produced the evidence or collected the data)

  • You are following your organisation’s guidance and have approval from anyone accountable

  • There are no legal or regulatory reasons why you cannot share

  • Individuals cannot be identified (unless they have clearly agreed to be identified, e.g. as authors or opinion makers)