OE Global 2015: Learning from the innovative open practices of three international health projects: IACAPAP, VCPH and Physiopedia

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April 22, 2015 by Leigh-Anne Perryman

The global shortage of healthcare workers has been identified by the World Health Organisation as a ‘crisis in human resources’.  Innovative open educational practices in public health projects outside academia have great potential for helping to alleviate this crisis. Three such public health projects were the focus of my presentation with Tony Coughlan at the OE Global 2015 conference in Banff, Canada, for which the slides appear above. The full paper has just been published in a special conference issue of Open Praxis.


Open educational resources and open educational practices are being increasingly used around the globe to train and support professionals in areas where funding and resources are scarce. This paper evaluates the open educational practices (OEP) of three global health projects operating outside academia—the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), the Virtual Campus of Public Health (VCPH), and Physiopedia. Each project aims to pool and share professional expertise, to the particular benefit of practitioners in low-income countries. This form of online knowledge-sharing appears to offer huge advantages to the health/public health sector, especially when conducted in the open, at a time when there is a huge global shortfall of healthcare workers and a need for cost-effective, high quality training.

We evaluated the three projects using two frameworks—the OPAL open educational practices maturity matrix, and Vrieling’s OEP social configuration framework. We identified numerous innovative OEP from which academia, and indeed public health professionals around the world could learn, for example IACAPAP’s open textbook, VCPH’s trilingual OER repository, and Physiopedia’s wiki and use of open badges. However, some OEP—for example localisation of resources—are not accommodated by either of the frameworks we used. We argue that an extended OEP evaluation and impact framework is needed in order to better encompass OEP outside formal education.


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Blogging on open educational resources (OER), open educational practices (OEP), educational research methods and online practices in the developing world, and in the voluntary sector.

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