About Open Courses

Welcome to Open Courses for Professional Development which have been designed by teams of colleagues across the higher education sector in collaboration with the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Open Courses are flexible opportunities for those who teach in higher education in Ireland interested in progressing their professional development.

Open Courses
Registered Facilitators
Participants across Ireland

National Professional Framework for all Staff who Teach

These open courses have been designed to align your learning to the National Professional Development Framework for all Staff who Teach in Higher Education. This framework provides guidance for the professional development (PD) of individuals for planning, developing and engaging in professional development activities.

Open Courses offer you a structured, non-accredited professional development opportunities.

Values of our Open Courses

All open courses are underpinned by the five core values of the National Professional Development Framework.

The framework is for all staff who teach, regardless of their employment contract, the stage they are at in their career, or their professional identity. It is just as relevant to learning support staff and management as to lecturers at different stages in their careers.

The Framework recognises that professional development must allow for genuine and personally-relevant engagement; opportunities for professional development must be real, useful and valuable to individuals in their practice.

Although focused around individual staff, the approach supported by the Framework emphasises the social learning that is key in a workplace context. Being continuously productive in busy academic roles can be overwhelming, so having the support of colleagues through engagement with the Framework can be important in encouraging peer dialogue, mentoring and sharing of learning.

The Framework encourages staff to be informed on, knowledgeable about, and have the capacity to contribute to the evidence-base of their teaching. Helping staff to identify best practice in their disciplines goes hand in hand with adopting innovative evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning.

If those who teach in higher education are always encouraged to be student-centred in all that they do, then it naturally follows that the professional development opportunities provided for them must position the learner at the core.

Open Course Domains

All open courses span five distinct areas to assist you to explore how you may structure your professional and personal development as a teacher. These areas align to the domains of the National Professional Development Framework. The flexible structure of the framework means that an individual or group may start with any of the five domains, as they complement each other. Engagement with the scholarship of teaching and learning is an underlying component of each of the five domains.

At the core of the domains is the centrality of ‘the Self’, recognising that the professional and personal values that the individual brings to their teaching are pivotal in their development as a teacher.

Professional Identity, Values and Development in Teaching and Learning focuses on the consideration of professional and/or disciplinary identity in given contexts. The domain supports critical reflection, recognising that an individual’s professional identity can change at different stages of their career.

Professional Communication and Dialogue emphasises the importance of excellent, clear and coherent communication skills within the changing learning environment.

Professional Knowledge and Skills ensures the individual remains current in terms of their professional/disciplinary knowledge and can implement teaching, learning and assessment approaches which promote active learning and are underpinned by a strong evidence base.

Personal and Professional Digital Capacity recognises explicitly that we live and work in a digital world, and that teachers must develop digital skills that allow them to harness the potential of technology for learning impact.

How It Works

A number of open courses have been developed by collaborating teams of colleagues from across the higher education sector. Through our facilitator training where available, you can also earn a facilitator open badge enabling you to go forward and deliver open courses too.

Facilitator Led

Facilitator-led courses are delivered each Spring and Autumn semester. Facilitator–led courses are delivered either fully online, blended or face-to-face. Each facilitator-led course also provide the opportunity for participants to be prepared for a future facilitator role to enable them to deliver the Open Course in a local institutional or national context


Learn at your own pace and in your preferred timeframe with our on-demand self-study courses that are offered on the Open Courses platform. There is an option to gain recognition and claim a National Forum endorsed digital badge by working through the self-study course by forming a peer supported learning triad with at least two other colleagues.

What You Get

Develop Professionally

Enhance your teaching, share and discuss good practice and innovation with your peers, and engage in continuous professional development. Aimed at all those who teach in Ireland’s HE and FET sectors.

Earn Recognition

An Open Course digital badge offers national recognition for your commitment to your professional development supporting your lifelong learning and career mobility across the sector

Connect with Peers

Each Open Course has been designed to support sharing of experiences and best practice, the development of peer support academic networks and communities of practice.

Our Facilitators

Each facilitator led open course is hosted by one of more of our national facilitator volunteers who have the skills, knowledge, competence and confidence to provide effective delivery for your chosen course either online, blended or face-to-face.

Interested in becoming an open course facilitator? Participants on open courses may have the opportunity to earn an add-on facilitator open badge award during each of our open courses. You can find open courses that offer the facilitator training add-on while browsing upcoming events on the open course calendar.

Open Education Resources (OER)

All materials generated during the development of this open course have been created (or adapted, subject to licence permissions) for use under a CC BY-NC 4.0 licence as open education resources (OER). Materials can be found on each open course.

Individuals are free to use, share, repurpose, and remix this material. Materials may include face-to-face workshop materials and eLearning materials.

Important: Individuals are required to hold an open course facilitator badge to be eligible to issue open course badges. Learn more