Zoom in: Open educational resources for informal online learning during COVID-19 and beyond


  • Guy Cohen Tel Aviv University
  • Anat Cohen Tel Aviv University




open educational resources (OERs), lifelong learning, open education, informal online learning, learning during COVID-19


Institutions, organisations, and policymakers use open educational resources (OERs) to promote student equity and social inclusion. The global COVID-19 crisis highlighted the need for lifelong learning and underscored the importance of the higher education system in this endeavour. This study describes informal learning among adults through OERs, during the COVID-19 crisis, distinguishing between employed and unemployed individuals and between professional and personal development. A questionnaire distributed during the COVID-19 lockdown focused on three themes: (1) types of OERs used for learning during this period; (2) perceived OERs’ usefulness; and (3) changes in OER use due to the crisis. Our findings revealed group differences in types of OERs used and in changes brought about by COVID-19, as well as within-group differences based on personal characteristics. Only a few participants reported using massive open online courses (MOOCs). Moreover, videoconferencing usage increased despite low perceived usefulness ratings, pointing to a change in informal learning modes. This exploratory research provides insights into the preferences of individual groups. These insights may be used to reduce socioeconomic disparities, especially among those who have lost their jobs, and to develop effective models for open education.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • Enhancing the discussions about the future of open education by reflecting a wide picture of OERs use.
  • Redesigning OERs for the labour market by distinguishing between employed and unemployed, and professional and personal development.
  • OER preferences according to personal characteristics can be used to achieve better engagement with learning.


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How to Cite

Cohen, G., & Cohen, A. (2023). Zoom in: Open educational resources for informal online learning during COVID-19 and beyond. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 39(1), 39–55. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.8044