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Research areas
STEM education and engagement
Women learning robotics at home

STEM Education and Engagement

The Open University is one of Europe’s largest providers of university-level online STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programmes. The eSTEeM unit works across University boundaries to bring together STEM academics to innovate, evaluate and research in STEM teaching and learning. We work closely with external partners across the UK and the globe to promote STEM and STEM education and to offer OU responses to national and international STEM needs for HE.

The use of digital technologies provides a wide range of opportunities to transform the design and delivery of STEM subjects in higher education, with learning analytics tools providing a potentially rich source of information on how students interact with learning resources. How digital technologies can be best exploited to maximise student understanding of STEM concepts and mastery of skills requires structured pedagogic research. The Open University provides a stimulating environment in which to research world-leading pedagogic development.

Our innovation and research includes all relevant aspects of pedagogy with a strong emphasis on elearning. Recent major funding has allowed us to expand the Wolfson OpenScience Laboratory to include the OpenEngineering Lab and the OpenScience Observatories. These now form the OpenSTEM Labs that enables students to carry out authentic practical science activities online. We are guided by the priorities of access and authenticity: real data through realistic interfaces.

If you are interested in research into the teaching of STEM subjects, eSTEeM offers a unique and stimulating environment with links to practical innovation.

Key facts

  • The OU leads in the use of electronic media in teaching STEM subjects.
  • The OU works in partnership with academics from many countries – we influence teaching developments worldwide.
  • eSTEeM works closely with the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology and Knowledge Media Institute; our research is profoundly multidisciplinary.
  • The Wolfson OpenScience Laboratory is a global initiative which will have major impact on access to education.


The OU’s distance-learning systems provide a powerful means of gathering data on student behaviour. Learning analytics applied to large student populations is a core part of our methodology.



Research topics

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, available supervisors and contact details for advice.

Diversity and inclusion in STEM education

Inquiry-based science learning

Pedagogy for online labs and observatories

Public engagement in STEM

Technology enhanced learning and assessment