The OpenEdu project is a study on Strategies for Opening up Education to support the Communication on "Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources".
The study is divided into seven workpackages (WPs) over two years. The WPs work in an interconnected and complementary way and their main goals are:
- To explore existing mechanisms for the recognition of learning through open education initiatives;
- To propose a framework for opening up practices at postsecondary education institutions covering a variety of dimensions: content, technology, pedagogy, leadership, accreditation, business models, etc.;
- To seek understanding of the supply and demand of MOOCs offered in European universities and the implications for open education in Europe.
In order to achieve such results OpenEdu will make use of a variety of research methods (surveys, case studies, observations, focus groups) at the same time proposing strategies to gather feedback, ensure quality and validate the results.
This study is situated in the above described policy context. Key aspects that will be researched are the challenges faced in the recognition of learning achievements via open education, in particular online and blended learning with free educational materials and OER; and the innovative practices that postsecondary education institutions need to adopt in order to become more open. The latter includes not only pedagogical and technological aspects but also new business models and leadership skills.
Storyline: The OER movement and most importantly, the recent rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), has led many European universities to reconsider their institutional strategies and has added pressure on Higher Education in Europe to innovate in teaching and learning practices in order not to lose their competitive edge. Whether or not universities are engaging with new learning formats, universities perceive the need to innovate. Nearly every day new acronyms come about (such as OEP, SPOCs, TORQUES etc.) indicating the variety of approaches and the scope of experimentation with new pedagogical practices.
However, many issues accompanying the integration of new learning formats into Higher Education have not yet been addressed to satisfaction. Among the most prominent issues are the matter of how to validate and recognise the skills acquired by learners, how to reconcile and combine new learning formats with established functioning mechanisms and strategies and how to account for the relevance of research.
There is a need to better understand in which ways universities can open up their institutions effectively to further enhance the quality and relevance of their educational offer. There is also a need to better understand which kind of accompanying policy mechanisms could contribute to assisting universities in this process of innovation and modernisation.