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OpenCases: the OpenupEd case study

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OpenCases is a study which is part of the OpenEdu Project. It is a qualitative study consisting of a review of literature on open education and nine in-depth case studies of higher education institutions, a consortium of universities, a private organisation and a national initiative. It analysed the rationale and enabling conditions for involvement in open education, open education activities, strategies, impact, challenges and prospects. The main outcome of this study is evidence that a large number of OER have reached a large group of learners. However, completion rates of MOOCs are low. Accreditation is not formalised and in general its impact on employability is not measured.

The OpenupEd initiative is a non-profit partnership for MOOCs set up by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and supported by the European Commission. The initiative is trying to boost cooperation and coordination of EU HE institutions in the field of MOOC offer.

OpenupEd is focused on promoting a specific European view of openness in education based on eight features that go beyond the usual free (gratis) education (Openness to learners, Digital openness, Learner-centred approach, Independent learning, Mediasupported interaction, Recognition options, Quality focus, and spectrum of diversity). Although becoming a member implies a process of assessment of the plan for opening up education via MOOCs, it is not necessary to open the courses in all these dimensions. Indeed, variety of openness is welcome. The minimum requirements of the OpenupEd MOOCs are to be free (gratis) and to provide at least a free recognition option. In addition, OpenupEd is promoting a quality brand for open education and, so far, one of the major outcomes has been the creation of OpenupEd quality label based on the above mentioned features.

OpenupEd members benefit from being part of the initiative in terms of increased visibility and their universities are positioned as part of a quality brand. In addition, they gain access to shared knowledge on MOOCs, and to a few extra services, which still are in the development phase.

One of the main challenges of the initiative is its expansion. In order to be able to offer more services it would need more fees, but the members are growing slowly. The initiative started in April 2013 with 11 members, all them leaders in the field of open and distance education, and currently it counts with 14 members. (although two more incorporations are expected during the next months).

In the future, the initiative needs to grow and move beyond the early adopters if aims to have a real impact on the vision and quality of MOOC offer in EU. For its sustainability, OpenupEd should take advantage of the momentum generated by the growing EU MOOC offer and attract more universities within its umbrella. For this to be done the value added of the services under development is going to be a key element.

The full document is available online at http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC101533/jrc101533_opencases%20case%20studies%20on%20openness%20in%20education.pdf.

This extract comes from the the OpenCases: Case Studies on Openness in Education document which states that reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Source: Souto-Otero, M., Inamorato dos Santos, A., Shields, R., Lažetic, P., Castaño-Muñoz, J., Devaux, A., Oberheidt, S., Punie, Y. (2016) OpenCases: Case Studies on Openness in Education. Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre, European Commission. EUR 27937 EN, doi:10.2791/039825


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