Background

All consortium partners have identified OpenCourseWare as a development priority. They all play an active role in the international OCW movement. The universities of Madrid, Barcelona, Lyon and Delft have already published a significant part of their own material as OCW. The Catholic University of Leuven is in the final stage of developing an OCW program and will soon start publishing its first courses online.

The consortium partners consider OCW to be an essential component of the development of virtual mobility. It enables students to follow (part of) a program from their home campus and/or better prepare themselves before studying abroad. It increases transparency by showing what HEI have to offer (expertise, content, required entry knowledge), which may assist students in their selection of the right foreign institute. It is also a valuable tool to facilitate and enhance cooperation between institutes (joint development of courses, mutual recognition). For Lifelong Learners OCW provides access to state of the art education and high quality courses for their continuing development. It is flexible and therefore easier to combine with professional activities than traditional LLL-programs. 

There is a growing interest of European HEI in OER and OCW. Since the OCW-movement was first initiated by MIT in 2001, the number of free courses published online has grown exponentially. At present, OCW-Consortium members offer over 14,000 courses online. In recent years over fifty European partners joined the movement. The following table provides an overview of the current European members.   

Austria                                     

Klagenfurt University

Belgium

International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research

Cyprus

Students Circle Network

Denmark

VIA University College, Denmark

France

Grenoble Ecole de Management, Université de Lyon, Paris Tech

The Netherlands

Open University Netherlands, TU Delft, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities

Poland

AGH Universityof Science and Technology

Spain

 

Escuela de Organización Industrial, Fundación Universitaria San Pablo CEU, IE University, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Universidad de Alicante, Universidad de Cantabria, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Universidad de Deusto, Universidad de Granada, Universidad de Huelva, Universidad de La Laguna, Universidad de Malaga, Universidad de Murcia, Universidad de Navarra, Universidad de Oviedo, Universidad de Salamanca, Universidad de Sevilla, Universidad de Valladolid, Universidad de Zaragoza, Universidad del Cádiz, Universidad Extremadura, Universidad Internacional de Andalucí¬a, Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia,  Universidad Politécnica Madrid, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat de Girona, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Universitat de Lleida, Universitat de Valéncia, Universitat Jaume I, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, UPV/EHU, UNIVERSIA

United Kingdom

 

Mathematical Institute, Oxford University, People's Open Access Education Initiative, The Open University, The University of Nottingham, iBerry, JISC, The Higher Education Academy (HEA)

However, the consortium partners are convinced that OCW’s potential is still underutilized. The possibilities of OCW are not yet well known by students. Pedagogic aspects to enable self-study for a wide range of users are sometimes neglected. Issues in terms of cultural differences, recognition, quality control, interactivity and support (either from fellow students or teachers) impede large-scale utilization.   

A very recent study by the ‘Open Educational Quality Initiative’ confirms this observation.  Their soon to be published report ‘Beyond OER, Shifting focus to OER educational practices’ concludes that “Much greater efforts will have to be made in the future to understand and address the personal, organizational and environmental factors hindering or enabling creation, sharing, use and reuse of OER”. The report clarifies that most problems are not related to ‘accessibility and availability but can be put down to lack of supporting components such as limited organizational support, the lack of a culture of sharing within organizations, the lack of skills,  quality, trust, or time and skills for adaption.

It is important to emphasize that this project will  focus on OCW. OCW is a specific element of OER.:OCW is free and open digital publication of high quality university?level educational materials.  These materials are organized as courses, and often include course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content. OCW is free and openly licensed, accessible to anyone, anytime via the internet.  

The main objective of the project is to support virtual mobility on the basis of  OpenCourseWare. On top of that, an improved European OCW network will improve conditions for Lifelong Learners, who are an important user group of OCW.

This fits the agenda of many national governments, HEI and the EU. The report ‘Obstacles in Student Mobility’ by the Erasmus Student Network indicates that the three main obstacles to mobility are: recognition of courses, the financial situation of students, and the poor information provision. This project will tackle the last two obstacles, either by providing a virtual alternative or by giving students the opportunity to better prepare for their studies abroad. It will also touch on the first obstacle by developing a guideline for recognition of the OCW version of courses.

One of the desired outputs is for the project to be a starting point for the initiation of a European affiliate for the global OCW-Consortium, OCWCE. This will appeal to a broad European basis and contribute significantly to the sustainability of the project.

Attribution

EU Lifelong Learning Programme
with the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union

License

Creative Commons License OpenCourseWare Europe website by OpenCourseWare Europe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.