Open(ing up) Education: OCW, OER, MOOCs in a conventional world – what’s up in Europe?

author: Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources (OER)
published: Dec. 10, 2013,   recorded: November 2013,   views: 2713


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September 25 the European Commission has communicated ‘Opening up Education’, which can be regarded as a timely European breakthrough initiative in an expansive global movement. It is unfortunate that in this movement, associated with acronyms like OCW, OER, and MOOCs, the common notion of ‘Open’ is used rather sloppy. This causes confusion and both overrating and underappreciation of its real potential. We therefore have developed the 5COE model with five components for Open Education, including OER. Thereby educational institutions can “fingerprint” themselves, showing where they stand in terms of openness. This brings in nuance as well as guidance towards a smart utilization of the power of ‘Open’. We can argue, for example, that full conversion to OER is beneficial in any educational environment, independent of identity, philosophy, or culture. And remarkably, OER can serve all three government responsibilities for education, that is to promote and ensure accessibility, quality, and efficiency. So, wishing to avoid such a transition would not be very wise. It requires, however, patience and perseverance, because we are acting in a world of conventions and natural hesitation with change. Europe has its own agenda in this global movement, which can be shaped by its new initiative ‘Opening up Education’. This also holds for the MOOCs development where Europe could offer an attractive and relevant alternative to the US-dominated MOOCs approach. OpenupEd, the first example of such a European style MOOCs track launched in April 2013, will be considered in terms of its distinctive features and its reflection of European values like equity, quality, and diversity.

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