Webinar repository

Webinar week: Implementing Microcredentials in Continuing Education

16, 17 and 19 November 2021

Looking at the Literature: Micro-credentials Under the Microscope

Mark Brown Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning, DCU / NIDL

This contribution reports some of the findings from a comprehensive review of the literature on micro-credentials and their relationship to underlying drivers, including lifelong learning, employability and the changing nature of work. It outlines the research questions, the tripartite methodology, the sample of literature and the inclusion and exclusion criteria that defined the scope of the review. Placing the literature under the microscope, the presentation provides several insights, critical observations and major takeaways on the growth of the micro-credential movement.

Insights from MicroCreds: Irish universities collaborative approach to micro-credentials

Lynn Ramsey Programme Lead for MicroCreds, Irish Universities Association

This presentation will consider the experiences of seven Irish Universities Association universities working collectively though MicroCreds, a five-year €12.3 million project funded under the Human Capital Initiative. The presentation will share insights from Ireland on a national approach which is European focused in outlook and design. Dr Ramsey will explore progress on the creation of a national framework for micro-credentials. MicroCreds initial work has focused upon learners wishing to reskill, upskill or change careers and is piloting an enterprise engagement methodology which brings together future skills data, enterprise and public sector and academia to co-design innovative micro-credentials

Highlights and challenges from launching over 50 accredited microcredentials at FutureLearn

Matt Stanfield-Janner Director of Learning, FutureLearn

Matt Stanfield-Jenner, director of learning, will share their perspective and 'story so far' from FutureLearn. We work with over 250 partners worldwide to build, launch and teach online courses. This includes over 50 accredited microcredentials which each have between 100-150 hours of learning and come with university credit. We launched seven of our first microcredentials in early 2020 from some of the most innovative universities in the world including Dublin City University, The Open University, Deakin University, The University of California, Irvine Division of Continuing Education (DCE), Monash University, and Queensland University of Technology. Our move to launch microcredentials came in direct response to demand from both partners and learners. It was also just before the sudden pivot to online which came with both opportunities and significant additional challenges. Matt will share the highlights in this talk and open up for a chance to have discussion with the audience and other speakers.

Developing micro-credentials in European collaboration

Maija Urponen is Senior Advisor at the University of Helsinki and local Operational Lead for Una Europa. Her presentation will focus on the micro-qualification in Sustainability that is being developed by the Una Europa alliance.

Webinar week: Diversity & Inclusion in Online Education

8 and 10 June 2021

Accessible educational games: challenges and opportunities

by Lobna Hassan (Tampere University, Hanken School of Economics)

Dr. Lobna Hassan is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (GameCult) at Tampere University and a visiting postdoctoral researcher at Hanken School of Economics. Her talk will focus on the importance of accessible games for education.

The lived experiences of students with disabilities

by Israel Reyes (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Israel Reyes is a Doctoral Researcher at the Open University of Catalunya. His presentation will be oriented on the lived experiences of students with disabilities at UOC during the lockdown and the lessons we can learn from the situation, in order to improve the support for this population in the coming future.

HOU openly supports diversity and facilitates inclusion

by Achilles Kameas (Hellenic Open University)

Achilles Kameas is Associate Professor of Pervasive and Mobile Systems with Hellenic Open University (HOU).

Open Universities are able and entitled to play a key role in facilitating an inclusive education not only by supporting but also by encouraging diversity; let’s not forget that valuing diversity in one of the pillars of European culture. As is the case with Open Universities, also in the topic of inclusion, their role cannot be confined within the boundaries of their campus and community. In Hellenic Open University, we take initiatives and implement projects that support diversity and facilitate inclusion at citizen and societal levels. In my lecture, I shall talk about a multitude of actions that we implement at HOU, which deal with many facets of inclusion, such as competences and skills (especially digital and entrepreneurial), groups (especially elderly, women and migrants) and sectors (especially education) and I shall present some key enabling results that we have achieved.

The institutionalization of diversity and inclusion. Lessons learned

by Tiberio Feliz Murias (UNED)

Tiberio Feliz Murias is Director at UNIDIS, UNED's service for students with disabilities, whose main objective is that students with disabilities who wish to study at UNED can enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.

Webinar week: Online Education during and after COVID19

7 - 9 April 2021

DigiTeL Pro Strategic Partnership

by George Ubachs, (EADTU), Albert Sangrà (Open University of Catalonia) & Wiebe Dijkstra (University of Technology Delft)

The COVID-19 crisis has made universities switch to digital education and to re-organize their campus. In surveys of the European Commission, it turned out that in the first (semi-) lockdown period, 95,1% of the universities organized online and distance learning and 82,7% even online exams. At all levels, emergency decisions were made. Teaching staff feel this as a disruption, requiring an extreme workload to adapt to the situation. Students started to manifest the right of having ‘quality education’. Watching a video or following a lesson via zoom is no longer felt as a solution as it was in the first wave.

This is where the DigiTeL Pro Strategic Partnership (Professional Development for Digital Teaching and Learning) comes in. It brings together excellent groups of experts from universities, well-known for research and innovation in digital education and having developed good practices in digital solutions during the Corona crisis. George Ubachs, Albert Sangrà and Wiebe Dijkstra, all involved in DigiTel, will tell us about the project and will be available for questions and discussion.

Online Education after Covid

by Ormond Simpson (Consultant In Distance And Online Education)

After the pandemic dies down the old problems will come surging back – Global Heating, pollution – atmospheric and plastic, species extinction, terrorism, warfare, and - above all - poverty.

H.G. Wells once said that ‘Civilisation is in a race between Education and Catastrophe’ and it feels like never more than now. Online education is the only way we have of fighting back against catastrophe, but has two main problems – access and student dropout. How do we tackle these in time?


Pitfalls of (post) Covid-19 education: time for a critical reflection

by Hanna Teräs (Tampere University of Applied Sciences)

If there are any winners in the global pandemic, they would be commercial digital learning and communication platform providers. Digitalization is everywhere, and it is hailed as the savior of teaching and learning, social relations, and entertainment during the time of social distancing and lockdowns. In this presentation, the situation is assessed through a more critical lens. In the digital flurry, it is easy to forget that already before the pandemic, there was increasing critique of how ed-tech is redefining and reducing conceptions of teaching and learning. Moreover, digitalization has become a kind of a taboo – it is undefined, unquestioned, and unchallenged in educational strategies and visions. At the same time, it affects the roles of teachers and learners in reductive ways. Further, the prevailing trends of datafication and algorithm pedagogy are not only debatable, but actually potentially harmful if adopted hastily and uncritically.

This presentation urges educators and educational leaders to think critically about decisions that are currently being made and examine whether they lead to a desirable digital future.


Post pandemic speculative educational futures

by Eamon Costello (Dublin City University)

Much has now been written about possible post-pandemic educational futures. Such futures try to give speculative answers to questions that frame our current experience as a learning opportunity: Where will we get to? What have we learned? What would we keep from this experience and what have we deeply missed?

Futurism is a tricky business. On the one hand we may fall into a naive utopianism of quick tech fixes; never fear there is a technical solution that can vaccinate and inoculate ourselves from all of our current problems in education. Veering too far in the opposite direction may fix us in dystopian vision where educational technology and AI make everything inescapably worse. Critical utopianism (Ashcroft, 2017) has been posited as one way to chart a middle ground that might allow us to be hopeful but critical, cautious but bold. This talk discusses the use of critical utopianism as a lens and from this broad perspective the use of speculative methods (Ross, 2017) or fabulations (Haraway, 2016) and specifically science fiction are explored. Examples are drawn from recent publications in this area (Costello et al, 2020; Selwyn, Pangrazio, Nemorin & Perrotta 2020; Macgilchrist, Allert & Bruch 2020; Cox 2021) that may serve as windows into strangely familiar realms (Bayne, 2008) but that allow us to envisage futures of “radical flexibility” (Veletsianos & Houlden 2020).

The aim of such speculations for education is not so much to think about where we might get to but rather to see more clearly where we really are. We cannot see where we are going until we figure out where we are. We may need some different goggles for this task. And although the lenses might look weird the questions will still be familiar: To what ends do we try to either sustain progress or tear up the script and affect change? Who or what are we trying to care for and why?



Integrating MOOCS into formal programmes and courses

by Cengiz Hakan Aydin (Anadolu University)

C. Hakan Aydin is a professor at Anadolu University (Turkey), where he has been offering courses in the field of open and distance learning since the early 1990s. In his contribution to our Webinar Week, he will talk about how the Turkish higher education institutions integrated MOOCs into their formal programmes and courses during the COVID-19.

How to Design an Online Course – Staff Training in Designing Online Learning

by Henri Annala (Tampere University of Applied Sciences)

This presentation will give a brief overview of an online staff training course that is designed to enable the participating teachers to create a pedagogically well thought-out online course using a tailored, hands-on framework as a scaffold in their course building processes. The participants will also hear how the training course has evolved to tackle the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic and the lessons the course developers have learnt along the way.

Webinar week: Short Learning Programmes

13 - 15 October 2020

Short Learning Programmes in European Higher Education

Short Learning Programmes (SLPs) consist of individual learning units or building blocks that are combined in a programme that is valuable for both learners as well as employers. As part of a larger project entitled E-SLP, Open Universiteit in the Netherlands (OUNL) wrote a report about the possibilities to develop SLPs in European context both in their contributions to lifelong learning and within degree education.

Throughout Europe there is a large variety in understanding of the concept as well as the availability of SLPs. In the report the focus is on programmes within higher education at European Qualification Framework (EQF) level 6 to 8 and a size of 5 to 30 ECTS. The most important characteristic of a SLP is that it should consist of coherent learning units leading up to a certificate (credit based certification). Both for higher education lifelong learners as well the more traditional learners of degree education, the potential of SLPs depend on the recognition of the programmes and how this is facilitated by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as well as the national and European governments. By Tom Melai, The Open University The Netherlands

Short Learning Programmes design: expanding HE horizons

We will start presenting an empirical study that explored a broad range of design issues in 22 SLPs . Results were organised in a “Compendium of good practices” presenting detailed patterns of SLPs design and identifying shortcomings regarding the project principles of internationalisation, inter-institutional cooperation, flexibility, scalability, innovative digital pedagogies, market orientation, and recognition. We will continue by presenting the development of a document on “Design guidelines for flexible and scalable SLPs”, which were elaborated based on relevant academic literature, the Compendium, the documented practice of design and development of five joint SLPs, and the partners’ contributions around institutional policies and program recognition. By Marcelo Maina, Lourdes Guardia, Sandrine Albert, UOC, Spain

Implementing European SLPs: Recommendations for stakeholders

The webinar presents a set of recommendations to further the design and implementation of Short Learning Programs (SLPs) for a variety of stakeholders on European, national, and institutional level. It is based on two internal surveys conducted by the FernUniversität in Hagen among the partner institutions in the project. We distinguish broadly between the policy level – both national and European – and the level of the individual institution and consider their mutual influence. In general, and despite the Bologna process, educational systems in Europe differ considerably on all levels, most notably in formats (for example, the length of Bachelor and Master programs or the forms of national accreditation/quality assurance systems) and financing. Across these levels, we understand SLPs as the format that enables an institution-based approach to contributing academic knowledge to the existential issues of 21st century Europe. Whilst initial calls for action grow out of public discourse and educational policymaking, practice happens primarily on the institutional level and relates back to policy. Therefore, our set of recommendations addresses all these levels. By Ingrid Thaler, FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany

Challenges and opportunities for the recognition of short learning programmes (SLPs) within the European Higher Education Area.

The webinar will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities for the recognition of SLPs. It will explore the approaches to recognition across the countries of the ESLP project and identify similarities and differences in recognition practices. Recommendations will then be presented for the recognition of SLPs, paying particular attention to curriculum design and the recognition of prior formal, non-formal and informal learning. By Clare Dunn, The Open University The United Kingdom

Setting up an SLP programme: lessons learned

In this webinar, we will discuss the lessons learned from the 5 pilot SLP's that were setup and run in the SLP project. We will highlight how to build a good partnership, how to involve key levels at the university, the decisions that have to be made and the difficulties and challenges to expect. We will propose some recommendations and guidelines. Based on the pilots, we will discuss different possible scenario's and their advantages. By Frederik Truyen, KU Leuven, Belgium

Lessons Learned from the Pilot Digital Competent Educators

In this presentation we will share our experiences of an international E-SLP development project Digital Competent Educators (15 ECTS). This developmental work (planning - implementation - evaluation - new developments) was done by four EADTU member universities. Digital Competence of Educators framework recommendations (DigCompEdu, 2017) were used as a basis of a new online programme. By Eva Cendon and Magda Zarebski (FernUniversitet in Hagen), Aysun GÜNEŞ (Anadolu University), Päivi Kananen and Virpi Uotinen (University of Jyväskylä), Glória Bastos (Universidade Aberta)

Webinar week: Artificial Intelligence in Online Education

16 - 18 June 2020

Artificial Intelligence in Teaching (AIT): A road map for future developments

The AIT project started in 2019 and aims to identify and analyse AI best practices in HE in three countries to develop a road map for future developments and use of AI. The AIT project will investigate three dimensions of AI in education: learning ‘for’ AI, learning ‘about’ AI, learning ‘with’ AI. The focus will be on identifying examples and best practices of AI in HE (across all AI dimensions). The analyses will include outlining national characteristics, specific technologies, and didactic and pedagogical approaches to AI in HE in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Denmark.

By Wayne Holmes, Nesta, The United Kingdom, José Bidarra, Universidade Aberta, Portugal, Henrik Køhler Simonsen, SmartLearning, Denmark

Human-Computer Learning Interaction in a Virtual Laboratory

Simulating a real biology laboratory can enhance student training and better prepare students for the actual on-site experience. At the same time, the increased amount of practice can improve safety, and reduce equipment wear and tear, as well as reduce the usage of consumables. A production-level system, Onlabs (http://onlabs.eap.gr), now also supports activity scoring but, for this to scale up to the number of devices used and experiments carried out in a real laboratory, a semi-automatic approach is being developed to facilitate the elicitation of expert knowledge as to what constitutes a successful experiment. We review the R&D set-up and present machine-learning based techniques for capturing the scoring patterns of expert instructors.

By Vassilis Zafeiropoulos, Hellenic Open University, Greece

Empowering education by Artificial Intelligence

There is nothing new in realising that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used in educational processes (AIED) with an increasing level of success for over four decades of research and development (Lane, McCalla, Looi, & Bull, 2016). What is new is that it is a felt demand to use it already as a key tool useful at all levels of education based on the intelligent management of a growing number of data and resources. However, AIED at scale entails organisational, educational and learning changes in all educational levels. Higher Education Institutions (HE) have a head start on this and an urgent demand to fulfil because both they have more technological infrastructure in place and have been collecting data for long and students are already used to enjoying personalisation in their daily activities "barring" learning. But first things first. Do we have a clear idea of what is personalised learning and how the whole educational system has to be refocused so that each learner becomes the main centre of the learning process? This needs for a global approach that covers all that is involved, starting from the nature of the daily tasks of the main protagonists, teachers and “learners”. It also considers the need to properly take care of large-scale data-sets which account for authenticity, consistency and transparency, careful management of data learning processes, privacy and ethical issues. All this along with organisational changes are arguably achievable goals if the approach is based on: 1) Clear analysis of the implications in deploying personalised learning at scale, 2) Supervision and assurance of governance in terms of the intertwining relationships among AI, data and ethical issues involved, 3) Massive production of digital materials which are to comfort to standards and interoperability requirements, 4) Methodological and technical support to implement the required infrastructure and 5) An unshakeable commitment with taking on board all the stakeholders involved before making the required profound changes to make this happens, i.e., changing from “education” to “learning”.

By Jesus Boticario, UNED, Spain

A personalized early warning system for supporting learners: the UOC case

Personalized learning environments have become a highly preferred structure with the developments in information and communication technologies. In particular, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools is one of the most preferred modern approaches in the provision of personalized learning. These AI tools are capable of being utilized for different use cases, such as learning preferences, assessment results, learning outcomes, or communication preferences, depending on students' attitudes in educational environments.

LIS project has been initiated at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) within the scope of intelligent learning systems to accomplish the mentioned rationale. The main objective of the LIS project is to develop an adaptive system to be globally applicable at the UOC campus to help students to succeed in their learning process. It mainly has predictive analytics and recommendations designed upon artificial intelligence techniques. Predictive analytics tries to predict the students' behavior individually based on historical data and current activities to prvide personalized recommendations. Also, LIS gives support to teachers in the daily work to provide direct support and feedback to help students passing the courses.

The presentation will focus to present three main results of the project until now: 1) the predictive models used to predict students’ risk level of failing the course; 1) the developed infrastructure to support the complete system; and 3) the features for students and teachers in order to provide support during the learning/teaching process.

We consider that this webinar could be of interested for the audience since it will show a fully functional system based on AI techniques for helping on education.

By David Bañeres, UOC, Spain

AI applications in higher education - challenges and opportunities in ODE

Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd) is one of the currently emerging fields in educational technology. Whilst it has been around for about 30 years, it is still unclear for many educators how to make pedagogical advantage of it on a broader scale, and how it can actually impact meaningfully on teaching and learning in higher education. Based on a systematic review of 146 studies, Olaf Zawacki-Richter will provide an overview of research on AI applications in higher education in four areas: 1. profiling and prediction, 2. assessment and evaluation, 3. adaptive systems and personalisation, and 4. intelligent tutoring systems. A stunning result of the review is the almost lack of critical reflection of risks and ethical issues of AIEd. Challenges and opportunities of AIEd will be considered for the field of open and distance education (ODE).

By Prof. Olaf Zawacki-Richter, Ph.D., Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany

I would not worry so much about buying an intelligent learning system but spending money on buying a sexist one

The data refute that today most software developers are male and only 27.5% of developers in the world are women. Already in 2015, Amazon realized that their recruitment system did not judge in a gender neutral manner. It had a bias in favor of men when examining candidates for software developer positions and other technical occupations. The problem seemed to stem from the fact that the machine learning specialists had trained the artificial intelligence tool from patterns that could be observed in the curricula presented to the company for a decade, and most of them belonged to men. The result of male domination in programming has led to the development of, for example, voice recognition technologies that, trained and tested only by men, struggle to understand female voices. The industry is already filled with services and products that have gender bias effectively programmed into them.

Even though modifications can be made to the software, it is hardly difficult to assure the absence of biases. As artificial intelligence becomes an increasing part of our daily lives, educational institutions from all academic levels are being transformed by intelligent systems that might help humans learn better and achieve their learning objectives. AI systems can be used to tailor and personalize learning for each individual student, developing a custom learning profile of each student and customize the training materials for each student based on their ability, preferred mode of learning, and experience. This can bring a high impact on the learning of disadvantaged groups, such as students with disabilities or people in risk of inclusion. But precisely, these groups need the systems did not devise other forms of discrimination.

By Covadonga Rodrigo, UNED -Spain & Francisco Iniesto, OUUK, The United Kingdom

Webinar week: Blended and Online Education

7 - 9 April 2020

Developing study skills through online interactive workshops


Student Hub Live (SHL), the OUUKs live online interactive platform, encourages effective engagement with learning though extracurricular events and workshops that facilitate academic community and develop academic skills. This webinar focuses on non-modular, non-disciplinary, online interactive study-skills workshops. The workshops are an hour and each focus on developing a specific study skill such as academic writing or critical thinking, through teaching, processing and applying the skill. They are designed in such a way that participants can interact without any preparation and students are encouraged to apply the general learnings to their own situation. This webinar will showcase the learning design and explain how we achieve an intimate environment and opportunity for individuals to engage while in a large scale learning environment with around 200 students in a session. We will also discuss the impact that these workshops have on those who attend, and convey the confidence that students report in developing their skills and also meeting likeminded others.

This session will be of interest to those who are keen to develop interactive online learning environments at scale, and/or in offering supplementing online opportunities for students to develop essential academic skills. The community aspect is an element that enhances the learning at these events, and those interested in facilitating belonging at a distance will also find value in the discussion. By Karen Foley, The Open University, The United Kingdom

Combined use of MOOC, eLearning and workplace learning to support professional development - the case of project MuSA

Project “MuSA: Museum Sector Alliance” designed 4 new occupational profiles for the museum sector, which integrate digital and transferrable competences, so that museum professionals are enabled to deal with the challenges posed by museums of the future. For each profile, a learning path was designed and implemented, consisting of the following stages:

Stage 1: An 8-week MOOC titled “Essential skills for museum professionals”. This was the first training stage that was common for all profiles. About 5.200 people enrolled in the MOOC and 1.350 of them completed it successfully

Stage 2: A 6-months specialization course, different for each profile. The blended course was delivered using a combination of online learning and face-to-face training. 120 of those who completed the MOOC enrolled in the 4 specialization courses

Stage 3: A 2-month workplace learning that took place in museums. Each learner, under the combined supervision of a tutor and museum professional, implemented a project, in which he/she applied the knowledge and skills gained during the previous two stages to solve a problem of the hosting museum. In this stage were involved all those who participated in stage 2.

The project offered a holistic learning experience, combining online and face-to-face training and cumulating with a real-life project implemented within a museum. In total, the participants received training in more than 40 digital and transferrable competences using specially developed digital OERs. Due to this approach, the project has been included as a best practice in the EU DigComp User Guide (2018). By Achilles Kameas, Hellenic Open University, Greece

Synchronous online learning in short learning programs

Short learning programs (SLPs) are independent learning units of variable sizes (between 5 and 30 ECTS) which are usually awarded with a certificate and are recognized in larger degree program structures. They focus on complex (academic) learning and are mainly offered online. In this webinar I will discuss the design of SLPs and focus on the challenge of enabling synchronous collaborative learning within such programs. By Iwan Wopereis, The Open University of The Netherlands

Supporting strategies for the development of blended education

Blended and online education in all its diverse forms are impossible to overlook in the current policies and curricula in higher education. However, what are strategies to translate the current developments in online and blended education into the daily practice of higher education institutions? How can you translate the developments within the field of online and blended education all the way into higher education classrooms? This webinar will share different supporting strategies that foster the development of blended education within KU Leuven. The strategies range from a broad an new learning network: KU Leuven Learning Lab, to online learning modules all the way to a very concrete project called MYCA (Make Your Course Attractive).

This session will be of interest to those who develop blended learning within higher education institutions, whether this is at the policy or the local level and everything in between. By Tim Boon, KU Leuven, Belgium

Good practices in Online and Blended Education

Predictions of student success can be helpful, both in open education - enabling us to focus support on the most vulnerable students; and in selective education - to reduce false positives (students selected who subsequently fail), and false negatives – (potential students who were not selected but could have succeeded). This seminar reports a project at the UK Open University which attached a ‘predicted probability of success’ to some 3500 new students based on a logistic regression analysis. The predictions were used to focus support on the most vulnerable students, increasing their retention rate by more than 5.

The seminar will also outline the ethical issues around the use of such data and ask participants ‘would you tell a student their prediction?...’ By Ormond Simpson, fomer The Open University, The United Kingdom

Mobile and seamless learning design: support of continuous learning processes in higher (distance) education

Learning not only occurs in formal settings, within higher educational institutes, but across various (professional and private) environments in which learners are intentionally and actively engaged. Currently, these learning environments learners move through are still separated in many ways. Opportunities to facilitate continuity in learning (and support) processes through the use of (mobile) technology are still left unexploited.

In this session we introduce the ‘Seamless learning design’ paradigm and present recent example implementations. Furthermore, we look into the relevance of this paradigm for higher (distance) educational institutes and explore challenges and opportunities that university lecturers indicate will help or hamper further uptake and implementation. The session is interesting for lecturers, educational designers and policy makers who design, develop or implement technology-enhanced learning models within higher (distance) education. By Ellen Rusman, The Open University, The Netherlands

Webinar week: Quality Assurance in Blended and Online Education

12 - 13 November 2019

Looking deeper into Quality Assurance: ICDE report

This report was developed to provide a platform for development of guidelines for quality in online, open, flexible and technology enhanced education in all regions of the world .

By working with regional experts, this report provides an overview of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to educational quality in online, open, flexible and technology enhanced learning. It is not intended to be all-inclusive as there are many institutions that have not participated in the opportunities to provide feedback. However, it does provide a good foundation regarding areas of success (strengths) and an overview of the challenges faced by many.

One important take away that was identified within all of the regions is that quality assurance models are of central importance and value . Those areas that do not provide good guidelines, policies or sharing of best practices face more challenges than others since they need to spend time proving the value of this range of modes of education.

By Jennifer Mathes, Interim Chief Knowledge Officer and Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Online Learning Consortium, The United States & Alan Tait, Special adviser ICDE on quality in education. Emeritus Professor of Distance Education and Development at the Open University, UK Open University, The United Kingdom

European SWOT analysis on Quality Assurance in online education

This report was developed to provide a platform for development of guidelines for quality in online, open, flexible and technology enhanced education in all regions of the world.

By working with regional experts, this report provides an overview of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to educational quality in online, open, flexible and technology enhanced learning. It is not intended to be all-inclusive as there are many institutions that have not participated in the opportunities to provide feedback. However, it does provide a good foundation regarding areas of success (strengths) and an overview of the challenges faced by many.

One important take away that was identified within all of the regions is that quality assurance models are of central importance and value . Those areas that do not provide good guidelines, policies or sharing of best practices face more challenges than others since they need to spend time proving the value of this range of modes of education.

By George Ubachs, Managing Director EADTU, The Netherlands

Quality assurance strategies in distance education - the Hellenic Open University (HOU) use case

The Educational Content, Methodology and Technology Laboratory (e-CoMeT Lab) is an independent unit of the Hellenic Open University (HOU), one of the European Open and Distance Teaching Universities. Over the years, HOU follows, to a lesser or greater extent, the educational trends and adapts to a digitally driven society. The need to grasp the technology in the area of online education and scientific evolution and taking into consideration the singularity of the learning process, combined with the emerged educational methodologies, has recently led the HOU -through the e-CoMeT Lab- to make the firm decision to build new strategies.

e-CoMeT Lab’s missions are the implementation of innovations to support the creation of high quality educational material, the design of methodologies for distance learning and adult education and developing educational services using modern ICT tools. Throughout the years, several processes have been developed and maintained in order to support the educational content creation. The move to the digital era is leading e-CoMeT Lab to redesign the processes or create new ones, building a modern education ecosystem, including the educational environment, the tutors/mentors, the students and the educational material in the evolution center. Technological initiatives and new educational methods (digital and interactive material standards, teleconferences, new pedagogical and technical educational solutions, modern methods of supporting and evaluating students) are being supported in the form of specific templates, aiming to improve the quality and the time-consuming procedures of the digital course design process.

In this webinar, they will present:

• The historical background of quality assurance strategies of e-CoMeT Lab for the HOU

• The quality assurance strategies of the work development process of printed educational content for open and distance learning

• The quality assurance strategies for the work development process of digital educational content for open and distance learning

• The internal evaluation procedures (course design formative evaluations)


By Lampros Tsiknas, HOU, Greece

Equal opportunities for all: Accessibility in higher education online studies – from quality guidelines to the practice

Diversity of higher educaiton students is growing. Only the number of disabled students in higher education have increased gradually since the late 1990's. Online education offers new possibilities to study for the diversity of students, but noly if it is accessibly.

Accessibility, according the Europan Commission (2010), means that "people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communication technologies and systems (ICT), and other facilities and services. In online studies it means that learners have access to DLE (digital learning environment), content and experiences offered by technologies regardless of their special educational needs, disabilities or the assistive technology they use. The new European legislation also demands higher education institutions to be responsible for accessibility issues while developing their online practices (Directive (EU) 2016/2102).

Diversity of students including students with special educational needs and disabilities has been taken into account in quality assurance guidelines and quality indicators for higher education institutions. But what does it mean in educational practices? How is it implemented in educational practices? These themes are discussed in this webinar mainly based on the framework of ongoing national and international project of University of Jyväskylä.

By Tarja Ladonlahti, Jyväskylä University, Finland

Webinar week: Blended Learning

25 - 27 June 2019

In the Mix

Blended. It used to refer to something you did in the kitchen. With a machine. It saved you having to mix ingredients with your hands or a utensil. It took away a lot of the effort. Hopefully, the end result was edible. Now blended has come to mean something else, at least in the education domain. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about blended learning? 

Once, blended learning was an easy concept to understand. It described the difference between traditional and distance education. Face-to-face learning experiences were mixed with remote learning, usually mediated through some kind of technology. First, it was paper-based, and then followed a rapid evolution of technology, so that now the ‘ distance' side of blended learning comes in many shades and hues. The most common form of blended learning today is where you spend some time in the classroom, but the majority of your time studying online. Sams and Bergman call it the flipped classroom. It's a form of blended learning, but it’s not new. Blended learning is taking on a number of other connotations, because thanks to the advent of the digital device, there are now many more modes of learning. Consider for example the blend between mobile and tethered learning experiences. You can be mobile and take your learning beyond the classroom, but you can be away from the classroom and still be tethered to your technology. In this session, I will explore issues around these developments, and some of the alternative possibilities for what we now call 'blended learning'. By Steve Wheeler, Plymouth University, UK


European Maturity Model of Blended Education 

Universities face challenges as keeping quality with large student numbers and lower budgets per learner, supporting study progress and success and meeting the needs of part-time students. Innovation by blended education will lead to quality enhancement of the learning experience, personalization, accessibility,  flexibility and inclusion. Furthermore, blended education is suitable for teaching large groups synchronously and asynchronously; constituting small learning groups; capitalizing on the worldwide connection with research; multi-campus education and blended mobility, etc.

Blended education combines conventional and digital methods to achieve an “optimal exploitation of ICT and internet” integrated with the conventional technologies of physical material and co-presence in space and time. The value of blending the two is that digital methods offer much greater personalization, flexibility, inclusiveness and efficiency than conventional methods can, but they have to be used appropriately (Laurillard, 2015). The concept of blended learning itself is far from clear-cut. The literature spans various definitions and meanings,  e.g. ”the thoughtful integration of conventional and digital methods of teaching and learning” (Graham, et al., 2013). It is agreed that the digital is not a supplement and does not simply replicate aspects of the conventional – each should enhance the other. The EMBED project is about introducing innovation in higher education by the implementation of blended learning (b-learning) in a strategic partnership and beyond. The partnership consists of frontrunner universities in b-learning European wide for full expert representation. They will create a reference model for developing and implementing blended learning, embracing all levels of an institution: the design of the blended course, organisational aspects such as staff support and training, and institutional leadership, developing policies and strategies making the institution continuously innovative. It is a maturity model with criteria and instruments to assess the degree of maturity of b-learning and innovation. (Wiebe Dijkstra, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands)

Proposal for strategic refocusing in UNED Local Centers

The success of UNED since 1972 can be due to some classic factors of open universities (e.g. change from an elite to a massive system of high-quality services, innovation in learning and teaching, flexible practice centred on the student, use of new technologies or admission of non-traditional students), but it has also been cemented in other factors as its blended-learning model with a large physical territorial structure: 61 Local Centres and 120 classrooms within the Spanish State, besides 13 Centres in different countries of the world, mainly in Europe, North and South America and Africa, whose funding depends, in addition to those of the university itself, on the public or private initiative and local or regional administrations that become part of its governing board and make strategic decisions, in unequal and variable proportions, plus an academic structure at its headquarters by the Ministry of Education. 

Traditional face-to-face tutoring is progressively decreasing due to the current support that all our students receive by online means; in this sense, our blended-learning model requires to be updated according to the evolution and development of society itself and the availability of advanced learning methodologies supported by technologies (such as the incorporation of artificial intelligence). Local centres are urged, thus, to develop new academic services giving an answer to the demands and challenges of higher education in the XXI century. In this context, I will explain the possibilities for a recalibration of the role of UNED Local Centres, suggesting some relevant developments more focused on life-long learning possibilities, such as higher support to entrepreneurship,employment, specialisation, research and transference; and other contributions such as local support to open and online programs under a GLOCAL approach, taking advantage of our privilege connection with the immediate environment. By Luis Fernández, UNED, Spain


Active learning and blended & flipped models

A selection of tools to improve feedback in virtual and face-to-face spaces 

 "Flipped learning and Blended learning models are often used with the same meaning, but there are some differences, we could say that “all flipped is blended but not all blended is flipped”, we will start by clarifying some misunderstandings and wrong conceptions about both learning strategies. Once we have done this, we will analyse some tools with a huge potential to improve feedback with students both in the virtual and face-to-face spaces, Specifically, we will pay special attention to features as “heat maps”, “gamification possibilities and “multimedia options”. (Raúl Santiago, University of La Rioja, Spain)

Why Diversity Matter in ODL? Case of Anadolu University

Learner demographics have a wide range of differences in massive education systems. Disadvantaged groups, digital skills groups, different socio-economic levels, different learning styles are some examples of these differences. Thus, ODL needs to be accessible for all learner groups with diversity in learning environments, learning materials, media types, student support services, blended learning opportunities and assessment types. ANADOLU University Open Education System as a Mega University aims to provide this diversity to 1.2 million students from 36 countries. By Elif Toprak and Mehmet Firat, Anadolu University, Turkey 

Digital Media Arts in Open and Distance Education 

This presentation introduces a PhD programme in Digital Media Arts and explains how we explore expressiveness to its maximum extent through computer graphics, digital sound and music, computer vision, digital storytelling, virtual reality, amongst other technologies, in the context of Open and Distance Education. Through a blended learning, approach students explore techniques of artistic expression in order to generate new media applications, products, narratives, games and aesthetic experiences in such areas as the cultural industries, education and entertainment. (José Bidarra, Universidade Aberta, Portugal)

Panel discussion on the present and future of Blended Learning

Panel discussion by Stephan Poelmans, KU Leuven, Belgium & Steve Wheeler, Plymouth University, UK & Antonio Moreira Teixeira, University of Aberta, Portugal

Webinar week: Virtual Mobility

20 - 23 May 2019

Innovative models for International Collaboration and Mobility in Europe

The report is based on new developments in higher education and international collaboration, using new modes of teaching and learning. This results in three types of collaboration and mobility: physical, blended and online. Main parameters for innovative education and mobility formats are defined as well as basic principles of international course and curriculum design. Examples illustrate the complete opportunity space between fully face to face and fully online collaboration. They relate to mobility within single courses, exchange mobility (classical Erasmus), networked programmes and mobility windows and joint programmes with embedded mobility. The report shows concrete mobility schemes, also achievable in small international collaboration and mobility settings. It underpins policies for international networking and delivers tools to organise innovative education and mobility formats. By Piet Henderikx, EADTU, The Netherlands

KU Leuven - Stellenbosch University Think Tank

One of the mobility schemes mentioned in 'Innovative models for International Collaboration and Mobility in Europe' is the KU Leuven - Stellenbosch University Think Tank. The KU Leuven - Stellenbosch University Think Tank is an extra-curricular Honours Programme that is predominantly an online programme but supported by two very short physical mobility periods. It is a student-driven programme for which each university selects up to 20 students. From February until November, an interdisciplinary group of students independently shapes a research project within a given theme. An international and interdisciplinary team of academics coaches the students. Work sessions, including video conference sessions, are organised in the evenings. Online platforms and tools facilitate the collaboration between the students. During the Easter Break, the students meet on campus for a Focus Week. In November, they participate in an on-campus Workshop Week culminating in a concluding event where they present their findings to a broad audience. Ms. Katrien Vanelven from KU Leuven's International Office will talk about the format and lessons learnt. (Katrien Vanelven, KU Leuven, Belgium)

Open Virtual Mobility Skills

Research Results & Application in the Design of MOOCs

This contribution will present how Open Virtual Mobility Skills have been elicited and used to design Open Online Courses Erasmus+ strategic partnership Open Virtual Mobility (2017-2020), https://www.openvirtualmobility.eu Participants will learn about the research methodology and the key research results from Group Concept Mapping and how these results have been translated to the design of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Open Virtual Mobility Skills encompass a set of eight skill clusters. These skills are useful for successful participation in Open Virtual Mobility and at the same time can be gained from participating in Open Virtual Mobility. Participants will also learn how Open Virtual Mobility Skills are assessed and recognised in the Open Virtual Mobility Learning Hub.  By Ilona Buchem, Beuth Hochschule für Technik, Germany https://hub.openvirtualmobility.eu/login/index.php 

UOC with Latin-American Universities

The UOC, which is sensitive to the need to bring lifelong learning to a larger and more diverse number of people, prioritizes, with special emphasis, collaborations with foreign universities which share the same goals. UOC’s innovative virtual mobility model it’s based on our pedagogical model, student-centred, with the necessary adaptations, such as knowing the university of origin, maintaining a stable and continuous relationship, guaranteeing the constant relationship between academic peers, specialized mentoring, among others. (Carme Anguera Iglesias, UOC, Spain)

Higher education in emergencies - Learning pathways | Panel discussion

Higher education in contexts of conflict and crises straddles the humanitarian-development nexus. This presentation focuses on the design, development and implementation of higher education programs through digital learning. We argue that traditional notions of higher education in terms of utility and quality require rethinking when being operationalised in fragile contexts. Through concrete examples of virtual mobility and credit transfers, we discuss how challenges can be overcome and forcibly displaced learners can benefit when a life-long learning approach is being embraced. By Barbara Moser-Mercer, University of Geneve, inZone, Switzerland

Panel discussion with several presenters of the Virtual Mobility webinar week (Video: 38:10)

Innovating Education in new modes of teaching and learning webinar week:

20 & 21 November 2018

Changing patterns in interactive learning design

Current trends in distance education point to changing patterns in business models and in learning design, these were clearly interconnected, and the solutions reside in both high level and low-level decisions. The higher-level decisions are related to personalised learning, practical subjects, shorter programme cycles, partnerships for face-to-face sessions and technologies for seamless learning. The lower level decisions imply the design of learning environments and the implementation of learner support strategies. So, this talk will explore the processes and suitable technologies for learning design, including the design and application of digital media in teaching and learning, and a critical analysis of the benefits of technologies in education. By José Bidarra, Universidade Aberta

Collaborative Learning in Open and Distance Learning

I'm pretty sure all distance educators like the concept of students learning collaboratively. But nothing's straightforward in ODL and it's worth asking some questions:

  1. Why do we like collaborative learning? Is it to improve learning, overcome isolation or to save money?
  2. What's the best way to help students get together? - forums, mentoring, 'study dating'?
  3. Do students really like it? Or do some find it unhelpful and even threatening?
  4. What are the potential pitfalls? Group assessment? Internet harassment?
  5. Most importantly! - does it work?

By Ormond Simpson, University of London

Transforming Higher Education with Blended Learning: Managing Expectations and Bridging Gaps:

With blended learning having become “the new normal” (Dziuban, Graham, Moskal, Norberg, & Sicilia, 2018), even traditional on-campus universities work on creating new learning designs to meet their students’ needs for flexibility, mostly concerning work/life/study balance and opportunities for lifelong learning. Implementing such programs comes with a set of challenges in the realms of pedagogy, technology, and management, however. In this webinar, I will introduce the first blended learning bachelor program at the University of Graz in Austria. Focusing on some challenges faced and lessons learned, I will offer insight into the process of implementation that could be used for future projects in blended learning, particularly in other “brick-and-mortar” higher education institutions. By Simone Adams, University of Graz

Understanding student paths in higher education blended-learning:

Beyond success and dropout

This study first aimed to identify critical instances that characterise common student paths and deviations that lead to certification, interruption of studies or dropout in blended-learning. We then crossed the path types and degrees of completion with available student characteristics to infer various student profiles. Using time and credits required to graduate to identify path deviations may provide insights on early warning signs of potential dropout and lead to seeing dropout, not only as an academic failure but also as possible fulfilment of learning goals independent of certification, particularly. These results will allow us to understand various paths and goals students follow in higher-education blended-learning study programs that particularly attract non-traditional students, to propose guidelines for designing curricula that are more open and flexible in their delivery while maintaining support for learning progression to achieve program learning outcomes. By Kalliopi Benetos, Université de Genève

Quality in Higher Education Week:

19 & 20 September 2018

Quality frameworks for MOOCs

OpenupEd organised a webinar on Quality frameworks for MOOCs, including 6 short presentations related to various perspectives on quality. 

  • Checking MOOC quality afterwards: the case of accessibility by Francisco Iniesto (OUUK)
  • Quality assurance of MOOCs from an institutional perspective: the OpenupEd label by Jon Rosewell & Karen Kear (OUUK)
  • The student’s perspective on MOOC quality by Gohar Hovhannisyan (ESU)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Rebecca Love-Howard (FutureLearn)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Catherine Mongenet (FUN)
  • How to secure the quality of MOOCs in cross-sectoral / cross-institutional team: the case of the BizMOOC project by Darco Jansen (EADTU)

Main results EADTU-ENQA Peer Learning Activity on QA in blended and online education

The EADTU-ENQA PLA has identified next steps in the development of high quality blended degree and online continuing education in a dialogue between main stakeholders: universities, quality assurance agencies, governments and students. Only in a dialogue between these stakeholders, we can come to a favourable environment for further innovating education. This PLA showed a shared responsibility to accelerate innovation and quality of education and to find ways for improvement. Ways forward for all stakeholders separately and in dialogue will be presented. By George Ubachs, EADTU

Main findings of the ENQA WG E-learning

Recognising that recommendations for quality assurance and e-learning have already been written, the WG decided to create a new focus: to systematically examine both the applicability and relevance of the standards as defined in the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG, 2015). Although each standard proved to be fully applicable to e-learning, some standards seemed to require special guidance on how they can be applied. The findings of this work are applicable to all forms of e-learning. Besides, it is meant to initiate discussion and the thinking process of stakeholders involved, e.g. HEIs, QA agencies, etc. It is not intended to be prescriptive. By Esther Huertas Hidalgo, AQU Catalunya 

Lessons from 10 years of E-xcellence quality reviews for elearning

E-xcellence is a QA methodology with a strong quality enhancement focus. We analysed E-xcellence self-evaluations and roadmaps at twenty higher education institutions to identify the most challenging aspects of e-learning provision. The main challenges were: developing e-learning strategy, building online academic communities for students, and managing staff workload. There was also a strong focus on increasing the interactivity of learning materials. In contrast, the provision of reliable IT systems and hardware was unproblematic. By Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell, OUUK

E-assessment week:

26 & 28 June 2018

Academic dishonesty: challenges & solutions

Though academic dishonesty or academic fraud can be considered ‘a fact of life’ (much as we like to erase it, we know that at best we can try to contain it), educational institutions need to make a convincing case that their assessment practices are fair and reliable. In this respect, recent figures on the extent of the problem of academic dishonesty give rise to concern. At the same time, there is a desire to increase flexibility in educational assessment through online assessment, which also constitutes a challenge in terms of ensuring the response to an assessment is provided by the right person. The European Horizon2020 TeSLA project aims at enabling reliable e-assessments through various state-of-the-art technologies for authentication and authorship verification, which can help to improve assessment practices in both online and face-to-face settings. These technologies include face-recognition, voice-recognition, analysis of keystroke (typing) dynamics, plagiarism detection, and forensic (writing style) analysis. In this webinar, we will explore definitions and types of academic dishonesty, the scope of the problem, solutions provided by technologies, and the extent to which they cover the problem. Finally, we will discuss possible measures beyond the use of technology. By José Janssen, OUNL

Teachers intentions and students perceptions of written feedback

Feedback is one of the most powerful enhancers of learning and although there has been quite a large amount of research studying determinants of effective feedback, both teachers and students indicate that feedback is still not optimally used. In this webinar, we will present an overview of some studies conducted at the Open University of actual feedback practices and students' perceptions of feedback. We will conclude with some food for thought when providing feedback to our students. By Kim Dirkx, OUNL

Viewbrics: mirroring and mastering complex generic skills with video-enhanced rubrics through a technology-enhanced formative assessment methodology

To master complex generic skills (or ‘21st-century skills’), it is important to form a concrete and consistent mental model of all constituent sub-skills and mastery levels.  An analytic assessment rubric describes skills’ mastery levels in text, by means of a set of performance indicators for constituent sub-skills. However, text-based rubrics have a limited capacity to convey contextualized, procedural, time-related and observable behavioural aspects of a complex skill, thus restricting the construction of a rich mental model. 

Therefore, within the Viewbrics-project, we study the possibilities of using video modelling examples combined with rubrics, called video-enhanced rubrics, for the formative assessment of complex skills. We expect that using video-enhanced rubrics instead of text-based rubrics will lead to a ‘richer’ mental model and improves feedback quality (in terms of consistency as well as concreteness)  while practising a complex skill, for both pupils and teachers in secondary schools.  Subsequently, we expect increased skill’s mastery levels. 

Within the Viewbrics-project, we developed and tested this technology-enhanced formative assessment methodology with video-enhanced rubrics, through a design research approach with teachers, pupils, researchers and various domain experts, for three generic complex skills, namely presenting, collaborating and information literacy. This webinar reports on the followed design research process, the resulting formative assessment methodology and functionality of the Viewbrics online tool and on future research. We will also discuss the applicability of  ‘Viewbrics’  in other educational contexts. By Ellen Rusman, OUNL

Fostering engagement and learning through formative feedback

UNED developments and use of automatized and mobile feedback for closed and open-ended questions:

Formative assessment and personalised feedback are commonly recognised as key factors both for improving student’s performance and increasing their motivation and engagement (Gibbs, 2005). Currently, in large and massive online courses technological solutions to give feedback are reduced to different kinds of quizzes. In this webinar, solutions and results for automated closed and open-ended questions will be presented, based on UNED experiences in different undergraduate subjects. 

Automatic Feedback for closed question: 

Previous research in Educational Psychology has showed the positive results for students’ engagement and learning of, on the one hand, the so-called Testing effect, or answering questions after study sessions; and, on the other hand, Spaced education, meaning spaced repetition of the same questions at specific intervals, which increases long-term retention. Through this webinar participant would have the opportunity to know the features of a new Moodle activity plug-in activity developed in UNED called UNEDTrivial, which allows instructors design quizzes as learning tools based on “testing effect” and “spaced education”. First results in two subjects of the Faculties of Economics and Psychology will be presented. 

Automatic Feedback for open-ended questions: 

At present, one of our challenges is to be able to give feedback for open-ended questions through semantic technologies in a sustainable way. To face such challenge, our academic team decided to test a Latent Semantic Analysis-based automatic assessment tool, named G-Rubric, developed by researchers at the Developmental and Educational Psychology Department of UNED (Spanish National Distance Education University). By using GRubric, automated formative and iterative feedback was provided to our students to different types of open-ended questions (70-800 words). This feedback allowed students to improve their answers and practice writing skills, thus contributing both to a better concept organisation and the building of knowledge.  

At this webinar, we will present the promising results of our first experiences in UNED Business Degree students along with three academic courses (2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17). By Miguel Santamaría Lancho & Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua


2016 - 2019 webinars

The practical realities of participating in a MOOC

27 February 2019

This webinar was organised by the Erasmus+ project ​MOONLITE​. Supported by ​EADTU, ​OpenupEd​, ​EMPOWER​, ​UNED​, Athabasca​ ​University​​ ​and​ ​​Linnaeus​ ​University​. 

By Timothy Read (UNED), Beatriz Sedano (UNED), Darco Jansen (EADTU), facilitator: Alastair Creelman (Linnaeus University)

Why universities invest in MOOCs – the importance of the social dimension

1 December 1017

The MOOC hype in the media might be over, but investments in and the uptake of MOOCs are increasing significantly worldwide. There is no doubt that European HEIs joined the MOOC movement later, but contrary to the developments in the US, European HEIs are now engaging more with MOOC development and production. Various studies demonstrate that a large percentage (at least 40%) of European Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) seems to have​ ​developed​ ​a​ ​MOOC​ ​or​ ​is​ ​planning​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​MOOC. 

The question being considered in this webinar is why HEIs are investing in MOOCs, the role of political environments and educational values in different regions and if this support the use​ ​of​ ​MOOCs​ ​for​ ​social​ ​inclusion. 

This webinar was organised by the Erasmus+ project ​MOONLITE​. Supported by ​EADTU, ​OpenupEd​, ​EMPOWER​, ​UNED​, Athabasca​ ​University​​ ​and​ ​​Linnaeus​ ​University​. 

By Dr. Nathaniel Ostashewski (Athabasca University), Timothy Read (UNED), Darco Jansen (EADTU), moderator: Charlotte Traeger (ESCP Europe), facilitator: Alastair Creelman (Linnaeus University)

Open Education and the Sustainable Development Goals: Making Change Happen

12 April 2017

Education for All has been a concept at the heart of international development since 1990 and has found its latest instantiation within the Sustainable Development Goals as SDG 4 ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. Open education, in the form of resources and practices, are both seen as contributors to SDG4. The ambition is clear but the means to make it happen are not and a number of commentators have claimed that a power and systems thinking approach to making change happen is critical.

This presentation (1) sets out the scale and scope of the SDGs; (2) reviews the potential contribution of open educational resources and practices to support the SDGs and (3) uses this framing of power and systems thinking to review the way open education activities might be fostered within tertiary education in all local, national and regional contexts in order to support the SDGs, and not just SDG 4. It will also tentatively outline a theory of change that brings together power relationships, systems thinking and open education as key components.

By Andy Lane, The Open University, UK 

Creative use of Europeana content for open education

28 March 2017

Europeana is Europe's main culture portal, with now about 50 million objects of Cultural Heritage including documents, images, videos and audio recordings. It is well known by Libraries, Museums and Archives as well as scholars for its trusted content. However, it is still underused in Education. Several factors make it an ideal tool for higher education. First of all, there is the quality: the cultural heritage objects described in Europeana come directly from the source, from the current holder, and have been digitized to high standards. Second, an ever-growing part of it is available for public reuse and openly licensed, as the European Commission pushes Cultural Heritage institutions to open up their collections. Thirdly, and this might be of growing interest, it shows Europe to its full diversity, in contrast to many current educational resources such as schoolbooks. It holds records from Central and Eastern Europe as well as those of Western Europe. Last, Europeana is transforming from a portal into a platform for reuse, educational as well as commercial. It wants to offer higher quality primary source material in a way that it can be integrated into educational apps, but also in an interactive way in online learning such as MOOCs. In this talk, we will discuss two examples from Europeana Space: creative reuse of Europeana content and the Europeana Space MOOC. By Frederik Truyen, KU Leuven

Business models for OER and MOOCs beyond monetary incentives

29 November 2016

OER and MOOCs can have multiple purposes and can bring a variety of returns on that investment. While there are costs associated with providing these free educational products and organizations might focus on ways to monetize the interest in their OER and MOOCs to offset those costs or provide revenue there is also non-monetary value to be gained from a variety of sources that expand the nature and range of business models for open education as both a producer and user. In this online event Andy Lane from The Open University UK, one of the EMPOWER experts and founding Director of the OUUK’s OpenLearn platform, will discuss non-monetary business models that variously involve enhancing brand awareness, extending the impact of research, enabling valorization of informal learning, encouraging partnerships between organizations, supporting capacity-building in communities and spreading the costs of developing OER. By Andy Lane, OUUK

Alternative perspectives on MOOC success

15 December 2016

Currently, MOOC providers report high drop-out rates ranging from 90 to 95%, meaning only about 5 to 10% of the MOOC takers is receiving a certificate when they enrol in a MOOC. However, drop-out is clearly defined from the perspective of the MOOC providers. MOOC takers may have other perspectives and to understand these perspectives their behaviour regarding MOOC enrolling should be studied. MOOC takers may have many reasons why they enrol in MOOCs and why they do not finish a MOOC. We distinguish two levels of the MOOC taker’s perspective, namely the level where MOOC takers are planning to enrol in a number of MOOCs because they have a personal curriculum in mind that they wish to complete. The other level is where MOOC takers are enrolled in a single MOOC as part of completing their personal curriculum. The presentation will go more in-depth about these two levels. By Karel Kreijns & Maartje Henderikx, Open University of the Netherlands

Assessment, examinations and certification

2016 - 2017 webinars

Assessing Students and Tutors with Learning Analytics Dashboards

26 September 2017

Newly emerging schemes for data capturing and storage have been creating a prosperous ecosystem for revolutionizing the way public organizations and private companies are doing business. Educational institutions are now able to provide evidence of accountability and efficiency based on the adequate allocation of public funding and their ranking in relation to other institutions as well as to assess and guide their students, tutors and administration. In this study, we present our initial findings from applying learning analytics schemes along with adequate visual representations bundled together for ease of use into the so-called learning analytics dashboards to establish patterns of student performance and tutor productivity. Moreover, we report on the applicability of certain of these software suites for addressing the needs of the students and tutors in a module offered by the Information Systems graduate program in the School of Science and Technology of the Hellenic Open University in Greece. 

By Vassilis Verykios, Andreas Gkontzis, Elias Stavropoulos, Hellenic Open University

TeSLA project: An adaptive trust-based e-assessment system for learning

16 September 2016

TeSLA system is a project funded by the European Commission. It will follow the interoperability standards for integration into a different learning environment and it will be developed to reduce the current restrictions of time and physical space in teaching and learning, which opens up new opportunities for learners with physical or mental disabilities as well as respecting social and cultural differences.

Given the innovative action of the project, the current gap in e-assessment and the growing number of institutions interested in offering online education, the project will conduct large scale pilots to evaluate and assure the reliability of the TeSLA system. 

By: Serpil Koçdar (Anadolu)

A cluster-based analysis to diagnose students’ learning achievements

19 July 2016

Assessment and evaluation of students’ performance have always played an important role in the learning process as it provides information about the level of knowledge acquired on a subject, and the progress that has been achieved. However, another main issue is detecting the thematic core in which the students have learning problems because they are evaluated in terms of competencies. This study proposes an adaptive approach to diagnose and feedback students and makes use of the Item Response Theory to estimate skill levels and classify the students. In addition, it uses a model of concepts’ relationship between the concepts and the items of the test. The purpose is to diagnose students’ cognitive problems and provide personalized and intelligent learning suggestions. This approach can be used as a system of intelligent diagnosis that receives a set of responses, and generates a data set of weak concepts for each student, specifying their learning path and resulting in clustering individuals who share the same shortcomings to ease any process of group feedback. 

By Miguel Rodríguez Artacho, Associate Profesor  at ETSI Informática, UNED 

Confidence-based marking

22 June 2016

Confidence-based marking (CBM) is an assessment method which asks the student not only to provide the answer to a question but also to report their level of confidence (or certainty) in the correctness of their answer. They need to consider this carefully because it affects the marks they are awarded: a student scores full marks for knowing that they know the correct answer, some credit for a tentative correct answer but are penalised if they believe they know the answer but get it wrong. There are several motivations for using CBM: it rewards care and effort so engendering greater engagement, it encourages reflective learning, and it promises accuracy and reliability.  

CBM has had niche success in the past in the context of medical training and recently may have a found a new niche in the context of regulatory compliance; these are both areas where the assessment of competency and mastery is expected. However, CBM has not been widely adopted in other areas of education. 

In this talk, I will review the CBM landscape and ask why CBM is not used more widely. What are the benefits claimed and how robust is the evidence? How should CBM be presented to the students? Do they need the training to understand how the system works? Is it a fair method of assessment? Does it disadvantage any category of the student? How does it fit with ideas around ‘assessment for learning’ and ‘reflective learning’? 

Confidence-based marking could offer both the student and teacher greater insight into a student’s understanding than the standard fare of e-assessment, the multiple-choice quiz. It is a technique that we should, therefore, keep under consideration. 

By Jon Rosewell, Dept Computing & Communications, MCT, OUUK 

Curriculum development and course design

2016 - 2017 webinars

Interactive Class Systems in UNINETTUNO Course Delivery Model

12 September 2017

Uninettuno developed and evolves its own organizational and didactic models for course design and delivery through a research-driven approach: experimentation/prototyping - piloting - large scale roll out. One of the main components of Uninettuno delivery model is the provision of environments and activities for interactive and collaborative learning. The webinar will briefly introduce Uninettuno models, focusing then on the process that led to evolve the "Virtual Classroom" system in an "Interactive Class" system (experimentation - piloting - large scale roll out), and on the psycho-pedagogy-centered approach adopted for the definition of teaching/learning model framework for  all the actors of the teaching/learning process.  

By Alessandro Caforio, International Telematic University UNINETTUNO

Innovative Distance Education Programs Recently Offered by Anadolu University for Providing Identical Needs of Different Target Groups

14 February 2017

The Open Education System of Anadolu University has continued to enlarge with the launch of new programs in 2015-2016 academic year: Public Relations and Advertising, Healthcare Management, Social Work, and Management Information Systems, also new associate degree programs in 2015-2016 academic year, i.e. Culinary Arts, Child Development, Medical Documentation and Secretary Training, and Geriatric Care, and in 2016-2017 academic year, Geographic Information Systems and Technologies, and Web Design and Coding. The programs in Civil Aviation Management and International Trade and Logistics Management were established in 2015-2016 academic year in the Faculty of Business Administration.  In the webinar, of those new programs, specifically information about Web Design and Coding and Geographic Information system programs as technology-related programs will be presented with a focus on curriculum design features.   

By Ayse Hepkul & Mehmet Firat, Anadolu University

Blended Learning as a Key to Skills, Content, and Learning Success

15 November 2016

More successful and efficient teaching and learning can profit from the use of Internet and Communication Technologies. Their use in and outside the classroom can provide more supportive and successful learning opportunities, teacher and peer support, as well as innovation in course design. Blended Learning course design is one of the ways of achieving this. 

This webinar will focus first on the general philosophies of teaching and learning specifically applied to blended learning design, which will contribute to more successful learning and greater satisfaction of learners and teachers. Using the course design model for the author's blended learning courses as an example, the talk will show how the Blended Learning concept is integrated into a curriculum at a traditional university and how it can also be used to promote communities of practice among learners. Ultimately, these factors will lead to better skills, content, and language learning. 

By Eric Brewster, Johannes Kepler University Linz 

The EMMA 5D MOOC Framework

21 September 2016

The EMMA 5D MOOC framework is a way to describe the full cycle of MOOC creation and delivery. By identifying 5 stages of MOOC implementation (Decide; Design; Develop; Deliver; Document), the framework introduces a set of questions as well as examples taken from three complementary perspectives: institutional, pedagogical and technical. The EMMA 5D MOOC framework integrates the distinctive EMMA project experience in cultural and linguistic diversity. It is also the result of a comparative literature review on the subject. 

Website: https://platform.europeanmoocs.eu/  

By: Marcelo Maina and Lourdes Guàrdia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Knowledge Resources

2016 - 2017 webinars

Using Zotero as a collaborative research management tool

16 May 2017

In this presentation, we will discuss how to use Zotero as a basic tool for organizing collaborative bibliographic research. We will shortly overview the basic functionality of Zotero and how it compares to commercial systems, and then zoom in on the functionalities that truly make it a social platform for bibliographic research. Working on shared bibliographies is an excellent way to shape the direction of a research endeavour, and helps forge a common understanding of the research field. But it is also an ideal tool to introduce students to the literature in a particular discipline. We will also highlight some other tools such as The Library Thing, which focuses on book publications. By Frederik Truyen, KU Leuven

Applying learning technologies and tools for creating and using KR in online courses: A Guide for educators and researchers

14 September 2016

The scope of this webinar to facilitate educators for building an online course using knowledge resources (KR) and activities. We will focus on tools that can be used for building such a course and tools for creating KR and add them in an online course. Moreover, viewers will have the opportunity to watch a live demonstration using a demo course created in the Open University of Cyprus eLearning Platform. By Christos Rodosthenous (Open University of Cyprus)

Knowledge Resources to be promoted for their use into the learning Community (Higher Education teachers and learners)

7 July 2016

From context-based learning, libraries can provide KR adapted to each learning context. On the other hand, from adaptive teaching, where all learners are different but, however, most educational materials are the same for all, adaptive teaching technologies and KR should provide flexible study options to the students. Books chapters, articles, videos and other complementary material, available at the Library or that Library can search and provide, should let students to understand better the context they are studying and interacting with. At Open University of Catalonia (UOC) we are working hand-in-hand with teachers (meeting their needs and those of their students) in order to provide them tailored services and KR to contribute to the improvement of online learning. By Gema Santos-Hermosa, UOC

Working together with academics in a changing HE environment

13 October 2016

Librarians at The Open University collaborate with module teams to embed skills activities, resources and live engagement sessions into the taught curriculum. This case study will outline the processes involved, review the outcomes, and examine the chain of a changing environment. What happens when academics directly author their own learning content, or when Librarians are asked to provide support for MOOCs or commercial partnerships? By Cheryl Coveney, OUUK

Student Support

2016 - 2017 webinars

Learning Analytics for Student Support

12 September 2017

The Analytics 4 Action Evaluation Framework (A4A) provides a methodologically sound approach to - using data analytics- identify issues with student performance and progression, and embeds this approach to evaluation with Student Services Teams, and module and qualification teams to support in-presentation and post-presentation improvements to student experience and outcomes. Using the Active Presentation Toolkit, Module Team members, supported by the TEL team, are enabled to identify number of different types of action that can be taken in-presentation to improve student outcomes. The TEL Design team have been running the A4A process for the past 12 months having transitioned the project into mainstream activity. By Rafael Hidalgo-Aponte, OUUK

Institutional support for prospective and new students in online and distance education

14 February 2017

Do you know what are the main necessities and difficulties of prospective and new students in blended and online learning environments? Do you know why they quit while giving their first steps in their studies?

Would you like to know how to design and implement effective induction programmes mediated by ICT?

Would you like to know about innovative and creative ways to give support to students during their first academic year to prevent dropout and promote retention?

Research being done in distance education universities all over the world consistently reveals that students’ dropout takes place primarily during the first year and, even, before the exams of the first semester. That means that great efforts should be placed during this period of time to promote retention.

In this sense, induction programmes in blended and online learning programmes would require being implemented before students’ registration, and should be actively developed during early beginning of the first course and offered all along the first university year. Anyhow, any online training programme should look forward a good integration of participants, by designing its own induction plan. The main goal would be to improve students' retention and success and drop-out prevention.

In this webinar, some innovative experiences of induction programmes implemented at an institutional level, as well as good practices at giving support to prospective and new students will be introduced by international experts from different continents (UAB of Portugal, Open University of the Netherlands, Anadolu University of Turkey, UAPA of Dominican Republic and UNED). So, the institutional expertise at dealing with new students will be discussed and we will have the opportunity to know some innovative actions such as the awarded "Studiecoach" programme of the Open University of the Netherlands. By:

  • Angeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua. UNED, Spain (chair)
  • António Moreira Teixeira. UAB, Portugal.
  • Marion Stevens. Open University of the Netherlands
  • Magdalena Cruz Benzán. UAPA, Dominican Republic
  • Mehmet Firat. ANADOLU University, Turkey

Theories of Student Support for Retention

16 March 2017

“There is nothing” Kurt Lewin wrote, “as practical as a good theory”. This presentation looks at some of the theories that might be practical help in supporting students for retention. In particular it will look at learning motivation theories and how to help students keep their drive to learn. By Ormond Simpson, Former OUUK

Innovative Student Support Solutions for Large Groups

16 November 2016

Do you know how mega-universities cope with the challenge to give support to a large number of students in blended and online environments?

Would you like to know some good and innovative solutions to attend students’ necessities mediated by ICT when numbers increase?

Open and distance education universities are among the largest ones in the world by the number of students enrolled. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that this modality is giving, thus, response to main educative challenges all over the world, promoting higher education access in many countries.


However, giving support to a large number of students is a great challenge that calls for strong and extremely well-organized student support programs, at an institutional level, as well as innovative and creative proposals to give efficient answers to main students’ s needs in this type of mega universities.

In this webinar, distance education universities with a long experience in the field and a large number of students, will present some of their innovative solutions at giving support to big numbers in blended and online learning environments, such as the uses of FAQ System, short video instructions and social media (ANADOLU University, one of the largest universities in the world with 1.900.000 distance education students), and advanced technological tools for online video-tutoring, automatic correction system for open questions, and control process of formal examinations (UNED, a mega-university with 250.000 students).

By Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua. Student Support Chair. Coordinator. UNED

ANADOLU University (Turkey)

Mehmet Firat & Ayşe Hepkul

UNED (Spain)

Tim Read & Covadonga Rodrigo & José Mª Luzón y Guillermo de Jorge Botana

Student dropout in distance education - how many, who, when, why, what are the consequences and how do we overcome them?

29 September 2016

Dropout in open and distance education tends to be higher - sometimes much higher - than in conventional education. This webinar will try to understand the issue by looking at the scale of the problem - how many students drop out and who drops out and when. It will examine the serious consequences - social and financial - for students, institutions and society as a whole. It will argue that overcoming the problem involves recognising that funding appropriate student support is not simply a cost but can have a positive financial return for institutions through increased retention. The webinar will suggest some ideas for discussion about what that appropriate support might comprise. By Ormond Simpson, Former OUUK

Institutional Support: ICT, media and educational support services

2016 - 2017 webinars

Listening the educational initiatives for Migrants and Refugees coming from NGOs

12 May 2017

Losing migrants and refugees’ talents because of our inoperability will be our responsibility. Migrants and refugees are said1 to be “a tremendous added social, economic and political value”. Who are the most appropriate to detect and channel their specific needs on tertiary education? Universities should ask NGOs in order to identify training needs and design programs and evaluation systems relative to this vulnerable and valued collective. This workshop sets out the Spanish Refugee Aid Commission (CEAR), a representative voice of migrants and refugees in Spain, and HERMES, an old UNED project set up for special learning and teaching of migrants and refugees in which CEAR is interested in participating, channelling their voices.

1 Members’ policies and activities concerning refugees and migrants, July 2016

By María Teresa Bendito Cañizares (UNED) on HERMES University Integration Project for immigrants & by Cristina Sirur (CEAR) on CEAR: Right of Asylum and Refugees in Spain

Deconstructing Technology Enhanced Learning: from platforms to the cloud

8 March 2017

Technology-enhanced education has walked a long way since the first standardisation initiatives and industrial LMSs almost 20 years ago. In this scope, we take a look back and forward in the current state of educational technologies with a view of current trends in the demand for distance education. 

By Miguel Rodríguez Artacho, UNED

Mobile Learning & New Trends

21 February 2017

Today we face complex changes in society and education (e.g. high turnover rate of knowledge, changing labour market, the fast pace of technology renewal), which require a more creative response to the world problems that surround us. This calls for learning design solutions that deal with three major dimensions: context, technology and pedagogy, and aim at integrating learning in formal and informal contexts through blended learning scenarios. To get effective results emerging digital media tools must be used, but without losing track of a much needed pedagogical model. So, in this presentation, we discuss relevant research on mobile learning and digital media while making the connection to blended learning.

By José Bidarra, UAb 

Onlabs: 3D Game for Distance Laboratory

24 June 2016

Presentation by Dimitris Kalles (HOU) on Onlabs: 3D Game for Distance Laboratory

Training & Qualification

24 June 2016

Presentation by Nicole Engelhardt (FernUni) on Training and Qualification

Gathering ideas for main topics for expert pool Institutional Support

22 April 2016

  1. Presentation by Maria Teresa Bendito Cañizares (UNED) on Gamification
  2. Presentation by José Bidarra (UAb) and Ellen Rusman (OUNL) on A pedagogical model for science education through blended learning

Institutional policy and strategy development for new modes of teaching and learning

2016 - 2017 webinars

Leading in Changing Times: Case Studies in Strategy and Policy Development

31 August 2017

This webinar invites participants to discuss and reflect on contemporary models and approaches to institutional leadership and strategy development in today’s rapidly changing digital era. It argues that leadership remains one of the major challenges facing higher education institutions seeking to harness the transformative potential of new technology-enhanced models of teaching and learning. A strong case is made for a more distributed understanding of leadership in fostering transformative change in complex organisational ecologies. After outlining and inviting feedback on a number of guiding principles emerging from contemporary literature on effective leadership in higher education, the webinar briefly describes three interesting case studies. Firstly, it illustrates based on the experience at Dublin City University (DCU) the importance of aligning the language we adopt with the outcomes we seek in attempting to foster new digitally enhanced models of teaching and learning. Secondly, building on this example, the crucial role of vision, stakeholder engagement and strategic alignment are discussed in the context of envisioning and shaping our own institutional futures. Lastly, the webinar describes the experience of the Empower Online Learning Leadership Academy (EOLLA) and some of the lessons learnt about developing strategic leadership for such uncertain times. Overall the objective of webinar is to share and critically reflect on different experiences of institutional leadership, as we grapple with the challenge of the modernisation of higher education in the European context.

By Professor Mark Brown: Director, National Institute for Digital Learning Dublin City University

International Education

2016 - 2017 webinars

EDELNet (European Distance Education in Law Network): a case study on international strategic partnerships in higher education

7 June 2016

The FernUniversität in Hagen, the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) and the Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNl) are three leading European distance learning universities firmly devoted to further the principle of equal opportunity by safeguarding equal access to top-quality higher education to everyone, using a methodology based on the principles of modern distance learning focused on the needs of the student. In 2014, after eight years of successful cooperation in the organization of international common teaching activities on the bachelor level, these universities established a Strategic Partnership to further cultural exchange and best practices in the internationalisation of high-quality education in law for all three Bologna cycles. Developed within this framework, the EDELNet (European Distance Education in Law Network) project is planned to be the first building block in the implementation of an ambitious scientific and pedagogic concept of Blended Active Learning and student-oriented teaching facilitating a personal learning path with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and intercultural communication skills as a basis for a better understanding of each other’s legal cultures and practices throughout Europe and beyond. The project has been recently awarded European Union funding for the period 2015-2018 by the DAAD ERASMUS+ funding program for Strategic Partnerships (Call 2015).

By Juan Garcia Blesa, Nils Szuka, FernUni