Continuing Education and Short Learning Programmes


By its flexibility, online teaching and learning gives a new impetus to continuing education in European higher education institutions, e.g. continuous professional development for professionals, professional knowledge networks and university-business cooperations. Also OERs and MOOcs can be integrated in a continuing education policy. Because of the needs in society and in evolving careers, this sector becomes increasingly important. Since the target groups are heterogeneous, the educational objectives are diverse as well as the respective educational/training environments, the sector becomes a challenge for universities. At the same time, it is a place for innovation, which can have benefits to degree education as well.

Meet our experts on continuing education and short learning programmes
  • Alessandra Antonaci, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), Chair

  • Liz Marr, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)

  • Anja Oskamp, Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) 

  • Jeroen Winkels, Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL)

  • Sebastián Rubén Gómez Palomo, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

  • Carla Maria Bispo Padrel de Oliveira, Universidade Aberta (UAb)

  • Maria Amata Garito, Università telematica internazionale  (UNINETTUNO)

  • Alessandro Caforio, Università telematica internazionale (UNINETTUNO)

  • Jukka Lerkkanen, Jyväskylän yliopisto (JYU)

  • Päivi Kananen, Jyväskylän yliopisto (JYU)

  • Achilles Kameas, Hellenic Open University (HOU)

EMPOWER offers

By online continuing education and short learning programmes, universities can upscale their initiatives and organise them directly in an international context, which contributes to the reputation of the staff and the institution. 

The EMPOWER expert pool delivers examples of good practice with a variety of formats, based on practice within their institutions, relevant for continuing education and short learning programmes. It deals as well with the development of organisational and business models, with which universities are less familiar. Especially, the organisation of continuing education by multi-disciplinary teams with allocation models, directly linked to departments are important for a successful implementation.

Tools & resources


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