POERUP Policy Advice for Universities

(Cross posted from Open Scotland)

poerup_2Policies for OER Uptake (POERUP) is a European Commission funded Life Long Learning Programme project, coordinated by Sero Consulting, which is carrying out research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. The project aims to:

“convince decision-makers that in order to be successful with OER, they will have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one’s own country, region or continent, beyond the educational sector they look after.”

POERUP have already undertaken a survey of open education policy along with developments in education, e-learning, internet and copyright in 26 countries and have produced a series of comprehensive reports which can be viewed on the Country Reports wiki.

The project is also tasked with producing OER policy documents for a number of EU nations including Scotland, and the team are keen to work with those who have been involved in Open Scotland. The project are also drafting three EU-wide policy papers for schools, colleges and universities on fostering OER uptake, which will act as aides-mémoire for the national policy documents. A draft of the POERUP EU-wide Policies for Universities is available here.

This document provides an invaluable overview of policy developments relative to open education from EU initiatives (e.g. Bologna, Europe 2020, Opening Up Education), OER projects, lobbyist circles (e.g. Opal, UNESCO/COL) and POERUP working meetings. From this evidence base, the following eighteen Policy Proposal Recommendations have been synthesised. In formulating these proposals care has been taken

“not to over-focus on OER as an end but more of a means towards educational transformation.”

To provide comments or feedback on these recommendations please contact Paul Bacsich of Sero Consulting at paul.bacsich@sero.co.uk.

Recommendations for European Commission and via EU for the Member States

Innovation – new institutions

1. The Commission should set up a competitive innovation fund to develop one new “European” university each year with a commitment to low-cost online education around a core proposition of open content.
Accreditation of institutions – new accrediting bodies and mutual recognition
2. The Commission should foster the development of transnational accrediting agencies and mutual recognition of accreditations across the EU.
3. The Commission should reduce the regulatory barriers against new kinds of HE providers (e.g. for-profit, from outside the country, consortial, etc).

Quality agencies

4. Quality agencies in ENQA49 should:  Develop their understanding of new modes of learning (including online, distance, OER and MOOCs) and how they impact quality assurance and recognition;

  • Engage in debates on copyright;
  • Consider the effects of these new modes on quality assurance and recognition;
  • Ensure that there is no implicit non-evidence-based bias against these new modes when accrediting institutions both public and private including for-profit (if relevant), accrediting programmes (if relevant) and assessing/inspecting institutions/programmes.

Bologna-bis: competence-based not time-based assessment

5. The Commission and related authorities developing the European Higher Education Area50 should reduce the regulatory barriers against new non-study-time-based modes of provision: in particular by developing a successor to Bologna based primarily on competences gained not duration of study.

Assessment and accreditation of modules

6. The Commission should recommend to universities that they should work to improve and proceduralise their activity on APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) including the ability to accredit knowledge and competences developed through online study and informal learning, including but not restricted to OER and MOOCs, with a focus on admitting students with such accredited studies to the universities’ own further courses of study.
7. The Commission should recommend to the larger member states that they should each set up an Open Accreditor to accredit a range of studies which could lead to an undergraduate degree. In the first instance the Accreditor should focus on qualifications in the ISCED 5B area as this is most correlated with high-level skills for business and industry.

Funding mechanisms for institutions and content

8. The Commission should foster work into standardised syllabi EU-wide for undergraduate degrees in certain professions (e.g. medicine, nursing, mathematics, IS/IT) where this is appropriate for EU-wide action, and in the light of a successful outcome to such initiatives, foster the developments of common bases of OER material to support these standards, including relevant open repositories and (ideally jointly with publishers) open textbooks.
9. The Commission should ensure that any public outputs from its programmes (specifically including Erasmus for All and Framework) are made available as open resources under an appropriate license.
10. The Commission should encourage member states to do likewise for their national research and teaching development programmes, including for the public funding component of university teaching.
11. The Commission should encourage member states to increase their scrutiny of the cost basis for university teaching and consider the benefits of output-based funding for qualifications.

IPR issues

12. The Commission should adopt and recommend a standard Creative Commons license for all openly available educational material it is involved in funding. This should currently be Creative Commons 3.0 in unported or relevant national versions, updated from time to time. The Commission should also recommend this license to all member states.
13. The Commission should study the issues in the modern European HE system round the “non commercial” restriction and make appropriate recommendations for its own programmes and for member states.
14. The Commission should support the development of technological methods to provide more and standardised information on IPR to the users of digital educational content.
15. The Commission should mount a campaign both centrally and via the member states to educate university staff on IPR issues.

Training of academics

16. The Commission should support the development of online initial and continuous professional development programmes for teachers, focussing on online learning with specific coverage of distance learning, OER, MOOCs and other forms of open educational practice, and also IPR issues.
17. The Commission should encourage member states to do this also and should recommend the use of incentive schemes for teachers engaged in online professional development of their pedagogic skills including online learning.

Further research

18. The Commission should fund research into the verifiable benefits of OER, with greater efforts to integrate such analyses with its ongoing research on distance learning, on-campus online learning, and pedagogy; and recommend the same to member states.

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