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OpeningupSlovenia kick-starts “Openingup” in the Balkans

- December 11, 2015 in featured, guestpost, oer, world

OpeningupSlovenia was launched on April 23, 2014 at the OCW Consortium Global Conference 2014 in Ljubljana. Androulla Vassiliou European Commissioner, Directorate General for Education and Culture was present at the launch and stressed the importance of the conference and OpeningupSlovenia as a bold and innovative attempt on how to place Europe at the forefront of the global educational map. “I am delighted that Slovenia has adopted a national strategy to promote open educational resources. This complements the Commission’s own ‘Opening up Education’ initiative. Our shared objective is not to replace traditional textbooks or face-to-face teaching, but to make the most of the opportunities created by digitisation and new technologies. Europe cannot afford to lag behind its international rivals if we want to ensure our young people have the skills needed in the modern world. I hope that this Slovenian initiative is successful and inspires similar schemes in other Member States,” commented Commissioner Vassiliou.

The idea was quite simple in theory but complicated in practice, namely OpeningupSlovenia is an unprecedented attempt to create a unique experimental platform – an Open Member State – that will be adequately large, open and flexible to provide for horizontal and vertical links within the education system involving education, research and business institutions, to stimulate the development of new open education frameworks by targeting different groups and including experimental research and users’ realistic assessment. The idea is to attract researchers, companies, and the public eye to come to Slovenia and learn from its mistakes and successes.

Rather than presenting all the achievements of 2015 on research, government and policy level, this blog is an attempt to present s specific development on the regional scale in South East Europe (SEE).

On September 18 the OpeningupSlovenia members together with the UNESCO Chair on Open Technologies for OER and Open Learning, Knowledge 4 All Foundation, Microsoft Bosnia and the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth Canton Sarajevo organized a “best practice transfer” event in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference was a brand name conference that Knowledge 4 All Foundation is running with researches and governments across Europe in regions that are opening to open education, ICT and AI. The main idea was to identify open educational practices and synergies and incentives that could potentially lead to a kick-start of new “OpeningupMembers” initiatives in the Balkan region and stimulate the formation of Openingup Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia or a mutual initiative in the form of OpeningupBalkans.

The event was well advertised with a substantial turnout of 200 primary and secondary teachers, headmasters and ICT companies. It was designed in a way so as to start with a potential strategy for the region and moving on to technologies and research and finishing with exemplar projects and an overview of the state of the art in open education in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

Figure 1: Gordana Jugo, Elena Stojanovska and Ivan Obradović presenting the region’s best practices in open educationFigure 1: Gordana Jugo, Elena Stojanovska and Ivan Obradović presenting the region’s best practices in open education

Azemina Njuhovič (video) as the governmental representative of Canton of Sarajevo, introduced and welcomed and decisively stated that open education might create new opportunities in the Bosnian educational system. The UNESCO Chair (video) presented its activities from artificial intelligence and ICT for open education and introduced the idea that the SEE region has the potential of creating new technologies and practices and a good regional starting point in adopting already existing ones in terms of tools for language and created OER. Gasper Hrastelj (video) presented the general UNESCO perspective on open education and was followed by a research section with a presentation by Kostadin Cholakov on the TraMOOC – Translation for Massive Open Online Courses project (video) and Alfons Juan-Ciscar (video) highlighting how breaking the language barrier can be achieved via a H2020 project. Piet Grymonprez and Mihajela Crnko moved on to present MyMachine (video), an innovative idea where children draw their dream machine, university student create the design and high school students create the machines with the help of their mentors and industry support.

Figure 2: Azemina Njuhovic, Ministry of Education and Science, Canton Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina

Perhaps the most meaningful part of the event was delivered in the last section where the Croatian (video), Serbian (video) and Macedonian (video) perspectives on open education. It quickly became apparent that all the three countries have a very good and interesting selection of best practices, mostly focusing on learning environments in Croatia, pioneering creation of OER in Serbia and managing OER repositories in Macedonia. The main feedback and prevailing attitude from attendees and speakers during coffee brakes and QA sessions was that the region was ready and in need for new investment and stepping to a higher organisational level in addressing their respective governments with an “Openingup” value proposition.

The 2nd Internet of Education Conference (IOE 2015) in Sarajevo provided an opportunity to highlight the importance of the following in open education: 1) technical developments in support of open learning environments (as indicated in the EC communication Opening up Education), 2) the value of multi-lingual tools in increasing access to open education and MOOCs, in particular the tools developed within the TraMOOC, EMMA, TransLectures and Active2Trans projects and OER gathering projects like ExplorEdu, and ICT in schools via MyMachine, 3) the smart partnership across different stakeholders in education from primary and HEI to civil society, governments and companies as reflected in the OpeningupSlovenia initiative. This was a great opportunity to discuss and design best practice transfer from Slovenia and Europe, stimulate a strategy for new regional “Openingup” initiatives and present what is already being developed in the SEE region.

Figure 3: Mitja Jermol, UNESCO Chair in OER

Since the conference was organized under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair in OER we also received UNESCO patronage for this specific event. It was felt that the 2nd Internet of Education Conference 2015 will have regional significance and outreach to participants from Slovenia and neighbouring countries from Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe. The proposed activity would cover geographical regions that need a boost in the usage and understanding of OERs as UNESCO recognized them at the 1st Global OER Forum in 2002 where the term Open Educational Resources (OER) was adopted. Additionally this region is in need of policy changes for a competitive inclusion towards more developed universities.

This blog post was written by Davor Orlic from OpeningupSlovenia.

Reflections from Policy Debate about copyright and education: How to ensure user rights in education? Copyright reform and Open educational resources

- November 23, 2015 in featured, guestpost, licensing, Open Educational Resources

Reported and written by: Sandra Kucina Softic, M. Sc.; University Computing Centre SRCE, Croatia

The debate ( was held at the European Union on November 17, 2015 and was hosted by Michal Boni, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from Poland. The debate focused in particular on user rights: the freedom of educators and learners to use resources in the process of education.

Introduction to the debate:

Freedom to use educational resources is a fundamental issue in education. It can be ensured either by copyright rules or through sharing of Open Educational Resources (OER). The European Commission communication on the modernisation of copyright rules has defined educational exceptions as an issue that requires action in the European reform planned for 2016. At the same time, recent policy developments once again prove the importance of Open Educational Resources: UNESCO members have just committed to supporting OERs within the Education 2030 Framework for Action. OECD will soon publish a new report on “Open Educational Resources. A Catalyst for Innovation”. The event will focus on the European level of policy making, with the goal of discussing possibilities of strengthening European policies and programs.

Picture1: MEP M. Boni opens the debate on copyright reform and OER

The debate was organized by Centrum Cyfrowe and Communia as the part of the ExplOERer project. On behalf of the organizer the meeting was moderated by A. Tarkowski.

Mr. Alek Tarkowski reported on document Foundations for OER Strategy Development ( which provides concise analysis of where global OER movement currently stands. Intention of this document is to serve as a starting point for conversations about strategies for mainstreaming OER and extending its reach and impact globally.

Speakers at the debate were: Mr Dominic Orr (Consultant, OECD), Ms Teresa Nobre (Legal Lead, Creative Commons, Portugal) and Ms Josie Fraser (social and educational technologist, Leicester City Council, UK). Over 40 people participated at the debate.

In his introduction Mr. Orr gave an overview on the OECD report: Open Educational Resources- a Catalyst for Innovation which will be published on December 1, 2015. In this report highlighted are three key potentials of OER:

  • digital technologies have become ubiquitous in daily life and OER can harness the new possibility to afforded by digital technology to address common educational challenges
  • OER are a catalyst for social innovation, which can facilitate changed forms of interaction between teachers, learners and knowledge
  • OER have an extended lifecycle beyond their original design and purpose. The process of distribution, adaptation and iteration can improve access to high quality, context-appropriate educational materials for all.

Picture 2: Mr. D. Orr presenting OECD report

The report also focuses on the contribution of OER to six educational changes that concern educational systems today:

  • fostering the use of new forms of learning for the 21st century
  • fostering teachers’ professional development and engagement
  • containing public and private costs of education
  • continually improving the quality of educational resources
  • widening the distribution of high quality educational resources
  • reducing barriers to learning opportunities

Ms Teresa Nobre reported on the different national laws of the EU member states regarding the quotations, compilations and derivatives. National laws are often vague and in unclear language, and certain acts are allowed in face to face teaching but not in online context. Quotations are usually for free, but only 16 member states allow quotes of full-sized images. In preparations for teaching teachers often make compilations of learning materials. But some countries don’t allow it for free. At the moment only 12 member states allow teachers to make a non-commercial compilation without payment. Teachers often need to translate materials and want to use them in their work, some countries do allow it but 10 member states do not permit translations for educational purposes.

Picture 3: Ms T. Nobre

Suggestion is to establish single mandatory exception to ensure EU–wide educational uses of copyrighted works. Emphasis should be on limitation of the purposes not users. There is a need for stronger harmonization between member states. Possible solution is Digital Single Market ( in which the free movement of persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence. The Digital Single Market strategy ( has been adopted in May 2015 and aims to open up digital opportunities for people and business and enhance Europe’s position as a world leader in the digital economy.

Ms. J. Fraser stressed was that teachers create amazing resources but they need training not only in technologies but also in methodologies and abilities to integrate technology into the educational process. Also there is an increasing trend towards making educational contents and resources freely available. Still lots of issues have not been settled, especially copyright issues. Academic staff is often not aware of open licensing and Creative Commons. Although the academic staff have a good experience with CC, it doesn’t solve all the problems. Copyright issues is still present and need to be regulated.

Open Education Serbia

- October 5, 2015 in featured, guestpost, world

Next post on Open Education Around the World comes from Serbia. Serbia is a country on southeast Europe’s Balkan peninsula with vast northern plateaus and mountains with ski resorts to the south. It has connected West with East for centuries – a land in which civilisations, cultures, faiths, climates and landscapes meet and mingle. Capital city Belgrade is home to Kalemegdan Park, site of an ancient fortress held successively by the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. One of the world’s great inventors Nikola Tesla, American scientist of Serbian origin, gave his greatest contribution to science and technological progress of the world.

Ranka Stankovic (BAEKTEL project) and Ivana Madžarević (Wikimedia Serbia) have kindly prepared this post describing the situation of Open Education in Serbia and projects that they are running in this field.

Ranka Stanković (left) Ivana Madžarević (right)

Ranka Stanković (left) Ivana Madžarević (right)

Ranka Stanković is associate professor at University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mining and Geology, where she is teaching several courses related to informatics and geoinformatics. She received her Master’s degree in 2000 and Ph.D. 2009 at the Department for Computer science, Faculty of Mathematics University of Belgrade. Professor Stanković is interested in e-learning, open education, semantic web, information systems, database modeling, geoinformation management and artificial intelligence. Her current research is focused on building custom components that incorporate knowledge from various language  and lexical resources. Ivana Madžarević is a Program and Community Manager at Wikimedia Serbia since January 2014. She’s been involved with coordinating volonteers, leading and organizing programs. From her experience, she can tell that teachers and professors are willing to implement open education resources into classes.

In Serbia, there are several attempts to develop Open Educational Resources (OER) either using well-defined practices in other countries or their own solutions. The videos with translations or synchronization of from Khan Academy are available in Serbian. The Khan Academy in Serbia works on the translation of the Khan platform and interactive exercises. The Belgrade University Library “Svetozar Marković” developed a project “Knowledge for all” of translation of courses and free learning materials into Serbian. The New Media Center, an independent organization that brings together artists, activists within the media, researchers, and the general public in the field of information technology, has been operating in Serbia. The newly formed “Balkan Distance Education Network BADEN” was also created with the aim of hosting resources and information related to open, distance and e-learning. More detail can be found in Report on legal and technological conditions pertaining to OER in WB PC

BAEKTEL project

One of the major projects in the Open Education field in Serbia is BAEKTEL project. The main goal of the BAEKTEL (Blending Academic and Entrepreneurial Knowledge in Technology Enhanced Learning) project ( is to enable technology enhanced knowledge transfer between academia and enterprises. The project is following basic OER principles, is funded by EACEA (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) of the European Commission for period 2014-2016.

In the envisaged network of institutions OER materials from both sources will be available on the web for everyone, anytime, which will broaden knowledge acquired within higher education institutions, on the one hand, and foster life-long learning within enterprises, on the other. While at the university, future experts will be offered an insight into expert knowledge gained through practice within enterprises. On the other hand, once they graduate and become employees, they will have an opportunity for life-long learning, through access to state of the art high quality academic courses. By blending academic and entrepreneurial knowledge within one technological framework, the BAEKTEL network, the proposed approach additionally contributes to improvement and enhancement of relations between the academia and the enterprises and integration of creative research potential with industry and academic institutions.

Baektel project

The objective of the project is to produce course materials in several different languages, in various forms such as videos, audio streams and written material. In order to facilitate the use of these materials in a multilingual environment, a language support system will be put in place, consisting mainly of electronic terminological resources and services. Given the composition of the project partners the network will be initially populated by materials from the domains of ICT, geoinformatics, mining engineering and environmental protection, but the other domains will be gradually included.

The initial framework is conceived as a network of six WB universities, two companies and tree universities from EU and other partners ( All of them will develop and publish their OER at common BAEKTEL portal The ICT solution also includes BAEKTEL Metadata Portal (BMP, available at, as a central repository with metadata for all published OER within BAEKTEL. The metadata model for BAEKTEL learning resources was defined based on Doublin Core with addition of some elements from LOM, in order to describe the resources sufficiently well for the user to be able to locate and assess them easily, and to facilitate exchange with other OER systems. Since OER content within the network can be published in different languages, the web application and web services support the network multilinguality, but also offer various features related to query expansion, information retrieval, OER indexing and classification, and the like.

Follow BAEKTEL project activities on

Programs of Wikimedia Serbia

Wikimedia Serbia in a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose goals are creating, gathering and multiplication of free content in Serbian language, as well as promoting the idea of equal access to free knowledge for all people.

200px-Wikimedia-SerbiaActivities of Wikimedia Serbia aim to promote Wiki projects (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikibooks, Wikiquote and others) as free education platform. Among our activities, the most important and the most developed one is our Education program, that has been developing since 2007. This is also the oldest EDU project in worldwide Wiki movement. The idea is using Wiki platforms in education and establishing cooperation with education institutions (high schools, faculties). Students and pupils have аn opportunity to write their seminal papers directly on Wikipedia. It’s free, it’s easy and, most importantly, someone’s effort will not be forgotten. It is instantly visible and useful for others. From 2007 to 2015, EDU project has grown and evolved. Community has established the rules for Wiki Student and Wiki Gymnasium. Over the years, Wikimedia Serbia has cooperated with more then 20 educational institutions such as Faculty of Mathematics, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Faculty of Mining and Geology, Faculty of Geography, School of Electrical Engineering, The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Applied Studies, but also with high schools: Third Belgrade Gymnasium, Fifth Belgrade Gymnasium, Seventh Belgrade Gymnasium, Gymnasium in Ivanjica, Gymnasium in Užice, Gymnasium in Knjaževac, Mathematical Grammar School and others. Similar, global program involves other Wikimedia chapthers. In order to learn about other chapter’s experiences, we have organized EduWiki conference in March 2014. Program was consisted of sessions that were presented by speakers from abroad but also by professors from Serbia who presented successful projects. Students have recognized the importance of this type of education and some of them have become Wiki ambassadors.

Beside Wikipedia, there are other Wiki projects that have the potential to be used in education. One of them is Wikibooks, which was edited by students from Faculty of Mining and Geology. They have created manual for AutoCAD usage.

We cooperated with interested librarians as well. Goals of Wiki Librarian are  informing and training librarians for participation in creating articles on Wikipedia, uploading photo material on Wikimedia Commons but also improving Wiki projects with digitized books. The examples for that are:

Over the years, these projects have proved to be successful and recognized by educational and cultural institutions as well as by students and high school pupils. We have encountered and overcame numerous challenges over the years. Our focus was on learning from each of them. Still, we are aware that there are many more to come,  but we are willing to face them, in order to improve our endeavors.

You can follow Wikimedia Serbia on Facebook and their blog.

Using the data from the OER Research Hub

- October 1, 2015 in featured, guestpost, oer, Open Educational Resources

Given the topicality of the OER Research Hub recent research outputs we are pleased to be able to reproduce on our blog a post from Robert Schuwer on how he is using the data that the OER Research Hub has generated, especially that on formal learners and educators.

The post was authored by  Robert Schuwer and edited on to the blog by Paul Bacsich. For Robert’s original posting see

Read the rest of this entry →

Open Education Croatia

- September 23, 2015 in featured, guestpost, world

Our next post on Open Education from Around the World comes from Sandra Kučina Softić from Croatia. Croatia is a country of rich historical heritage, natural beauty and a pleasant climate. The beginnings of schools and education in Croatia date back to the 10th century. and the University of Zagreb, founded in 1669, is the oldest continuously operating university in South Eastern Europe. There are more than 120 higher education institutions and 850 schools. In 2014 Croatian Parliament adopted the new Education, Science and Technology Strategy setting the new guidelines towards open, mobile and innovative Croatian society.

sandra_08Sandra Kučina Softić is the Assistant Director for Education and User Support at the University Computing Centre SRCE. She is also heading the E-Learning Centre at SRCE and the E-learning Office of the University of Zagreb, central support units for the implementation of e-learning in higher education. She is monitoring and enhancing the e-learning implementation process at the higher institutions in Croatia, primarily at the University of Zagreb, and providing support and advice to institutions, teachers and students in implementation of new technologies in and teaching and learning process. For her work on the development and systematic implementation of e-learning at the University of Zagreb she has received the Rector award in 2011. She is a member of the Committee for the E-learning and Internet Services at the University of Zagreb and EDEN executive committee member. In 2014 she has received the EDEN Fellow Award. She has finished the Master of Science in Digital education programme at the University of Edinburgh.

The Croatian Parliament adopted the new Education, Science and Technology Strategy in October 2014. The Strategy stressed that Croatia should be open, mobile and innovative with science and education as developmental priorities. The Strategy mission is to ensure high-quality education available to everyone under the same conditions and possibilities. The Strategy emphasises also the importance of using information and communication technologies in educational process, fostering the implementation of e-learning, other modern methods of teaching based on ICT and development of open educational resources.

St. Mark's Church, Zagreb

St. Mark’s Church, Zagreb

Using technology in education doesn’t imply openness of educational resources, but can be a key factor in speeding it up. The use of technology in education, as a tool for improving the quality of teaching and learning process, is inevitable in today’s education system and, as such, it follows the tendencies of the 21st century education. Gaining the equal access to centralized LLP programmes in 2009 enabled Croatia to invest more into the development of the digital educational resources. But the idea of free education and open sharing in education is not new in Croatia. There is a number of smaller scale initiatives and achievement by institutions.

Examples of good practice

One of the leading institutions that has, for many years, strongly supported and encouraged the idea and best practices of open access, as well as the usage of open educational resources (OER), is University of Zagreb University Computing Centre (SRCE). SRCE ( is the main computing centre and the architect of e-infrastructure, covering both the University of Zagreb and the whole research and higher education system. Furthermore, SRCE is the competence centre for information and communication technologies, as well as the centre for education and support in the area of ICT application.

SRCE is centre for education and support in the area of ICT application

SRCE is centre for education and support in the area of ICT application

SRCE signed two important declarations: the Croatian Declaration on Open Access (2012) and the Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age (2015). Following the principles of open access and open educational resources, SRCE has adopted its own policy and guideline document “Open Access Policy” on September 3, 2014.

SRCE’s logo for resources openly available

SRCE’s logo for resources openly available

SRCE contributes to the culture and practice of open access in Croatia by maintaining several services, such as: HRČAK – Portal of Scientific Journals of Croatia, DABAR – System of Digital Academic Archives and Repositories, ARA – Aggregator of Croatian Open Repositories and Public Data Collections – service used to permanently store various data collections of interest for the academic and educational community or general public.

Scheme of the System of Digital Academic Archives and Repositories and possible objects that can be stored (multimedia, thesis, monographs, primary data, papers, final works) into it

Scheme of the System of Digital Academic Archives and Repositories and possible objects that can be stored (multimedia, thesis, monographs, primary data, papers, final works) into it

Following the Open Access Policy, SRCE provides an open access to a number of educational resources developed within the framework of SRCE’s educational activities (e.g. E-learning Centre, IT courses), expert analysis and policies in the various fields of ICT research and application, and articles and papers published or presented in journals and conferences. The resources are available under the Creative Commons licences.

In March 2015, SRCE participated at the Open Education Week and, for that occasion, produced a video on the topic of OER with an aim to promote and raise awareness about Open Education Resources in Croatia.

VideoVideo is available in Croatian at

SRCE is responsible for the national e-learning platform Merlin ( where higher education institutions in Croatia can open their e-learning courses and get the support in development and advancement of their e-courses. The e-learning platform is based on the open source system Moodle and is home to more than 4.000 e-courses each academic year. There are also other e-learning platforms maintained by educational institutions.

Preface of the e-learning platform Merlin

Preface of the e-learning platform Merlin

The Catalogue of the Higher Education Institutions’ E-courses in Croatia ( was launched in June this year by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport. The Catalogue is the central place where are all information about higher educations’ e-courses in Croatia are stored. SRCE is responsible for maintaining the catalogue and providing support to institutions.

Even in primary and secondary education there are examples of educational systems and initiatives that contribute to the openness of education. The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport’s initiated the establishment of the National Portal for Distance Education “Nikola Tesla” ( as the repository of educational resources in the field of Science (Math, Chemistry, Physics and Biology) to help elementary and high school teachers in preparation of their teaching materials. The Portal and an e-learning platform based on Moodle which is used for the development of e-courses in schools are maintained by the Croatian Academic and Research Network CARNet ( CARNet also participates in the international project Open Discovery Space (, together with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing of the University Of Zagreb, in order to integrate e-learning into the educational process of 50 Croatian schools.

Massive Open Online Courses are at their beginning in Croatia. Last year CARNet designed the MOOC on Moodle in Croatia in which participated about 400 participants. By the end of September 2015 the MOOC in Croatian titled “ePortfolio Self-Development Study” prepared by the Europortfolio initiative ( will be launched.

In January 2014, Ministry of Science, Education and Sport invited all schools to join European initiative “Opening Education” and to actively participate in the “Open Education Europe” portal by sharing their educational resources.

Future of Open Education in Croatia

There is still a lot to be done in Croatia in order to raise awareness on the importance of free and open access to education and knowledge. What is needed and can be done today in Croatia science and education system level, but at the institution level as well?

  1. To discuss about open access and open educational resources, and stating in the policy documents that they are positive and desired practice, which will be systematically promoted and originated
  2. To ensure that all publicly funded educational resources are openly available
  3. To plan and provide resources for the further development of the high-quality open educational resources
  4. To continue development and increase the availability of the modern e-infrastructure on all levels so open educational resources and other resources can be easily developed, produced and accessed
  5. To develop digital educational resources, tools and methods for the use of ICT in education and to train teachers, especially in digital skills.

Recently the EC released new priorities for European Education and Training 2020 (

  1. Relevant and high-quality skills and competences for employability, innovation, active citizenship;
  2. Inclusive education, equality, non-discrimination, civic competences;
  3. Open and innovative education and training, including by fully embracing the digital era;
  4. Strong support for educators;
  5. Transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications; and
  6. Sustainable investment, performance and efficiency of education and training systems.

This is one more incentive, for all of us, to modernize school and university curricula, to provide education which will enable students to become employable and to gain skills and competencies needed for jobs today and those that will be created tomorrow. As the new technologies provide opportunities to learn anywhere, anytime and from anyone there is a strong potential for widening the access to education and increase the diversity of student population. New and innovative technologies are already starting to facilitate better quality of teaching and learning, as educational resources from around the world become more freely accessible and interactive media for learning is more often employed. It is necessary that all participants of the educational process start to be aware of the benefits that open education and open access can bring to them. Successful examples can contribute to awareness, but for significant changes, systematic approach is required at all levels.

Photo Open EducationRetrieved from


Open Education Information Center

- September 9, 2015 in Open Educational Resources

Tijdens de afgelopen zomervakantie is de eerste versie van het Open Education Information Center (OEIC) van het Open Education Consortium gepubliceerd. Het doel van het OEIC is antwoord te verschaffen op allerlei vragen die bij het bezig zijn met Open Education naar boven kunnen komen. Het vervangt de Toolkit die eerder vanaf die website toegankelijk was, maar die sterk verouderd was.

Bij de opzet van het OEIC is ervoor gekozen om vijf ingangen te kiezen:

  • Staf (docenten, ondersteuners) (Faculty)
  • Studenten
  • Administrator
  • Onderzoekers
  • Beleidsmakers

Bij iedere categorie zijn vragen verzameld vanuit de praktijk. Deze vragen zijn binnen de categorie ingedeeld in clusters. Een voorbeeld van zo’n cluster is Using OERs in my classroom in de categorie Faculty. Het antwoord bij iedere vraag bestaat uit een korte tekst en verwijzingen naar bronnen (meestal websites) met een uitgebreidere toelichting.

Deze vraagbaak zal voortdurend worden aangevuld met nieuwe vragen. Iedere gebruiker kan eigen vragen indienen via een Submit Info button op de startpagina van het OEIC. Dat gaat nu nog via e-mail, maar het is de bedoeling hier een webformulier achter te plaatsen.

Behalve vragen indienen kunnen ook opmerkingen over antwoorden en suggesties voor bronnen bij bestaande vragen worden voorgesteld. Bij iedere vraag is ook een item gemaakt in een Community Forum. Gebruikers kunnen hun opmerkingen bij een vraag ook daar achterlaten. Zoals bij veel van dergelijke communities is er nog weinig activiteit daar. Een grotere bekendheid van het OEIC, resulterend in meer traffic, is voorwaardelijk voor meer community activiteit.

Vorig jaar hebben Bert Frissen (Avans, maar inmiddels pensionado), Pierre Gorissen (HAN) en ondergetekende een opzet beschreven voor functies die een dergelijke informatiesite beter toegankelijk zouden maken voor iedere belangstellende, met name voor docenten die bij adoptie van OER problemen ondervinden. Het OEIC beschouw ik als een eerste aanzet van implementatie van dat idee. Wat mij betreft zou een eerste uitbreiding bestaan uit het categoriseren van de bronnen waarnaar verwezen wordt in vereist kennisniveau van het betreffende onderwerp om de bron nuttig te laten zijn (bijvoorbeeld geen of weinig kennis vereist – gemiddelde kennis vereist – veel kennis vereist). Tevens zou de ingang naar te onderscheiden aspecten die nu deels in de clusters is terug te vinden wellicht moeten worden verfijnd.

Het Open Education Consortium heeft mij gevraagd de verdere uitbouw van het OEIC aan te sturen. Ik heb volmondig ja hierop gezegd omdat ik een one-stop-shop waar iedereen met belangstelling voor Open Education terecht kan uiterst waardevol vind voor adoptie van Open Education.

Ik ben erg benieuwd naar ervaringen die gebruikers met deze site hebben. Schroom niet die te delen met het Open Education Consortium en, indien u tevreden bent, maak reclame voor deze site in uw netwerk. Gebruik en participatie in het forum is voor iedereen; je hoeft dus geen lid te zijn van het Open Education Consortium (hoewel ik lidmaatschap wel wil bepleiten, maar dat is een ander verhaal).


Is there a link between OER and economic growth?

- August 24, 2015 in oer

Should countries invest more in education to promote economic growth? Education is crucial towards the path of socio-economic development in one country. An educated population is one of the keys in enhancing the economic productivity and creating knowledge economy and the future of the countries is relying on the knowledge and skills of their people.


While there has been progress towards meeting the Education For All (EFA) goals of UNESCO there are a lot of challenges remaining, especially in the developing economies regarding the access to education, improving quality and dealing with financial constraints. In terms of meeting the demands of the labor market and offering high quality relevant education, the developing countries need continuously to update their educational systems so they can equip students with needed skills. And this is quite difficult in a context of increasing student enrolments on one side and improving quality standards on other side. Bearing in mind the previously elaborated, the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) is becoming more and more significant around the world, having the potential to contribute to improved delivery of education and tackle some of the key problems facing the education systems. (Commonwealth of Learning, 2012)

In this regard we come to the question: are OER one of the keys to global economic growth?

This article published in 2012 in The Guardian (by the Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO, and Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning from 2004 to 2012) discusses one of the main conclusions of UNESCO World OER Congress in 2012: “the OER are key not only to solving the global education crisis but to unlocking sustainable global growth in the 21st century — that is, if governments are ready to seize on their potential.” This Congress concluded with a declaration that urged governments to play a more active role in supporting this movement, widening the circle of those able to contribute to renewed economic growth.

Therefore this article states that the economic potential of OER is big and that OERs can lower education costs substantially. The economic implications of the OER movement and its potential to expand the global knowledge economy can be achieved by making education more accessible and adaptable to the changing needs of the global economy. For example the companies who need experts in particular field will work in collaboration with educational institution to make sure the OER training and or education is aligned with exactly what that business needs.

Furthermore the authors discuss that platforms offering massive open online courses like Coursera, edX, Future Learn and many others providing open courses from leading world universities are important initiatives, but the governments are by far the biggest suppliers of education worldwide and they have the most to contribute to the OER movement and the most to gain in terms of cost savings and economic growth. (Daniel and Killion, 2012)

What is more, Andreas Meiszner and Lin Squires in their book: Openness and Education argue that when ICT and OER are appropriately developed they can significantly affect economic growth and provide alleviation from poverty. They state that many developed and particularly developing countries will gain from improved access to education and the development of open educational services that fits their needs. According to the authors what is required at this point of time, is a reinforced focus on research and development in open education and open educational services, and to put these issues at the top of the political agendas. Research and development in open education and open educational services must produce convincing evidence to show how open education and open educational services can have an impact on the development of national economies and society as whole, building policy support for open education and fostering its public adoption.

Moreover they state that understanding the social and economic impacts of open education requires unpacking many elements, resources and activities. They discuss also the iron triangle of education by Immerwhar, Johnson and Gasbarra and Daniela and Uvalic-Trumbic: quality, cost and access to education. If some of these vectors of the triangle increase it certainly leads to change in other vector. For example, if the quality of education is increasing, this will lead to increase of costs and reducing access to smaller proportion of population. And here comes on stage the OER contributing to quality education, accessible and at cost saving. (Meiszner and Squires 2013, pg.138-144)

In this regard, interesting angle offers the article The Economics of Open: “Making better use of what we already have generates economic benefit by increasing utilization. Given the worldwide demand for education shouldn’t we be doing a better job of using what we already have? Economic development is driven by skilled labour. The economics of open allows us to increase the skills and knowledge of all. Too many of our educational resources sit on a shelf unused or behind password protected systems.” (Stacey, 2012)

From my point of view, Open Education can contribute to skilled workforce in one country if it offers quality and if the students really got the right point of using OER. Brining open access to educational resources is not the only precondition for having a skilled labor. Students need quality education and mindset how to put in practice the knowledge and skills required. On that way, we can have the link between OER and economic growth. And in future we need more research and evidence on that. The open education will continue to expand and the open resources I think will come more from the nonprofit and business sector because they want workforce who will have knowledge to serve their purposes. And as it was previously stated the awareness should be raised among governments that they should play a more active role in supporting this movement, widening the circle of those able to contribute to economic growth.