Scope & Themes OOFHEC2019
Scope of the conference
The plenary sessions will focus on trends and high impact factors in the global and European higher education.
Blended and online education
Blended and online education is a main factor of innovation and change in European higher education, as is shown by the Changing Pedagogical Landscape studies. It creates new possibilities for teaching large groups of students and at the same time to intensify education in small learning communities. New learning formats support the mission of universities to link education, research and to enhance the quality of education. Innovation contributes as well to a balanced use of resources and cost-effectiveness if accompanied by organisational change and support. Jointly with other partners, EADTU is developing a maturity model for blended education, based on latest theories on course and curriculum design and on empirical research in various European universities. New reports and cases are presented in the conference.
Micro-credentials for continuous education and MOOCs
Young adult learners are looking for small units of study that meet their goals and develop higher education-level skills. They want to be awarded with qualifications recognising the depth and level of learning based on a trusted assessment.
(International) micro-credentials are already awarded to MOOC-based programs worldwide (Micro-Masters, nano-degrees, ), organised by universities and MOOC platforms. Also, short learning programs for continuous education / continuous professional development deliver a variety of awards (certificates, diplomas, .), many times irrespective of the level and size of the program. As a consequence, it is almost impossible for academics and employers to estimate the value of these awards and learners can’t valorise them appropriately.
These issues are also discussed in European projects concerning online and flexible short leaning programs and MOOCs for the labour market. Solutions are to be found in a rather short notice in view of the needs on the labour market and in academia. Parameters of this discussion will be presented.
European university networks, internationalisation and virtual mobility
Jointly with the growth of blended and online education, innovative modes for mobility are created as a complement to physical mobility enhancing the learning experience and opening new opportunities for intensive collaboration between universities.
The European Commission is supporting this innovation. In the Erasmus+ 2019 call, virtual mobility is defined as “a set of activities supported by Information and Communication Technologies, including e-learning, that realise or facilitate international, collaborative experiences in a context of teaching, training or learning”. Blended and virtual mobility is stimulated in many Erasmus+ actions, in particular in the “European universities” initiative, “strategic partnerships”, “knowledge alliances”, “sector skills” and “capacity building”.
After President Macron launched the idea, the European Commission has foreseen massive support for the European University initiative “strengthening the link between teaching, research and innovation and knowledge transfer, and developing joint education and research programmes and projects."
The European Commission’s eU.University hub for “online learning, blended/virtual mobility, virtual campuses and collaborative exchange of best practices” is now built by the OpenU consortium, led by Panthéon Sorbonne Paris1, in which EADTU is participating. This hub will connect European universities to facilitate ubiquitous access and free movement of students and learners. It will also empower European university networks for collaborative online education and virtual mobility.
EADTU member organisations are exploring latest developments in the support of teaching and learning. In this respect, recent publications like machine learning, the use of artificial intelligence and learning bots are of interest to be further considered. The incorporation of artificial intelligence into teaching processes looks promising but needs to be further explored.
Artificial intelligence concepts in education can be used for adapting learning materials and exercises to the needs of each student, e.g. to bridge knowledge gaps or to enrich courses materials. It can individualize learning adjusting activities to the learning rate of students. It can differentiate learning according to personal interests or to specific scientific or professional competences.
EADTU universities are collaborating in this field and will report on applications applied and planned.
Equal opportunities and inclusion
Equal opportunities and inclusion in a diverse society are a continuous task in European society, especially with regard to gender, disadvantaged groups, migrants and refugees. This requires specific measures at all levels of education, last but not least in higher education. This includes leadership and institutional strategies that permeate the whole organisations, continuously adapting the successive steps in the “lifecycle” of a student: awareness raising and recruitment, recognition of prior learning, registration, participation in learning activities and mobility, examinations, qualifications (incl. micro-credentials), preparing and facilitating for lifelong learning, etc.
This is to be realized by specific organisational support for these groups, mobilizing expertise across the institution.
Above all, this requires that equal opportunities and inclusion are considered as a core dimension in the design of courses by paying attention to enough flexibility and personalisation.
Open universities have a unique and long tradition in this, while they are also continuously innovating policies, organisational frameworks and teaching and learning in this respect.
Parallel sessions give the opportunity to participants to give presentations on ongoing research and innovation, to discuss topics in the modernisation in higher education, to organise workshops and seminars.
Topics listed are:
- Artificial Intelligence in teaching and learning
- Support services in online and distance education
- Assessment and recognition of Short Learning Programmes and MOOCS
- Gender equality
- European university networks and the OpenU Hub
- Moocs for the labour market
- Blended and online education
- Accreditation of online education
- Quality Assurance in Blended and Online Education
- Short Learning Programmes
- Open education and MOOCs, European MOOC Consortium
- Inclusiveness and accessibility
- Networked curricula and Virtual Mobility
- Changing the educational landscape: new competences for teachers