Last week, at the EADTU-EU Summit 2015: Innovating Higher Education by New Modes of Teaching and Learning, Professor Mark Brown gave an invited presentation on the EMPOWER Project and then participated in a high-level panel discussion on the modernisation of European universities. Notably, Xavier Prats-Monne, Director-General of Education and Culture, was also a member of the panel where he shared his views on the future of higher education. Seamus Fox, Head of Open Education, also participated in the Summit.
The day beforehand Mark also attended a special forum in Brussels hosted by the European Commission to review a draft report on the Changing Pedagogical Landscape for European Higher Education. This is a major European funded project which has the objective of examining to what extent government strategies and higher education regulatory and accreditation, funding, quality assurance, assessment and certification frameworks support or hinder new modes of learning and, in particular, the increased use of technology in the teaching and learning process. The final report should be available in the next few months.
The NIDL is currently playing a lead role in three European funded projects which focus on leadership and maturing our institutional understanding of the potential benefits of Open Education. The HOME Project aims to strengthen an open network for cooperation on open education in general and MOOCs in particular. HOME stands for ‘Higher Education Online: MOOCs the European’ way. The Project is anchored in the philosophy of Open Education and amongst other things seeks to explore the potential of MOOCs when based on values like openness, equity, quality and diversity. The Porto Declaration on European MOOCs reflects this philosophy and was an outcome of a high-level meeting of institutional partners after an Open Education conference late last year.
The SCORE2020 Project focuses on building regional and institutional capacity, and maturing the level of knowledge in the area of Open Education, including the use of MOOCs. The Project supports the European funded OpenupEd MOOCs platform as a means of opening up higher education following principles of cultural and linguistic diversity. The NIDL is leading two of the major work packages and will host a National MOOC Symposium in April or May with support from SCORE2020. Also two journal articles have recently been submitted to a special European issue of the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning on MOOC initiatives as part of this project.
The third European funded project is known as EMPOWER and in December last year around 40 institutional leaders met in Brussels to start this initiative. At the core of EMPOWER is the modernisation agenda for European universities as the project supports policy reform with regard adopting new flexible modes of teaching and learning for both campus-based and off-campus learners. A number of expert communities of practice will be supported by EMPOWER and the NIDL is playing a lead role in the specialist area of policy development. The Project has funding for three years and benefits from the administrative support of the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU).