The Federation of Responsibility: Quality for Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices

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In a new EU Commission report, issued by the EU research center on prospective technological studies, my colleagues Anthony Camilleri, Prof. Dr. Jan Pawlowski and myself on behalf of European Foundation for Quality in E-learning (EFQUEL) have authored a comprehensive analysis of quality issues around open educational resources and open educational practices.

On 25 September 2013, the Commission presented a new Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on “Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new technologies and Open Educational Resources”. The aim of the initiative is to bring the digital revolution to education with a range of actions in three areas: open learning environments, open educational resources, and connectivity and innovation. The initiative contributes to the Europe 2020 strategy, acknowledging that a fundamental transformation of education and training is needed to address the new skills and competences that will be required if Europe is to remain competitive, overcome the current economic crisis and grasp new opportunities.

Quality assurance for the emerging new ways of learning and teaching enabled by ICT is mentioned in the Communication as a crucial issue that should be tackled to further develop the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) for learning. It is also acknowledged by experts and practitioners as a key challenge. This report has been prepared by my colleague Anthony Camilleri, Prof. Dr. Jan Pawlowski and myself for the  European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning (EFQUEL) on behalf of IPTS.

It presents an overview and analysis of quality issues related to OER and Open Educational Practices (OEP). It is a contribution to the construction of a knowledge base on Opening up Education and is part of a wider scientific agenda on ICT and Learning being developed at IPTS, mainly in collaboration with DG Education and Culture. In this report, we show  that quality assurance of OER and Open Educational Practices (OEP) requires a complex mix of quality tools. In general, these tools enable many more users to be involved in quality processes, and for a greater variety of learning scenarios to be taken into account. From the perspective of stakeholders, the federation of responsibility described above can also lead to a democratisation of the processes of quality review. Therefore, the determination as to the quality of open education (whether materials or practices) will depend on the judgements of two overlapping trust-networks.

The first is the ‘open’ network of users, reviewers and teachers working together for quality improvement of resources, teaching and learning. The second is the existing trust-network in place in the publishing industry and in formal education. In the evolution of quality approaches, the interaction between these trust-networks will be an area of intense interest in coming years. We thus highlight an urgent need to link developments in open education to the existing trust networks, so as not to reduce quality in the field.

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