OpenupEd is the new European portal for massive online open courses, typically known as MOOCs, supported by the European Commission. Chris Parr writes in the Times Higher Education Supplement that the site contains a course database that includes varied offerings from fiction writing to mathematics. Each partner institution offers the courses via their own website, and the fact that partners include the UK’s Open University adds considerable legitimacy and heft to the enterprise.
Androulla Vassiliou is the European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth and is excited by the project and its capacity. He said that OpenupEd had the capacity and potential to extend educational opportunities to tens of thousands of students and would help European universities become more flexible and open to innovation in their teaching methods.
“The Moocs movement has already proved popular, especially in the US, but this pan-European launch takes the scheme to a new level. It reflects European values such as equity, quality and diversity and the partners involved are a guarantee for high-quality learning,” he added.
While Europe often lags slightly behind the US in terms of technological progress it appears the EC is keen not to be left behind by US progress on education innovation.
The OpenupEd site has university partners in France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, UK, Russia, Turkey and Israel. Courses are available in all of the countries’ native languages, and Arabic, and range from 20 to 200 hours of study.
The courses carry academic credit and can lead to recognition of progress with completion certificates or credit certificates which the participating student can use towards a degree. Students will have to bear the cost of the certificates, which ranges from 25 Euros to 400 Euros depending on the specific course and institution.
The OpenupEd sites claims that their offering reflects European values with a focus on equity, quality and diversity. They aim to expand the concept of an ‘open’ education beyond that of simply being free from charge and accessible. The learner will be at the center of the experience, taking advantage of high quality learning materials specifically designed for self-study.
EADTU president Will Swann, who was formerly the director of students for the Open University, said:
“The pan-European Moocs initiative shows our collective passion to further innovate. We look to expand with a growing range of courses from the launch partners, and we will welcome new partners from across the world who share our vision and practice of flexible, responsive higher education.”