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Open Education survey published: Practices, Beliefs, and Strategies in Five European Countries

At the end of 2015, ACA shared the preliminary results of the study on Open Education (OE) conducted for the European Commission’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, December 2015). The aim of the study was to provide insights into the practices, strategies and attitudes of higher education institutions in 5 European countries with regard to Open Education and understand the motivations of the institutions in these countries engage, or not, in Open Education. 

The full report was recently published by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) under the title “How are Higher Education Institutions Dealing with Openness? A Survey of Practices, Beliefs, and Strategies in Five European Countries”. The report is based on a survey conducted in the spring of 2015 involving 178 higher education institutions from France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK. The results show a degree of engagement common to the five countries but equally, some differences in the types of tools they use or the challenges they are faced with at different levels.

With regard to the engagement in OE, the findings show that the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) is widespread as is the use of ICT in face-to-face educational setting. According to the survey, blended learning is considered the most effective way of educational delivery. The widely debated MOOCs are provided by only one fifth of the institutions at the time of the survey with around a quarter planning to do so in the future and the situation largely varying by countries - from France being a high MOOC provider to Germany at the lower end. Motivations to engage in OE differ across countries as well. The strongest drivers are shown to be promotion and visibility, as well as student recruitment and the quality of education. The results show that the institutions take the financial benefit with a grain of salt, either motivated by the ‘free access’ policy or because the engagement in OE had not proven to be financially beneficial. Challenges and barriers to engaging in OE address a number of issues – from national or institutional constraints to a lack of will or knowledge among faculty to the scarcity of necessary resources.  

On the basis of the findings, the report provides a number of policy recommendations for national, European or institutional decision makers, which mainly pertain to the degree of support provided for lecturers (trainings, incentives), institutional and individual cooperation at European level (exchange of practice, peer learning) and further mapping of existing practices in the EU and identifying successful cases.

European Commission/JRC - full report