DHBW Forschungstag 2020
The German OEPass Multiplier Event was part of the Forschungstag, an event of DHBW across all nine locations, which took place in Mosbach on 30 January 2020. In a workshop session, an overview of the OEPass project and the current challenges of the present credentialing system was presented by Jochen Ehrenreich and Raimund Hudak.
At the beginning, the difference between recognition and validation in the German Higher Education system was explained and placed into the context of Open Learning and MOOC recognition. Subsequently, the current mechanisms for this process at the DHBW were shown and described in more detail. This formed the basis for the later discussion whether and how small-scale training courses could be recognized and offered at the DHBW.
The OEPass project created an “Open Education Passport” in which education certificates can be collected safely and transparently to facilitate the recognition and credition of credentials not acquired at one’s own university. A reference was also made to the thematically related Erasmus+ projects MicroHE and ECCOE.
Following the theoretical part, it was discussed how we could enable more flexible learning paths in the DHBW study programmes.
The Multiplier Event produced the following results:
- Validating all OEPass Intellectual Outputs in a German context, with a focus on the Learning Passport and the Future Scenarios and Policy Recommendations.
- Stimulating strategic thinking about e-learning, open learning recognition, flexible learning pathways and unbundling of education at DHBW institutions.
- Exchange of ideas and good practices on open learning recognition.
OEPass European Multiplier Event in Berlin
The OEPass team held a strategy workshop on Future Scenarios for Digital Credentials and Open
Learning Recognition at the International Strategies Beyond Borders conference on December 10, 2019 in Berlin. The conference was organized by Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (HFD) and DAAD. Our partner Stifterverband is a leading player at HFD, therefore integrating the Multiplier Event into the strategy conference was a logical step. It gave us the opportunity to discuss and validate our results with a larger audience. Marie Ullmann and Florian Rampelt were on site for Stifterverband, while DHBW was represented by Jochen Ehrenreich and Raimund Hudak.
The workshop started with a presentation on open education, digital credentials and the strategic implications for higher education, followed by a short overview of the OEPass project. To find answers to the question of how open education through credentialisation could transform higher education by 2030, the project team determined five future scenarios:
- A wallet in your pocket (fully open)
- European scenario (hybrid – focus on standards)
- Fluidity between Higher and Continuing Education (hybrid – focus on collaboration)
- Higher Education Institutions as credentials clearing house and testing center (hybrid – focus on quality degrees)
- Higher Education Institutions resist open learning recognition (fully closed)
For the following discussion, the participants were divided into three groups:
- Group 1: Labour Market and Society 6.0 (employer perspective)
- Group 2: Learning in the Cyberspace – Higher Education Institutions in a Virtual World
- Group 3: A Brave New World – Technology & the Learner in 2030 (learner perspective)
Each group developed their own ideas in a three-stage process (10 minutes each) and shared them after each stage:
– “dreamer” – creative distruction;
– “critics” – inhibitors and barriers;
Finally, the participants were asked to select their top 3 scenarios using a scoring system. The result showed that Scenario 3: Fluidity between Higher and Continuing Education (hybrid – focus on collaboration) is considered as the most likely, followed by Scenario 2: European scenario (hybrid – focus on standards) and Scenario 4: Higher Education Institutions as credentials clearing house and testing center (hybrid – focus on quality degrees).
We would like to thank all workshop participants for the intense discussion. The workshop provided valuable input for validating and further refining the future scenarios.
OEPass at the 2019 Annual Conference of EUA
The European University Association (EUA) invited a representative of our sister initiative, the MicroHE project, to its Annual Conference in the Support to HE Reform Experts (SP-HERE) held in Prague on 12-13 December. This international event provides a major networking space for approximately 120 HE Reform Experts from 20+ Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, and provided a platform for various sessions on topically relevant issues. The invitation asked for an introduction to micro-credentials, tailored to the level of experience of the audience, plus how MicroHE is approaching the two major discussion points, i.e. granularity level and evidence required for assessment and recognition, and a results overview of the MicroHE project survey and Delphi study.
Ferenc Tátrai (EDEN) represented both MicroHE and OEPass at the conference. He was member of the “Skills and the labour market” panel, and moderated a presentation session in a break-up group on Digital provision & new credentials (micro credits). His presentation “Credentialing open non-formal learning in Higher Education: the MicroHE approach” created a fruitful discussion in the workshop.
The results of the two projects were well received by the audience, and created a very positive evaluation in the conclusions of the break-out groups in the closing plenary.
Open Learning Recognition
At the end of November of 2019, the sixth Multiplier Event of the OEPass project entitled “Open Learning Recognition” took place at UNED, Madrid (Spain). The main purpose of the event was to disseminate the project results and discuss the following topics:
- volume, scope and types of open credentials offered by open educational providers;
- current state of recognition of open educational credentials in Europe;
- the Learning Passport as a way to facilitate recognition of open credentials in Europe; and
- impacts of increased open educational provision on HEIs.
These topics were covered by a total of four presentations and one open debate. Firstly, Timothy Read and Beatriz Sedano from UNED presented the OEPass project and its objectives, stages, outputs and results with publications. Following this introduction, José Antonio Márquez Aguirre, educational consultant and leading expert on digital competences in Spain, gave a presentation about the scope of open educational credentials in Europe. The third speaker, Jorge Arús-Hita from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), talked about the impact of increased open educational provision for HEIs. As a fourth and final presenter, Ildiko Mazar, from Knowledge Innovation Centre, introduced and explained the functions of the Learning Passport that was developed within the OEPass project as a way to facilitate the recognition of open credentials in Europe. After the presentations, Elena Martín-Monje and Timothy Read from UNED moderated an insightful debate on the future of open education recognition and certification.
Among the participants, there were mostly university professors from different European HEIs (Spain, Belgium, Turkey, UK); and some master and doctoral students related to online open education at national and European level.
The detailed programme, all the presentations and their video recordings are available for consultation.
ICDE World Conference on Online Learning
The 28th ICDE World Conference on Online Learning was organised by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin (Ireland) on 3-7 November 2019. The conference was titled “Transforming Lives and Societies“.
The conference theme anchored the growth of new models of open, online and digital learning in a number of big questions and the wider context of the Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to explore many of the contemporary problems and opportunities facing today’s educators in the globally connected digital-era.
OEPass colleagues, Jochen Ehrenreich and Elena Trepule, attended this prestigious event and delivered a presentation about “Utilising a Meta-Data Standard for Digital Credentials and Recognition of Open Learning“. You can find the full paper here.
Lithuanian OEPass Multiplier Event
The third official OEPass multiplier event was organised by the Lithuanian Distance and e-Learning Association on the 27th of September, 2019. There are 50 Lithuanian educational institutions (universities, colleges, adult learning centres, etc.) in the membership of the Association. The educators from these institutions were invited to participate in the event, leading to the attendance of more than 25 participants at the event.
The OEPass project results, and their applicability for other educational institutions, were presented and discussed. Thus the results of event may be summarised as follows:
- The OEPass Learning Passport is a useful tool for the representatives of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as it is a tool for today’s learners to gather and provide institutions with the evidence of learning; it is a tool for institutions to analyse what kind of information may be provided by learners; and also to guide learners that when selecting open learning opportunities they need to focus not only on the topic of a MOOC, but also to think how it might be recognised in their formal learning records.
- Other types of institutions (Schools, VET centres and teacher qualification centres) found the Learning Passport too complicated to be used in their daily activities due to its availability only in English (that is not spoken by the majority of older teachers) and due to the fact that their programmes are relatively short and former recognition possibilities are not a necessity.
- All institutions’ representatives were glad to learn about the classification of education credentials. The quality criteria for credentials attracted most attention from the institutions which focus on open course preparations.
- The technological roadmap of open credentials was an interesting outcome for the event participants, but as most of them are not IT experts but teachers working in online learning, it drew less focus and led to limited discussion.
OEPass at the EURASHE 2019 Annual Conference
Employers have increasingly been demanding transferable skills of our students, the ability to work in a team, creative thinking and problem solving; they’ve also asked Higher Education Institutions to provide new skills to retrain their staff. UAS have been reasonably good at providing these; yet the pace of change is increasing: new jobs demanding new skills appear every month.
The EURASHE Annual Conference rests on the belief that we can hope to comprehend the framework for the future of education in our next 10 years at least by reflecting on the following questions: How can you anticipate what you don’t know? How can you expect the unexpected? Mostly: how can you steer your life, be it personal or professional, in times of uncertainty and yet find the relevant answers for you and society?
13th European Quality Assurance Forum
The 13th European Quality Assurance Forum focused on how institutions and quality assurance agencies can build systems that encompass a broad range of activities, including learning and teaching, research, governance and administration, and service to society.
As a tool for supporting the quality of higher education, quality assurance (QA) has, in many European higher education systems, focused largely on learning and teaching. However, as underlined in the introduction to the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the EHEA (ESG), Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should have QA policies and processes that cover other institutional activities, and in parallel, external QA is increasingly looking into these policies.
While it is clear that degrees from accredited HEIs form the gold standard in terms of their recognition and portability, no clear set of comprehensive criteria exists to assess the quality of new forms of credentials, nor for standards and technologies which are applied to credentials. The authors of this paper therefore proposed a framework for such analysis in the form of a set of quality characteristics for credentials, based on work conducted by the OEPass project.
3rd OEPass Consortium meeting in Malta
Since the project started in November 2017 this was the third time the consortium met face to face, and this time it was KIC’s turn to host the partners in Malta.
After an expert workshop held on Monday afternoon with 0xcert CEO, Kristijan Sedlak, and the subsequent consultation with the MicroHE partnership, we gained a very exciting and useful insight into how blockchain technology could potentially support our our efforts in semi-automated credential verification and recognition in a secure decentralised online environment. If you would like to know more about the meta-data standards utilised to facilitate the working of the MicroHE Credentials Clearinghouse, we invite you to participate in the public consultation set up on Github.
By the end of the meeting we wrapped up the internal testing phase of the OEPass Learning Passport, and after having discussed the conclusions, and producing the second iteration of this promising tool, a small team prepared a session to test it with the 2018 EDEN Research Workshop participants on the 25th of October. We wish that this will be an important step towards making the recognition of open learning a reality across Europe. The workshop in Barcelona is only the start of the Learning Passport’s public testing phase, please let us know if you would like to participate.