DHBW ‘Fachtag’

On February 7, the DHBW Heilbronn hosted the internal symposium under the motto “Digital Transformation”. More than 100 professors and lecturers from the different DHBW campuses could be welcomed at the location who want to network on topics from research and teaching.

Our project partner Florian Rampelt from the Stifterverband, among others, drew a wide arc between the past and the future about digitisation before the visitors set to work themselves in workshops.

Two workshops were held about our projects OEPass and MicroHE: The first workshop on our Learning Passport, which is currently being developed as part of the project, was followed with great interest by 12 participants. Jochen and Raimund from the DHBW and Florian from Stifterverband provided an overview about the OEPass project and gave participants the opportunity to ask questions about the documentation and recognition of micro-credentials via the Learning Passport.

The second workshop focused on micro-credentials within our project MicroHE. The central question of this workshop was to what extent it would be possible to establish small-scale educational qualifications within the structures of the DHBW within the next few years. 26 participants took part in this inspiring discussion.

We would like to thank all participants for their great interest in our projects.

Cross posted from the MicroHE website

4th OEPass Consortium meeting in Germany

On the afternoon of 6 February 2019, we concluded an intensive, and highly productive, 2.5-day joint OEPass–MicroHE meeting in Heilbronn, Germany. Our host, DHBW, showed great initiative by proposing an innovative agenda and the unconventional meeting structure proved to be very beneficial.

Just like last time, on the afternoon of our arrival we had an expert meeting to kick off the work. This time our guest was Darco Jansen from EADTU. Darco is the coordinator of the European Short Learning Programmes (e-SLP) project, another Erasmus+ funded project, the partners of which have already conducted surveys about short learning programmes. Their results have great relevance to both projects, particularly MicroHE, that is also foreseeing to undertake surveys and interviews to analyse the current and short-term scope of micro-credential provision and to identify barriers to their accreditation and recognition in Europe. After an exchange of introductions of project goals, plans and our findings so far, we agreed that – in order to maximise the value of our combined efforts and to avoid reinventing the wheel – the MicroHE survey will learn from and build upon the e-SLP findings and also feed back the lessons learned from our own surveys and interviews to e-SLP.

On the first official meeting day, instead of sitting through a series of presentations, we were given time and space to discuss and fine-tune our project outputs in practical workshops. We still have some “homework” to do before we can pronounce the tackled outputs finalised, but we made greater progress during these few hours than for weeks beforehand. Especially since we all had different angles of approaching the same results, the constructive group work could bring all the partners to the same comprehensive understanding of the (multiple) purposes and functionalities of the outputs we are working on.

Both partnerships were invited to each other’s meetings, and although not everybody could stay for all 3 days, Tuesday evening we had both OEPass and MicroHE representatives at DHBW’s premises to participate in the most entertaining part of the programme, the team building cooking activity. We had a truly international menu of 10+ dishes, including simple but amazingly delicious Lithuanian garlic bread, Indian curry, Finish casserole (with a Greek twist), Italian gnocchi made from scratch, German apple strudel and a heavenly Hungarian dessert.

OEPass introduced to the MOONLITE community

At the end of October 2018 OEPass and its sister project, MicroHE, were invited to be introduced at the first multiplier event of the MOONLITE project. The recognition that these projects have the potential to make welcome changes to the educational landscape, and make a positive impact on the lives of Europe’s migrants and refugees, was a sign that our dissemination efforts are bearing fruits even in niche circles of HE providers.

The extent and significance of the impact made by OEPass and MicroHE depend on too many factors to predict precisely, but as Higher Education Institutions won’t be able to swim against the technological current for very long, we can be hopeful that maybe this time they will seize the day and lead the way to establishing an open and shared credential infrastructure by opening up their own credential offerings and making efforts to validate and recognise that of others, regardless whether these credentials come from formal or non-formal education. If this will also result in better integration of disadvantaged people, such as migrants and refugees, into our European society, job market and economy, we should be doubly pleased.

The detailed programme and all the presentations – that were all recorded – are now available on the MOONLITE website. Click here to view the presentation on OEPass and MicroHE, or find the slides on Ildiko Mazar’s Slideshare.

Guests from Singapore

On the 25th of November a delegation from Singapore visited the Research and Laboratory Department of DHBW Heilbronn, Germany. Together with their president Prof. Graf, OEPass project coordinator Mr. Raimund Hudak, Head of Research, welcomed the employees of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), an authority of the Ministry of Education in Singapore. The delegation was informed about, and discussed the objectives of, the ongoing EU sister projects MicroHE and OEPass.

The SSG promotes and coordinates lifelong learning with educational institutions in Singapore to ensure that students and working adults have lifelong access to quality education. As part of the SkillsFuture movement, the SSG has developed a competence framework for key sectors of the economy. This Competence Framework is developed by the government in collaboration with employers, industry associations, trade unions and professional associations for Singapore workers, and it provides up-to-date information on career paths, occupations, professional roles, existing and new skills and relevant training programmes.

The SkillsFuture Singapore team travelled through Germany and met, besides the DHBW Heilbronn, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the German Development Institute (DIE), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BiBB) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Based on our mutual interest, we agreed to continue to regularly exchange information on our project developments and to work more closely together on the topic of FutureSkills.

First testing of the Learning Passport

It is a pleasure to announce that the first phase of testing the Learning Passport was successfully completed by mid-October 2018.

The purpose of the OEPass Learning Passport is to systematically collect a set of precisely defined data and information about open education experiences which were identified as decisive factors for their recognition. The form’s content is closely related to the ESCO classification of European skills, competences, qualifications and occupations.

The draft template of the Learning Passport is intended to test with real education providers as to what extent their existing (micro-)qualifications can be transparently classified for subsequent recognition by third parties (i.e. by other Higher Education Institutions and/or prospective employers). For the purposes of this piloting exercise, a credential is defined as a certification of a qualification.

During the course of the internal testing, each project partner filled in the form by means of a real online course at his or her institution. The provided feedback is now evaluated in a feedback loop. The Learning Passport will be adjusted in the next steps and will be presented to the public soon.

 

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.

OEPass presented to DAAD

From the 11th to the 12th of October OEPass partner DHBW presented our project to the German National Agency, DAAD, at a face to face meeting held in Bonn, Germany.

DAAD acts as the National Agency for EU Higher Education Cooperation in the Erasmus+ programme and its predecessors, and it is one of the most experienced agencies in Europe.

At the event poster sessions were organised in small groups, where current projects could briefly introduce themselves. This was a great opportunity not only to present OEPass, but also to participate in valuable networking activities.

Thanks for having us there!

Towards a Universal System for Recording Educational Credit: OEPass & MicroHE

When we conceived the OEPass project, our overarching idea was to address the fragmentation of credentials in Higher Education. New forms of education such as MOOCs are blurring the difference between formal and non-formal education, while providers of Higher Education offer a whole host of credentials – no longer only degrees –, each with different properties, value and recognition.

To this end, OEPass started with a simple idea – use the already widely accepted ECTS as a base standard, and use different combinations of ECTS building blocks to describe new forms of credentials that have emerged with open learning experiences. Open education and virtual mobility can often be non-formal, self-guided and vary in length from a few hours to multiple weeks, and OEPass envisages to create a standard (meta-data) format to account for these learning experiences with ‘universal currency’.

While OEPass is focusing on ‘open’ learning in Higher Education, we quickly realised that in order to holistically address the problem of credentials in HE, we need to address a wider range of use cases. This led three of the project partners (KIC, TUT and DHBW) to develop the concept of the MicroHE project that is focusing explicitly on micro-credentials, commonly related to a specific form of learning known as SLP or short learning programme. This can be loosely defined as any sub-degree learning experience, whether formal, non-formal or informal, which confer a minimum of 5 ECTS credits and are offered by accredited and/or recognised institutions. In particular, MicroHE aims to provide a recognition framework for students to combine various modules offered by different (mainly online) education providers into sub-degree qualifications such as MicroMasters or Nanodegrees.

As MicroHE and OEPass focus on different but closely related parts of the alternative HE offering spectrum, close collaboration between the two projects promises great prospects. To exploit the synergy between the initiatives, and to maximise their benefits, the two consortia agreed to use a common set of formats and meta-data to describe the various credentials on which they focus, thus ensuring that the projects help in consolidating existing recognition instruments rather than further fragmenting them. The partnerships have also agreed to work with other projects investigating the field to share approaches and continue building on this innovative cooperation.

By focusing on complementary parts of the credential ecosystem, and applying the same (meta-data) standards, OEPass & MicroHE hope to introduce a level of harmonisation throughout open education.

First draft of the Learning Passport

No common European format exists for describing qualifications and their learning outcomes: this hinders their comparability. We aim to create a standard format for documenting micro-credentials in terms of tokens such as ECTS using existing recognition tools and create a full-system for issuing, verifying and sharing micro-credentials, including methods and technology.

The first draft of the Learning Passport is based on a specific and limited-scale use-case for micro-credentials and it uses a specific set of meta-data extended from the ESCO ontology concept.

ESCO, a Europe-wide initiative, is the multilingual classification of skills, competencies, qualifications and occupations. It identifies and categorizes all of those which are relevant for the EU labour market and education and training, in 25 European languages. The system provides occupational profiles showing the relationships between occupations, skills, competences and qualifications – an ontology, taxonomy or a classification.

By introducing a standard terminology for occupations, skills, competences and qualifications, ESCO helps education and training systems and the labour market to better identify and manage the availability of required skills, competences and qualifications (Orlic, Crnko, Camillieri 2018).

In line with the ESCO mentality, the OEPass Learning Passport consists of information identifying the

  • awarding body (name, public key, etc.),
  • educational credential (e.g. title, definition, ECTS, ways to acquire),
  • credential type (title, definition, credit system issuer, etc.),
  • holder of the educational credential and their accomplishment (name, grade, credits awarded, student identification number, etc.), and
  • evidence (release date, modification date, etc.).

The final Learning Passport version will be uploaded here, after internal tests and a round of external pilots.

 

2nd OEPass Consortium Meeting

On 23-24 April 2018 we had our second joint MicroHE-OEPass consortium meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

On both days, important questions regarding open and future work packages, quality management and other organizational issues were discussed. By the time of the next joint meeting in Malta in October, the further procedure for the successful handling of the project could be determined.

The evening was comfortably concluded with original Hungarian cuisine.

Thanks to all partners for this productive meeting!

Cross posted from the MicroHE web site