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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:

  1. A wallet in your pocket (fully open)
  2. European scenario (hybrid – focus on standards)
  3. Fluidity between Higher and Continuing Education (hybrid – focus on collaboration)
  4. Higher Education Institutions as credentials clearing house and testing center (hybrid – focus on quality degrees)
  5. 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
    (institutional perspective)
  • 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;
– “realistic”.

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.

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.

OEPass presented at DAAD

This year, from the 15th to the 16th of October 2019, again a meeting of all project coordinators took place in Bonn, Germany, at DAAD as part of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships.

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.

DHBW presented our project OEPass in a poster session organised in small groups. In addition to content focuses, such as the Learning Passport, administrative topics were also discussed. Since both “newcomers” and already longer running Erasmus+ projects were represented, a lively exchange on implementation took place.

This was a great opportunity not only to present our project, but also to participate in valuable networking activities.

Thanks for having us there!

OEPass at the EDEN 2019 Annual Conference

Ferenc Tatrai, Senior Advisor of the consortium member EDEN, presented the OEPass project in the conferece’s Synergy session, pointing out its natural synergy with its “twin” project MicroHE.

As part of the OEPass project, the Learning Passport was also introduced.

He emphasized that an improved version of the Learning Passport is ready for public testing – everybody is welcome to experiment with the tool and determine its usefulness by filling in the online form. The OEPass partnership also welcomes feedback on how well the Learning Passport facilitates the recognition and transferability of non-traditional learning experiences.

The OEPass project creates a standard format for describing open education and virtual mobility experiences in terms of ECTS which:

  • Addresses common criticisms (lack of trust) of open education, in particular with respect to student assessment and identity;
  • Is scalable to hundreds or thousands of students through automatic issuing and verification of certificates;
  • Can capture a wide range of non-formal and formal open education experiences.

The most significant public results of the project are identified as follows.

  • Proposal of a concept of quality assurance whereby credentials would be assessed in terms of their transparency, portability, recognition by employers and academia, stackability and a number of other factors. It will also propose an initial quality-hierarchy for the most common open education credentials currently being offered.
  • Proposal of a standard format for describing open education and virtual mobility experiences in terms of ECTS called Learning Passport, capturing a wide range of non-formal and formal open education experiences.
  • Elaboration of an outline an ontology for the recognition of open learning, together with a meta-data standard and technology roadmap, which would allow for the automatic exchange of credit between European Higher Education Institutions.

The session audience received the direct link to the online form to experience the credential documentation first hand and to determine the main advantages of, as well as the difficulties in, using the Learning Passport.

Jochen  Ehrenreich, the co-author of the presentation supported the discussion on the subject of micro-credentials.

5th Consortium Meeting in Hungary

On the 15th of May the OEPass team met for the fifth consortium meeting in Budapest, hosted by
our partner BME.

In addition to the discussion about which further steps are to be taken within the outputs, the upcoming National Multiplier Events were the focus of this meeting. Each partner presented their plans and the time frame. A link to other conferences or lectures was considered advantageous in order to disseminate the project more widely.

Furthermore, the Learning Passport could be discussed in its final stages and, following a further review of the partners, is expected to be completed soon. While this intellectual output was technically completed, and other 3 were well under way, the last of the OEPass outputs, was just about to start. In this work package we will look at the future of open education, by considering a set of scenarios to identify important key driving forces (e. g. economic growth, legislative environment, technology diffusion) thought to be important to the future of credentialisation. Our aim is to explore and represent different sets of future challenges and opportunities for open education in Europe.

The evening before, we met with the partners from our sister project MicroHE. Beside enjoying delicious, local typical food, the opportunity was used to exchange information about the progress in both projects. After such long acquaintance with our MicroHE colleagues, of course some more social conversations were also on the menu.

We would like to thank again our host BME for the great organisation and all partners for this very productive consortium meeting. Have a safe trip home!

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.

Bologna Credentials go Digital