Distance Learning - What students like about it:

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Studying with the best school in the world without any physical limitations – that’s distance learning for me!

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What strikes me the most: Distance education programmes are often cheaper than their traditional counter parts

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Starting an online programmes is literally just clicks away; no need to be physically present at all!

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Open Educational Resources and open media

By DARCO/EADTU

An increasing number of universities are publishing courses as open courseware, available for free and open to everybody on the internet. They are accessible in their entirety or extracted from existing courses. Open courseware can include all kinds of learning material like digital content, textbooks, pictures, power point-presentations, videos, software, exercises, assessment tests, etc). Sometimes, you can also access a discussion forum around the topic of the course or take assessments about your progress in studying the material.

The history of Open Courseware

In 2002, MIT started with publishing open courseware an it still is a core member in the Open Courseware Consortium (OCW, www.ocwconsortium.org). Since then, universities worldwide have developed open educational resources. In Europe, open universities have developed new concepts and practices, which are in the forefront of new developments.

Open educational resources are published at all levels, from introductory to advanced. They originate from degree programmes, but also sometimes from professional development or continuing education courses.

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Millions of learners every month

Millions of students and teachers access open educational resources every month. As a student, you can read and download all this material for your own interest in subject areas like the history of art, the French Revolution, earthquakes, cognitive psychology, European law, bio-fuels or water resources management. Parts of the video recorded material, you will find as well on iTunesU or YouTube (open media).

It will take you one to one hundred hours to have a view on a course. Some universities publish the entire courses in open courseware, others provide a shorter introduction or summary.

Informal versus formal education

You can learn open courseware on your own, which nowadays is called informal learning. As a rule, open educational resources don’t provide personal study support or examinations. Hence, no certificates are provided. But, after having read an open course, many people will formally register for the course or the complete distance-learning programme to which it belongs. This will include tutorials, assessments and an awarded certificate or diploma. Therefore, for many students informal learning is a first step to a formal paid course or curriculum.

Hence, open courseware can serve as a broad introduction into a subject area. Then, you get a “look and feel” about it as an orientation in a study domain. Or you can find a more advanced state of the art which is useful for your job or for your specific interest in a subject. In that case, it supports you for your professional development or just for updating or broadening your knowledge.

Quality Assurance and distance education

As most of the material is belonging to accredited programmes, the quality of the content is assured in most cases. As this is very visible in the public space, universities and staff take care of the quality. Furthermore, specific quality assurance criteria are now developed for OER, which will support providers of OER to upgrade open courseware. Finally, open courseware can be completed or revised by peers in other universities: open courseware is also meant for re-use in other universities.

Examples of good OER portals are: OpenLearn (UKOU), http://www.open.ac.uk/ (in English), or http://www.ou.nl/ (in Dutch), http://ocw.tudelft.nl/ (in English)

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Open Access the story continues...

Many European universities also support Open Access. Open Access portals publish scientific articles which are freely accessible for everyone.

The European Commission is also supporting open educational resources as an instrument for knowledge sharing. Therefore, it can be expected that more OER’s will become available in the near future.

Universities in the spotlight

University of Liverpool

Liverpool, United Kingdom

Founded in 1881, the University of Liverpool is a world-class research university and is ranked within the top 1% of universities worldwide.* The University is one of the great centres of research, knowledge and innovation, and is a member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of research-led universities. Its pioneering reputation attracts students, experts and partners from around the world. Through its research, teaching and collaborations, the University seeks to be life changing and world shaping.

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Glion Institute of Higher Education

Glion, Switzerland

Glion Institute of Higher education offers a unique, global approach to hospitality and services management education to prepare students for careers around the world. We combine 50 years of Swiss hotel management expertise, including hands on learning and professional internships, with modern international business courses. Students develop a strong foundation of cultural awareness, plus people and project management skills that will take their career to the world stage.

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Alpine Center Swiss Business School for Hotel & Tourism Management Education

Glyfáda, Greece

Alpine Center, the Swiss Business School for Hotel & Tourism Management Education, has been successfully educating students from all over the globe, for the last 28 years, in the field of hospitality and tourism management, the Swiss way!

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Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (IPLeiria)

Leiria, Portugal

IPLeiria is a public institution of higher education that began its activity in 1980 and is present in the region of Leiria and West through its five schools of higher education, located in Leiria (School of Education and Social Sciences, School of Technology and Management and School of Health), Caldas da Rainha (School of Arts and Design) and Peniche (School of Tourism and Sea Technology).

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Paris - ISM - International School of Management

Paris, France

The International School of Management is one of the world’s most innovative executive education communities. From MBA to doctoral degrees, ISM faculty, students, and alumni come together from the four corners of the globe to facilitate knowledge sharing, learning, and networking in ways that produce professional value and life-enhancing results.

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