Distance Learning - What students like about it:

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Flexibility

I don’t depend on the visiting hours of my tutors any longer. Convenient online tools provide direct feedback on my progress

Joanna
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Save Money

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

Sabine
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Easy Access

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

Edward
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Open Educational Resources and open media

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 that goes with a course like digital content, textbooks, pictures, power point-presentations, videos, software, exercises, assessment tests, etc. ). Sometimes, you also can access a discussion forum around the topic of the course or you even can 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, the 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.

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. Open educational resources as a rule don’t provide personal study support or examinations. Hence, no certificates are provided. But, after having read such an open course, many people will formally register for the course or the complete distance taught programme to which it belongs. This will include tutorials, assessments and the award of a certificate or diploma. Therefore, for many students informal learning is a first step to aformal course or curriculum, for which they register and pay.

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://openlearn.open.ac.uk/ (in English), or www.opener.ou.nl (in Dutch), http://ocw.tudelft.nl/ (in English)

Open Access the story continues...

Many European universities support as well 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

Bangor University

Bangor, United Kingdom

Established in 1884, Bangor University combines traditional academic excellence with cutting-edge research and equipment. Over half of the Schools assessed to date in the teaching quality assessments have received the top rating of ‘excellent’, while the last Research Assessment Exerciseconfirmed Bangor’s status as a research-led university with an international perspective. World-leading research was identified in all of its 19 assessed subject areas.

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Maastricht School of Management

Maastricht, Netherlands

Located in the heart of Europe, within easy access of Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, London and Paris, Maastricht School of Management (MsM) is one of the oldest and most international business schools in the Netherlands. Located in Europe, but an established global player, we know how much good management matters for success. We know how important it is to make internationally accredited management education accessible.

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Leeds Metropolitan University

Leeds, United Kingdom

Leeds Metropolitan University has almost 30,000 students, 3,000 staff and 300,000 associate students through its network of 24 partner colleges. The University offers a range of undergraduate and post-graduate courses across four faculties - the Faculty of Arts, Environment & Technology, Faculty of Business & Law, Carnegie Faculty, and the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences.

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Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)

Milano, Italy

UCSC: a very special place The largest private university in Europe boasting over 41 000 students across 12 Schools. We distinguish ourselves for our interdisciplinary approach and wide range of services tailored to meet international students’ every need. Aside from our 190 Italian programs, we offer Undergraduate, Graduate, Summer and Semester programs in English in the heart of the city. We offer scholarship opportunities to international students. By living and studying in Milan, with its constant flow of international businesses and investments, our students are ideally positioned to put to practice the knowledge gained in their studies whilst using their own language abilities and cultural competencies.

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Business School Netherlands

Buren, Netherlands

Business School Netherlands has been active as an international business school since 1988 and continues to expand provision of Action Learning programmes beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands, creating a global Action Learning community of business leaders, all following the same steps to success.

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General

Study orientation

Application and enrolment

Cost and funding

Everyday life as a DL student

Supervision, assessment, exams and grading

After graduation


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