Distance Learning - What students like about it:

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Numerous choices

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

Jun-suh
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Individual support

For me studying online is perfect: No overcrowded lecture halls but individual feedback to keep me focused in my studies

Jake
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Raise in status

Suddenly, my boss looks at me in a different way. Even my salary increased!

Maria
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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

School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

University of Kent

Canterbury, United Kingdom

In the National Student Survey 2014, our Social Policy students gave us a score of 95% for overall satisfaction, which has placed us second in the UK. The School has performed extremely well in the 2014 and 2015 league tables. Our students go on to become some of the country’s most employable graduates; we are consistently in the top 10 for career prospects – 85% of our Sociology students found employment or went onto further study within six months of graduating in 2013.

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Department of Law

Justus Liebig University Giessen

Gießen, Germany

Giessen University has established two well-know summer schools: The U.S.-German Summer School in International and Comparative Law and the Hessen International Summer University - Intellectual Property & Biotechnology. Both courses offer four weeks in a truly international atmosphere with around 80-100 students from countries all over the world coming to our campus.

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Instituto Europeo Campus Stellae

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

El Instituto Europeo Campus Stellae es un centro de estudios superiores de reconocido prestigio especializado en la formación de Postgrado y de alto nivel, cuyo objetivo principal y fundador es dar respuesta a las necesidades formativas surgidas en una sociedad en continuo cambio, siempre bajo el compromiso con la calidad y una arraigada vocación social. El Instituto Europeo Campus Stellae tiene tembén tres sus objetivos la promoción de actividades culturales, artísticas, sociales y empresariales.

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University of Roehampton, London Online

London, United Kingdom

The University of Roehampton, London has been providing quality education through its colleges for more than 170 years. Today, the University continues its tradition of excellence by providing working professionals around the world with access to high-quality online masters degree programmes at an affordable, all-inclusive tuition.

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