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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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

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.

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Universities in the spotlight

University of Essex

Colchester, United Kingdom

Founded nearly fifty years ago, the University of Essex is ranked in the top ten universities in the UK for the quality of our research and second among mainstream UK universities for overall student satisfaction. We are one of the most internationally diverse campus-based universities in Britain, with more than one third of our 11,000 students coming from outside the UK.

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University of Liverpool in Coop. with Laureate Online Education

Liverpool, United Kingdom

A member of the prestigious Russell Group of 24 research-led universities in the UK, the University of Liverpool has been associated with eight Nobel Prize winners since its foundation in 1881. Today, in partnership with e-learning experts Laureate Online Education, the University is Europe’s leading provider of fully online postgraduate degree programmes – allowing working professionals to combine work and study.

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International Business Academy

Kolding, Denmark

With its roots going back more than 100 years, the IBA is today a major higher education institution in the heart of Denmark offering degree programmes in in Business, Marketing, Finance, Management, Entrepreneurship and Design.

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Alma Graduate School / University of Bologna

Bologna, Italy

Alma Graduate School is among the most important schools of management in Europe and surely one of the most innovative ones in Italy. Interdisciplinariety, integration with the business world and international focus are the keywords for managing the complex and continuously changing economic environment.

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Hibernia College

Dublin, Ireland

Established at the turn of the new millennium, Hibernia College follows an ambitious and forward-thinking strategy in order to play a leading role in education for the future.

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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


anywhere