How EDEN is Helping to Map the European MOOC Territory - Guest post by Airina Volungeviciene

January 9, 2015 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

Opening up the education system has been embraced by European Governments and institutions throughout the continent as a main goal of the decade. As I've already mentioned in previous posts this bold challenge is speeding up considerably the transformation in our field as open and digital learning becomes mainstream. A major driver for this development has been the extraordinary and to some extent unexpected impact of MOOCs, or better said open education at (large) scale. As the recent EDENRW8 in Oxford has demonstrated, a European alternative approach to massive open education is slowly but consistently emerging. As a result we need to consolidate what can be a European vision for open education at scale. One that combines Europe's cultural values with our legacy of research in open and distance learning. One that mixes internationalization with the promotion of social inclusion and also educational innovation and transformation.

In order to address this topic in more detail, I've invited my dear friend and EDEN Vice-President Airina Volungeviciene to write us today's guest blog post. She recently represented EDEN at the “Mapping the European MOOC Territory” conference, held in Porto. At that occasion she presented a very interesting view on this challenge. Her presentation, entitled "Mainstreaming Open, Online and Flexible Learning: How will MOOCs continue to be unique from an Institutional Perspective" suggested educational institutions should focus on using responsively and responsibly technology-enhanced learning to improve the quality of educational practices. In her guest post, Airina elaborates on this argument.

I would like to take this opportunity also to acknowledge the Porto Conference organizers - EADTU and the EDEN members Universidade Aberta and University of Porto - for the kind invitation to participate in the event and present a position paper on this relevant topic.



One of the goals of EDEN is to foster open and international professional collaboration for the development of innovation by inviting member organizations to openly discuss the development of online and distance learning. In the past few years, several innovations are radically changing the landscape of higher education (HE).

The topic of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is one of them. Many high ranked institutions started to produce and deliver open online courses for the first time, using online courses as part of their formal curricula, and to look at online education as a valid form of quality learning. Online forms of education provision became no longer seen as a curiosity or a niche market, but a central part of HE institutional offer.

In parallel, consolidation of a network society along with open forms of education has changed our perception of what education should be. HE provision became differentiated, more personalized and flexible. The need to remain sustainable calls for the need to ensure HE is scalable.

The tremendous growth in the number of actors resulted in first negative side effects from MOOCs. Most of the courses developed lacked consolidated expertise and experience in open, distance or online learning or have applied inadequate theoretical frameworks and established practices. This has misled many to scepticism and disillusion about the potential of open education. There's a need for solid research to develop new practice models on the basis of existing research and the basic principles of open education, taking the most out of the new networked social environments.

In its long experience of supporting open and digital learning community of researchers and practitioners, EDEN has followed how this development was critical for the consolidation of quality online learning practices in the past decade. The dissemination of open educational practices (OEP) in HE institutions implies the adjustment or change of organizational cultures towards open education.

It must be recognized that establishing innovative OEP (including MOOCs) in HE is often introduced episodically. Moreover, one can notice that great confusion exists in terms of concepts (MOOCs, OER, Open Access, Open Science, Open Society, Open Education). Sudden and disruptive development, as well as segmented integration of innovation in an organization often lose the desired effect and anticipated impact. Such instances could demonstrate irresponsible decisions, bring negative effect to strategic planning and may generate wrong feedback to European discussions on best practices.



The impact of openness upon educational organization was discussed during the 8th EDEN Research Workshop (EDENRW8). Member institutions show that OEPs exist in a variety of scenarios and institutional practices. A broader concept of TEL has emerged out of e-learning, on-line learning and distance education. The new TEL concept implies the value of judgment of improved learning services for students and new, innovative scenarios in learning and teaching.

EDEN member institutions suggest integration of open education through TEL curriculum in an organization following quality parameters: responsiveness (to the needs of all stakeholders), reliability (quality control and impact indicators), integration via all areas of organizational activities, pre-conditions and institutional case studies.

The institutional decision for the scenario of integration of TEL and open education would be unique, thus responsive to its local needs and pre-conditions, and responsible as pre-assessing potential impact to organizational activities. EDEN’s position is that the mainstreaming of open education necessarily implies some sort of regulation of the field to which experts and dedicated organizations should be invited to contribute.

EDEN position paper and presentation in more detail are available through the conference website.


Airina Volungeviciene is an associate professor at the department of Education at the Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania) where she's also the Director of the Innovative Studies Institute. She's also the president of the Lithuanian Distance and eLearning (LieDM) Association and Vice-Presindent at EDEN. Airina has been working among leading researchers, methodology specialists and policy makers in the area of distance learning development in Lithuania since 1998. She has coordinated numerous international and national projects in the field of distance education and e-learning. She's also an expert in Quality Assurance. Read more here.