European Commission launches 'Opening up Education' and reveals the programme's new webportal

September 26, 2013 by EDEN Secretariat   Comments (0)

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You may all well be aware of the portal of the European Commission. Well, the portal is no more, it is renewed, reviewed and relaunched with modified objectives and services supporting the launch of the 'Opening up Education' programme, an action plan to tackle digital problems of schools and universities. The new website, Open Education Europa, is meant to allow students, practitioners and educational institutions to share free-to-use open educational resources, embracing the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, a big policy triumph for the adamant advocats of OER.

The new programme

Before we offer a short review of the redesigned portal, some words on the new collaboration called Opening up Education. The initiative aims to scale up the use, re-use and sharing of quality digital education content. It is meant to increase equity and encourage the modernization of learning, teaching and assessment practices through the use of digital technologies. The initiative led by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President, responsible for the Digital Agenda, focuses on three main areas:

  • Creating opportunities for organisations, teachers and learners to innovate;
  • Increased use of Open Educational Resources (OER), ensuring that educational materials produced with public funding are available to all; and
  • Better ICT infrastructure and connectivity in schools.

While the 2012 launched high level group for the modernisation of higher education is still working on its recommendations (due to be published next summer) that supposed to add to the impact of this programme, the Commission already lined up 24 actions for Opening up Education, financed by  Erasmus+, Horizon 2020, as well as by the Structural and Investment Funds.

We could ask the question: what does the Commission expect with this launch? As stated in the communication, apart from the mainstreaming of OERs, more and better open learning environments (OLEs) – meaning widespread uptake of ICTs in the classrooms and consequently organisational and infrastructural change in schools, universities and training institutions to support integration of new technologies and high-quality OER. Ultimately the EC hopes to support better prepared individuals and businesses for the job market. This launch also involves the naming of EPALE, the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe, to be launched in early 2015 to round up the portal portfolio of the Commission.

To read more on the programme, download the Frequently Asked Questions or read the Analysis and mapping of innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources in Europe.

The new portal

We took a closer look on the portal and it's services. As the Newsletter quickly stated earlier this month, this transformation aims to bring teachers closer to learners mostly by the use of Open Educational Resources. With the renewed website you can search for open courses and relevant resources in different languages, interact with peers in thematic groups, and access research materials.

All of the existing content  remained available, now reorganized in 3 themes:

  • Find: with search options for courses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other learning materials named 'Resources'
  • Share: with content formerly displayed in the main horizontal menu of the elearningportal, and filled up with content by the community - this is the calssic Web2.0 service we learned to use in
  • In-depth: with content that was primarily diplyed in the former portal on front page: news, events, project database, articles published in eLearning Papers (now renamed as eL Papers for .... well, no information reached us on the reasons of renaming the online journal).

What is new on this portal? Re-designs are tricky, you wish to maintain the good (and in elearningeuropa's case massive amount of) content, on the other hand you'd want to enhance navigation and in this case, add up even more content with advanced search function. The ambition of the portal is to unite social community functions with an easy-to-use repository function. The new portal maintained the signature look adding a little charisma with short media content on the new and old  functions featured on the opening page grouping efficiently the various navigation options into three main sections. To support browsing, an integratic filter system on the left hand column supports fast listing of courses on the language or provider you are looking for. If you have an login, don't worry, it still works! If you type in the old webaddress, it will also redirect you to the new portal.

Curious? Click the link to see the new portal: