Transforming higher education in the 21 st Century; Innovating pathways to learning and continuous professional education

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1 The Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference 2015 Transforming higher education in the 21 st Century; Innovating pathways to learning and continuous professional education October, Hagen EADTU s annual Conference 2015 is hosted by the FernUniversität in Hagen Scope and themes Topics: Technology-based teaching and learning lead to the transformation of higher education. Through new modes of teaching and learning, three complementary educational areas are emerging in European higher education: (1) blended and online degree education; (2) flexible continuous education and continuous professional development online, including new types of short programmes; and (3) online open education through OERs and MOOCs. Although their costs and business models differ significantly, they are interdependent. Institutional development in higher education should embrace a holistic perspective, developing these areas separately, but also integrating them in practice. It is expected that in Europe, each of these areas will expand in the near future. They will lead to excellence, innovation and inclusion and will affect international education by supporting collaborative courses and curricula and virtual mobility.

2 Policies in the changing pedagogical landscape Themes: systemic innovation, institutional strategies and frameworks, innovation policies, drivers and enablers of change, governmental policies supporting innovation All European universities have installed learning environments. Digital technologies affect teaching and learning. A true transformation of higher education enhances the quality of the learning experience and increases the scalability and cost-effectiveness of education. With rising student numbers and a declining funding per student, this is a challenge. New pedagogies are needed which open innovative avenues to better teaching and learning. A systemic approach requires institutional strategies and frameworks in order to make institutions continuously innovative with respect to all aspects of teaching and learning. As a matter of urgency, this process should be accelerated as pointed out in the Modernisation Agenda of the European Commission and in the reports of the High level Group for the Modernisation of Higher Education. Governmental strategies and higher education regulatory frameworks with regard to accreditation, funding, quality assurance, assessment and certification have to support this development. Empowering universities for the modernisation of higher education Themes: learning design tools for online course development, (large scale) student support, student s access and use of knowledge resources, (large scale) assessment tools, institutional innovation frameworks, learning technology tools and systems, excellence in teaching and learning, innovation strategies To accelerate the modernisation of European universities, experience and expertise should be mobilised in order to bring added value to higher education institutions, adopting innovations and pointing out roadmaps for innovation. European experts should support the implementation of new pedagogies, institutional strategies and business models with interested universities. Enablers of innovation are developing institutional frameworks for innovation; continuous professional development for university teachers and leaders; learning technology tools, systems and services, collecting patterns of good practice in new modes of teaching and learning; making available sharable resources (e.g. OER), and valorising evidence from research and innovation.

3 Blended education Themes: good practices in blended on campus education, online distance education, (international) collaborative programmes and virtual mobility, long-term employability by education and training European universities are faced with the problem of dealing with large student numbers and low student staff ratios (1/15 or 1/20 and lower, compared with 1/3 or 1/6 in highly ranked universities in the world); delivering high quality education to these large groups in a close nexus with actual research and innovation ; and organising this with a decreasing funding per student. Solving these problems requires the re-thinking en re-designing of on campus education, using blended forms of teaching and learning, combining traditional formats with new modes of teaching and learning based on ICT. On campus universities increasingly combine face-to-face with online formats, valuing the best of both. The optimal blend can be very different for bachelor and master programmes. Blended education is also important for the growing number of part-time students. When students are studying at a distance (in distance universities and increasingly in international education, the online component can become even more important and even dominant, because of the flexibility needed. The development towards blended education is going too slow in comparison with the US. Flexible continuing education and new types of courses Themes: good practices in online or blended continuing education, CPD, (new types of) certified short programmes, university-business collaborations, cost and business models for continuing education, employability, international collaboration In a lifelong learning perspective, universities will take care of continuous education for innovation in strongly changing sectors and of continuous professional development and knowledge networking for their alumni. They will also organise education and training for innovation in the corporate and public sector. As flexibility is important for the target groups concerned, this increasingly will be organised in blended formats or online, enabling students to plan their study in combination with work and private activities. This flexibility should also be achieved by new types of short courses, which facilitate the combination with work by their smaller size. Indicatively, these programmes would have a size of resp. 15 and 30 ECTS points only, less than the current 60 ECTS points or more for postgraduate certificates or diplomas. These short programmes should be recognized by a new type of certificates (certificate of academic studies, extended certificate of academic studies, diploma of academic studies, ). To make this successful, new specific business models are to be created, adapted to the target groups and the type of courses, and incentivizing the organising staff and departments. Flexible continuing education supports the long-term employability of professionals and hence is very important for the development of innovative regions European-wide.

4 Open education and MOOCs Themes: open access, open pedagogies, scalability (student support, assessment), cost and business models, open licensing policies, institutional and governmental policies Online education leads to new opportunities for institutions for scaling up higher education to reach wider national and international audiences. It leads to the kind of flexible, creative and modern approach to learning that today s complex world requires. MOOCs have received considerable media coverage since the beginning of Along with their expansion, confusion has arisen around what a typical MOOC would look like and what could be expected as its main added value. Drivers for most universities organising MOOCs are visibility and reputation by valorising research and development through top class education worldwide; experimenting with large scale online education, which experience can applied in enhancing the quality of mainstream curricula; recruiting new students, especially at the master and doctoral level; and opening up education to new target groups, including national and international students. For teaching staff, main drivers are experimenting with good teaching and international exposure. But, MOOCs will also play an important role in continuing education, raising permanent employability. Opening up universities to new target groups requires a coherent institutional policy and appropriate organizational and business models within the institution. In a knowledge society, governments should stimulate and support universities in opening up to citizens and society at large. Learning analytics and learning technologies Themes: concept and methodology of learning analytis, data analysis and educational improvement, good practices; learning technologies, e-assessment, learning design tools, intelligent tutoring Learning analytics offers many chances for higher education. It is not only about monitoring student progress. It allows to have an in depth look into what students are coping with and experience as barriers when learning a course. Learning analytics can contribute in this sense to individualizing materials to students in custom made support. It further helps educators in generating direct feedback on their approach of education. The validity of learning analytics is dependent on the value of the key indicators used in a perspective of teaching and learning improvement. Another issue is about collecting the right data, which allow real-time analysis in order to tailor learning activities to the individual student. Other learning technologies have are related to the use of big data, e-assessment and intelligent tutoring.

5 Format of the parallel sessions Next to plenary keynote sessions by key-experts in the field online, open and flexible education, we organise parallel sessions, which are a combination of presentations and interactive sessions. Your contributions under the call for abstracts may therefore be a classic presentation with room for discussion as well as an interactive workshop like session. Research and innovation The conference includes a dedicated research strand, covering the six sub-themes. The best papers on research will be published in Open Learning Journal. (http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/copl20). The editorial Board consists of well-established experts in the field of online, open and flexible learning. Abstract submissions Submitting abstracts of conference papers: Contributions should be in line with the scope and topics mentioned above and submitted to by 1st June 2015 with accompanying title, theme reference and keywords. Full format specifications can be downloaded here. The Programme Committee subjects the programme and the abstracts to a process of review. Important Dates Deadline for submission of abstracts 1 June 2015 Notification of acceptance 7 June 2015 Deadline for submission of full conference papers of accepted abstracts 18 September 2015 On-line publication of abstracts for conference participants 1 October 2015

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