OpenCourseWare for STEM-courses

OpenCourseWare for Science Technology Engineering Maths (OCW4STEM)

This consortium wants to address the high demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW). On the supply side we identify and organise the collection of existing courses and we look at new ways of education, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). This should position Europe as leading region in the field of Open Education.

This is a large consortium with 55 partners from 31 EU countries, and 2 third countries partners. The partners include universities and associations of universities. All partners are active in the field of STEM education and support the Open Education Movement.

In this consortium we have combined the forerunners in the field of Open Education in Europe, such as the Open University UK and Delft University of Technology, with leading universities in the field of STEM, such as ETH Zurich, Oxford University, and KU Leuven.

The project has good balance between implementation and dissemination & exploitation work packages.

The implementation work packages focuses on:

  • utilizing the already existing plethora of openly accessible learning materials and objects that are freely available online whether through universities’ portals or from other sources;
  • the recognition, monitoring and joint degrees;
  • the development of best practices for cooperation between institutions and professions;
  • increasing the opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in STEM education;
  • the need for students to engage with and develop skills related to professional practice of STEM subjects.

The dissemination and exploitation is focused on spreading the knowledge and experiences of this consortium via the networks of the partners to universities (their teachers and students), policy makers and Life Long Learners, such as workers and employers, from around Europe.

The annual conferences (Warsaw (PL), Rome (IT) and Leuven (BE)) will be open for anyone to participate and will be actively promoted around Europe.

Delft University of Technology is coordinator of this consortium. 

Rationale of and background to the project

The rationale of this consortium stems from a number of reports and documents which have been published over the past years addressing the high demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related skills.
This consortium wants to address this demand with use of Open Educational Resources (OER). On the supply side we identify and organise the collection of existing courses and we look at new ways of education, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The ‘Erasmus for All’ programme (2013 – 2020) contributes to Europe 2020. Its objective is to improve people’s skills, personal development and employability. Two of its key actions are: Learning mobility for individuals; cooperation for innovation and good practices.

Amongst the key issues identified in the EC Communication ‘Supporting Growth for jobs – an Agenda for Modernising Europe’s HE Systems’, published in September 2011, are:

  • Increasing attainment levels to provide the graduates and researchers Europe needs;
  • Improving the quality and relevance of HE;
  • Strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border;
  • Making the knowledge triangle work, linking HE, research and business.

In November 2012 the European Commission announced a new strategy on Education: Rethinking Education Strategy: investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes.
According to the strategy the demand for qualified workforce in technology and research intensive sectors is and will remain at a high level, with an impact on the demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related skills. Greater effort must now be made to highlight STEM as a priority area of education, and increase engagement at all levels.

In another part of the strategy the Commission writes about stimulating open and flexible learning. The Commission states that technology offers unprecedented opportunities to improve quality, access and equity in education and training. Digital learning and recent trends in Open Educational Resources (OER) are enabling fundamental changes in the education world, expanding the educational offer beyond its traditional formats and borders.

The Commission gives 6 priorities for member states and one of them is “Scale up the use of ICT-supported learning and access to high quality OER”. On European level they will continue with their focus on “Opening up Education”. This initiative will launch in mid-2013.

Delft University of Technology and its partners in this consortium fully support this strategy and we are certain that this consortium will have an added value in both fields: improving skills for STEM and promoting and using OER.

This project proposal was prepared by capitalising on the experience of previous LLL-projects and analysing the needs for the future as we head towards 2020.

Rationale for the setting-up of the consortium

This is a large consortium with 55 partners from 31 EU countries, and 2 Third Countries partners. The partners include universities and associations of universities. All partners are active in the field of STEM education and support the Open Education Movement. The Consortium brings together an experienced group of universities and stakeholders from around Europe. The consortium will be coordinated by Delft University of Technology which has successfully coordinated many EU projects. Most partners have participated in previous European projects. Each partner is active in one or more work packages. In a work package 5 to 30 partners are participating. The regional spread was one of the criteria for the selection. Each work package has an assigned work package leader. SEFI, EADTU and the OpenCourseWare Consortium will play a key role in dissemination and exploitation of project outcomes.

Participating in this project are also the partners of the OCWEU-project, they will continue to bring their expertise in the field of OpenCourseWare. The Consortium will be able to draw on The UK Open University’s unparalleled expertise in delivering distance learning and in pioneering open education resources. In December 2012 they launched a new open initiative: FutureLearn. Futurelearn will bring together a range of free, open, online courses from leading UK universities, in the same place and under the same brand.

The project has six content and four management work packages:

  • WP1 focuses on STEM subjects and utilizing the already existing plethora of openly accessible learning materials and objects that are freely available on-line whether through universities’ portals or from other sources.
  • WP2 focuses on the recognition, monitoring and joint degrees. Due to the  variety in type, difficulty, level, time requirements, target group or other properties of courses around Europe, it is necessary to set up clear and widely agreed assessment methodologies and criteria for their recognition.
  • WP3 aims to contribute to the development of best practices for cooperation between STEM institutions and professions, and to increasing opportunities in STEM through lifelong learning.
  • WP4 will work on increasing the opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in STEM education.
  • The goal of the WP5 is to carry out research how to best utilize OpenCourseWare, perform promotional activities to stimulate the use of OpenCourseWare, increase awareness and influence policy makers in adopting OER and OCW and to create toolkit to persuade faculty members to share their educational material authored.
  • WP6 will focus on the need for students to engage with and develop skills related to professional practice of STEM subjects and hence enhance employability and virtual mobility.

The management work packages are project management, dissemination, quality assurance and exploitation.

Aims and objectives

Open Educational Resources (OER) have been steadily making headway within Higher Education. More materials are being published online by an increasing number of countries, presenting opportunities to effectively use these resources to improve educational opportunities for both formally enrolled students and those not currently being served by higher education. OpenCourseWare projects, such as Delft University of Technology’s OpenCourseWare (OCW), seek to capitalize on the potential of the internet to eliminate borders and geographic distance as obstacles to the instantaneous exchange of knowledge and new ideas. Delft University of Technology knows that Europe is behind on the international developments and wants to strengthen the OpenCourseWare movement in Europe.

With the start of an Academic Network focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), we bring together forward-thinking universities in Europe to advance European Higher Education in the world of Open Education.

The aim of the project is use the full potential of Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare and Open Education to improve and promote STEM education by creating a network of European universities collaborating together. The result is a sustainable network of universities that have embedded Open Education in their STEM education.

European added value

The major aims of this project are to improve STEM skills and to promote the use of OER in Europe.
Both of these aims help the European Commission with reaching their goals, which they have set in the different strategies, such as Erasmus 4 All, Rethinking Education Strategy and Opening Up Education.

This project can also improve Europe’s position in Open Education. In American and Asian countries the developments in the field of Open Education are progressing much faster. This project can help Europe to catch up and become a leader in Open Education. This is also corresponding with the ambition of the Digital Agenda of European Commissioner Kroes.

This project stimulates European cooperation between universities to enhance STEM education. Not only do we focus on the general population, but also towards specific groups, such as women and minorities. This project can help to make STEM more accessible for those groups.

The developments in STEM and Open Education are going fast. Cooperation of universities is a necessityto keep up with these developments. This project helps to bring these universities together and to cooperate in STEM education and Online Education.

Partners

Here the list of partners in the project:

# Country Organization
1 Austria Graz University of Technology
2 Austria FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft
3 Belgium Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
4 Belgium European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI)
5 Belgium UC Louvain
6 Croatia University of Dubrovnik
7 Cyprus University of Nicosia
8 Czech Republic Mendel University in Brno
9 Czech Republic Brno University of Technology
10 Denmark TEchnical University of Denmark
11 Denmark Aalborg University
12 Estonia Tallinn University of Technology
13 Finland Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
14 France UNISIEL
15 Germany TU Berlin
16 Greece Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
17 Greece National Technical University of Athens
18 Hungary Budapest University of Technology and Economics
19 Hungary MELlearN Network
20 Iceland University of Iceland
21 Ireland National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM)
22 Ireland University of Limerick
23 Italy Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi (USGM)
24 Italy International Telematic University UNINETTUNO
25 Italy METID ? Politecnico di Milano
26 Latvia Riiga Technical University
27 Lithuania Kaunas University of Technology
28 Luxembourg University of Luxembourg
29 Montenegro Faculty for Information Technology - Mediterranean University
30 Montenegro Institute of Modern Technology Montenegro
31 Netherlands Delft University of Technology
32 Netherlands European Association of Distance Teaching Universities
33 Netherlands Open University NL
34 Poland AGH-University of Science & Technology
35 Poland Marie Curie Sklodowska University
36 Poland Warsaw University of Technology
37 Poland Poznan University of Technology, Institute of Computing Science
38 Portugal Universidade Aberta
39 Romania Politehnica University of Timisoara
40 Serbia Balkan Distance Education Network BADEN
41 Slovakia Slovak University of Technology
42 Slovenia University of Maribor
43 Spain Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya
44 Spain Universitat Polytechnik Madrid
45 Spain Universitat de Barcelona
46 Sweden Computer & Systems Science Stockholm University
47 Sweden Lund University
48 Switzerland ETH Zurich
49 Turkey Middle East Technical University
50 Turkey Bahcesehir University, Besiktas, Istanbul
51 UK De Montfort University
52 UK Open University
53 UK Coventry University
54 UK Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford)
55 UK The Higher Education Academy

 

What is an Erasmus Academic Network?

ERASMUS Academic Networks are designed to promote European cooperation and innovation in specific subject areas by enhancing quality of teaching in higher education, defining and developing a European dimension within a given academic discipline, furthering innovation and exchanging methodologies and good practices. This is achieved through cooperation within the network between higher education institutions, university faculties and departments and may also involve professional associations and enterprises as well as other organisations.

Interested?

If you have any additional questions or remarks, please contact Willem van Valkenburg.

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