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IDEA League & OpenCourseWare

Last friday representatives from all 5 IDEA League universities came together at TU Delft to discuss OpenCourseWare and related activities with TU Delft Rector Magnificus Karel Luyben and Director of Education Anka Mulder.

IDEA League was founded by 4 European top universities 10 years ago and consits of 5 universities since 2006:

  • Imperial College London
  • TU Delft
  • ETH Zurich
  • RWTH Aachen
  • ParisTech (Since 2006)

 Their mission statement is:

"The IDEA League is a network of five leading universities of technology and science. Our joint activities in education, research, innovation and quality assurance, as well as our joint participation in EU programmes and initiatives, make us a model of European collaboration. Together, we create added value by pooling resources for collaborative and complementary programmes for our students, researchers and staff. Our collaboration is driven by the needs of society."

ETH Zurich
ETH doesn’t do OpenCourseWare, but an e-learning strategy bill was passed to share content on a worldwide scale, also focussing on content creation. Besides Docendo (an Open Learning Authoring & Management Tool) a Multi Media Portal was presented, of which materials are also shown at a Swiss portal harvesting metadata from several universities.

ParisTech
ParisTech consists of a partnership between 12 top institutions in Paris. ParisTech is also a member of the OCW Consortium and has had an OpenCourseWare website since 2003, The participating institutions share one OpenCourseWare website, but the content (387 courses online by now) are all available through one website.

Imperial college
Imperial college isn’t active with OpenCourseWare yet either. An OER Working Group has however been established to come to a strategy to make educational contents available for the general public. Intellectial Property Rights (IPR) are one of their main concerns, but advice from ParisTech and TU Delft to handle IPR’s pragmatically, seemed to be helpful. 

RTWH Aachen
RTWH Aachen is active with iTunesU, but mainly for marketing purposes. OpenCourseWare isn’s on the agenda yet, but there is a lot of material available to potentially start of an OpenCourseWare Initiative. OCW is discussed as a part of e-learning and the blended learning policy to optimize learning.

Watermanagement TU Delft
Jasper Verberk presented the TU Delft Watermanagement OpenCourseWare ideas. OCW is no replacement for direct contact, but is used in addition to regular education. In the future, classroom time might be used for discussions after the students had watched the recording as preparation. Note that Harald van der Mil of the Leiden University (presentation at an earlier E-Merge venue, in Dutch) has already experimented with this idea. The OCW site mirrors the BlackBoard site with no extra work for instructors required.

All intitutions seemed to have plenty of Educational Materials available topotentially offer OpenCourseWare in the future and make the transition to an OpenCourseWare initiative. All agreed on several goals OpenCourseWare could serve:

Improve quality of education and learning

  • It is a tool for improvement of teaching methodology and materials. With the additional public angle there is more pressure to keep the material updated, well-presented and well-structured.
  • Students can view the lectures at a time of their convenience.
  • Students can view the lectures several times, benefitting international students who have problems with the teaching language.
  • It can help bridging the opening gap between secondary schools and university.
  • It can help bridging the gap between industry and university with companies using the lectures for teaching their staff.
  • It is a tool for life-long learning.
  • It is a tool to assess the teaching ability of staff.

Branding, Marketing and Reputation

  • It is a marketing tool which aims for world-wide acknowledgement of a university’s teaching and research.
  • It connects a university to the public which is providing the financing.
  • It is a recruiting tool for attracting potential students and staff.

Next year the IDEA League will meet again to talk about future steps in OpenCourseWare. 

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