LACE: HOW OPEN ICT HELPS TO BUILD INTERNATIONAL MASTERS IN THE BOLOGNA PHILOSOPHY
LACE or Literature And Culture in Europe is a network working towards a joint/double international master's degree in the fields of literature and culture. Composed out of strong partners (Leuven, Groningen, Bologna, Carlos III Madrid, Granada, Lisbon, Aarhus), it wants to, in a first phase, improve the "internationalization at home" by stimulating the venue of inbound international students in the master programmes at the involved institutions. By joining the LACE group, these universities have connected themselves to uplift their collaboration to a higher level. Addressing literature, film and theatre as cultural practices, LACE foregrounds the two notions of value and change in culture.
From the beginning, the project, which is founded on a strong personal acquaintance and understanding amongst the participating member programmes, was setup as fundamentally an ICT project. It is our strong belief that the use of ODL technologies and a policy on Open Education Resources are the decisive enabling factors to reach these goals. Three ingredients are deemed crucial for a successful realization of the project:
To stimulate students to take one semester at one of the other participating institutions, it is imperative that students are clearly informed about all the details of their semester abroad. A long tradition in dealing with both inbound and outgoing Erasmus students has strengthened our view that very explicit information on each administrative step and the many social issues involved are well documented. This is why in the context of LACE a portal website has been developed where students and professors alike can find all the relevant info for each institution. In a first phase it's been used to inform students about the project and partners. And to invite teachers and professors to give a block seminar in one of the partner institutions.
An integral part of the solution is to put the courses of the participating programmes online, so that students can follow what is going on from anywhere, and can get a quite precise idea of which course they would want to take abroad. We use Moodle since it allows in a very transparent way not only to show the contents, but also the whole work flow and activities involved in a course. Through these open Moodle courses, students have virtual portfolio of the different courses that are available in the consortium, which in a second phase, we hope, will help to attract students from outside the consortium. Our first course online is 'Film and Literature', a collaboration between the university of Leuven and the university of Granada. To simplify the cooperation, we not only offer the full course material online, we also film all colleges in Leuven to offer them to the students abroad through web colleges in Moodle.
Of course, student activities must also find their way online, so that students can truly interact not only with students abroad but also with their home base. Extensive use of Skype, videoconferencing and the Drupal CMS enables us to maintain multimode communications throughout the curriculum.
In our paper we will present the current setup and architecture of the LACE support system and situate it into the university's Open Policies and our theoretical views on online open teaching, based on years-long experience in E-Learning pilots.