F. Truyen1, K.J. Van Dorp2, B. Janssen3, J. Rivera4, R. Griset4, A. Kuppens1

1K.U.Leuven (BELGIUM)
3Open Universiteit Nederland (NETHERLANDS)
4Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (SPAIN)
In this paper we explore the reasons for which both traditional universities as well as Open universities could adopt OER to enhance their networked curricula in a typical regional multi-campus or virtual campus scenario. We will highlight the very different institutional goals that can be achieved by the implementation of OER, and show that OER are compatible with a variety of pedagogical approaches. On the other hand, we will stress that OER need to be understood in a more comprehensive way than the course content as such, and should include open communication about the educational concepts and curricular aims in which they operate, as well as being embedded in the regional stakeholder and expertise networks that sustain the knowledge domain covered.
The research is done in the context of the project Innovative Open Educational Resources (OER) in European higher education (OER-HE) lead by the European Association of Distance Universities (EADTU), and involves (for the work on multi-campus) K.U.Leuven, which is a traditional university, the Open Universiteit in The Netherlands (OUNL), which is in the process of starting up the Networked Open Polytechnic, and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).
Besides the more theoretical reflection and literature study, the methodology of this research focuses on qualitative methods, involving interviews with key decision makers in the adoption of OER and open policies at institutions of different types, and stakeholder workshops to validate the chosen approaches. By having access to internal documents we can shed a light in the different arguments and motives that are taken into account when considering OER. The following possible motives for the use of OER are evaluated: widening participation and lifelong learning, internationalization, exposure, mainstreaming, reaching out to stakeholders, quality control, cost efficiency, supporting learning in the digital age, facilitating interdisciplinary research. These are ranked in function of the different institutional profiles. This first line of research should allow us to do more focused quantitative inquires in the future.
OER in these contexts are meant to help fill the local expertise gaps and are part of an effort to create an integrated learning environment that is both virtual and physical, mixing distant and blended learning. Each institution is trying to shape future learning environments out of starting conditions that are historically evolved. In each case, the relation between content, human resources and knowledge dissemination is explored and an argumentation is construed to strengthen OER policies at the strategic institutional level, by connecting it to the respective business models.
The three partners involved in this research look into OER from very different backgrounds and goals. Whereas for UOC multi-campus means a virtual campus, and ODL technologies are at the core of using OER, the OUNL is involved in a project to setup a Network Open Polytechnics (NOP), aiming to share innovative course content to existing Higher Education institutions. For K.U.Leuven, OER technologies help to overcome logistical and synergy problems stemming from its University Association, involving 13 institutions in multiple campuses throughout the Flemish Region.