The topic of openness has transformed from an exclusive topic mainly dealt with by Open Universities to a topic that most educational institutions are in one or the other way dealing with today. While some authors and policymakers embrace this movement as the long awaited breakthrough for the education of the masses with the help of digital technologies, research is lacking behind with regard to impact and (hidden) conditions and (often unintended) consequences of these initiatives for higher education as a whole and the individual institutions (Giddens, 1984). The research group on open education addresses the “lack of rigorous critical engagement with Open Education’s core precepts” and the proactive engagement with new technologies to “generate possibilities for a radically different model of the university” (Van Mourik Broekman, Hall, Byfield, & Worthington, 2015).
The research group is conducting research on three different levels:
- On the micro-level research is conducted on the level of the individual learner.
- On a meso-level research is conducted on the level of the course and the organizational design and provision.
- On the macro-level research is conducted about the impact of open education on the educational institution, the education system and the society.
These topics are approached by the integration of three different perspectives:
Structuration of Open educational processes and practices
The perspective of structuration of open educational processes and practices (OEP) deals with the analysis of current practices of provisioning of open education and impact for the learner. A special focus is given to the phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as means for increasing access to (higher) education, to support lifelong learning of professionals and last but not least to address societal challenges. Research questions are dealing with new perspectives for success measurement, the role of motivation and self-regulated learning skills and the intention-behaviour gap in open education.
Design for knowledge and competence acquisition in large-scale learning networks
The scale aspect of open education asks for new approaches beyond traditional course design. These approaches are needed to challenge the currently dominating practices of knowledge transfer and lecture-based open courses. Research is dealing with new approaches for designing large-scale educational learning formats and the educational scalability of course design and feedback/assessment practices. Scalability of open education is regarded as a key challenge for open education but also for education in general taking into account future growth scenarios of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as well challenges of the national and regional school education systems.
Open Educational Innovations
While educational institutions and policymakers use open education actively to pursue strategic goals, the impact of open education on educational institutions is not sufficiently researched. Open education is often expected to function as a means for innovation of educational practices. In practice, this innovation process and the conditions for its success on the organizational level and the policy making level are unclear. This research line deals with the organizational and societal impact of open education, institutional support structures and policy perspectives.
The research group combines quantitative and qualitative approaches on all three levels and in particular strives for a combination of survey-data and behavioural data for analyzing learner profiles and effects.
The research is driven by the following leading research questions:
- What are the pre-conditions for a successful learning experience in open education?
- What are objective and suitable measurements of success in open education?
- How can educational design contribute to scalability of the educational experience while maintaining quality?
- What is the effect of open education on the educational institution?
- What kind of networked practices best support value- and knowledge creation, or innovation in a developing domain?
- Which kinds of participation (and thus, learning) are necessary to shape the transition to more open practices?
- How, and through which interactions between ‘actors’ do structural characteristics of learning networks emerge?
- What constitutes a (productive) interaction between learners (with specific characteristics and experiences) and other available resources, or in what constellation are the best outcomes produced?