» Five Asian Open Universities adopt open licensing and MOOCs
07.11.2014 - Communication & Information Sector

Five Asian Open Universities adopt open licensing and MOOCs

Professor Tian Belawati, President Universitas Terbuka (UT) Indonesia speaking at the High Level OpenupEd Workshop – © Open University of Hong Kong

Within the framework of the OpenupEd Project which aims to empower key national universities to release courses with open licenses in MOOC format, UNESCO organized a High-Level Workshop within the 2014 Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities in Hong Kong. The exclusive pre-Conference Workshop held on Monday 27 October, 2014 was targeted at Heads of Open Universities to provide an informal setting for free-flowing discussion. Opened by Professor Yuk-Shan Wong, President of the OUHK and AAOU, the Workshop attracted representation from 30 institutions with 14 Rectors, Vice Chancellors, and Presidents in full attendance.

The Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) is a non-profit organization of Asian higher learning institutions that are primarily concerned with education at a distance. The AAOU was founded in 1987 by a number of open universities in the Asian region who realized the significant contribution of distance education in democratizing the provision of learning opportunities to mankind.

The OpenupEd Workshop at the 2014 AAOU Conference represented the Asian launch of the Globalizing OpenupEd Project which aims to empower key national higher education institutions to offer courses with full open licenses (OERs) and to transform them into Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are defined as any type of educational materials in the public domain, or released with an open license allowing free use, adaptation, and distribution. They present educational institutions with a strategic opportunity to increase the quality of educational materials.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are characterized as free-of-cost, openly-accessible, online courses which can support ‘massive’ numbers of students.

By transforming OER courses into MOOCs that can be accessed free-of-cost and easily via mobile phones or mobile devices, UNESCO hopes to ‘massively’ increase the number of new learners accessing high-quality, relevant education from Asia and internationally.

OpenupEd is the world’s first MOOC Initiative that offers learners several unique innovations:

  1. Courses are to be made immediately/progressively available as OERs with at least CC BY SA licenses
  2. The university partners will offer full recognition, and additional credit for fees;
  3. Some courses are to offer cohort-independence

With support from the European Commission, UNESCO is Globalizing OpenupEd in Africa working with the Africa Council for Distance Education (ACDE), and in Asia working with the Asian Association for Open Universities (AAOU).

The Project is led by Abel Caine, UNESCO Programme Specialist in OERs, and Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO OER Chair.

The High-Level Workshop attracted over 30 representatives from the following countries:

  1. China
  2. Hong Kong
  3. India
  4. Indonesia
  5. Japan
  6. Korea
  7. Malaysia
  8. Pakistan
  9. Philippines
  10. Singapore
  11. Sri Lanka
  12. Thailand
  13. Vietnam

The Rectors, Presidents, and Vice Chancellors of the following universities were in full attendance:

  1. University of the Philippines Open University, The Philippines
  2. Open University Malaysia, Malaysia
  3. SIM University , Singapore
  4. Korea National Open University, Korea
  5. The Open University of Japan, Japan
  6. Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Thailand
  7. The Open University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong
  8. Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia
  9. Krishana Kanta Handiqui State Open University, India
  10. Wawasan Open University, Malaysia
  11. The Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

Moderated by Dr Li Kam Cheong, Secretary-General of the AAOU, there were 4 main presentations by:

  1. Abel Caine – UNESCO OER Programme
  2. Professor Fred Mulder – OpenupEd Project
  3. Professor Tsuneo Yamada – Japan MOOCs
  4. Professor Tae-Rim Lee – Korea MOOCs

The Workshop was very lively with enthusiastic discussions on the definitions, misconceptions, and risks/benefits of open licensing and MOOCs and the implications for the Asian context. Two major decisions followed on the Workshop:

  1. The AAOU Executive has formed a Task Force to promote Open Licensing and the development of MOOCs;
  2. The OU5 – a group of 5 ASEAN Open Universities agreed to open-license and MOOC the 1st course of the Masters in ASEAN Studies.

Mr Abel Caine from UNESCO was very pleased with the Workshop, “We have a major agreement from 5 ASEAN open universities to open-license and MOOC the 1st course of a prominent Masters in ASEAN Studies. This is very important in the context of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community possibly in 2015.”

The Workshop was extensively promoted by local media with many comments on Twitter and shared photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/105603439@N03/sets/72157648738645078/).

The medium term goal of the OpenupEd Project is to have ‘massive’ numbers of students benefitting from multiple openly-licensed MOOCs by key African and Asian universities to be highlighted at the World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea in May 2015.

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