European Ministers confirmed their support for the Opening up Education initiative at the recent Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council meeting. The recently approved Erasmus + programme will provide support to initiatives related to open education.
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council met on 25–26 November, 2013, which brought together Ministers from across Europe to discuss numerous issues related to youth and education. The meeting included a public debate on Open Educational Resources and digital learning.
Image: Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council press conference
The debate kicked off with a guest speaker, Ms. Uschi Schreiber of Ernst and Young, who emphasized the need for “digitally natural” staff in the workforce. She reminded the audience that in many countries in the world, modern technologies are already fully integrated into the education system and that in this regard, European higher education is lagging.
Professor Azzone, Rector of the Politecnico de Milano, argued that online learning should support traditional learning, not replace it. He suggested that given the high cost of developing an online course (around 100.000 EUR) and the low completion rate (12% for online courses versus 70% for in-class courses), MOOCs and online courses should not yet be fully embraced as a new mode of learning.
Image: European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and Dolores Christina, Minister of Education and Employment of Malta
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou reiterated the goal of making every European classroom digital by 2020. Currently, 50% of children have never had any contact with digital learning. Most EU states have already implemented some form of digital learning initiatives at the national level, but there are ongoing constraints such as copyright and infrastructural issues that require attention. Some ministers argued that the scarcity of data on MOOCs at this point makes it difficult to make informed policy decisions.
The Council adopted conclusions on Effective leadership in education and conclusions on the global dimension of European higher education. The former calls on member states to make educational leadership more attractive by according more autonomy to educational institutions and leaders. The latter outlines three areas of importance in the internationalization of higher education: student and staff mobility; the internationalisation of curricula and digital learning; and strategic cooperation, partnerships and capacity-building.
The Erasmus + programme was also recently adopted by the European Parliament, and is expected to be formally adopted by the Council in early December for a January 2014 start. The programme will benefit from a funding increase of over 40% compared to the programmes it replaces. Erasmus + and Horizon 2020 will be key funding sources for initiatives related to open education and digital learning.
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