Open educational resources and widening participation in higher education: innovations and lessons from open universities

This paper, which references a European Lifelong Learning project under the Erasmus Virtual Campus programme, briefly reviews the role of open educational resources, open and distance learning and widening participation within European higher education. It also examines and analyses policies and practices from various European open universities, practices undertaken to widen the audience for higher education knowledge, increase engagement with higher education materials and improve participation in formal access higher education courses and programmes. It presents a framework for understanding the role of open educational resources and open and distance learning in widening participation based on their availability, accessibility, and acceptability. The paper concludes that open educational resources are beginning to influence educational opportunities in Europe, but that new policies and practices are required at all levels in the higher education system to address issues of openness and open educational resources in higher education study and the role that they can play in increasing and widening engagement and participation. There needs to be better collaboration between the various stakeholders if OER are not to be seen as a way of simply widening the audience for higher education knowledge rather than widening participation in formal studies.
Year of Publication
Conference Name
EDULEARN11, the 3rd annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies