Open and online education

Open and online education is generating increasing interest. The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has accelerated the pace of developments in this area and placed it high up on the agenda of the Dutch higher education sector. SURFnet is actively promoting the development of open and online education.

Popularity of MOOCs, OERs and online education

Worldwide, research universities and universities of applied sciences are making educational resources and courses available on the Internet on a growing scale. There has been an exponential rise in the use of platforms for MOOCs, OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources (OERs), as part of a wider global 'open movement'. SURFnet actively promotes the development of open and online education in the Dutch higher education sector through its Open Education Innovation Programme and shares knowledge and expertise in its Open Education Special Interest Group.

Drivers and impact of open and online education

Higher education institutions and government authorities are realising that open access to education can be an impetus for improving the quality, diversity, effectiveness and accessibility of higher education. Given its rapid development and the potentially huge impact, Dutch research universities and universities of applied sciences are keen to know how they should adapt their strategies. Reasons for opting for open and online education include:

  • Providing open access to educational resources can help institutions to present themselves.
  • Open and online education can also help prospective students decide which programme to choose.
  • The use of OERs can enhance students' success rates and offers a means to facilitate differentiation and tailoring of education.
  • Making educational resources publicly available has been proven to strengthen the quality of those resources.
  • Open and online education can provide an impetus for innovation in education.

Knowledge agenda

Many questions still remain to be answered, however, for example regarding the impact of worldwide developments on education and the best business model for education institutions. Furthermore, answers are needed for the recognition of Open Education, for didactic methods and for scientific evidence regarding the effects of open and online education on on-campus teaching and learning.

SURF supports knowledge sharing in the area of open and online education between the universities of applied sciences and research universities. The exchange of knowledge and expertise takes place in close cooperation with the Open Education special interest group. In the years to come, the knowledge agenda regarding open and online education will include the following ten subjects:

  • Strategy, policy and change management
  • Didactic models for online education
  • Developing open and online teaching materials
  • Online assessment and feedback
  • Accreditation and recognition of open and online education
  • Evaluation and analysis (learning analytics)
  • Business operations and organisation
  • Legislation, regulations and legal aspects
  • Technical pre-conditions
  • Professionalisation and facilitation

Open and online education incentive scheme

Minister Bussemaker of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) has allocated funds for a yearly open and online education incentive scheme for the period 2015 to 2018. Higher education institutions can submit project proposals for the incentive scheme. SURFnet is supervising the implementation.

Relevant publications

Start date
01 Jan 2014
Project manager