Apart from playing simple word games with my title there is definitely a number of European HEIs that are getting into the OER field. Interestingly most started out just doing their own thing but it was not long before they began to join together and share their efforts with others. A good example of this has been the pivotal work of the European association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) which I have been fortunate to be part of. Through 2 substantive grants they have first brought together its own members in the MORIL project. Through MORIL they also have shared their work with more traditional campus based universities such that their second project, OER-HE, formally includes a conventional university.

 There is a wide spread of activity within OER-HE and I am the Work Package Leader for the strand on Widening Participation. This is interesting because although there are EU statements through the Bologna process about widening participation such as the one below, there is clearly very different views on what this means in practice:

 The student body within higher education should reflect the diversity of Europe’s populations. We therefore emphasize the social characteristics of higher education and aim to provide equal opportunities to quality education. Access into higher education should be widened by fostering the potential of students from underrepresented groups and by providing adequate conditions for the completion of their studies. This involves improving the learning environment, removing all barriers to study, and creating the appropriate economic conditions for students to be able to benefit from the study opportunities at all levels. Each participating country will set measurable targets for widening overall participation and increasing participation of underrepresented groups in higher education, to be reached by the end of the next decade. Efforts to achieve equity in higher education should be complemented by actions in other parts of the educational system. (Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, 28-29 April 2009, IP/09/675, accessed 25 May 2010 from http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/675&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en)

 So watch this space for updates as the work progresses.

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