The Future of Open Learning Mercè Fort The movement toward openess in many parts of the world is one of the key trends ranked by the NMC Horizon Report > K-12 Edition. “Open” continues its diffusion as a buzzword in education, leading more educators to realize that understanding its impact and influence is becoming essential. In the past several years, there has been an ongoing international debate in Europe about the widespread implementation of ICT-enabled innovations for learning. Research teams have been conducting studies and surveys about the future of education, which have sparked healthy discussions involving different stakeholders: teachers, students, policy-makers and industry leaders. The resulting information and reports from these activities have led the European Commission to launch Opening Up Education, an initiative that promotes open technology-based education to become a ‘must have’ instead of ‘good-to-have’ across the field. Opening Up Education asserts that, “Open technologies allow all individuals to learn, anywhere, anytime, through any device, with the support of anyone” with the intentions of making education available and accessible to all. Open education is the goal in Europe and mainstreaming it through policy can be the vehicle to get there. Some large-scale investigations and research efforts are supporting decisions to take innovative practices to scale. The iTEC project is an excellent example of an initiative that has brought tech-based learning activities to thousands of classrooms. A recently funded project, sponsored by the European Commission, takes a novel approach to open education. Learning at Home and in the Hospital (LeHo) is an effort to design digital and online solutions that “will help the schools and family to guarantee the right to education, “ as well as to young people who cannot experience education through mainstream avenues due to disease and psychological illness. With plans to launch in January 2014, LeHo wants to explore the different ways countries tackle this issue and in particular to learn from the solutions different countries are providing for education in hospitals or at home. It will be interesting to see the results of this international benchmarking. We may find that some of the strategies the hospitals have used to achieve student’s engagement, to train educational specialists, and to choose devices will directly support the expectations of open education which are rooted in the idea that open technologies should allow all individuals to learn, from anywhere, at any time, using any device, with the support of anyone. In fact, education in hospitals has always been somehow open. Open in the sense that it is not compulsory, open in the sense that it has no classrooms, open in the sense they have to use and reuse open educational resources, open in the sense that they have to connect with the schools outside and open in the sense that it has to be flexible to adapt to the personal needs of each student, to different timetables and periods. A number of countries have produced their own solutions to this problem, which are designed to be innovative and to improve education in difficult contexts with open learning environments. To get an idea of what’s already in practice, you may want to look into Children’s Hospital School University Hospitals of Leicester in the UK, the Bednet project in Belgium, and PSO, the Italian Portal for the School in The Hospital. What if these innovations could be effectively applied also in the mainstream educational contexts? LeHo project’s work will shed light on potential applications of online learning for our consideration. Matteo Uggeri is the project coordinator of LeHo, and he has opened the discussion to hear from the international community about existing practices and research about online learning in hospital environments. Although the project website is not available until January 2014, there is a Linkedin group for those interested to get in touch. All images Creative Commons by digital cat (thumbnail) and Nox Vobiscum (3rd from top) Mercè Fort is a freelance documentalist, collaborating in the development of editorial and communication activities about online environments in the field of ICT and learning. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share0Share0Share0Share2Share0Share0 Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.