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European Portal for International Courses and Services for Virtual Erasmus (EPICS for Virtual Erasmus) - Project Card


 
EPICS

European Portal for International Courses and Services for Virtual Erasmus (EPICS for Virtual Erasmus)

EU Program
Lifelong Learning Programme 2007 – 2013
Contract
EAC/61/2006
Duration of project
?
Scientific Leader
Prof. Maria Amata Garito

EPICS PARTNERS

First Contracting partner
European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU)
Nederland
Partners
EuroPACE international non-profit association (EuroPACE ivzw)
Belgium
Swedish Agency for Networks and Cooperation in Higher Education (NSHU)
Sweden

Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL)

Nederland
Spanish National University of Distance Education (UNED)
Spain
Open University (OU)
United Kingdom
Estonian Information Technology Foundation /Tallinn University
Estonian
Università Telematica Internazionale UNINETTUNO
Italy
Portuguese Open University
Portugal
Anadolu University (AU)
Turkey
Formation Universitaire à Distance Suisse/Distance learning university Switzerland
Switzerland

EPICS SUMMARY

The EU Lifelong Learning Programme includes the essential but also ambitious objective of having three million individual participants in student mobility by 2012. The statistics and the research do however emphasise the limits of what can be achieved through the current mechanism.
Only by supplementing the current physical mobility schemes with institutionalised virtual mobility schemes the opportunities of achieving the goals set in student mobility can be approached. Within EADTU, several initiatives and programmes are already running in international course exchange and Virtual Mobility. These initiatives have shown the added value of Virtual Mobility (VM) next to Physical Mobility (PM). Virtual Mobility will not only contribute to the original vision of the Erasmus programme on a truly European scale, it will also deliver a new flexibility and breadth to the ambition. Next it can offer more varied modes of study which can be shorter, time specific and place independent, more personalised and more specialised opportunities for the student. It can provide different dimensions of mobility, including the creation of virtual learning communities, virtual projects, the involvement of many universities simultaneously in a project or course and the facilitation of international collaborative learning and teaching.
So, VM is improving accessibility to other university courses European wide and enables students to individualise and specialise their study programmes. All this within a virtual learning space with in principle no restrictions of the universities to visit. VM is however still “’locked in” several isolated projects and therefore only available to a restricted number of universities and students. In this project we will now work towards mainstream provision of VM by offering international courses clearly as integral part of the university study programmes. Our main objective is to work from Virtual Mobility projects towards a Virtual Erasmus programme.
For this purpose we bring together a consortium of coordinators from major VM projects to share the expertise and experiences in this field. Our consortium of VM experts will exploit results from former initiatives and further explore opportunities and barriers of VM with a special focus on accessibility restricting factors like student admission, fee structures, assessment modes etc. This to come from project level to a mainstream provision of VM, hence a Virtual Erasmus programme.
Like the physical Erasmus we can expect the dynamic in VM to come from university staff. In a dedicated WP on expanding VM, we will combine existing networks of VM and stimulate faculties to organise pilots of exchange in VM within bi-lateral or multi-lateral networks. To institutionalise mainstream provision of VM we will develop the supporting infrastructure of a European Portal for International Courses and Services (EPICS). All existing offerings from the VM projects and new international offered courses will be included in EPICS.
Universities will be given the possibility to offer and show only a selection of courses available by EPICS via a customised “window” of selected international courses available to their students. Only a selection of international courses that fit and supplement the offerings of the university will than be made accessible to their students. Students can take these courses with guaranteed recognition of credit points based on bi-lateral agreements amongst participating universities. Of course, students and universities will also be enabled to visit the full EPICS portal directly and view and select from all courses available.
EPICS therefore provides a link between universities, students and courses all over Europe. EPICS will not only be a database but also include on-line services to offer high quality guided independent leaning and support organising mainstream offering of VM in a Virtual Erasmus scheme. In this respect, the consortium will also deliver as one of the main outcomes a study on organising Virtual Erasmus. The project EPICS for Virtual Erasmus therefore will strongly contribute to increasing the number of student mobility throughout Europe and support the realisation of a European Higher Education Area.

EPICS DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Since 1999, the Bologna project has evolved. In 2001 the Prague Communiqué extended the horizons of the higher education sector from the young undergraduate to the adult population as a whole. ‘Lifelong learning’ it proclaimed, ‘is an essential element of the European Higher Education Area’.
The broader vision was captured in the influential Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: ‘Delivering on the Modernisation Agenda for Universities: Education, Research and Innovation (Brussels 10 May 2006). This endorsed the ambition of a fluid structure: ‘All forms of mobility should be explicitly valued as a factor enriching studies at all levels.’(p5) and it urged the sector to ‘grasp more directly the challenges and opportunities presented by the lifelong learning agenda’. (p6)
The new emphasis was reflected in the formal integration of the Erasmus scheme in a broader structure. It became one element of the new EU Lifelong Learning Programme: 2007-2013. Erasmus was now linked with other programmes, including Leonardo da Vinci for professional mobility, Grundtvig for adult mobility, and a broader Transversal Programme. And its own ambitions were enhanced, with a target of doubling the current cumulative figure of 1.5 million participants to three million individual participants by 2012.
The Lifelong Learning Programme in which the Erasmus programme is now embedded includes amongst its ‘specific objectives’ the requirement to ‘contribute to increased participation in lifelong learning by people of all ages, including those with special needs and disadvantaged groups, regardless of their socioeconomic background (Objective f). Against this target, and against the larger ambition to create a European experience for the students of the member countries, there remains a long road ahead of us.
A study has been made, for instance, of the participation in the scheme by UK students. The Sussex Centre for Migration Research found in 2004 that only 15 % of students going abroad reported below average income. Most of them came from the elite pre-1992 universities. The study concluded that, ‘it is young people especially those with good educational backgrounds, who travel the most’. Erasmus was not exposing the untraveled to the pleasures of travel. Rather it was attracting those already confident in their ability to move around Europe. The study found that ‘Many are likely to have been abroad with their parents on school trips, or as part of ‘gap year’ experiences between school and university’.
That this should be so is no criticism of the Erasmus programme as such. It can only work with those who apply to it, and it is no surprise that the most experienced are up for this kind of adventure, and that the least prefer to avoid the risk of disrupting their studies. Equally, despite the effective system of excusing fees, there are costs to the individual and their family, and it is no surprise that the less prosperous are less likely to find the money. Neither is it a criticism of the impact of the programme. The programme undoubtedly has a major impact on the perspectives of those who take part in it.
But the statistics and the research do emphasise the limits of what can be achieved through the current mechanism. For all the gains in cheap air travel and all the attraction of free study, physical mobility costs, it costs both the student and the EU. The three million target for 2012 is cumulative over what by then will be nearly a quarter of a century. The actual annual figure last year was 150,000, about one per cent of the European student population. These figures relate, of course, only to those who are already students. It is a condition of entry to Erasmus that you must already have entered a University. They do not cover those who are the concern of the institutions represented in EADTU, the informal learners, the would-be learners who currently can find no way into the European higher education system.
For the missing 99% of the current student body, for the missing 100% of learners not yet in the university system, for the disadvantaged groups, for those with special needs, the only way in which the ambitions of Bologna and the Lifelong Learning Programme can be realised is through some form of Virtual Erasmus.
Virtual Erasmus will not only contribute to the original vision of the Erasmus programme on a truly European scale, it will also deliver a new flexibility and breadth to the ambition. Next it can offer more varied modes of study which can be shorter, time specific and place independent, more personalised and more specialised opportunities for the student. It can provide different dimensions of mobility, including the creation of virtual learning communities, virtual projects, the involvement of many universities simultaneously in a project or course, the facilitation of learning and teaching.international collaborative.
 

EPICS OBJECTIVES

MAIN AIM
The project’s main aim is to increase the number of student mobility throughout Europe and support the realisation of a European Higher Education Area by organising a Virtual Erasmus scheme.
The consortium will therefore shift project based virtual mobility to mainstream provision of international courses. To support universities in organising virtual mobility as integral part of their study offerings we will share gained expertise and experiences (WP2), build on the existing networks in VM and broaden these with increased involvement of universities and staff (WP3). Next we will technically support the internationalisation of courses by developing the European Portal for International Courses and Services (EPICS)(WP4).
The three majors aims:

  • (A) Share expertise and experiences of VM-coordinators (WP2)
    We realise that it will not always be easy for European universities to make their offerings internationally available. There are many, mostly administrative issues, that prevent European universities from making their courses available to international students. These issues of VM are currently discussed and solved in several project groups, but not yet sufficiently shared. The core group will therefore explore in collaboration:
    • barriers and opportunities of the development of Virtual Erasmus
    • course availability as well as services on-line within the consortium
    • aspects of accessibility and its restricting factors like student admission, fee structures, credit transfer, assessment modes etc
    In a core-group setting of coordinators from VM projects and international courses we share the expertise and experiences of VM to present various good practices and solutions to common problems. This will result in a study and publication on organising Virtual Erasmus. Partners in this core group are the project coordinators and experts of:
    • E-MOVE: 3 models of Virtual Mobility
    • REVE: modes of Virtual Mobility by traditional universities
    • Venus: Virtual and E-Mobility for Networking Universities in Society
    • VM-base: VM before and after student exchange
    • Sputnic: technology enhanced international educational cooperation
    • Net-Active: model of intercontinental virtual mobility
    • CSVM and CVBE: models of virtual internships
    • MORIL: European model of Open Educational Resources
  • (B) Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings of courses(WP3)
    Like the physical Erasmus we can expect the dynamic in VM to come from university staff operating in international networks. We therefore want to broaden and extend these networks in VM to generate more VM courses in a greater variety of subjects.
    The existing networks involved in this project are:
    • E-MOVE: with sub networks in:
    • REVE project: The Europace network of traditional universities in VM
    • Venus: Virtual and E-Mobility for Networking Universities in Society
    • VM-base: VM before and after student exchange
    • Sputnic: technology enhanced international educational cooperation
    • Net-Active:European network of MA courses by intercontinental VM with Latin America
    • CSVM
    • CBVE : network of universities and companies for virtual internships
    • Moril: European network for Open Educational Resources
    These networks and their courses will be the starting input for EPICS. We will stimulate these networks to further broaden their partnership and increase their number of available courses for EPICS. Already these networks represent more than 50 courses and more than 80 partners. Next, with participation of all partners in the consortium we will initiate new networks for increased virtual mobility programmes.
     
  • (C) Develop the supporting technical infrastructure EPICS (WP4)
    The EPICS portal will offer the necessary infrastructural support for the international course offerings and student and staff services. In developing EPICS our focus is convergence not standardisation or uniformity. Like so many of the educational ambitions of the EU it is built on the fundamental principles of autonomy and diversity. It embodies the value of co-ordinated reforms, compatible systems and common action.

    The development of EPICS is subdivided in elements for analysing the organisational and technical development of the EPICS platform on:
    • Course submission
    • Course provision
    • Offering services on-line
    The next step is the integration of EPICS in as many universities as possible. The consortium and other EADTU members will therefore integrate locally a webpage on international course offerings at each university’s website directly linked to the EPICS database. The universities will be enabled by EPICS to make a selection of courses that fit and supplement their offerings rather than represent all available offerings by EPICS. This will make a selection of the available international courses and services part of the mainstream offerings per university and therefore better visible to their students.

    IMPACT
    By combining the available knowledge and experience as well as the existing networks in VM, the project will have a strong basis for an immediate institutionalisation of a European VM community. This community already represents numerous participating universities involved in stimulating student mobility. The interchange of the involved networks and dynamic to establish new networks will generate more international courses available to students. By including these courses in the university's mainstream study programmes we will increase the visibility and accessibility of international courses to students and consequently their participation. The EPICS portal will offer the necessary technical infrastructure to support staff and students in organising and participating in VM schemes and establishes the basis for a Virtual Erasmus programme.

 

EPICS RESULTS

From the 3 main fields of activities under this application we expect the following outcomes and products.
(A) Share expertise and experiences of VM-coordinators (WP2)
(B) Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings of courses (WP3)
(C) Development of the EPICS portal

(A)Share expertise and experiences of VM-coordinators (WP2)
One of the main goals of this project is to integrate the available expertise and experience with VM to set the basis for a European Virtual Erasmus programme. The core-group will therefore present good practices of organising virtual mobility and possibilities to overcome common obstacles like assessment on-line, enrolment, recognition of credits etc. address VM specific issues and present possible solutions. This will be partly shared material from earlier projects and partly new produced material by combined efforts.
The papers to be delivered by this core-group under WP2 contain contributions to the portal on generic information concerning VM and specific contributions in relation to online staff and student support.

To be delivered:
Introduction to the EPICS portal and Introduction to VM:
the core-group will in a collaborative setting write a report on the main issues related to organising VM. These issues are a.o. language, fee structure, transfer of credit points, recognition of degrees etc.
The main reports, guides and services of the former and running VM projects will be combined, updated and supplemented in a consistent and easy accessible EPICS portal.

On-line Staff support:
 

  • Related guides on VM (coming from E-MOVE, REVE and Net-Active)
  • Supporting (multi-media) tools (updated list coming from E-MOVE and REVE)
  • Inter-institutional agreement formats to be produced)
  • Good practices of administrative solutions(to be inventoried from participating projects)
  • VM models and concepts (coming from the existing projects)
  • Library support in VM (coming from the E-MOVE project)
  • Introduction programme for VM-staff (to be developed)

On-line Student support:
  • Study guide for on-line learning (coming from E-MOVE, REVE and Net-Active)
  • Contacts of every participating university (to be inventoried)
  • Administrative issues (coming from the existing projects)
  • Library links (coming from the E-MOVE project)
  • Credit transfer explained to students (coming from REVE and Net-Active)
  • Introduction programme for VM-students (to be developed)
One of the major outcomes of this project will also be a Study and report on organising Virtual Erasmus.
The core-group will use its expertise and experience in the field of VM to exploit the possibilities of organising Virtual Erasmus and come with recommendations. This study will address the possibilities of creating an innovative business model for European universities to work together on virtual student exchange and the possible role of the European Union in this.

(B)Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings of courses (WP3)
By combining existing networks in VM, the project will have a strong basis for an immediate institutionalisation of a European VM community. This community already represents numerous participating universities involved in stimulating student mobility. The interchange of the involved networks and dynamic to establish new networks will generate more international courses available to students. By including these courses in the university's mainstream study programmes we will increase the visibility and accessibility of international courses to students and consequently their participation.
In this WP3 we will make an inventory of all Bachelor and Master courses the core-group represents.
Also an inventory of the existing bi-lateral and multilateral networks in VM will be made.
The next step in WP3 is to come with the full project consortium to enlarge the existing networks and extend the number of networks. Also other members of EADTU will be invited to join these networks. The ultimate task of this WP is to increase the number of courses available by VM and the subjects they cover.

All will be represented in the EPICS portal.

(C) Development of the EPICS portal
The project will contribute to increased numbers of European virtual mobility courses and services as well as increased numbers of universities that share courses and services in Europe. This will be made visible in the EPICS portal that is to be developed as a full operational and facilitating portal on courses and services.
The portal will start with 40 courses from 11 countries and is envisaged to grow above at least a hundred courses from 15 different European countries. All course templates will be presented in the original language and in English.

The development of one portal does not mean that all current and future initiatives need to operate to a standard to fit this tool. EPICS will be designed in a way that it serves various models of virtual mobility. It is therefore not a directing but a supporting tool.
The portal is available as a direct central entry point as well as local entry points at the various universities’ websites. Universities are able to show only a selection of all the courses available on EPICS and use the portal as a tool to complement their own programmes and offerings. This to offer their students a broader programme to further individualise and specialise their degree.

The portal will have a build-in search engine for finding European courses on aspects like:
  • BA/MA level
  • Admission
  • Language
  • Course start
  • on-line/blended
  • Tutoring facilities
  • Assessment modus
  • Credit points (ECTS)
  • Faculty/subject
  • Supporting (multi-media) tools
In preparation of developing the EPICS portal the WP will produce a paper on the organisational and technical conceptualisation of the portal. Part of the procedure is a tender for designing and building the EPICS portal. After the portal is developed and tested the Consortium will promote the use of it. For this purpose a leaflet and banner will be developed. Of course EADTU and EuroPACE will use their networks for broad dissemination and promotion.

EPICS IMPACT

Short term target – groups:
The short term target group of the project are all partners involved. These are traditional and distance teaching universities involved in virtual mobility schemes grouped in a core-group extended by interested universities in the consortium. They benefit from sharing expertise and experience, the extension and sustainability of their VM-project as well as the new dynamics of broadening cooperation in this field. The participating educational institutions will have the opportunity to experiment with including international courses in their mainstream offer, by using the EPICS Portal.

Next to the project consortium several stakeholders will be involved like the European Commission, EUA, DAAD, ESU etc. as invited experts. These stakeholders have already been involved in the E-MOVE expert meeting for stakeholders and policymakers.
This project has been presented and welcomed by them at this occasion.

The involvement of the short – term target groups is mainly in dedicate meetings, networks in VM and presence in the EPICS portal.

Long term target group:
The long term target groups of EPICS are the European higher education institutions in general. The development of a mainstream provision of VM courses with a portal on European Courses and Services contributes to internationalisation of European universities and widening participation. Universities benefit from increased numbers of students enrolling from other countries by improved accessibility and attractiveness.

The universities further benefit from EPICS by supplementing their existing offerings with selected courses from other universities to enrich their own programmes. University staff will benefit from on-line support and services as part of the EPICS portal.

On-campus and off-campus students benefit from easy accessible high quality European courses, enabling them to further individualise and specialise their learning portfolio. Further they can benefit from services on-line as well as inter-institutional agreements on enhancing accessibility and credit recognition to support their guided independent learning.

Target group of European HE institutions

This target group is well represented in the project consortium as well as in the networks of EADTU and EuroPACE.
EADTU will disseminate the results and promote the use of the portal amongst her members of 10 Open Universities and 14 Associations covering more than 200 traditional universities.
EuroPACE can draw on its member network that has strategic partnerships with other associations and networks. EuroPACE is particularly suitable to disseminate and relay the information resulting from this project to the education and training community more in general. To enhance Virtual Mobility between universities, EuroPACE aims to provide teaching and support staff within educational institutions with demonstration examples and good-practises.
Next to both our networks we have strong links with the EUA. This will help us in further promoting the project and Virtual Erasmus European wide.

It will eventually be the dynamic of being part of the VM-community and join the bi-lateral and multi-lateral networks that will involve more and more universities. This will already in the course of the project be stimulated.

Target group of students

Students will be involved by their universities as soon as the VM-courses are presented as part of the study programme. From earlier VM projects we know that students will only be involved as they have easy access, guarantee of credit transfer and participate fee-neutral. Regarding the language, actually the same conditions apply as in the Physical Erasmus. Students in VM schemes must be prepared to study in a foreign language.
Further specification of the target group of students:
Students that are part of our target group are mostly finalising their Bachelor or starting their Master. Students enrolled at a university will of course not take their courses in general from other universities. All students start a programme that is set at the university they attend. In this stage, the university offers the student a solid base in the field of study as well as an orientation of the possible fields of specialisation related to the subject. The student needs of course a clear view of his/her interest before starting international experiences and specialisation.
It is only at the end of the Bachelor level and the full Master level that students are expected to define a field of specialisation. Students should than be enabled to build their own study programme fit to their fields of interest with a broadened access to specific material of their own and other universities. All this of course within limits of allowed numbers of “international” courses to be set by the home-university. The more universities taking part in this international course exchange the more their students can of course profit from the material provided. It certainly will increase the numbers of students studying internationally and offers access to more than 1 university per student like the original Erasmus programme is offering in physical mobility.

Already in the E-MOVE project we had stakeholder meetings including the European Student Union (ESU). They have already expressed their strong interest in this concept and will be involved as stakeholder in the progress of EPICS.

Sustainability
To sustain the impact of the project beyond its lifetime we are depending on 4 major groups:
- the students
- the consortium
- the universities
- the networks of VM

This project is all about building on former projects and working towards mainstream provision of VM. The basis is clearly present.
for continuing in an institutionalised provision of VM. The fact that isolated projects will now be centralised with local entry points makes the available courses better accessible and works inviting for other universities to join. Most importantly, students are now actually addressed, not by projects and experiments, but rather by mainstream provision of VM.
In the end, the number of students taking courses in a VM scheme will grow and secure the long term sustainability of the system. The development of a Virtual Erasmus programme will certainly support this.

The TF EPICS that was established by EADTU in the beginning of 2007 will continue after finalising the project. This Task Force consisting of the VM coordinators (so equals the core-group) will after the project shift its focus to always further broadening our network members to initiate new bi-lateral and multi-lateral networks. Further, like in the Physical Erasmus these networks will continue to exist and keep the dynamic of expansion.

The business model of EPICS will prevent universities and students to be charged for use. This lowers the threshold and enables a wide range of universities and students to use it. We have clearly chosen to develop a self facilitating portal with only minor maintenance costs in the long-term. If the portal was build on a business model of a necessary yearly budget it could at a certain point be endangered because of lack of finances. Although running on the servers of EADTU, the real maintenance is lying with the participating universities. They will submit and update courses and it is of course in direct interest of the university to keep records on EPICS up to date. Next to that they are of course also legally bound to give a correct presentation of the courses to the students.

The full database of courses will therefore always be up to date. Also new submissions of courses can be done continuously by on-line password protected entry for every university. Future technical maintenance is not very demanding when the portal is well build and therefore integral part of EADTU offices tasks for the years to come. So, EPICS as a direct entry point is up to date and sustainable.

The University entry point of EPICS that is fully integrated at the participating universities will automatically be updated. When international course offerings are updated on the EPICS portal, they will automatically be updated at the university websites as well. So, universities only have to update their own submitted courses at one spot.
It is further the task of EADTU to keep track on new developments in services on-line. As this is a core task of EADTU, the office will continue this work after the project is closed and keep stimulating universities in broadening the European offers on-line. EADTU will therefore focus yearly in the annual conference on EPICS and stimulate submission of new course entries and services.

Of course, EPICS will grow by the input of courses and services of participating and new universities. The more courses EPICS will contain over the years to come the more valuable it becomes. In the long-term EPICS will evolve in a portal of new courses and services and therefore a growing interest of provision by universities European wide. This will lead to more and more consultations, leading to virtual mobility as a mainstream offer by every university. A Virtual Erasmus programme will of course guarantee this development European wide.

EPICS - THE ROLE OF UNINETTUNO

UTIU will supply the EPICS platform with courses and will join the networks. These last ones will be able to benefit from the broad experience in the field of Virtual Mobility gained by UTIU within the Med Net’U Project and within other projects.

EPICS WORK PROGRAM

Work-package 1 (WP1) Management
Work-package 2 (WP2) Exploitation: sharing expertise and experiences of VM-coordinators
Work-package 3 (WP3) Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings
Work-package 4 (WP4) Developing EPICS
Work-package 5 (WP5) QA
Work-package 6 (WP6) Dissemination and promotion

Work-package 1 (WP1)Management
It will be a continuous activity in the course of the project. It comprehends coordination, communication, organisation and financial monitoring of the project. There are three major milestones that can be distinguished:
Kick-off meeting: to settle management issues and set and fine-tune the tasks in the project, the consortium will start with a kick-off meeting. This kick-off meeting underlines the goals and steps to take and formalises the roles of all participants. Each WP-leaders will present their approach, distribute tasks and announces the foreseen meetings, time schedule and foreseen results. Next, questions and practicalities will be discussed. All will than be formalised in a partner agreement with the coordinating body EADTU.
In the progress report and final report EADTU as coordinator will report on the progress, results, discrepancies and financial performance of the project.

Work-package 2 (WP2) Exploitation: sharing expertise and experiences of VM-coordinators

To build a European VM-community we rely on existing networks and projects. In a core-group setting of coordinators from the major European VM projects we share the expertise and experiences of VM and report on this. Partners in this core group are the project coordinators of:
- E-MOVE: 3 models of Virtual Mobility
- REVE: modes of Virtual Mobility by traditional universities
- Venus: Virtual and E-Mobility for Networking Universities in Society
- VM-base: VM before and after student exchange
- Sputnic: technology enhanced international educational cooperation
- Net-Active: model of intercontinental virtual mobility
- CSVM and CVBE: model of virtual internships
- MORIL: European model of Open Educational Resources

Only with the expertise of these coordinators and experiences they represent we can start working towards Virtual Erasmus. Still, many issues that prevent European universities from making their courses available to international students ask for further discussion. Instead of discussing and solving these in several isolated project groups we now start sharing and developing common views and approaches. The core group will therefore explore aspects of accessibility and its restricting factors like student admission, fee structures, credit transfer, assessment modes, language issues etc.

In addition the core-group will explore the opportunities and possibilities for organising a Virtual Erasmus next the Physical Erasmus. It will therefore meet on conceptualising the programme and extend its group meetings with stakeholder meetings, including the European Commission. These sessions will be concluded with the publication of a Study on organising Virtual Erasmus.

Meetings foreseen:
Next to the kick-off meeting the core-group will meet 2 x a year.
The 2 meetings of the first year are focussing on the issues of VM in preparation of the EPICS portal.
The 2 meetings of the second year will focus on organising Virtual Erasmus. This will be extended by stakeholder meetings.

Written outcomes of this WP will be produced by the group in between meetings. A balanced division of tasks will guarantee an equal involvement of all.

Work-package 3 (WP3) Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings

In this WP3 we want to broaden and extend the existing networks to come to an increased offering of international courses. We therefore work in this WP with all partners of the consortium and beyond, meaning the network members of EADTU and EuroPACE.

In full group project meetings we will:
- present our current networks of VM and inventory the partners and courses by VM
- Look for extension of the current networks with partners present
- Look for course availability as well as services on-line within 20 European countries (covered by EADTU and EuroPACE members)
- Start new networks on initiative of the project group
- Stimulate staff involvement and dynamics of setting up new VM networks.

This WP will also implement a pilot in a Virtual Erasmus scheme.
Sub partners in this are EADTU OUNL, Uninettuno, Universidade Aberta, Anadolu University and Fernstudien Schweiz.
We have deliberately chosen for a combination of partners at different levels of experience in VM to create a realistic pilot setting.

Meetings foreseen:
In total we will have 4 meetings. The meetings are organised as an extension to the core-group meetings for the sake of efficiency as well as for the benefit of direct reporting by the core-group. For organising the Virtual Erasmus Pilot EADTU, OUNL, Uninettuno, Universidade Aberta, Anadolu University and Fernstudien Schweiz will meet 2 times extra.

Work-package 4 (WP4) Developing EPICS

 

In this WP we will start with a division in this work packages for analysing the organisational and technical development of the EPICS platform:

  1. on course submission
  2. on course provision
  3. on offering services on-line.

Together with the input of WP2 and WP3, WP 4 will come to a survey of the EPICS elements covering:
1) Analysis and synthesis of innovative practices and different approaches on VM-issues.
Inventory of solutions to increased accessibility and enrolment
2) Development of an organisational model for providing international courses and services via EPICS
3) Development of a technical model for:

  1. Course submission
  2. Course provision
  3. Services (staff and students)
  4. Selection of designer

This preparatory phase will be closed with a conceptualisation and blue-print of the EPICS portal containing:

  1. Description of VM issues
  2. Organisational model of EPICS
  3. Technical model of EPICS
  4. Wish list for designer
  5. Design of the first scheme of the full EPICS portal

Based on this we will organise a tender for subcontracting a software development company. This will be followed by the actual design and development of a prototype. After testing and adjusting within the consortium a final version of EPICS will be launched.

The next step is the integration of EPICS in as many universities as possible. The consortium and other EADTU and EuroPACE members will therefore integrate locally a webpage on international courses on the university’s website directly linked to EPICS database. This will make the available international courses and services part of the mainstream offerings per university and therefore better visible to their students.

Meetings foreseen
1. 3 workshops in relation to (a.)course submission, (b.) course provision and (c.) offering services on-line.
2. Stakeholder meeting with WP4 in Heerlen (NL): we will organise a workshop for external experts as an evaluation event of the concept version of EPICS. For this purpose we invite 5 experts.
3. Full group testing meeting (Meeting of the Core-group and the portal designer in Madrid (ES))


Work-package 5 (WP5) QA

The work programme of the project includes a plan of evaluation. This, to monitor and evaluate the progress towards the stated objectives within the project.

The project co-ordinator will monitor the progression of the project financially as well as on implementation. The project implementation and the project results will be evaluated by an internal evaluation team consisting of George Ubachs (EADTU), Janerik Lundquist (NSHU) and Christine Cathrow (OUUK).
The internal evaluators will meet 3 times: once to prepare the evaluation procedure and set the indicators, once for preparing the interim report and a last time for discussing the final report. Special focus will be given on inclusion of E-xcellence in the institutional frameworks.
Separately from the former procedure, an external evaluation will be organised by George Ubachs (EADTU) and Koen Delare of EDUSER )as our external expert with specific competences in evaluating the project. EDUSER has a service contract with the European Commission (UNICA Network - Consortium Leader) for organising a training seminar in Vienna on the topic of LLL for the Bologna Experts and deals with ICT supporting physical mobility.

Evaluation on the implementation of the project will mainly focus on transferability and applicability.
EADTU will meet with the external evaluator on-line (flashmeeting) to discuss the evaluation procedure of the end products. The external expert will then deliver the evaluation in a written procedure at 3 stages.

  • to the interim report on approach of developing the end-products
  • feedback on the products in development
  • final evaluation on end-products

Evaluation activities will relate amongst others to the following success factors:
- reports and studies published
- target groups addressed
- geographical coverage
- increased accessibility and attractiveness
- number of institutions involved
- number of courses added to the EPICS database
- number of courses selected by the universities to extend their programmes
- number of students interested in courses offered by EPICS
- sustainability of the EPICS instrument
- general judgement on the value of the portal on courses and services

Next to the internal and external evaluation we plan a workshop of invited experts.
This workshop is foreseen as a testing phase in the tool development stage under WP4. This workshop will concentrate on content, services, user friendliness, completeness etc of the actual EPICS tool by the public.

Further testing and evaluation will be organised by involvement of the full EADTU network of 24 countries. All members will be asked to test the portal thoroughly and come with suggestions and recommendations of further improvement.


Work-package 6 (WP6) Dissemination and promotion

In co-leadership between EADTU and EuroPACE we will organise a broad and effective dissemination and promotion approach. We will use a detailed promotion and publication plan for effectively informing and involving directly and indirectly concerned persons. The promotion and dissemination plan is an overview of the activities that will support communication to raise awareness of and interest in the project.
Categories of activities under this heading are

  • Communication by partners; all partners are responsible for communicating the progress and outcomes of the project at relevant local, national and international meetings they are involved in and report to the coordinator of the EPICS project on these occasions, including responses received.
  • Web-based communication; a web-based portal will be established and promoted by the EADTU secretariat and EuroPACE and the partner organisations to inform a wide public on the developments of the project.
  • Publications. Foreseen are a wide range of publications on the European level by EADTU and EuroPACE
  • Mailings through extensive databases; one of the core-businesses of EADTU and EuroPACE is to inform the HE community on new developments in HE and related EU subjects. EADTU uses for this purpose a database of some 7000 contacts in the HE community. If necessary, selected mailings can be made with regard to fields of interests.
  • Conferences: European and world conferences will be used as promotion of the project and its results
  • The EPICS portal will be promoted European wide as a direct and local entry point for students and universities to find available international courses, related services and good practices.

Several conferences and events are foreseen as promotional opportunities for the project.
The annual EADTU Conference in September 2008 in Poitier (F), will be an excellent occasion to publicly give a kick-off to this project and disseminate the project intentions. Especially as the scope of the Poitier conference under the French EU-Presidency is ” "Lifelong open and flexible learning in higher education: networked teaching and learning in a knowledge society”. EADTU’s annual conferences attract some 25 countries each year.

From 7-10 June 2009 EADTU will be the co-organiser of the Maastricht conference of the world organisation in distance education ICDE (International Council for Open and Distance Education). This will be an excellent occasion to promote the outcomes of the first year on this world platform of education. ICDE has members from 140 different countries in the world, representing all the continents. We expect some 1000 people attending our world conference in 2009.


EPICS PARTNERS DESCRIPTION

EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF DISTANCE TEACHING UNIVERSITIES (NL)

The European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) is the representative organisation of both, Associations within higher education active in the field of distance education and e-learning, and open and distance Universities active in the field of lifelong open and flexible learning (LOF-learning). Members of EADTU are dedicated to serving off-campus target groups with open and flexible learning methods and systemic study guidance. EADTU’s Associations consist of university consortia with mainstream on-campus students, but also giving priority to offering education to off-campus students.

  • Statutory objectives of the EADTU:
  • to promote higher distance education in European countries
  • to support bilateral and multilateral contacts of the academic staff of the participating institutions
  • to support cooperation in the field of research, course development, course transfer and credit transfer
  • to develop new methods and techniques for higher distance education, including new technologies and media
  • to organise common projects in these fields in cooperation with European authorities.

This is further updated in EADTU’s Mission Statement of 2006 as follows:
I. Further develop and implement the concept of Lifelong Open and Flexible (LOF) learning within the European Learning Space for distance Higher Education in the European knowledge society. This includes regular university courses as well as specialized continuing education.
II. Communicate on benefits and impact of LOF learning in distance HE within Europe as well as worldwide so that higher education institutions can benefit from this approach in their lifelong learning strategy.
III. Expand the use of LOF learning in distance HE in order to achieve a mainstream position and full coverage for the EU countries as well as substantial coverage for the EU neighbouring or partnering countries. Open and flexible learning for adults who combine work and study is a condition to upgrade the knowledge and skills level in the European countries where the participation rate in higher education is too low compared to the US.
IV. Contribute to policy for Lifelong Open and Flexible (LOF) learning in distance HE at the national and European level in cooperation with our national associations and other members.
V. Strengthen the profile and position of EADTU and its members as a niche association with a specific scope on lifelong learning and the development of knowledge and skills in the European knowledge society. As such it contributes to the policy of the European authorities (Parliament, Commission, Council) as well as to the community of European universities, i.e. EUA.
VI. Provide support and assistance according to the needs of the members. EADTU provides a platform for the members to share experience and to strengthen their tools and offers for lifelong open and flexible learning

  • Specific areas of experience and expertise of the EADTU:

EADTU is Europe’s leading and representative association for Lifelong Open and Flexible (LOF) learning in distance HE. It is committed to a path towards a true European Learning Space (ELS) in accordance with the Bologna Declaration and the Lisbon Strategy, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation between National Associations for LOF learning and LOF learning universities in distance HE. They share experience throughout Europe. In this Learning Space courses will be made available to students all over Europe between the members and cooperation at the staff level will be strengthened. In this broader framework areas of activity and expertise are: strategies and funding/business models for lifelong open and flexible learning at the institutional level, open educational resources (multilingual, content and learning modules), virtual mobility, quality benchmarking for e-learning and open and flexible learning, entrepreneurship through open and flexible learning (incl. virtual internships), the creation of sustainable learning environments (taking into account the life conditions of students combining work and study as well as the life environment as a whole), research of open and flexible learning (in cooperation with research institutes of the membership like the Knowledge Media Institute, the Institute of Educational Technology (UK), OTEC (NL), national policies and developments for open and flexible learning in different countries, especially also in the former Central and Eastern European countries. For many of these activities over the past 20 years, European projects were run (Education and Culture, Science and Research, Phare Multi-Country programme, etc) at LOF learning universities in distance HE and EADTU engages in interaction with representative European student member bodies and/or platforms whenever possible, so as to incorporate students’ interests at best. EADTU will contribute to the development of the ELS by supporting and promoting state-of-the-art educational networks in the field of lifelong and flexible learning, virtual mobility, and quality assurance and accreditation. Developing and sustaining highly esteemed educational networks requires members to deliver a top performance in research and development. EADTU functions both as a portal and a platform for these activities.
EADTU represents and is regarded by the European Commission as a main spokesperson for the whole of Europe in LOF learning in distance HE. EADTU engages in EU Programme Consultations and EU-policy making with the objective of strengthening the political lead of EADTU in LOF learning within Europe. Consultation meetings with the European Commission are organised on the strategic and expert level with participation of EADTU members. EADTU formulates position papers or statements in areas such as building a mature knowledge-based society, widening participation in HE, further flexibilisation of the Bologna BA/MA structure and the organisation of flexible education, quality assurance and accreditation, e-learning and virtual mobility and lifelong learning. Student bodies and/or student unions, having policy on the Bologna and Lisbon process, are regarded by EADTU as important policy partners representing the student perspective for European nations.

  • Size and international site distribution of the organisation

EADTU consists of 26 members from 24 European countries. It covers some 200 Universities with in total over 2 million students.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
Project coordinator and leader of:
WP1 Management
WP5 Quality
Co-leader in WP6 Dissemination EPICS server provider
Further, EADTU is representing a broad European network for promotion and potential participants in Virtual Mobility schemes.


EUROPACE INTERNATIONAL NON-PROFIT ASSOCIATION (BE)
 

EuroPACE ivzw is a European non-profit association of universities, higher education institutions, education and training organisations and their networks. Approximately 25 member organisations participate in this network. Furthermore EuroPACE has strategic partnerships with other national and international initiatives (associations, thematic networks, NGO’s and corporate institutions).
The main aim of EuroPACE is to foster collaboration in e-learning. EuroPACE demonstrates and develops the potential of technologies for the European university of the future and thus contributes materially towards the concept of lifelong learning & the creation of a Virtual University for Europe. Main interests are innovation in education, new educational technologies, virtual mobility, quality in eLearning, eLearning competences and skills. EuroPACE has a long history in research and development in technology-supported teaching and learning, as well as in the co-ordination of international research projects. EuroPACE can draw on its member network in the development and evaluation of novel educational technologies and models. Furthermore, as a network organisation that has strategic partnerships with other associations and networks, EuroPACE is particularly suitable to disseminate and relay the information resulting from this project to the education and training community more in general.
Through several IST, eTen and DGEAC projects, EuroPACE has provided education providers and corporate organisations advice on how to make the transition towards a technology enhanced learning and training context. This includes the design, development and/or delivery of eLearning courses and the development of long term strategies, concepts and models for ODL in education environments.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
EuroPACE can draw on its member network in the development and evaluation of novel educational technologies and models. Furthermore, as a network organisation that has strategic partnerships with other associations and networks, EuroPACE is particularly suitable to disseminate and relay the information resulting from this project to the education and training community more in general.
EuroPACE actively follows and contributes to all trends and developments concerning Virtual Mobility. Within the frame of several European projects (REVE, Being Mobile, VENUS and VMBAse) we created handbooks around these topics. To enhance Virtual Mobility between universities, EuroPACE aims to provide teaching and support staff within educational institutions with demonstration examples and good-practises. Furthermore, EuroPACE lobbies for the recognition and take-up of these courses in the regular course offer. EuroPACE could act as a support-service for Virtual Mobility activities.

EurPACE will be co-leader in WP6 Dissemination. EADTU and EuroPACE will be responsible for the promotion to the European academic community and coordinate this activity in cooperation with the consortium.
Further EuroPACE will participate and contribute to WP2 Share expertise and experience of VM-coordinators, WP3 Comine and extend networks of VM and offerings, WP4 Develop the supporting technical infrastructure.


SWEDISH AGENCY FOR NETWORKS AND COOPERATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION (SE)

NSHU is our abbreviation, which is based on the Swedish title of the agency. Prior to 2006 we were known as the Swedish Net University Agency. The Swedish Net University and its student portal remain, but we have two additional main tasks – educational development and widening participation. Moreover, we are to promote the changes in the structure of Swedish higher education and degrees which result from changes in Europe, in everyday language called the Bologna Process.
Through dialogue and openness we are to promote collaboration between Sweden’s universities and university colleges and, together with them, support further development. No one knows what the future holds in store. But we do know that a continuous development of skills is needed, both for individuals and organisations. This brochure will give you a quick orientation in the issues with which we work.
The creation of meeting places and networks is one method that we are going to prioritise. Maybe we’ll meet soon at a workshop or a seminar.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
WP-leader of WP3 Combine and extend networks of VM and offerings. The NSHU will also be one of the internal evaluators in WP5 Quality.
Political connection as member of the EADTU Executive Committee and Board.
Contribute to the project by courses and network participation.

OPEN UNIVERSITY OF THE NETHERLANDS (NL)

Open Universiteit Nederland develops, provides and promotes innovative distance education of academic quality, in collaboration with other institutions of higher education. As the prime Dutch university for lifelong learning, it addresses the wide-ranging needs of people during their course of life, plus the need to achieve a considerable increase of the knowledge level ofthe community at large. Open Universiteit Nederland seeks to be an institution that is strongly anchored in the Dutch higher education system through its educational, research and innovation activities, and that also operates successfully in the field of lifelong learning. It is a pioneer in open higher distance education and a leader in educational innovation, both in the Netherlands and internationally.
Open Universiteit Nederland acts de facto and de jure also as the open university for the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, the regions Flanders and Brussels. Open Universiteit Nederland will take the leading role in WP4A ‘Course submission and provision’. Furthermore, the Open University of the Netherlands will offer new courses in the sphere of social sciences or humanities at BA and MA levels for the common course pool and participate in networks. Also, the Open Universiteit will engage itself to implement the course exchange programme into its study programmes.
Key figures for Open Universiteit Nederland (2005): staff: 732; budget: 61.4 million euro; 6 bachelor and 13 master programmes; 270 academic courses; active students: 18474; female: 51 %; age above 36: 57 %; students with fulltime jobs: 44 %; students following an academic programme: 35 %; students studying in Dutch study centres: 89 %; students studying Belgian study centres: 11 %. Course certificates: 24223; academic certificates 463.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
Open Universiteit Nederland will take the leading role in WP4A ‘Course submission and provision’. Furthermore, the Open University of the Netherlands will offer new courses in the sphere of social sciences or humanities at BA and MA levels for the common course pool and participate in networks. Also, the Open Universiteit will engage itself to implement the course exchange programme into its study programmes.

SPANISH NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF DISTANCE EDUCATION (ES)

From its founding in 1973, UNED’s mission has been to provide Higher Education qualifications irrespective of geographical location or other personal circumstances barring people from attendance-based universities. At present, it has a network of more than 60 Centers throughout the country and 14 Study Centers abroad, where students have access to all kinds of academic services, including libraries, videoconferencing and a virtual campus.
UNED is the largest university in Spain with more than 170.000 students enrolled. The study offer includes 20 degrees, as well as more than 100 Doctoral programmes and Master degrees. 1.300 full time teaching staff, 6.000 tutors and 1.300 administrative and technical staff make all this happen.
UNED has been committed from its inception to mobility and within a lifelong learning framework. Virtual mobility is now also a part of UNED’s profile and its Strategic Plan (06-09) declares a commitment to developing and promoting free access to online educational resources for all learners. Top priority is also given to strengthening UNED’s global presence by enhancing its participation in international associations and projects.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
UNED will be the leader of WP4 Develop the supporting technical infrastructure of EPICS and especially responsible for WP4C EPICS Design and testing. Further UNED will contribute courses to the portal, participate in networks and share its experience in Virtual Mobility, especially in the field of intercontinental Virtual Mobility.

OPEN UNIVERSITY

The Open University (OU) is Europe’s largest Higher Education Institution. It offers high quality university level education to people based in all countries of the EU and through partnerships, in all continents of the world. The OU supports 5,500 students across continental Western Europe and has a network of 13 country coordinators in major cities across Europe. Through open and distance learning the OU is able to reach people who would otherwise find it difficult to study and train further, but increasingly is teaching younger students who can no longer study at traditional universities, and prefer to combine work with their studies. The flexibility of the Supported Open Learning programme has also encouraged increasing participationfrom disabled and minority groups. The OU’s mission is to be ‘open to people, places, methods and ideas’, and has an established Equal Opportunities Policy.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
The Open University will participate with the other partners in the EPICS project by leading WP4B Staff and student support services. Further the OU will act as an internal evaluator in WP5 Quality.
Several courses of the OU will be made available through EPICS and the Open University will share its expertise in networks.
The OU has extensive experience in this field through its OpenLearn initiative, further information on which can be found at http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/home.php, and also in continuing professional development. The services offered will be available to students at other institutions as well as the OU. The OU will also contribute to the ICE humanities network, and will communicate the progress and outcomes of the project at relevant local, national and international meetings they are involved in. The OU will ensure that they meet the objectives of the project, as well as those of the partners.

 



ESTONIAN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION / TALLINN UNIVERSITY (EE)

Tallinn University is representing Estonian Information Technology Foundation within this project. The Tallinn University resulted from a merger of several universities and research institutes in Tallinn, and now consists of 17 Institutes (Estonian Institute of Humanities, Institute of Ecology, Institute of Educational Sciences, Institute of Estonian Demography, Institute of Estonian Language and Culture, Institute of Fine Arts, Institute of Germanic and Romance Languages and Cultures, Institute of Health Sciences and Sports, Institute of History, Institute of Informatics, Institute of Information Studies, Institute of International and Social Studies, Institute of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Institute of Political science and Public Administration, Institute of Psychology, Institute of Slavonic Languages and Cultures, Institute of Social Work) and 3 colleges (Baltic Film and Media School, Haapsalu College, Rakvere College). Its main strengths lie in the fields of humanities and social sciences, and a strong and constantly growing component of natural and exact sciences, as well as a notable tradition of teacher training and educational research. The University at present, it is the fastest growing university in the country. The University operates within The Estonian Information Technology Foundation (EITF): an organisation founded by the Estonian Republic, Tartu University, Tallinn Technical University, Eesti Telekom and the Association of Estonian Information Technology and Telecommunications Companies. EITF supports the preparation of highly qualified IT specialists and information and communication technology-related development in Estonia. For these purposes the Foundation was established and manages the Estonian IT College and administers the National Support Program for ICT in Higher Education "Tiger University." EITF works closely with both universities as well as with IT and telecom industries.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
EITF/TU will look for possibilities in joining existing or new networks of Virtual Mobility. Especially their expertise from designing the “Library for Virtual Mobility” in the e-move project will be of great value in WP4 Develop the supporting technical infrastructure of EPICS. Further EITF/TU will contribute courses to the EPICS-platform



INTERNATIONAL TELEMATIC UNIVERSITY UNINETTUNO (IT)

 

The International Telematic University UNINETTUNO, established by Ministry Decree (April 2005) has been realised to valorise and enlarge the telematic didactic system settled by Consorzio NETTUNO (founded in 1992), enlarged at Euro-Mediterranean level thanks to the Med Net’U Project (Mediterranean Network of Universities- Eumedis Programme)in which a network was established among 31 partners of 11 countries of the Euromediterranean area, aimed at designing and realizing university courses at a distance in a multilingual format. With UNINETTUNO, the Universities of the different countries are actually creating shared knowledge networks together and cooperate to deliver multilingual international university degrees at a distance. The courses are completely on-line, delivered trough the learning environment on the Internet (www.uninettunouniversity.net), developed by the University in a multilingual format: both contents and interfaces are available in Arabic, French, English, Italian and Spanish. The University has also two satellite television channels (RAINETTUNO SAT 1 and 2) that broadc-ast 48 hours at day didactic materials produced by the University. The didactic offer of the University (5 Faculty and 7 Degrees) is designed and realised according to the Bologna Declaration (3+2) and structured in Credits (ECTS).
The University has a long experience in international research programme cooperation started in 1994. A particularly important aspect has been the experience of designing common curricula shared a the European and Euromediterranean level implemented by the LIVIUS (Learning in Virtual Integrated University System) and Med Net’U projects.
The University also operate in the research and in the training field in the framework of Virtual Mobility, started in 2003, with the cooperation in several European projects in the sector Virtual Campuses of the E-learning programme (HEAL - Higher Education E-Learning courses Assessment and Label, REVE - REal Virtaul Erasmus Project; E-MOVE, An Operational Conception of Virtual Mobility; VENUS, Virtual and E-mobility for Networking Universities in Society). Therefore the UNINETTUNO have the capacity, the experience and the expertise to carry out the respective tasks foreseen in the project.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
UITU will contribute courses to the EPICS platform and participate in networks. Those can benefit from IUTU’s broad experience in Virtual Mobility made in the MED NetU and other projects.


PORTUGUESE OPEN UNIVERSITY

 

Since its foundation, in 1988, Universidade Aberta, the vocation of which is to teach large and geographically disperse audiences, has given new opportunities for higher education training around the world. Universidade Aberta, as a pioneer institution in distance higher education in Portugal and the main national centre of expertise, in the area, developed the know-how that allows it to be the biggest provider of on-line courses in the country. UAb has some considerable expertise on the field of Virtual Mobility based on its participation in the NetActice project and EduContact, among others.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
UAb will contribute courses to the EPICS platform and participate in the networks.

ANADOLU UNIVERSITY

Anadolu University (AU) is a pioneer institution to solve educational problems in Turkey at a distance since 1982. AU also serves Turkish citizens living in the EU member states. The open education system offers 27 associate and bachelor degree programs. Today, 44 % of the overall on and off campus Turkish higher education students are enrolled at AU’s distance learning system. Teaching materials are designed and prepared with the self-study format. e-Learning portal is composed of e-Practice, e-Book, e-Television, e-Exam, e-Mentoring (a/synchronous) and e-Audio Book components. Lifelong learning is one of the priorities of AU and distance education is considered as a medium to provide lifelong learning to various groups via e-Certificate Programs (17 programs in Accounting, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Finance), Second University, Turkish Language Program, Occupational Training Programs (programs for the Gendarmerie, Police Force, the armed forces, teachers in public schools and some personnel working at the Ministry of Justice), and Yunus Emre open courseware, disseminating the contents of the distance courses.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network

Anadolu University shall support the consortium for EPICS, with its expertise in developing open and distance learning courses/programmes. AU Open Education System offers many Lifelong Learning programs and has initiated an open courseware portal called Yunus Emre. In the framework of the Second University, AU offers open access to a second higher education opportunity. The total number of second university students is 61.743 and the number of graduates up to now has reached to 7.590. Another AU program that can be referenced for EPICS, is the Turkish Language Certificate Program which is completely online and is designed to teach Turkish language skills in Europe and worldwide, to a diverse population, within the context of lifelong and flexible learning. ALTE standards have been targeted in this program. Several online graduate programs are being offered by AU; like the AU-SUNY, Empire State College e-MBA Program, e-Hospitality Management Program in tourism sector, Teaching Developmentally Disabled Children online MA program designed for teachers. AU’s interest in “Virtual Mobility” emanates from these experiences.

FORMATION UNIVERSITAIRE À DISTANCE SUISSE / DISTANCE LEARNING UNIVERSITY SWITZERLAND

The Institute for Research in Open-, Distance- and eLearning was founded in 2005 by the Distance University of Applied Sciences Switzerland and the Distance Learning University Switzerland. It forms the interface between pedagogical requests and the requirements of media and information technology. The basis of her research and service activities is the concept of the didactical tetrahedron. This concept shows that Blended Learning and Distance Learning have to be seen as an interaction of the four elements: teacher, learner, content and communities. We use quantitative as well as qualitative research-methods like interviews, expert- and online-enquiries, field-observations and document analysis.
The research focus lies in the following areas:

  • Media literacy and media skills of teachers (esp. Blended Learning Scenarios)
  • Study-success in Open and Distance Learning
  • Arrangements of learning communities
  • Design and development of virtual learning environments

The knowledge transfer is accomplished by a set of annually organized didactical and methodological workshops.

Role of the partecipant organization in the proposed project / network
FernStudien Schweiz will contribute courses to the EPICS portal and share its expertise in the networks.