What competences should open educators have?

On the 2nd of March, in occasion of the Open Education Week, the OpenGame project was presented during the “OER and Open Pedagogies” Webinar organized by EDEN. The presentation focussed on the Open Education teachers competences framework, and raised a lot of interest and questions.

The majority of the participants agreed on the fact that, despite the high interest raised by Open Education in the last years, especially since the launch of the first MOOCs, and despite the consistent efforts of researchers to collect and analyze Open Educational Practices, it is not clear what is the competencies set that an educator should posses in order to work in the open.

Apart from mapping the past efforts done to identify these competences, the OpenGame team has worked to identify this set of competencies starting from the grassroots open practices that educators are implementing, asking the simple question: “which competencies do I have to master in order to replicate such a practice?”. We have identified more than 80 practices and selected 24 for a deeper analysis, and out of these real life cases we have extracted 8 key competences: 4 in the field of OER and 4 in the field of open teaching practices, meaning “teaching with OER” and beyond.

The OpenGame Competencies Framework will be published through a Handbook, that will include also the practices that have inspired it, in June 2020.

The OpenGame project is funded by the European Commission Programme Erasmus +, managed by the Spanish National Authority SEPIE, and coordinated by Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR).

Let’s go open!

The sad and tense current situation we are living through has made many be aware of the importance of open knowledge being made available. In all countries teachers are needing to teach online. For that, they need access to more educational resources that they can share with other teachers and their students or pupils.

Many editors, newspapers, and more generally providers of knowledge have decided in the past few days to make their resources freely available. But it is still unclear if this is just a momentary offer or if they propose that teachers can really use this material in those conditions made clear by the recommendation approved by UNESCO in November.

It is important here to recall what is known as the 5 « R »s of open educational resources: making learning material open means giving each user the opportunity and right to

  • Reuse, that is how he wants,
  • Revise, that is to modify the resource for his own requirements,
  • Retain, that is to keep copies on any support,
  • Remix, that is to use several OER to build a new one,
  • Redistribute, that is to share the original resource or the newly created one.

The ability to make sure everyone is aware of his rights is done through the use of a license: the Creative Commons licenses offer the right amount of alternatives for everyone to share in a straightforward way.

With an offer which would be limited in time, the confusion created would be huge: students would be encouraged by their teachers to make use of the new material. Then one day –and we hope this day will arrive as early as possible- the Coronavirus crisis will be behind us and what is to happen? Will all this material cease to be shareable? Will the publishers ask the teachers to use it no longer and to ask all those with who they have been sharing to do it no longer?

What are some of the great OER repositories and projects supposed to do? Accept this material, recommend it? And then be told they can do it no longer?

What is OpenGame supposed to do? Include these offers in the game we are preparing to train all teachers to become open educators? Or stay away because in doubt if the material we would push becomes one day proprietary again?

No. The answer is simple, the material should be shared with a license which is there to stay.

This is a unique opportunity to change the rules: we ask the publishers (those who have not done it yet) to publish the material they want today to share as Open Educational Resources with a Creative Commons license.

Kick off of RESONATE Project, specialized in Sustainable Water Management

Last 5th November 2019, the kick-off meeting of RESONATE project- Development of Professional Courses in Sustainable Water Management, took place in Skopje (Macedonia), where UNIR participates as a member of the partnership.

The project is financed by the European Commission Programme Erasmus+ through the call ‘Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training’ (KA202). Coordinated by the Civil Engineering Institute Macedonia, the project started in October 2019 and will last for 24 months.

The project aims to provide comprehensive engineering knowledge and develop professionals’ scientific, communication and problem-solving skills through a combination of practical, hands-on courses, industry projects and theoretical foundations. During the first phase of the project, the required skills and practical knowledge will be identified. After the analysis phase, the project contemplates the design, implementation and certification of different professional courses.

A team of researchers from the School of Engineering and Technology will carry out the project at UNIR and will be responsible for the analysis of educational programmes and courses in the area of Sustainable Water Management, apart from collaborating in other project tasks.


Martin Wolpers’ lifetime award to excellence in research, education and significant impact in the society

Martin Wolpers was an excellent project manager that made a significant contribution to the field of Educational Technology in Europe through research projects. Thanks to his efficient and broadly spread work, this field was deeply implemented across a number of countries. He was also a good colleague who knew how to combine rigorous work, integrative negotiation skills and good manners (In memoriam: ES, EN).

Martin died of a heart condition really young and left many things to do behind. Thanks to this award, the European research community honours his memory and the values that stand underneath: a huge sense of commitment to the job and the colleagues, a vocation for a job well done and in time, and a friendly way to combine all of the above for the greater good, and a personal touch.

The 2018 lifetime award will be presented at the International Workshop on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online (HELMeTO). June 6-7, 2019. Novedrate (CO), Italy

Every year, an independent jury selects an outstanding member of the academic, political, social or industrial communities, who has contributed to a significant impact and continuous progress to improve education at any level in practical terms. The Martins Wolper’s Lifetime Award highlights the continuous contribution to science, academia and the society, at large. The main focus of the awarded candidate must be on ICT & Education, Online Learning, Open Education and-or Technology-enhanced Learning and can be from any country in the world. The research institute UNIR iTED founded this award in 2017 and supports every year’s nominations. The selection process strictly watch equity and equality.

The award highlights the lifetime contribution to science, academia and the society

The application will be submitted by, at least, two members of the educational, industrial, social and-or scientific community, related to the afore-mentioned topics.

The applicants will provide a brief cover letter that explains the reasons for the application and the outstanding contribution of the nominee, and a detailed CV of the nominee, along with some contact information.

2018 winner, as promising researcher: Daniele Di Mitri, PhD at Open University of The Netherlands, is awarded with the Martin Wolpers’ Award to the most young promising research with his work titled: “Multimodal Tutor: adaptive feedback from multimodal experience capturing”. More info.

2018 winner, as Lifetime Award: Prof. Dr. Dai Griffiths. Dai is a professor of Educational Cybernetics at University of Bolton who has lived and shaped the educational technology field in Europe for decades. The 2018 lifetime award will be presented at International Workshop on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online (HELMeTO). June 6-7, 2019. Novedrate (CO), Italy. Prof. Griffiths’ profile.

Previous editions:

  • 2017: The Martin Wolpers Award at JTEL 2017 goes to Zacharoula Papamitsiou. More info.
  • 2017: UNIR & ECTEL select Inge Molenaar’s team for the Martin Wolpers Award for the best eLearning paper. More info.

Launching the European Project COMPETE!

The partnership of the European Project COMPETE! – COMPetences for Effective labour markeT Entry!-, which is financed by the European Commission through the call Erasmus+, Strategic Partnerships for HE (KA203), attended to the kick-off meeting held on 26th and 27th November 2019 in Bologna.

The project, coordinated by the Italian partner Demetra Formazione, started in October 2019 and will last for 30 months. The key objective aims to develop competences in young graduates about to join the labour market. To this end, the partnership will perform an analysis, involving students and employers, about the required competences to increase employability. At the same time, a study about the current gamified experiences in the market will be done. Based on the obtained results, a game will be designed and developed to provide the training to the students.

Given its great knowledge, UNIR participates in the project collaborating on the one hand in the identification of the competences to be acquired by the students. On the other hand, UNIR is responsible for the game development. UNIR research team in COMPETE! belongs to the School of Engineering and Technology, the Faculty of Business and Communication and the Research Institute for Innovation and Technology in Education (UNIR iTED).

During the meeting, the nine project partners established the basis for communication and work and defined the work to be done in the following months, focusing on tasks related to study and analysis.

Comanity Project. Getting to know the Greek comunity

In September 20th-21st, 2018, UNIR participated in the second meeting of the Comanity Project. The meeting was hosted by our Greek partner Kethea, the largest rehabilitation and social reintegration network in Greece. It has been providing its services to drug addicts and their families since Ithaki, the first Greek therapeutic community, was set up in 1983.

It was really an interesting and touching experience to meet the parents of some of the kids treated by the centre, and to see how the re-integration and recovery of these kids is approached by this centre.

The meeting was aimed to present and discuss the Comanity IoT (Interactive Online Tool),- designed by UNIR i.e.: the virtual environment for knowledge creation and sharing that will support the learning activities of youth workers and the interaction with stakeholders.  Also, we discussed about the training course for youth workers, to become Community Animateurs. Considering this course will have to be delivered online, with the technical support of UNIR, we focused not only on the content of the course material but also on how it should be organised/planned and presented online.

Next crucial steps are: the finalisation of the IoT, the finalisation of the training course material and the development of the online environment hosting the course. The plan is to launch the Iot and the course at the beginning of 2019. Stay tuned for the announcement!

3rd Open Education Policy Forum: Cooperation changes everything

This week I had the pleasure to attend the 3rd Open Education Policy Forum (titled “Cooperation changes everything”), organized in Warsaw by the Centrum Cyfrowe. The event counted with the participation of a number of international stakeholders such as the Open Education Consortium or SPARC as well as of policy makers, advisors, researchers and advocates from a number of European countries.

This event was particularly interesting for me – as well as for the iTED Research Institute at UNIR – because it was an occasion to appreciate “in real life” how Open Education policies are developing across Europe and to get updated after the study we run in collaboration with the European Commission’s JRC mapping OE Policies in 28 EU Member States in 2017. I presented some outcomes and reflections from that study during the event, and happily discovered that many Open Education Coalitions exist in a number of central European countries (such as Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) are using the results of the study to keep on advocating for more openness in edition policy in their respective countries.

I particularly enjoyed the discussions on the 10 dimensions of the Cape Town Declaration (in the year of its 10th anniversary) as well as the reflections presented by the Open Education Consortium and UNESCO Slovenian representatives, and was impressed by the capacity of participants to work around practical policy preparation during the workshop organized by my colleague and friend Javiera Atenas. Last but not least, I enjoyed hearing that the OER Policy Register, created some years ago by Creative Commons, will be merged into the OER World Map, thumbs up for Jan Neuman and his team.

In terms of content, the main message I bring home from this event is that “open” is somehow entering in the mainstream education policy discourse. In more and more countries, specific policies and initiatives focussing for instance on OER or open licenses are fading away, leaving space to a more “srtructural” presence of openness instances in general education policy. This is typically the case of Scandinavian countries but also of many others who are using general policy instruments (such as the OGP network) to instill more openness in their education system. Finally, an appreciation for the work of Alek Tarkowski and his team at Centrum Cyfrowe for organizing this event every year and for keeping these important knowledge sharing dynamics alive. See you next year!

Fabio Nascimbeni
October, 15-17, 2018
Warsaw, Poland

Daniele Di Mitri, PhD at Open University of The Netherland, has won the Martin Wolpers’ Award to the most young promising research

In the frame of the Martin Wolpers’ Award, funded by Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) at Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), the Institute has presented for the second year an award to the most promising researcher at the Joint European Summer School on Technology-Enhanced Learning (JTEL).

The winner of this year, Daniele Di Mitri, has been announced at the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning (EATEL) 2018. The Prize has rewarded not individual papers nor posters but how the young researchers actively connected and positioned their research to the field and society. The other two finalists, selected by EC-TEL and UNIR iTED, have been Sambit Praharaj (Open University of The Netherlands) and Alejandro Ortega-Arranz (Universidad de Valladolid).

Daniele’s work, with title “Multimodal Tutor: adaptive feedback from multimodal experience capturing” is focused on how multimodal data can be supportive for learning. As Di Mitri explains: “Since my background is in Artificial Intelligence, I am very interesting in using multimodal data not simply for analytics but also to generate adaptive feedback through machine learning techniques. For this reason, I follow the Artificial Intelligence in Education and Intelligent Tutoring System Community”.

UNIR iTED contributes to the Open Education Global Conference

In April 24-26 took place the Open Education Global Conference 2018, in Delft, The Netherlands, a diverse conference focused on open education where researchers, policy makers, educators and students from more than 35 countries discussed and explored about the topic. Along the event, Daniel Burgos, UNESCO Chair on eLearning, ICDE Chair in OER and director of Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) contribute to an expert panel. This initiative was organized by a group of UNESCO and ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources (OER) in cooperation with a few related organizations, such as Open Education Consortium (OEC), Creative Commons (CC), UNESCO IITE and ICORE.

The panel, called “How can the OER community put he UNESCO OER Action Plan into practice?”, addressed the them “Open Educational Practices/Open Pedagogy” to improve Open Education for better learning quality, and it was part of the discussion about how opening in education helps us achieve universal access, equity, innovation and opportunity in education. In the panel also participated Christian M. Stracke (ICDE Chair in OER, Open University of the Netherlands), Zeynep Varoglu (UNESCO Programme Specialist responsable for OER Action Plan), Jane-Frances Agbu (ICDE Chair in OER, National Open University of Nigeria) and Tel Amiel (UNESCO Chair in Open Education, University of Campinas, Brazil).

The panel was part of the discussion about how opening in education helps us achieve universal access, equity, innovation and opportunity in education

Burgos commented that “Open education is the key for sustainable education. The smart combination of open and proprietary research, data, content, tools and, specially, licensing, means the innovation breakthrough towards an improved educational paradigm. If we can combine formal and informal settings so that we take the best out of both approaches, in a collaborative way, all the stakeholders win.

This panel was a first follow-up activity of the common panel “The Role of the OER community” byt the UNESCO and ICDE Chairs at the UNESCO World OER Congress 2017, that brought together more than 500 stakeholders from over 100 Member States, including 14 Ministers of Education. The expert panel discussed how innovative open pedagogies and open educational practices using OER can support and increase the implementations and practices of the Ljubljana 2017 OER Action Plan adopted in that Congress.


– Eva Ferreras



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