OER14 homeApplication › Ms Anne-Christin Tannhäuser

Formal recognition of open learning – novel unbundled pathways, a learning passport & three cases

Tuesday 11:00-12:30 (3), Grainger Suite

Type: Short paper

Theme: MOOCs and open courses

http://www.oer-europe.net/ #oer14 #abs120


Anne-Christin Tannhäuser, International Project Manager, European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning, [email protected]


The “openness“ movement in education has gained increasing traction, leading to the creation of a wealth of open educational resources (OERs), open courseware repositories and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by universities and edupreneurs around the globe. In most cases, openly available resources are viewed to serve personal pleasure or a broader quest for knowledge. Consequently, very visible players do not touch upon topics as assessment, recognition, and credentialisation. However, many learners are interested in having their achievements recognised for what they are—whether in the form of online badges, certificates, or credits. Open learning recognition is the formal acknowledgement of a certification awarded for learning achievements based on open educational resources by educational institutions (or industry). It clearly takes the practices around OER a significant step forward, but its transformative potential is currently limited by a lack examples of open learning recognition and the existence of a validated tool for everyone involved, i.e. open learning providers, learners and recognition offices. This paper attempts to fill this perceived gap.

A study was conducted involving five European universities (United Nations University, Open University of Catalonia, Universities of Bologna, Edinburgh and Granada) in 2011 and 2012. Through consultation with a multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional, team of experts in quality assurance, academic development, curriculum development, administration and financing, these universities evaluated, in the light of their current practices in traditional education, both opportunities and internal and external barriers for their institutions in recognising learning based solely on OERs and Open Courseware. Two novel tools were scrutinized for this purpose: A working model to describe different recognition pathways and a “Learning Passport”, i.e. a transparency and recognition instrument. Both were validated through semi-structured interviews. Additionally, approaches of open learning recognition around the globe were monitored through desktop research.

Interviews showed that experts with different roles within their universities perceived a number of positive aspects to open learning recognition. A number of enabling conditions could be identified such as the existence of institutional OCW repositories (as opposed to non-structured OERs) and formal partnerships with virtual campuses. The Learning Passport in its final form will be presented as well as a selection of real world cases of open learning recognition described along the lines of the developed working model - each of them with different degrees of ‘unbundling’ of course design, provision and assessment between different actors.

It is argued that a Learning Passport has real potential to make open learning recognition a reality as foreseen by the follow-up initiative called “VMPass”. Recognizing learning outcomes achieved through open learning will lead to new forms of partnerships between public and private organisation as well as the non-profit and for-profit sector. Furthermore, the author will hypothesise that processes in the educational sector will increasingly become ‘unbundled’ and that certification and recognition of open learning is the most promising OER business model.


Camilleri, F. A. & Tannhäuser, A.-C. (2013). Assessment and recognition of open learning. In A. Meiszner & L. Squires (Eds.), Openness and Education - Advances in Digital Education and Lifelong Learning, Volume 1. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Camilleri, A.F. & Tannhäuser, A.-C. (2012). Open learning recognition: taking open educational resources a step further. Brussels: European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning. Available at http://cdn.efquel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Open-Learning-Recognition.pdf?a6409c (Accessed 13 December 2013).
Hill, P. (2012). Online educational delivery models: a descriptive view. EduCause Review, 47(6), 84–97. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM1263.pdf (Accessed 13 December 2013).
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). (2012) 2012 Paris OER Declaration. Paris 20-22 June.

Funding acknowledgements

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission - Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Project number: 510718-LLP-1-2010-1-ES-ERASMUS-EVC)

Further details

Keywords: open learning recognition, mobility, recognition, ocw, open courseware, assessment, certification

Website: http://www.oer-europe.net/

Ms Anne-Christin Tannhäuser, International project manager, European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning

Twitter: @actwww

Twitter abstract: Formal recognition of open learning – novel unbundled pathways, a learning passport & three cases #openedu #oer #vmpass