Despite the proliferation of OERs and MOOCs in recent years, there is evidence to show that it is generally the more privileged learners who benefit from these developments, rather than those from disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g. Rohs & Ganz, 2015). Nevertheless, the need to ensure equitable access to lifelong learning for all has been highlighted by the United Nations’ adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and recent research by the EU has confirmed the importance of open education in widening participation in higher education (Inamorato dos Santos et al., 2016). Refugees, as some of the most vulnerable members of society, would benefit greatly from access to, and support in, open education. This panel presentation brings together some of the key players in organisations that are supporting refugees in innovative and creative ways to learn via open education. It will also take a look how learning from OERs can be matched with that resulting from traditional learning at higher education institutions.
The panel will comprise one representative each from:
– Kiron Open Higher Education gGmbH, a non-governmental organisation in Germany that supports refugees to follow a pathway of selected MOOCs as a way into formal higher education programmes in German universities (Suter & Rampelt, 2017).
– Uninettuno, an Italian consortium of distance education providers that has established a “University for Refugees”, which allows refugee-students to enrol on credit-bearing MOOCs and accumulate credits towards a full degree (Garito, 2017)
– The Open University, a large higher education institution in the UK that is carrying out research with national and local charities to ascertain the learning needs of refugees, and to explore ways in which these needs could be met through open education (Creelman, Witthaus & Padilla Rodriguez, 2018)
– InZone at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, which has established higher education spaces in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East to enable residents to learn and build new knowledge using open educational resources (Moser-Mercer, 2014).
The panel will address the following guiding questions:
1. How does your organisation use open education with refugees, and what are the key obstacles/challenges in doing this work?
2. How is your organisation’s open education work enabling equity and inclusion for refugees?/ In what ways has your organisation’s work helped to “bring open education in from the periphery”?
3. How is your organisation’s support for refugees sustainable, transferable and/or upscalable?
4. What remains to be done?
Terminology note: the term “refugees” is used to also include asylum seekers (i.e. migrants who have fled their home countries but not yet been offered the legal right to remain in their new host country) throughout this presentation.
A week before the start of #OER19, a Padlet link will be circulated to all conference delegates via Twitter. The Padlet will contain the guiding questions noted in the abstract (plus a few more), and a brief response to each question from each of the panelists. Conference delegates will be invited to post their own questions or comments for the panelists on the Padlet. During the session at #OER19, the panel will briefly summarise their responses to the questions, and will respond to questions that have arisen on the Padlet. Issues related to equity, inclusion and “bringing open education in from the periphery” will be prioritised. Audience members will be able to post further comments and questions during the session. The Padlet will remain open after the conference, with panelists and participants being encouraged to add links to blog posts where they reflect further upon the issues raised, or discuss further any issues that did not get discussed in depth during the conference.
The session will be co-facilitated by both the first author and the conference session chair, with one person chairing the discussion, and the other facilitating participation from delegates via the Padlet.
Creelman, A., Witthaus, G. and Padilla Rodriguez, B. C. (2018) Refugees’ Educational Resources (RefER) Project Final Report. Milton Keynes: Open University. Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/research/sites/www.open.ac.uk.research/files/files/Documents/RefER%20Project%20Final%20Report.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec. 2018]
Garito, M. (2017). ‘A University for Refugees: Education without Boundaries’, Journal of Modern Education Review, 7(8), pp. 568–575. doi: 10.15341/jmer(2155-7993)/08.07.2017/004. Available at: https://www.garito.it/allegati/8/Saggi/University-for-Refugees-JMER20170623-1.pdf [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]
Inamorato Dos Santos, A., Punie, Y. and Muñoz, J. C. (2016) Opening up Education: a Support Framework for Higher Education Institutions. Seville: Joint Research Centre, European Union. doi: 10.2791/293408. Available at: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC101436 [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]
Moser-Mercer, B. (2014). ‘MOOCs in fragile contexts’, in Proceedings of the European MOOC Stakeholder Summit 2014. Lausanne: eLearning Papers, Open Education Europa, pp. 114–121. Available at: http://www.emoocs2014.eu/sites/default/files/Proceedings-Moocs-Summit-2014.pdf [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]
Rohs, M. & Ganz, M. (2015). ‘MOOCs and the claim of education for all: A disillusion by empirical data’, in The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(6). Available at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2033/3527 [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]
Suter, R. and Rampelt, F. (2017). ‘Digital Solutions for Alternative Routes Into Higher Education – Possibilities and Challenges of Digital Teaching and Learning Scenarios for Refugees: First Results From the Integral Project’, in Proceedings of EDULEARN17 Conference 3rd-5th July 2017, Barcelona, Spain, pp. 4640–4645. doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2024. Available at: http://library.iated.org/view/SUTER2017DIG [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]
Witthaus, G. (2018). ‘Findings from a Case Study on Refugees Using MOOCs to (Re)enter Higher Education’, OpenPraxis, 10(4). Available at: https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/issue/view/33/showToc. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019]