During the last couple of days I was at the Open University of the Netherlands where I had in-depth discussions with Kathleen Schlusmans, Henry Hermans, Steven Verjans and others, and discovered that they are struggling with almost exactly the same set of strategic issues regarding elearning as we are at the UK OU. I presented twenty issues we’re attempting to resolve and found that every one of them is relevant to our Dutch counterpart. Next week they embark on an intensive residential week of discussions about what kind of university they want to be in the future, how they should make best use of the Internet, what architecture they need for their elearning systems, how they should embrace the innovations of Web 2.0 etc.
We agreed that we’ll look at some of these issues jointly and share our thinking through our blogs. So expect to see some cross-blogging over the coming weeks and months about the key issues facing our universities – which will start appearing in English on the OUNL VLE Programme blog. These include getting the balance right between content and activity in our courses, the benefits of self-study as opposed to online group work, the value of educational content in a world of free online resources, the growing centrality of the VLE to the student experience, developing staff expertise of new pedagogies, whether to move resources from production to presentation, how to use VLE usage logs to enhance content and support, ensuring central quality control while not restricting academic innovation, and many more. A range of simple issues which I’m sure the OUNL can find answers to next week and let us know the best way forward!