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Open Education Around the World: Study.com Speaks with Delft University

Mar 16, 2011

In the pursuit of increasing access to education, Study.com has recently launched an interview series with OpenCourseWare (OCW) providers around the world. These institutions are at the forefront of the blossoming open education movement, which provides free educational resources to any student or self learner with an Internet connection. Read on to learn about OCW opportunities at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands from Anka Mulder, OCW Manager.

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By Megan Driscoll

Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology

Study.com: When did Delft University of Technology begin offering course materials online, and what inspired you to join the OCW Consortium?

Anka Mulder: Delft University of Technology started offering free course materials in October 2007 for several reasons:

  • The university's core tasks include delivering know-how and building knowledge networks in an international context. Who we are and what we do should be visible for anyone.
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) contribute to that idea by connecting Delft to the rest of the world.
  • In 2005, Delft signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access.

Joining the OCW Consortium was a very logical next step and it really helped us to start with Delft OpenCourseWare.

Study.com: Is there a particular educational philosophy that drives your participation in open education?

AM: We see the development of OER as an inevitable worldwide trend. For the university one of the main drivers is the focus on better quality of educational resources. Not only does the rest of the world benefit from this, but our own students also profit. They get access to a higher quality of educational resources to help them pass their courses.

Study.com: In December 2010, your OCW site was ranked as the #2 technology OCW and #3 overall OCW outside the U.S. Can you describe the accomplishments that earned Delft this honor?

AM: All the credit goes to our instructors. They have created some very high quality course materials. Delft University of Technology has a very good reputation for research and our open education profits from this. We also offer some programs that are quite unique in the online education world, such as Water Management, Industrial Design and Sustainable Development.

Study.com: Your website notes that you're the most comprehensive university of science and engineering in the Netherlands. Do you feel that providing your course materials online helps promote these key skills outside of the walls of your university?

AM: It certainly does! As a research-focused university we can now show that we also deliver a top-quality educational experience. In the Netherlands, we are one of two driving universities for promoting OER. By others we are seen as forerunners and leaders in this field. The good thing is that this also reinforces our leading position in research. We attract more international and talented students and researchers to our university.

Study.com: What percentage of Delft's course materials have made it onto your OCW website and what types of materials do you offer - course syllabi, exams, video or audio lectures. . . ?

AM: Delft University of Technology offers 14 bachelor's and 36 master's programs with more than 3,000 courses per year. Currently we only have 48 courses published as OCW, so we do have a minority in OpenCourseWare. We are still growing, and we choose the subjects we publish with care.

We do offer all kinds of materials for the courses we have, such as course syllabi, video lecture recordings, readings, exams and assignments. Starting with OER is not only just a project, but also is a cultural change for our staff and faculty. This takes time and resources, which are, unfortunately, limited.

Study.com: Your site currently offers courses in both Dutch and English. Do you plan to offer any other languages in the future? If so, what is your timeline for that project?

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AM: Our university only offers courses in Dutch and English. Our bachelor's courses are mostly in Dutch and our master's courses are all in English. But anyone is welcome to translate our courses into other languages!

Study.com: What are the demographics of your primary users? Do you track their countries of origin, age group or other information, and if so, can you share it?

AM: We see that we have visitors from all over the world. Naturally, the biggest group of users is from within the Netherlands, but we also have a lot of users from India, China and the US.

In the spring of this year we will hold a survey among our visitors to get more detailed information.

Study.com: Are there any other current or in-development initiatives at Delft to promote open education?

AM: The Delft University Library is very active in the field of Open Access. It publishes as much as possible in the publicly accessible repository, including student theses and Ph.D. dissertations.

Because more and more materials consist of multimedia, such as video and images, they recently started a separate multimedia repository. Some of these videos are also published to iTunesU and we use them in our OCW courses. New developments include an improved website, more courses and actively promoting OER within the university.

Delft is also actively participating in the worldwide family of Open Educational Resources. We regularly present our ideas and projects at conferences, visit other universities to promote OER and participate in activities of the OCW Consortium. (Ed's note: Ms. Mulder is a member of the Board of Directors for the OCW Consortium.)

Study.com: Finally, I'd like to offer you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about Delft's OCW program.

AM: For Delft University of Technology, OCW has turned out to be an excellent umbrella for all types of new educational developments. It has helped us to raise the profile of our educational program worldwide and improve our link with lifelong learners.

Universities and governments all over the world face similar problems. How can we provide higher education to a growing number of students, with limited resources? How do we meet the demands of lifelong learners? OCW can help us to deal with this challenge. I am hoping that governments will realize the opportunities that OCW offers. I believe that governments and institutions should join forces at the European level and worldwide.

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