Greece (Ελλάδα – Elláda) officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in southeastern Europe, situated on the southern end of the Balkanic Peninsula. It includes more than 2000 islands situated in the Ionian and Aegean Seas and it has a total surface area of 131,957 km2. Greece is a parliamentary republic and it is considered as the cradle of the western culture and thought. Greece is a member of the European Union since 1981, of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001 and also a member of NATO from 1952.
Athens is the capital of Greece; the cities of Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the most important cities of the country.
According to the official 2011 census, which used sophisticated methodology, the population of Greece was 10,787,690.
The official language is Modern Greek - spoken by the 98.5% of population; however, there are some Slavic and Turkish minorities.
The widespread religion is the Orthodox Christian and the relationship between State and Church are regulated by the Third Article of the Greek Constitution.
Greece is divided intlo 13 perifereies (περιφέρειες) – Attica, Central Greece, Central Macedonia, Crete, East Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, Ionian Island, North Aegean, Peloponnese, South Aegean, Thessaly, West Greece, West Macedonia – subdivided into a total of fifty-one prefectures called nomos.
Greece is a Parliamentary Republic thanks to the Referendum of the 8th December 1974.
The President of the Republic, who is considered the peak of the state, is elected by the Parliament for a five-years terms, only for two mandate.
The Greek Constitution, formed by 120 articles, foresee the separation of the three powers: executive, legislative and judiciary.
The executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and by the Government. The President of the Republic is the commandant in chief of the armed forces and he presides over the Defense Council.
The civil authority of the armed forces is the Ministry of the national defence. The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister and the other Cabinet members.
Legislative power is exercised by a The legislative power is exercised by a 300-member elective unicameral Parliament (Vouli ton Ellinon) : elections are held every four years by universal suffrage through a complex proportional system, with barrage at 3%. The judiciary power is independent from the executive and legislative and it comprehends three Supreme Court: the Court of Cassation (Άρειος Πάγος), the Council of State (Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας) and the Curt of Auditors (Ελεγκτικό Συνέδριο).
For further general information see Wikipedia:Greece.
Education in Greece
A very summarised and accurate overview of the Greek educational system can be found in the European encyclopaedia of National Education Systems Eurypedia. Regarding the structure of the Greek educational system, we recommend the updated report “Structure of the European education systems 2012/13: schematic diagrams” (European Commission, 2012).
E-learning initiatives are present in various contexts of activity and meet a wide range of needs that cannot be extensively described in this OER study. Regarding initiatives in the Higher Education area, see the Virtual section of the “Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education” project. Initiatives driven by the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports can be found at the Educational Portal of this ministry (most links are in Greek only).
Quality assurance processes and methods have recently been formalized by government laws. According to data on Greece reported in the project "Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education”, in 2005 a system of quality assurance in university education was enacted with the 3374 Law, which established a quality assurance system for all university education, including both the technology sector and the university sector. According to the same source, “this law complies with the European standards and guidelines suggested by the European Association of Quality Assurance (ENQA) and its partners (EUA, EURASHE, ESIB / ESU), which were first adopted by the Ministry of Education in Bergen”. A more extended review of quality assurance procedures in education in Greece can be found on the Eurypedia portal, “Quality Assurance in Greece” section, and in “Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education”.
Internet in Greece
In early 2012, there where at least 2,396,700 broadband connections and at least 3,443,432 active 3G subscribers got connected to the Internet.
Regarding measures to enhance Internet and ICT penetration in general in Greece, the "Digital Strategy 2006-2013" for Greece is the country's policy plan on the diffusion and use of ICT for enhanced business productivity and quality of life. The strategy, which was presented by the Greek Government in July 2005, is the successor to the horizontal Operational Programme for the "Information Society", which was revised in June 2004 so that its aims would better reflect the Lisbon Strategy objectives and the eEurope 2005 directions. More information on the Digital Strategy 2006-2013 can be found on the Greek Information Society .
Internet in Education
Today one of the main priorities of Greek educational policy is continuous improvement with regard to the integration of ICT in the educational sector. Numerous actions have been implemented and are being further developed in relation to ICT integration; such actions are coordinated by the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports.
State initiatives co-funded by the European Union
The Operational Programme "Education and Lifelong Learning 2007-2013" is a large scale, nationwide funding programme, part of the 4th Programming period co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Greek State. It is the main funding scheme for upgrading the quality of learning at all levels of the educational system, involving the use of Internet technologies.
The Programme consists of four sets of thematic Priority axes, clustered in threes:
- Priority axes 1, 2, 3: “Upgrading the quality of education and promoting inclusion”;
- Priority axes 4, 5, 6: “Upgrading the systems of initial vocational training and vocational education and linking education with the labour market”;
- Priority axes 7, 8, 9: “Enhancing lifelong education for adults” and
- Priority axes 10, 11, 12: “Enhancing human capital in order to promote research and innovation”.
Within the first set of Priority axes 1, 2 and 3, there are special objectives addressing the need for ICT-based learning, such as:
- Special objective 1: Reforming, modernizing and decentralizing the educational system-reinforcing the mobility of pupils and students.
- Special objective 3: Accelerating the rhythm of integrating ICT in the education process.
- Special objective 5: Reinforcing and improving the quality of teaching staff training in primary and secondary education, with emphasis on innovation and the use of ICT.
In addition, under Priority 7, 8 and 9 several ICT-enhanced educational initiatives are targeted, such as the development of digital educational content, the creation of digital knowledge repositories, and the design and implementation of e-training programmes for teacher trainers and stakeholders in the area of lifelong learning.
A detailed overview of the actions targeted within each special objective can be found at the website of the Special Management Unit for these actions on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports.
At policy levels, it is worth mentioning the recent creation of two new State structures, founded in 2011 on the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports with the aim of supporting the design and implementation of education policies that address-among other priorities-the use of Internet in education. These two structures are:
- The Institute of Educational Policy (IEP)
- The Foundation for Youth and Lifelong Learnign (INEDIVIM)
The creation of these institutions responds to the need for more consolidated efforts at local, regional and national level in the fields of education, and for more coherent, simpler approach to policy making. Local, regional and nationwide initiatives are expected to be supported, both technically and financially, by the two new structures in the field of ICT-enhanced learning, although at the time of writing very few calls for participation have so far been published by local, regional and national bodies and stakeholders active in the area of ICT supported education.
First, the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) (http://www.iep.edu.gr/site/index.php/el/), the former Pedagogical Institute, was established in 2011 by Pulic Law 3966 (Government Gazette A'118/24-05-2011). It is a Private Legal Entity supervised by the Minister of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs]. One of its aims is the provision of ongoing scientific and technical support for the design and implementation of educational policy issues.
The Foundation for Youth and Lifelong Learning (ΙΝΕDΙVΙΜ) (http://www.inedivim.gr/) is also a new structure, created in late 2011 to support national initiatives in the areas of youth and lifelong learning enhanced by ICT. Although the structure is new (at the time of this publication, October 2012), it is worth mentioning that it is the result of a recent reorientation in terms of national priorities in the two fields and of the absorption of three state institutions previously active in the field of education enhanced by digital technologies at large: the Institute of Continuous Education of adults (IDEKE), the Institute for Youth and the National Youth Foundation.
Both structures are expected to deploy national action plans in terms of Internet in education and learning in the future.
Copyright law in Greece
The Copyright law applicable in Greece is law 2121/1993, amended by law 3057/2002 implementing European directive 2001/29 and harmonizing certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information society. The full text in English can be accessed at the UNESCO collection of National Copyright Laws.
Copyright law in Education
The Hellenic Copyright Organization (OPI) is a legal entity under private law under the supervision of the Ministry of Tourism. OPI:
- deals with any issue in general that may be raised in the field of copyright and related rights and
- represents Greece before the competent international organizations, as well as the Instruments of the European Union.
The Hellenic Copyright Organization (OPI) provides freely downloadable guides regarding copyright issues in several areas of educational activity, based on law 2121/1993, amended by law 3057/2002 with regard to digital content. At present (January 2013), specific guides are available for teachers, primary school pupils and high school students (in Greek):
- Guide for Teachers
- Guide for Primary School Pupils
- Guide for High School Students
- Basic Guide on Copyright
- Informative Guide on Copyright and Public Performance
These guides contain information such as:
- what copyright means
- what publishing on the Internet entails
- what kind of materials can be protected by copyright
- how much time materials can be protected by law
The website also contains clear guides on Copyright and Public Performance and Collective Rights Management and collective societies.
OPI also organizes seminars for the purpose of training and informing judges, lawyers, administrative personnel, authors, holders of related rights and students on matters of copyright and related rights and also provides information on matters of copyright and related rights.
OER Initiatives in Greece
As an introductory note, OER activities in Greece are spread throughout all educational sectors, according to the 2012 OECD study operated in 34 OECD countries (Hylen et al., 2012) with the exception of the post-secondary/non tertiary education sectors where the level of activity is low. However, it is not clear whether there is a shared understanding of what an OER initiative is or what the prerequisites are for labelling an activity as OER across the countries who responded to the questionnaire. This ambiguity is reflected in the selection of resources presented below. In most cases, there is confusion between OER and Open Access (OA) materials. Although the open (freely shared) character of a resource is a condition of OER, the mere display of a resource on the Internet doesn’t automatically qualify the resource as an OER.
At this stage it is worth mentioning briefly some frequently cited definitions of OER in an indicative, non exhaustive analysis, with the aim of highlighting an OER dimension that is often underestimated or neglected: the social dimension enabling content reuse and repurposing in new educational contexts.
For instance, the OER Commons definition points to the «process of engaging with the materials» as a fundamental feature of their approach to OER, the same applies to the 2003 Unesco forum definition of OER according to Hylén (2007). For Atkins and his colleagues «the culture of contribution» is paramount to OER success and development. The authors clearly speak of the OER movement that «will create incentives for a diverse set of institutional stakeholders to enlarge and sustain this new culture of contribution» (Atkins et al., 2007: 3). In the abovementioned definitions, the resource as a static piece of knowledge is in an equal relationship to the dynamic (social) dimension, both combined in an indistinguishable concept.
The social component of OER – seen in the various types of roles (repository designers, OER developers, researchers, educators and learners) and in the interaction modalities fostering user engagement with content – seems to be gradually becoming more closely integrated into the OER discussion.
More and more voices are advocating a shift from OER as «pieces-of-content-to-be-released» towards a «users-interacting-with-content» approach. OER from a collaborative learning perspective (Conole & al., 2010) and in relation to their affordances for interaction around content (Petrides & al., 2008) certainly give greater insight into the social dynamics of educational resources.
In the investigation of OER practices in Greece, we have identified many serious initiatives targeting Open Access resources but far fewer initiatives in the direction of reuse of OER in different educational contexts, namely by formally addressing the issues of:
- interoperability between digital content repositories;
- effective data management and classification, namely through metadata harvesting mechanisms, such as the Open Access Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), so that services can be built using metadata from many archives, and
- implementation of resources: intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localisation of content.
Although indicative and non-exhaustive, in the literature review presented in the next sections, OER are often associated with digitization and with content made freely accessible, which is only the first step towards user engagement with resources in terms of dynamic reuse and repurposing of OER in new educational contexts.
At this stage it would be useful to mention initiatives to build, maintain and expand OA repositories that can potentially give birth to OER.
Some of the most popular repositories are Helios, set up by the National Hellenic Research Foundation, containing research outcomes of various types and formats, Pandektis, also maintained by the National Hellenic Research Foundation, which is a major digital collection of Greek history and civilization materials developed by the Institute of Neohellenic Research, the Institute of Byzantine Research and the Institute of Greek and Roman Antiquity.
Other OA repositories are Anemi, the digital library of Modern Greek studies set up by the University of Crete Library, E.L.I.A., run by the Hellenic Literature and History Archive (E.L.I.A), covering Greece's historical development during the 19th and 20th centuries through a repository of 84,500 records (photographs and postcards, newspapers, periodicals, and cultural life documentation), Arheiomnimon run by the National Archives of Greece, giving access to the State Archives collected from 37 Central and Local agencies of the General State Archives. Finally, the Parthenon Frieze Repository offers free access to cultural material for this masterpiece of world heritage. The repository provides the possibility of immediate access to the frieze, both as a database for scholars and as digital games for schools and their pupils.
With regard to interoperability, a 2009 study listed OAI-PMH compliant (19) and non-compliant (65) digital collections in Greece. However, data has now changed in the direction of more OAI-PMH compliant repositories allowing better indexing of resources and more importantly better interoperability between repositories.
From a policy perspective, in the area of Open Access content, it is worth mentioning the policy and development role of the National Documentation Centre (Εθνικό Κέντρο Τεκμηρίωσης, ΕΚΤ ), which, under the umbrella of «Open Access» activities
- organizes conferences and seminars on OA;
- publishes calls for participation in OA related actions;
- informs on the objectives and methodology of setting up digital repositories and
- keeps an up-to-date website on the activities of the nationwide funding programme "National Information System for Research and Technology (ΕΠΣΕ+T)" Phase III -"Electronic Repositories and Journals Open Access".
In terms of funding sources, digitization of collections began mainly after 2000, with the support of the framework programme "Digital Greece" that is funded 80% by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund and 20% by the Greek government (Operational Programme "Information Society", CSF 2000-2006). Another funding source for the maintenance of existing repositories and the creation of new ones is the "National Information System for Research & Technology / Social Networks – User Generated Content" Programme, part of the "Digital Convergence" Operational Programme of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2007 -2013, co-funded by the Greek State and the European Union - European Regional Development Fund.
Greek OA harvester
Openarchives.gr is to date the only Greek OA harvester, collecting data from 62 digital libraries and institutional repositories in Greece and Cyprus . 429777 items belonged to the repository in October 2012. The openarchives.gr aggregator is being hosted, managed and developed by the National Documentation Centre (EKT). The openarchives.gr aggregator, originally designed and implemented by Vangelis Banos, began operation in 2006. The enhancement of openarchives.gr with new features has been carried out since May 2011 by EKT within the framework of the project "National Information System for Research and Technology – Social Networks and User Generated Content" under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2007 -2013.
National OER initiatives
The "Digital School" initiative by the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, is the official repository of all the textbooks in the form of e-books for all levels of education (primary, secondary, upper secondary and professional education) . It is not clear whether these textbooks constitute an OER or not (content is not designed in a mode allowing its reinvestment in contexts others from their target context: formal learning settings in Greece), but in its response to the 2012 OECD questionnaire, Greece noted that the documents describing the function and areas of responsibility of the Directorate that handles the educational portal in the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports of Greece make reference to OER. The same applies to the "Digital learning supportive materials"(Psifiaka sholika voithimata), also at the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports. The set of materials includes all chapters of textbooks selected for the national exams of the state examination system. Each unit includes: i) a videoconference, consisting of a set of videorecordings of the lectures for each unit, ii) course notes, iii) model solutions to the questions and exercises for understanding the theory organized by degree of difficulty, and iv) set of questions and exercises to be solved for further practice by the student. These materials are all available under Creative Commons licences.
Other Internet supported open learning initiatives
The initiative Mathisi 2.0 plus fosters knowledge building and collaboration in the area of social media and open learning communities in Greece. It has a very strong social media presence, through a blog, a Facebook page, a twitter account and a YouTube channel. An initiative worth mentioning is the call for good practice in the area of learning through digital technologies, with emphasis on social media and open communities. Each year the call invites young learners, students, teachers, independent groups and educational institutions to apply for an award, which is accompanied by a public display of the practice on the Mathisi 2.0 website. Mathisi 2.0 plus is implemented by the University of Athens (Department of Communication and Media), with the financial support of the Hellenic General Secretary of Youth, within the framework of the European Commission Youth in Action programme.
Regional OER initiatives
More of an Open Access initiative than an OER initiative, Veria Central Public Library gives access to a large digital repository comprising the library’s collection, including the collections of the Monastery of St John the Baptist, Skete Veria, and the Lyceum of Greek Women, annex of Veria. The initiative is financially supported by the "Public Libraries digitization" action of the Information Society Operational Programme (80% contribution by the European Social Fund). Through a set of metadata mechanisms, the Central Public Library of Veria provides its digital content to the European culture portal Europeana.
Institutional OER initiatives
To our knowledge there is no formal institutional OER initiative, presumably due to the novelty of the OER field. However, forthcoming developments are expected from institutions, including the Hellenic Open University, through the Educational Content, Methodology and Technology Laboratory (e-CoMeT Lab) which is involved in two European Commission funded projects:
- Innovative OER in European Higher Education - (OER-HE), aimed at extending the achievements on Open Educational Resources (OER) as initially launched under the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Grants.
- Multilingual Open Resources for Independent Learning (MORIL) project, targeting OER strategies in lifelong open and flexible learning
In 2012 the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens launched "Open Courses at the University of Athens" within the action "Development and sharing of Digital educational resources from Universities and Technological Institutes/ Hellenic Academic Opencourses" supported by the Operational Programme "Education and Lifelong Learning" of the NSRF. Through this scheme teaching staff of the University will benefit from a technical team that will support staff in the digitization of educational content and in its upgrading to the available learning environment (http://eclass.uoa.gr). The digital content will be built on a pedagogically sound e-learning approach that takes copyright issues into account.
Remarks in conclusion
As a remark in conclusion to this first and certainly non-exhaustive overview of OER in Greece, it can be observed that the majority of initiatives identified in this study are located more in the Open Access area, and not specifically in the OER field. The repositories identified are all OA ones, and the educational value of OER hasn’t surfaced yet. As highlighted above, although the open (freely shared) nature of a resource is a condition of OER, the mere display of a resource on the Internet doesn’t automatically qualify the resource as an OER. Despite this observation, initiatives, including state-driven ones, that are planned but at this stage at an early stage of implementation, give us hope regarding the future of shareable educational content that complies with international quality standards and expectations.
- The planned budget for the OP is 2.215M€, 1.440M€ is the contribution of ESF. (data accessed on October 20, 2012 in http://www.edulll.gr/?page_id=32 )
- The other two special objectives address initiatives to combat early school leaving and quality measurements in education
- Hylén, J. et al. (2012), «Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire», OECD Education Working Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k990rjhvtlv-en
- Hylén, J. (2007). Open Educational Resources: Opportunities and Challenges. (B. Ischinger, Ed.) Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. OECD publishing. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/37351085.pdf
- Atkins, D. E., Brown, J. S., & Hammond, A. L. (2007). A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities (Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) (p. 84). The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/ReviewoftheOERMovement.pdf
- Conole, G., McAndrew, P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2010). The role of CSCL pedagogical patterns as mediating artefacts for repurposing Open Educational Resources. In F. Pozzi & D. Persico (Eds.), Techniques for Fostering Collaboration in Online Learning Communities: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives. Hershey, USA: IGI Global
- Petrides, L., Nguyen, L., Jimes, C., & Karaglani, A. (2008). Open educational resources: inquiring into author use and reuse. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 1(1/2), 98–117
- Georgiou, P., Papadatou, F. 2009. Scholarly Publishing and Open Access in Greece. 2009 Report Patras: HEAL Link. http://www.heal-link.gr/SELL/OA_reports/Greece2009.pdf
- Hylén, J. et al. (2012), «Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire», OECD Education Working Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k990rjhvtlv-en
The author would like to thank Sofia Papadimitriou for her willingness to share information relevant to this study, and Susan Pasco for her careful proofreading. The study reflects the views of its author only.
Katerina Zourou is a post-doctoral researcher in the field of computer supported collaborative language learning at the University of Luxembourg (http://dica-lab.org/people/team/katerina-zourou). Her research interests involve the role of computer tools in foreign language education as well as telecollaborative practices online. She is the initiator and project leader of two EC-funded projets, the network "Language learning and social media" (2010-2012) and the project "Improving Internet strategies and maximizing social media presence of LLP projects" (2012-2013). Email address:firstname.lastname@example.org.