D.4 European added value

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OER requires in itself European-level cooperation in order to develop sustainable solutions with a European impact. Earlier sections have argued that there is clear need for a project that delivers what POERUP is proposing - and they have also argued that in order to be fully successful in the modernisation and innovation of education, policy-makers have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one's own country, region or continent and beyond the educational sector they look after.

We know that OER has many benefits for inter-cultural communication and understanding. Students get access to an international community of knowledge and hence to the wide linguistic and cultural diversity within Europe (and beyond). Staff working on OER get an international dimension and richness that supports the globalisation of education and life. Collaborating in OER initiatives give educators, trainers and learners with different world views the opportunity to exchange ideas and information, thus expanding each participant's global view and gaining a broader perspective on the world in general as well as a specific subject.

We can extrapolate this to the POERUP project level. While several countries have (or had) agencies (like Becta or SURF) with the resources to (in theory) commission studies like POERUP proposes, such studies tend to be based on desk research from the host country, conducted in the host country's language, with only occasional interaction with in-country experts and that normally done in an international language. Evidence from Re.ViCa was clear that key information was contained behind linguistic firewalls - with for example the strength of HE distance learning in Hispanic South America not appreciated by "northern" analysts (except in Spain) - and evidence is building that the same is true in VISCED.

Furthermore, the indications are clear that fostering OER without deploying large sums of money requires nudges - subtle interventions which may depend on linguistic and cultural factors not well known to experts outside the country. This is where a European consortium really pays off. Indeed, our consortium has particular strengths: in addition to the Canadian partner there are organisations embedded in five European countries (UK, Netherlands, Italy, France, Hungary) - three large, two smaller - across five languages, two of them global languages thus opening up much of the rest of the world to scrutiny. There is also sufficient Spanish competence in several consortium partners to make that sphere also accessible - even if not at the same cultural depth.

As a practical example of what the European added value means, the options brief national reports are created in (not translated into) the national languages, yet adapt European-level inputs into national outputs.


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