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Case Study Title
Networked Open Polytechnic Informatics (NOP-I)
Case Study Country
Type of organisation described by the case study, address of organisation, hyperlink to organisation, hyperlink to case study source:
The programme of NOP-I is directed at obtaining start-level qualifications for IT-professionals at the Associate and Bachelor degree level of the European e-Competence Framework in the field of IT-Service Management or Software Engineering. It is undertaken by the Open Universiteit and four Dutch polytechnics (universities of professional education): Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, Fontys Hogeschool ICT, De Haagse Hogeschool en Hanzehogeschool Groningen. These five partners are responsible for the development of the NOP-I. In the stage of the actual exploitation, after the start-up period, the network will be open to partners with added value to the consortium.

See Only a Dutch site is available.

Case Study Contributed by:
Robert Schuwer

Mandatory: A brief summary of the initiative to be used as a mini case study

In 2009 the Board of the OUNL has decided that higher professional education will be the second realm, of open higher education alongside science-based higher education. In The Netherlands there is a two-tier system of higher education with on the one hand the science-based universities with bachelor-, master and doctorate programs and on the other hand the polytechnics or universities for professional education ('hogescholen’) with predominantly bachelor programs and to a far lesser extent (professional) masters. The way in which OUNL is going to develop programs in higher professional education is by making (changing) alliances of OUNL and polytechnics, producing a national HE infrastructure for lifelong learners. The outcome, then, is by definition a multi-campus HE-model. This infrastructure is named Networked Open Polytechnic (NOP).

The motives of OUNL to start this national network and to participate and to cooperate are:

  • Partnering in open innovation in lifelong learning innovation
  • Sharing of costs of development of new mode of Lifelong Learning (LLL-) education
  • Sharing of costs of development of high quality materials adapted to lifelong learners
  • Sharing of costs of market penetration
  • Branding of a new mode of LLL education (competitive advantage)
  • “Creative destruction" of existing models of lifelong learning and education

OER is one of the distinguishing features of the NOP-model. But many questions relating to a business model based upon OER have yet to be answered. What will be the business model? How will the production, distribution and (re)use of OER be organized? These are the requirements for the development and (re)use of OER:

  • In principle all educational resources for all semesters will be OER
  • It must be possible to use annually fixed versions of OER based programs
  • Public must have access to “fixed versions”
  • Students, staff and public must have access to all resources in order to submit reviews and ratings, comments and suggestions, additions and improvements
  • It must be possible for staff to add user experiences
  • Monitoring and blocking of rude behaviour and copyright violations
  • Central and decentralized databases

The ambition of the NOP is to develop a national, open and flexible infrastructure for higher education in the realm of adult education, leading to 10.000 extra diplomas per year. NOP will offer programs that will appeal to large numbers of professionals and their employers. Furthermore, students should succeed in completing the program. Base elements in the programs are use of professional experience of the students in semesters, blended learning, a modular curriculum consisting of semesters that are directly relevant to the professional practice, active learning communities and high-quality educational resources that will be publicly available and open to modification (open educational resources). The NOP initiative aims at new methods for teaching ICT professionals that will have a higher success rate than the methods used before.

The unique properties of the NOP through which this is to be achieved are:

  • Customization through workplace integration and recognition of experience,
  • Modular construction from independent semesters,
  • A nationwide network of teaching locations (that may incorporate even more in the future),
  • Internet-based cooperation and coaching,
  • Cooperative development of Open Educational Resources.

A first implementation of the NOP concept is realized in the field of Informatics and is called NOP-I. The ambitions of the NOP-I are to provide, eventually, 2500 semester certificates a year, 600 Associate diplomas per year, 280 Bachelor diplomas per year. The semester success rate after 1 year is expected to be around 75%.

NOP-I started in september 2011 with 33 students. Development of OER was not finished then, so this first cohort started with closed resources. Currently (July 2012), around 20 OERs are in the development stages. The platform to be used for sharing these OER is Wikiwijs.


The NOP-I has a system of quality assurance. The (open) learning materials are part of this system. There is no KPI on OER, but on the whole of OER, learning services and tutoring. The quality system should result in an average assessment of 7.4 by students and 7.0 by teachers (on a 10-point scale). The plan describes in detail the organisation of evaluations of semester and the several roles in the curriculum assessment activities.

More specific, OER are assessed on several quality criteria:

  • copyright cleared
  • independent use of the OER is possible
  • reusability of the OER
  • quality of the content
  • quality of the design

Sources: (in Dutch) (in Dutch)


The most important innovative elements of the NOP-I are

  • Education is offered in a blend of face 2 face, self study and workplace learning
  • Education is organized in a cooperation of five institutions for HE with backgrounds in face 2 face education and distance education.
  • Development and exploitation of education are disconnected processes
  • Learning materials are offered as OER.

The main reason for offering OER is efficiency. NOP-I hopes that other institutions will also use and further develop the OER and share it, so NOP-I will save on development costs. Currently, it is too early to say if this succeeds. The expectation is that it will take several years before this will be default practice.


NOP-I will use the CC BY-SA license for publishing their OER. This is in line with the policy described at Wikiwijs.


Actors are Open Universiteit and four Dutch polytechnics (universities of professional education): Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, Fontys Hogeschool ICT, De Haagse Hogeschool and Hanzehogeschool Groningen.


The current list of OER can be retrieved at

Open Educational Practices

Not applicable

Tools and Repositories

The following figure shows the process of developing and using OER and the tools that are used for this.

Process NOH.PNG

The program is divided into themes (e.g. information systems, web development). For each theme a development team and a team of teachers is formed. Individuals can be part of both teams for the same theme. In most cases a theme is teached once a year. That occurrence is called a run. The numbers in the figure have the following meaning.

  1. Development of learning materials start with searching for available OER.
  2. During development, a repository is used to collect and store the intermediate results. This environment also supports collaboration between the developers. For this, Moodle and Elluminate are used.
  3. A final (“frozen”) version of the learning materials is placed into the VLE to be used as a basis for the current run of the theme. The VLE is a combination of Moodle and Elluminate.
  4. The final version is also placed into Wikiwijs to be used by other institutions outside of NOP-I.
  5. Teachers have the freedom to add to the learning materials, using OER from external OER repositories. This can result in new (improved) versions of the current version.
  6. Newer versions are placed into Wikiwijs to be shared with other institutions.
  7. A LinkedIn Community is coupled with Wikiwijs. This platform is used to discuss about the OER by interested parties (both inside as outside the NOP-I). Think about revision proposals, additional questions about the content et cetera.
  8. After the run has finished, the next cycle of development starts with the improved versions from Wikiwijs.

With this line of actions, NOP-I hopes to realize collaborative development of learning materials by other institutions, thereby coming to a more efficient development process.

Tooling to create the learning materials is not standardized. Currently, most learning materials are created using the Microsoft Office suite.
All learning materials that are placed in Wikiwijs are described according to NL-LOM. NL-LOM is an application profile from IEEE-LOM. It is the Dutch standard for metadata for learning materials.


Not applicable

Current barriers and enablers

Interviews with teachers involved revealed several barriers and enablers. The main barrier to use OER is the problem to find adequate OER in external repositories. This is caused by the lack of a search engine especially developed for this goal and incompatibility with the Creative Commons license of potential OER found. Some developers have tried to convert older versions of closed learning materials to OER in consultation with (commercial) publishers. These efforts were not succesfull, because publishers were reluctant to cooperate. Discussions in the community to improve the OER hardly occurred. Most of these barriers are seen as starting problems that will disappear when there is more experience in this field.

Main enabler was the commitment of management. This led to support for the development teams, mostly in giving additional time to create learning materials.

Costs of the initiative

See the next section for a total overview and comparison of costs and benefits.

Benefits and sustainability of the initiative

The program is based on the following business case.

Period Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Semester 5 Semester 6
# locations 4 4 4 4 4 4
# students 100 190 294 403 521 624
Revenues (€) 395,000 750,500 1,161,300 1,591,850 2,057,950 2,464,800
Variable costs (€) 275,400 489,050 760,650 1,012,250 1,313,050 1,583,850
Fixed costs (€) 157,490 251,510 372,550 494,840 624,540 741,490
Result (€) -37,940 9,940 28,100 84,760 120,360 139,460

An important part of the fixed costs are for the development of OER (estimated to a total of € 1,775,000). Variable costs are for services offered to (potential) students (e.g. assessment of former achievements or intake and advice). The revenues are from enrollment fees for students and income from additional services.

These targets were set at the beginning of the program. In the meantime, the context is fundamentally changed. These changes will undoubtedly affect these targets, but it is hard to estimate how much. The two most important developments in the context are:

  • The Open Universiteit is not allowed anymore to be active in the field of licensed Polytechnics education. Licenses for curriculum like NOP-I will be organized by Polytechnics. The legislative and regulatory framework for higher education however forbids Polytechnics to construct these kinds of licensed education.
  • Starting in 2017, part-time education will be an open free market, without public financing of institutions for HE. Learners in certain sectors and domains can apply for grants to be used for education in both public and private institutions for higher education.

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