The project rationale
As a consequence of rapid technological development in some areas, academic curricula for students in such areas become rather quickly outdated in some of their features. One possibility to integrate the newly generated knowledge generated by technological development into academic programs would be to renew the curricula in ever shortening intervals, which is increasingly harder to achieve due to procedural reasons. Thus often knowledge offered by academic programs lags after expert knowledge available in large enterprises. Current information technology offers another, alternative approach to solving this problem, namely by blending academic and entrepreneurial knowledge within the open courseware paradigm, and what is more generally known as technology enhanced learning.
The definition of technology enhanced learning often used in EU countries is that TEL represents "all forms of teaching and learning where ... ICT systems are used as a media for implementing the educational process" in terms of "transferring knowledge and skills in educational institutions, at work places, and through life-long learning programs, using virtual classrooms, various Web services and digital collaboration". There is no doubt that TEL, defined as above, greatly affects the quality of education today.
This project has the objective to use this opportunity to foster active learning and better motivation through implementation of new technologies in the teaching process. Development of partnerships with enterprises will be improved trough blending of academic and entrepreneurial knowledge by means of OER. This would be achieved by setting up BAEKTEL, a platform that would enable higher education (HE) institutions to publish their course materials (video lectures, course planning materials and evaluation tools as well as thematic content), based on the OCW (OpenCourseWare) concept, as defined by the Consortium Europe project (http://www.opencourseware.eu) coordinated by Delft University of Technology, on the one hand, and on the other, offer an opportunity for enterprises to present expert knowledge in various forms, such as case studies, expert presentations on specific topics, demonstrations of software implementation in practice and the like.
The BAEKTEL platform envisaged by this project would make OER materials freely available to anyone, anytime via the internet. BAEKTEL could thus provide educational support at all levels from preparations of university admission exams, additional students education, workplace education and life-long learning, integration of creative research potential with industry and government institutions for the purpose of achieving better quality and accessibility of education by applying new technologies. OER learners from universities would be able to watch the lectures at their own pace and to better prepare themselves for class. OER learners from both universities and industry could follow courses to fill in the gaps in their knowledge and become familiar with new knowledge and technology.
Due to the combined effect of globalization and European integration the need for support of multilingual business and academic communication is growing. Its immediate effect on the envisaged approach would be in allowing video materials in various languages. It would thus provide an efficient answer to the main criticism of OER that they are biased towards the so called "big" languages. In addition to that, in order to offer support in expert terminology, the BAEKTEL platform would provide electronic terminological resources, parallel (multilingual) corpora of lessons and texts in written form, and functionalities for searching and browsing of terminological resources and using them for text annotation. The contents of these resources would conform to the methodic/didactic quality criteria and contain very rich metadata sets which enable adaptive usage. Accessibility services are supposed to support formal learning description methods, as well as methods for describing cognitive student and teacher workload in TEL. Providing means for easy integration of learning content from different sources is also necessary.
Within the academic environment the BAEKTEL backend control panel would offer the possibility for university teachers to track the progress of their students while using the content, and more importantly to study their learning habits in order to further improve the teaching process. They would also be able to see which students have mastered some concept and assign them to help their peers who got stuck, and in this way stimulate "peer to peer knowledge sharing". The platform could also be used to filter out in early stage the students with tendencies/talent to share knowledge, and motivate them to work as teacher assistants (TA) and also do their own problem examples as video tutorials similar to those on KhanAcademy.org and budi.inzenjer.org. Finally, the platform could provide cost effective practical experience for the students through implementation of software based virtual laboratories (VL) for technical sciences.
On the other hand the BAEKTEL backend control panel would provide opportunities for life-long learning for graduate students who started to work in companies. Their supervisors, the same as university teachers in the academic environment, could monitor the progress of their employees in keeping the pace with new advancements in academic knowledge.