Learning & Skills

OpenCases: case studies on openness in higher education

In October 2014 the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) commissioned the University of Bath and ICF International to collaborate on the study ‘OpenCases: case studies on openness in higher education’, to be concluded in the second semester of 2015. This study will feed into IPTS’s OpenEdu project, of which the final aim is to support DG EAC in the design of future policies in the area of open education. The OpenCases supports OpenEdu project via the provision of examples on how higher education institutions and partnerships are approaching openness in higher education to make learning more accessible, engaging, innovative and effective via open education strategies.

The project explores institutional engagement in Open Education through the analysis of different areas of openness: openness in teaching, research and operations. These dimensions are then broken down other dimensions of openness: content (OER), access, recognition, collaborations (networks, communities), research, pedagogy, leadership, technology and business models for open education. As part of the project, the study team will produce a balanced-scorecard.

The project methodology is based on a review of the literature, the production of a catalogue of practices in openness in higher education, case studies of higher education institutions and partnerships of higher education institutions. These in-depth case studies are:

  • Case 1: ALISON (Ireland)
  • Case 2- OER University (International)
  • Case 3- TORQUE  (Switzerland)
  • Case 4- FUN (France Université Numeriqué) (France)
  • Case 5- TU DELFT (Netherlands)
  • Case 6- Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
  • Case 7- Open AGH (Poland)
  • Case 8- Open University of Bavaria  (Germany)
  • Case 9- OpenupEd  (International )

The case studies make use of a rich set of data collection techniques, including document analysis (university strategies, digital strategies, open leadership documents), observations, interviews, and web and social media analysis. Case studies reports provide detailed information on institutional rationales to get involved in open education, enabling conditions, their open education activities and target groups, inputs and finance, outputs and impact and challenges and prospects.

The final data analysis will bring together the results of the quantitative analysis and the qualitative analysis based on case-study findings.

A by-product of the OpenCases study is the "OpenCases Mini Catalogue". The mini catalogue was born out of the desk research carried out to identify relevant case studies for full analysis in OpenCases. The idea was to bring  together a set of no more than 50 mini cases that would illustrate a variety of ways in which openness is being performed by higher education institutions and other players in education from different Member States of the European Union.

The catalogue treats open education on a very broad way. In OpenCases, open education is understood as a way of realising education that offers multiple ways of teaching and learning and different access routes to both formal and non-formal education using ICTs. This means that the catalogue brings a variety of initiatives, some focusing on teaching and learning, others focusing on access to content or research. It is by no means prescriptive, rather it invites the reader to engage in further research into the initiatives they find relevant.

The OpenCases study will have a final technical report published in the end of 2015.


OpenCases study leader at the IPTS
Andreia Inamorato dos Santos

OpenEdu research team at the IPTS
Yves Punie, Project Leader "ICT for learning and skills"
Andreia Inamorato dos Santos
Jonatan Castaño Muñoz

OpenCases research team at the University of Bath:
Dr Manuel Souto Otero
Dr Robin Shields
Predrag Lazetic

OpenCases research team at ICF:
Axelle Devaux
Stéphanie Oberheidt