Breaking boundaries and building bridges across knowledge-sharing communities: OpenMed

Katherine Wimpenny, Cristina Stefanelli, Saida Affouneh, Ahmed Almakari, Adiy Tweissi,, Habi Abdel Naby, T Seddik

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    OpenMed, "A bottom-up approach for opening up education in South-Mediterranean countries," is an international cooperation project co-funded by the Erasmus + Capacity Building in Higher Education programme of the European Union (October 2015 - October 2018) involving five partners from Europe and nine from the South-Mediterranean (S-M) region (Morocco, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan). The project is focused on how universities from the designated countries, and other S-M countries, can join the action as community partners in the adoption of strategies and channels that embrace the principles of openness and reusability within the context of higher education.

    The project teams' interpretation of OEP emphasises the idea of breaking boundaries and building bridges that expand the opportunities for any citizen to benefit from universities as a source of knowledge without having to become fee-paying students. In addition, apart from the creation and use of content, open pedagogic approaches that place "an emphasis in the network and the learner's connections within this," (Weller, 2014) are key to OpenMed's definition for Open Education Practices. However, whilst OpenMed seeks as an aspirational goal that, as part of their service mission, higher education professionals and institutions engage in the creation and use of educational resources that fully fit UNESCO's definition, the OpenMed partners also acknowledge that the uptake of Open Education Practices may also start with less ambitious goals, for example, by making copyrighted content publicly available on the Internet.

    In this chapter, the authors will present on the findings to date from across the three main project phases which include; review of Open Education Initiatives; Widening Participation in Open Education Practices; and, Capacity Building Opportunities for Lecturers and other Higher Education Professionals. In particular, the authors will consider how OpenMed is striving to nurture a culture of openness across the partner higher education institutions and neighbouring communities in both a top-down and bottom-up approach.
    The top-down governing systems of universities in S-M countries is one of the key factors viewed as hindering engagement with Open Education Practices at institutions within the region. Favouring a bottom-up approach, OpenMed aims to ensure that the Mediterranean university systems are better integrated into global academic and scientific cooperation networks, which is an essential factor in the integration of Mediterranean communities and economies (Scalisi, 2016 p.17/18).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOpen(ing) Education
    Subtitle of host publicationTheory and Practice
    EditorsDianne Conrad, Paul Prinsloo
    PublisherBRILL: SENSE
    Pages253 - 276
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-42298-8
    ISBN (Print)978-90-04-42297-1 , 978-90-04-42296-4
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2020

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