A review of the role of national policy and institutional mission in European distance teaching universities with respect to widening participation in higher education study through open educational resources

Andy Lane


The open educational resources (OER) movement is relatively new with few higher education institutions (HEIs) publishing or using them, and even fewer using them to widen engagement or participation in HE study. Although distance teaching universities have been in the vanguard of widening opportunities for HE study, they vary in how far they are doing so. Some use this informal learning through studying OER as a bridge to formal learning, others see it as an end in itself, often as part of a wider set of lifelong learning activities. Initial experiences of some European distance teaching universities indicate that OER are fine for confident and experienced learners but most people will require other support mechanisms to achieve participation. More effort may be needed to design and present OER in ways that are suited to the learners to support their learning, including developing new ways to recognize achievements through open study.


Open educational resources, Widening participation, Distance teaching, Teaching methods, Institutional mission


This article describes why higher education institutions (HEIs) should be interested in increasing the number or widening the type of people participating in the HE system and also, what role open educational resources (OER) play in supporting this. OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or Distance Education re-purposing by others. OER’s include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. They believe that widening participation in Higher education is an important social aim to the improvement of society in Europe. The article states that there are some discrepancies in the widening of participation of Higher Education. Some of these include, the lack of certain societal groups or communities, geographical remoteness, social norms, digital divide, household income, physical circumstances and institutional attitudes and behaviors.

APA Citation

Lane, A. (2012). A review of the role of national policy and institutional mission in European Distance Teaching Universities with respect to widening participation in higher education study through open educational resources. Distance Education, 33(2), 135-150.

About the Study

Links to Article https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C50&q=A+review+of+the+role+of+national+policy+and+institutional+mission+in+European+distance+teaching+universities+with+respect+to+widening+participation+in+higher+education+study+through+open+educational+resources&btnG=
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Distance Education
Type of Research Review of literature
Research Design Not applicable
Intervention/Areas of Study Course, program, or institutional culture, Course design, Course organization, Open education resources
Level of Analysis Student-level, Course-level, Institutional-level
Specific Populations Examined Graduates, Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest Associates-granting, Bachelors-granting, Masters-granting, Doctorate-granting
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Arts and humanities, Formal sciences, Natural sciences, Social sciences, STEM
Outcome Variables of Interest Institutional effectiveness, Learning effectiveness
Student Sample Size
Citing Articles https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=15009240831333575619&as_sdt=5,50&sciodt=0,50&hl=en