Open Education

Education Support

UM Library Open Education portal


Learn more about Open Educational Resources (OER) that you can use for learning and teaching and about copyright. Read about the UM MOOC project. Join the tender for open and online education projects put out by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.


Open education?

Online education, open education and OER Online education is defined as education whereby all or at least 80% of all learning materials, tools and services are made available online.

Open education can be categorised on the basis of three different dimensions of openness:

  1. available free of charge
  2. freely accessible (no entry requirements, no closed paywalls, etc.)
  3. free to edit (with learning materials published on the basis of an open licence).

Today, open education programs are offered by established universities such as MIT, the TU Delft, as well as virtual universities and other educational institutions.

Open ≠ OER!

It is important to distinguish between Open Educational Resources (OER) and open education.

OER refers only to the content, whereas open education or open learning combines OER (the actual resources) with a form of education.

Forms of open education

Open access to certified programmes

Open access to certified  programmes

These are usually provided by national open universities and the OERu  (an international consortium of mainly British Commonwealth and U.S. universities and colleges offering open access courses):

  • possibly for full credit or a full degree
  • offered by the university from which most credits have been acquired
  • assessment is not free.

Examples of degree awarding open universities

Open University UK

Open University UK

Open University NL

Open University Netherlands

Athabasca University

Athabasca University

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Open University of China

Open University of China

Open access programmes without credit

Open access programmes without credit

The programme itself is free of charge. Upon successful completion, badges or certificates may be granted for a fee.

MOOCs are a good example but will be addressed separately.

Open access course platforms

Open access course platforms

  • Coursera  offers online courses, provided by more than 100 universities and other educational organisations worldwide
  • EdX  offers online courses by universities including Harvard, TU Delft, Aachen and Sorbonne
  • Kahn Academy  offers exercises and instructional videos for self-study for all ages. Topics include math, science, computer programming, history, art history, and economics. Content is offered different institutions including NASA, the Museum of Modern Art and MIT
  • Udacity  offers online programmes created by partners such as Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, Cloudera, aimed at learners seeking to become web developers, data analysts, mobile developers, etcera
  • MIT’s Open Courseware  offers both OER and open access courses. It includes free online MIT’s recorded lectures and other learning material
  • TU Delft Open CourseWare  offers both OER and open access courses. It includes free online recorded lectures and other learning material.
OER - Open Educational Resources

OER – Open Educational Resources

Refers to any type of educational material that can be freely re-used, re-distributed, revised, re-mixed and retained (the five basic principles of OER. In other words, anyone can legally copy, use, adapt and re-share these materials, free of charge. It can include: textbooks, syllabi, assignments, notes, projects, tests, or other learning materials.



What defines a MOOC? Here are the features

  • Massive. In principle MOOCs have infinite scalability. It is claimed the cost of each extra participant is small for the institutions offering MOOCs. Coursera claims they had as many as 240,000 participants in a single course.
  • Open. There are no pre-requisites for participants. They do need a computer or mobile device and access to the Internet. In addition, participation was free for the early MOOCs. Today increasing numbers of MOOCs charge an assessment or certificate a fee.
  • Online.  MOOCs are offered online.
  • Course. MOOCs are designed as a course.

The course design of a MOOC may vary.

MOOCs can by broadly subdivided in two types, XMOOCS and cMOOCs, each with a distinct philosophical underpinning.

  • xMOOCs use a teaching model that focuses on transmitting information, with high quality content delivery.
  • cMOOCs emphasise networking and depend on contributions from the participants.


Watch this quick and simple video on MOOCs by Dave Cormier and Neal Gillis – Research by: Bonnie Stewart Alexander McAuley George Siemens Dave.


Design features xMOOCS

  • Designed platform software geared toward large numbers of participants, automated assessment and performance tracking
  • Video lectures that are made online downloadable and released on a weekly basis. Examples: lecture capture, studio produced presentations and desk-top recordings
  • Computer graded assignments, such as multiple-choice, text or formula boxes. Results may serve as feedback or for a certificate
  • Peer assessment between students by assigning students to small groups
  • Supporting materials, for instance slides, audio files, URLs, online articles
  • Shared discussion area for posting questions and comments
  • Discussions are moderated little or not at all, no individual teacher-student interaction
  • Badges or certificates, upon successful completion, but usually not recognised by institutes for credit or admission
  • Learning analytics

Design principles cMOOCs (as identified by Stephen Downes in 2014)

  • Autonomy of the learner; learning is personal and there is no formal curriculum
  • Diversity in terms of the tools, content, and knowledge levels of participants
  • Interactivity between participants  leading to knowledge building
  • Open-ness open  access, content, activities and assessment

Read more here: Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice 



UM went MOOC!

Maastricht University (UM) has launched (and finished) its’ first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in September 2015. The audience consisted of teachers, course designers, professionals in education, and the generally curious joining in the experimental online course on Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Participants learned how to apply PBL in their own educational setting, and how to apply PBL to a MOOC setting.

Students at the centre! 
UM has a strong tradition in PBL, focussing on small-group learning centred around authentic problems. At first sight, this is in contrast with the large-scale and often teacher-driven set-up of MOOCs. UM is, however, interested in exploring the potential of online PBL and the potential of MOOCs. To gain first-hand experience and to explore implications for UM staff and students UM developed a MOOC about PBL which is designed –as far as possible in the setting of a MOOC- in line with modern learning principles that are also at the basis of PBL: constructive, contextual, collaborative and self-directed learning: Problem-Based Learning: Principles and design. Students at the centre!

A university-wide project team, consisting of 34 people from all faculties, was responsible for this innovative MOOC design.


The course is centred around a set of authentic problems organized in three different tracks:

  • The role of the tutor in PBL
  • Designing PBL problems and courses
  • Assessment and organisational aspects of PBL

Participants work in groups on authentic problems in a similar way as face-to-face PBL tutor groups, except that they work online and do not have a tutor.



The MOOC was executed in 2015, from 5 October to 12 December. It started with 2989 participants. Just over a quarter (26%) filled in their profiles and became part one of the 111 teams. 49 of the 111 teams finished the course (i.e. handed in the last assignment) and 264 participants were received a certificate of participation. The completion rate was almost 10%, which is quite normal in the world of MOOCs. The project team is currently analysing results, including questionnaire and observation data, and developing plans for the future.

More information about the MOOC project on: 


Open Educational Resources refers to any type of educational materials that can be freely re-used, re-distributed, revised, re-mixed and retained (the five basic principles of OER).

In other words, anyone can legally copy, use, adapt and re-share these materials, free of charge. It can include textbooks, syllabi, assignments, notes, projects, tests, or other learning materials.

Examples of OER

Examples of OER

Watch: “The birth of an open resource revolution”

Open-learning visionary Richard Baraniuk explains the vision behind Connexions (now called OpenStax), an open-source, online education system. It cuts out the textbook, allowing teachers to share and modify course materials freely, anywhere in the world.



Open educational resources for medicine

Open educational resources for medicine

On Nature’s website (Harmon, 2010) a large grow of medical ‘apps’ for smart and iPhones was mentioned.

Apps like these provide you with easily accessible information and instructions about for instance lifesaving acts, patient files or lab results. A lot of apps are meant for patients, others for professional health caretakers. Some are perfectly suitable for educational purposes. A pilot at the UM Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) on the use of smartphones during internships even resulted in an evaluation framework for open educational resources.

We want to inform you of a selection of apps and websites, but also on how to check the quality of the source or application. For the latter, we refer to the tutorial created in close collaboration with FHML.


Selection of sites and apps

Kahn Academy on The kidney and Nephron


Open Education


Apps for smartphones

Within the Mobile Learning @ UM project, FHML (Jeroen Donkers ea) selected and offered various apps for surgery, ophthalmology and neurology internships (some in Dutch).


  • Medische Zakkaartjes
  • Oxford Handbook of surgery
  • Oxford Handbook of clinical medicine
  • Medcalc Medicatie
  • Epocrates Medscape
  • LabDx LabGear Abbstore
  • Mindnote PubMed Tap Dx
  • Saurus Antibiotics
  • FileViewer PDF Reader
  • Reader Stanza FDA drugs
  • Anatomy 2011 MedPage


  • Medische Zakkaartjes
  • Eye Handbook
  • Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmology Clinical
  • Medicine EyeAlmanac
  • Eye Model FileViewer
  • Pubmed on Tap
  • Antibiotics MindNode


  • Medische Zakkaartjes
  • Neuromind 3D
  • Brain Brain Tutor
  • Nerve Whiz
  • Pubmed on Tap
  • Epocrates
  • Medscape Clinicalc
  • Medcalc Stanza
  • PDF Reader

Want to know more?

Contact Jeroen Donkers, working at the Education and Research Department (task force e-learning) of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences.


Workshop for students and teachers

To learn how to check the quality of the source and use it within your daily educational practice or (for teachers) to get acquainted with the possible and qualitative good open educational resources, we created a tutorial.

Go to tutorial


Wikiwijs (literally translated Wikiwise) is an open, internet-based platform, where teachers can find, download, (further) develop and share educational resources. The whole project is based on open source software, open content and open standards.

Wikiwijs is inspired by the idea of wikis: collaborative developing of content. Educational resources are developed by teachers, for teachers. Teachers can freely use anything they find in the Wikiwijs database in their classrooms. The scope of Wikiwijs is the whole Dutch educational system: from primary schools up to universities.

Interested? Visit the (mainly Dutch) Wikiwijs website  and read what the community thinks about Open Educational Resources (OER), impact of OER on the professional practice and MOOCs conquering the world.


Photos available in the public domain

Photos available  in the public domain

After registering, you can search and download free stock photography (2400x1600 resolution) with no copyright restrictions, Membership also gives you access to the Lightbox feature and other goodies. [hr]


Free photos in the public domain (no copyright restrictions) or Creative Commons license. Site now owned by Shutterstock, whose for-pay images may show up in searches but are clearly watermarked. [hr]


Although small, the Image*After database contains some excellent works (photos and textures) that are free with no copyright restrictions. Supported by advertisements from for-pay sites. [hr]

Developed in 1998 for artists, developers, teachers and students, the free photos are offered under Creative Commons licenses. [hr]

At the world’s largest community of artists, you’ll find all forms of art, including photography. Most photos are free with no copyright restriction. On home page, click on “Photography” under “Category.” If you seek the strikingly unusual, you’ll likely find it here. [hr]


Quality of the free images here is worth the price of admission: registration. Add free photos to your shopping cart in the regular way, but at checkout all you’ll see are some lovely zeros for price. [hr]


The title says it all: free, public domain photos without copyright restriction unless you intend to use them commercially, when a model or property release may be required. Registration required. [hr]


Small selection but the price is right (free) as well as the usage (no restrictions). Registration not required and resolutions large enough for quality work. [hr]

Another site acquired by Dreamstime, whose for-pay photos will be at top of every results page. Scroll down for the free images. No copyright restrictions. [hr]

Large database (nearly 700,000) of quality work that can be used in any manner. Now owned and operated by Dreamstime, you must register with your email. Searches will return mixture of free and for-pay stock.

Copyright & Creative Commons

OER Copyright Game

OER Copyright Game

To learn how to find, create, localize, and reuse of open educational resources:


OER remix game

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons Licenses

A copyright license that is easy to create and enables the copyright holder to give permission for different forms of kinds of use of their material free of charge or bureaucracy.

The Licenses

Attributed CC BY


This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attributed-sharealike cc by-sa


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attributed-noderivs cc by-nd


This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attributed-noncommercial cc by-nc


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-Noncommercial-sharealike cc by-nc-sa


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-Noncommercial-noderivs cc by-nc-nd


This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Create your own license at: Creative Commons Choose a License .

More on OER & copyright

More on OER & copyright

The Open Education Week globally celebrates the Open Education Movement. One aspect of Open Education is the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are freely accessible, openly licensed documents that are useful for education as well as research purposes.

In the development of OER and opening them up for the rest of the world legal issues can arise. The copyright of OER is protected under Creative Commons licenses [Pdf]. This protects the copyright of the author and makes the resource openly available under varying restrictions.

Are you unsure about using educational resources and their copyright? Check out the Maastricht University Library Copyright Information Point  for more information and advice.

Interesting links about OER and copyright


Open Education Week 2018, March 5-9

Open Education Week 2018

Discover live and online activities you can attend during the International Open Education Week ; a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its goal is to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.
The UM will host you in the webinar   by UNU-MERIT/ Maastricht School of Governance (MGsoG), on their SURF funded project SMART Choices and SMART Tools.

Open Education in the Netherlands and the UM

Open Education in the Netherlands and the UM

The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science underlines the importance of open and online learning and has included various ambitions for the Strategic Agenda for Higher Education and Research 2015-2025. According to the Minister’s vision, the Netherlands shall become a global leader in the open sharing of teaching materials by 2025.

Higher Education Institutes exchange knowledge and expertise on the topic of Open and Online Education through SURF, the collaborative ICT organisation for Dutch higher education and research. SURF hosts Special Interest Groups (SIGs), with experts from the participating research universities and universities of applied sciences. The Maastricht University Library represents the UM in a special SIG on open and online education. In addition, the UM library participates in a focus group on online education of the Dutch consortium of the thirteen university libraries and the National Library of the Netherlands (UKB).

In the years to come, the knowledge agenda regarding open and online education will include the following ten subjects:

  • Strategy, policy and change management
  • Didactic models for online education
  • Developing open and online teaching materials
  • Online assessment and feedback
  • Accreditation and recognition of open and online education
  • Evaluation and analysis (learning analytics)
  • Business operations and organisation
  • Legislation, regulations and legal aspects
  • Technical pre-conditions
  • Professionalisation and facilitation

Publications by SURF on Open and Online Education

SURF recently changed the name of the programme from Open and Online to Open and Blended. Go to SURF on Open and Blended Education.

Tutorial Digital information skills

Tutorials Digital information skills and Personal online branding

In Problem-Based Learning self-study is important, but which learning materials do you use and how do you find them? Study materials may include books or journal articles, but also pictures, video clips, animations, web lectures, etc. The Maastricht University Library has a large collection, but there is also a lot available on the Internet, often for free.

The tutorial on Digital information skills (developed for medical students, but useful for other disciplines as well) will help you how to find and evaluate information, accompanied with some general search tips and tricks in finding relevant and trustworthy audio-visual learning materials.

The tutorial on Personal online branding will learn how to build and maintain a professional online image. It contains chapters on topics such as self-branding, social networking sites and online identity management, including legal issues.



Digital information skills

Personal online branding


Project tender Dutch Government (OCW) on open and online Education

Project tender Dutch Government (OCW) on open and online  Education


Open and online education offers opportunities for innovation and quality enhancement of education. The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, therefore, provides funding with the fourth and last incentive round for funding as part of the 2015 – 2018 Open and Online Education programme.

Maastricht University contributes up to now with three projects in this programme:

  • TOOL Anatomy Platform: the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and Maastricht University (UM) are joining forces with Dutch and Flemish anatomy departments to develop an open learning platform in which quality-controlled anatomy content and learning resources can be made freely available to all. This will give students easier access to good content and provide teachers with good teaching resources.
  • We-Mediate [website currently only available in Dutch]: skills such as negotiation and mediation are important for lawyers. UM  is developing modules to train and enhance these learning skills in a multimedia environment.
  • Leading to success – Smart choices & smart tools: the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT intends to support the development of open online services to decrease dropout rates of MPP students within their specialisation, and supporting and developing skills specifically important for the public policy field.
    Smart Choices & Smart Tools explained by project coordinator Katerina Triantos

Read more about the programme [in Dutch] on the SURF website and take a look at the projects funded this far. And if you don’t want to miss out on the actual launch, subscribe for our library updates and we will inform you via the Library+ Education update.


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