UNESCO chair for Fontys

Fontys Information and Communication Technology

Fontys is the first Dutch University of Applied Sciences to be granted an UNESCO chair

Fontys was granted an UNESCO chair for Open Educational Resources. Fontys and UNESCO closed an agreement in which the chair is being instituted for the Research group Open Educational Resources (OER) - with lector Robert Schuwer as its chairman - of Fontys Hogeschool ICT. OER are learning materials that are freely accessible on the internet. UNESCO sees OER as a good way to improve access to education and to improve the quality of learning materials, and therefore as a valuable resource to the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal ‘Education for All’.

The goal of the chair is to conduct practical studies on the adoption of open learning materials and other ways of open education by teachers.

Added value
Nienke Meijer, chairwoman of the Board of Directors, proudly stresses the added value of the chair for Fontys: “This way we underline the open nature of Fontys and we present ourselves as an institution that not only values efficiency and effectivity, but also the human aspect of education; open sharing makes education accessible to everyone”. Additionally, it also contributes to Fontys' internationalisation ambitions, by being part of an international network of UNESCO Chairs on OER (Slovenia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand).

It's no coincidence that open learning is also one of the development goals mentioned in Fontys Focus 2020, in which Fontys aspires to be an important knowledge institute: every student has to be able to get the educational programme that fits him or her (flexibility, digitalisation, own pace, learning style and learning methods), an open and authentic learning and studying environment with continuing innovation, cooperation with the work field, research groups, innovation centres, living labs and professional workplaces for every educational programme. By acquiring the UNESCO Chair, the OER research group of Fontys Hogeschool ICT contributes significantly to the Fontys ‘focus on talent’ development for our students, the building of relations with the professional field and the ongoing professionalization of our own organisation.

Schuwer: “I want to use the network of UNESCO OER Chairs to share the findings from our research as well as to conduct combined research in order to gain more insight in the influence of the teacher's environment. For instance, in many countries the technical infrastructure poses a major obstacle for access to open source learning materials, whereas those learning materials are very much needed. How does that affect adoption? In the end, the results will have to contribute to the realisation of the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal number 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. I am of the opinion that quality education for everyone is the key to a world in which every single individual can develop his or her capacities and thus contribute to a better world. I consider it an honour to get the chance to contribute to this goal through this Chair.”

Read the blog on the UNESCO Chair by Robert Shuwer here .