Is the Openness a Problem in Open Workplace-Based Training?

Ulf Olsson
Stockholm University, Sweden

Olle Vogel
The Knowledge Foundation, Sweden


Now when the number of open courses and MOOCs is increasing there exists an opportunity for business to benefit from these flexible online courses as work-based training. A clear trend is deepening cooperation between industry and universities. The possibilities for new collaboration and partnerships should be enticing for both HEIs and business.The issue of openness in prospective open courses as part of workplace-based training is investigated in this explorative study. Staff responsible for training at five companies was interviewed. Both the interviewees themselves and the correspondent companies are collaborating with scientists at higher education institutions (HEIs). However, the individual teachers, researchers, companies and university management have in most cases only a vague idea about appropriate operating and business models of open and online courses.The companies displayed a positive attitude towards expanding the technology-enhanced online learning, and foresee few problems with openness when they participate in teaching and other course activities. The knowledge of generic level is not an issue when already applied in practice. When an industrial process or operation has been established the knowledge behind it no longer needs to be protected.Although transparency is not an issue, the companies do identify some subjects that will be withheld from the courses. There are commercial secrets, innovations and specific inventions, which cannot be disclosed. Customer lists and similar information also have to be kept secret. One company, within the defence industry, must also take national security into account.In conclusion: the interest is obvious in order to succeed with technology-enhanced and open workplace-based training and the issue of openness does not seem to be a major hindrance. There is a large potential in collaboration between companies and in collaboration between scientists and industry.

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