When is Open and Online Learning Relevant for Curriculum Change in Higher Education? Digital and Network Society Perspective


  • Airina Volungevičienė
  • Margarita Teresevičienė
  • Ulf-Daniel Ehlers




digital and network society (DNS), open online learning (OOL), higher education (HE) curriculum.


Digital and network society learning happens in new, timeless and borderless spaces. Such society members are always connected and online, sharing and co‑creating knowledge, and their learning needs serve as the biggest driving forces for higher education curriculum change. Open online learning methodology seems to be the best‑suited way to implement this change, in order to meet the needs of digital and network society. This research aims to investigate why and when open online learning is relevant for digital and network society and how open online learning supports curriculum change in higher education to meet the learning needs of digital and network society members. Theoretical research findings are discussed to: a) define the characteristics of digital and networked society, b) identify emerging ways of learning of a digital and networked society, and explain why open online learning is best suited for their needs, c) discuss the gap between the new ways of learning and higher education curricula and how open online learning is relevant for its change. Empirical research is based on global experts’ semi‑structured interviews. The results of the research demonstrate that open online learning should serve as a solution for curriculum change in higher education to respond to digital and network society learning needs. Higher education curricula should change to ensure better flexibility, recognition of non‑formal learning in formal curricula, better collaboration and exchange of people with diverse cultural and social experiences. Assessment and recognition of prior learning in the formal curricula of universities could be one of realistic scenarios for faster adaptation and introduction of more diversified learning paths. The research findings support the need to change the pedagogical approach from teacher‑centred into a learner ‑ centred, small‑group orientated, multi‑dimensional model of teaching, which raise further challenges and research dilemmas for academic community, in order to integrate important elements of change into university practices.



1 Jan 2020