Feature article: The Establishment of the Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education

The University established the Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education (IROPINE) in 2016, with the aim of promoting the research interests and enhancing the research capacity of academics in the field of open and innovative education. This development was supported by a substantial grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.

IROPINE makes an impact on educators and learners by promoting and conducting research with global experts in this emerging field. It builds on the Open University of Hong Kong’s (OUHK) two decades of research on open learning and flexible education, which dates back to the Centre for Research in Distance and Adult Learning founded in 1997. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, IROPINE acts as an agent for change and advancement through research. The Institute is interdisciplinary in nature, and invests in the University’s faculty through a series of events and initiatives.

Developing Strategic Research Areas

The Institute aims to deliver focused excellence in several areas. They are related to university teaching and the University's educational development. They are as follows.

•  Academic analytics and big data techniques
Exploring ways for data-driven analyses to benefit institutions, educators and students will be a priority research area for the years to come. With the support of information and communications technology, especially data processing and statistical tools, valuable information can be generated for improving the learning design and timely intervention in learning.

•  Online, mobile and blended learning
Online, mobile and blended learning adopt the latest technologies to embed learning in the everyday lives of a new generation of ‘digital natives’, who expect educational delivery to cater for their habits and lifestyles which revolve around digital devices and connectedness. Studies in this area promote the transformation of education and help to tackle its challenges — from hardware to content, and interface to infrastructure.

•  Learning design and innovative pedagogy
Through research on learning design and pedagogy, IROPINE promotes experimentation with new ways for creating or adding value to education for all the stakeholders involved. Practices with appropriate pedagogy can structure learning, enhance teaching effectiveness and maximize desirable learning outcomes.

•  Open education
The OUHK has for long been committed to providing open and distance learning, offering access to education and contributing to a knowledge-based and creative society. The Institute, which upholds the University’s mission of making higher education available to all, undertakes research projects which will become an important foundation for optimizing open education and training its educators.

•  Open educational resources
Open educational resources, including open textbooks and open courseware, allow users to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them without charge. The Institute’s research helps education providers to use the potential of open educational resources to lower the costs of educational materials and improve access to education.

•  Massive open online courses
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) allow anyone with Internet access to take part in freely available courses in a broad range of disciplines. Research on MOOCs sheds light on the future of distance education as MOOCs’ users form the largest community of self-regulated and social learners across national boundaries.

Bringing out the best

Through its programme of events, IROPINE brings out the best in its members and strengthens research that helps local, regional and international educators at all levels.

  • Distinguished Professors’ Lectures

  • Distinguished professors, who are world-renowned experts in the field of open and innovative education, are invited to the Institute to give lectures on the latest advances in this area. Their insightful observations will inspire research ideas and promote intellectual interaction.

  • Workshops

  • To equip the university community with the latest developments in open learning and innovative education, researchers, scholars and practitioners in cutting-edge educational technologies and practices are invited to give workshops on the applications of new technologies and innovative pedagogy.

  • International collaboration

  • Open and innovative education has provided educational opportunity for millions worldwide and, in Asia, helps to fuel economic growth and social development by keeping up with the region’s great demand for a better workforce. IROPINE identifies opportunities and builds platforms for international exchange and collaboration to promote and support research in the field.

  • Open and Innovative Education Week

  • The Open and Innovative Education Week is the University’s annual flagship event which brings together academics and educators interested in the area for meeting, sharing, discussing, and inspiring each other. IROPINE draws on the Week to promote professional development and networking for the participants.

    Investing in the future

    The Institute positions itself as an enabler of educational research, an interdisciplinary network of scholars, and an investment in an open and innovative future. Through its programmes — such as Distinguished Professor events and other research infrastructure — IROPINE furthers the University’s strategic strength in offering higher education through open and flexible learning in the following ways.

  • Research teams

  • Research teams in IROPINE bring together faculty members and professional staff from different units to collaborate on research projects that will inform teaching and boost the University’s standing in the field.

  • Seminars

  • IROPINE seminars are held to share and discuss research findings and other issues related to scholarship and research in open and innovative education.

  • Archive

  • IROPINE’s online archive, which is dedicated to scholarship and research in open learning and innovative education, provides digests on emerging trends, key literature and relevant research studies, as well as research collaboration opportunities, thus helping users to advance their research projects.

  • Publications and other impacts

  • IROPINE strives to publish research results and promote open and innovative education within the community through the media and other partnerships.

    You are welcome to contribute to IROPINE’s research activities. If you are interested in knowing more about IROPINE, please visit its website at http://iropine.ouhk.edu.hk, or contact the Institute at (email) iropine@ouhk.edu.hk or (telephone) +852 2768-6786.



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