The Case of Japan and Korea

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview of Higher Education and Digital Transformation

Higher education institutions (HEIs), especially private universities and colleges which comprises around 80% of HEIs, in South Korea (Korea hereafter) and Japan have made significant contributions to the socio-economic development of each country.

With a population of 51.5 million, Korea has over 3 million university students enrolled in 359 HEIs which include 191 universities awarding bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees, and 137 colleges awarding associate degree (KERIS, 2018). It also has the Korea National Open University, 21 cyber universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees and lifelong education programs mostly online, and corporate universities and other types. Recent reforms in higher education in Korea emphasize: 1) diversifying roles and functions of different types of HEIs to meet changing needs of the society, 2) prioritizing knowledge creation rather than knowledge transfer, 3) addressing changing curricular and financial needs by adopting more flexible and efficient models for education, management and governance, and 4) promoting academic-industrial cooperation (MOE Korea, 2016; MOE Korea, 2017a; Leem et al., 2015; Ryu et al., 2011).

With a population of 127 million, Japan has over 2.8 million university students enrolled in 1,200 HEIs which include 778 universities awarding bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees, and 395 junior colleges awarding associate degrees (MEXT Japan 2018). In addition, it has the Open University of Japan, a distance teaching university offering university degree programs and lifelong education, the Cyber University, an online university established by SoftBank awarding bachelor’s degree in IT related areas, and a few other types of institutions. Recent reforms in Japanese higher education focus on: 1) strengthening the functions of different types of HEIs by empowering individual universities (MEXT Central Education Council, 2018), 2) improving the quality of learning to respond to future changes and create new values, 3) proving quality higher education in each region/province considering demographic changes in the whole higher education system, and 4) addressing issues related to diversity, flexibility, and quality assurance.

When it comes to digital transformation, Korean universities have achieved a higher level of ICT access, utilization and skills compared with their counterparts in Japan. This could be accounted for by differences in the two governments’ policies and specific action plans, funding schemes, and universities’ enthusiasm, planning and operational management. This could also be due to the fact that Korea has a centrally supporting agency (the Korea Education and Research Information Service or KERIS) that promotes innovative initiatives, development projects and academic research related to ICT use in education ranging from primary to higher education, while Japan does not. In developing and sharing of (open) educational resources or (O)ER and MOOCs for higher education, the two government agencies, KERIS and the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE), play a key supporting and coordinating role in Korea whereas no nation-wide system and government supports exist in Japan.

1.2 Purpose and method of macro-, meso- and micro-level studies

The main purpose of this report on the macro-, meso- and micro-level studies was to investigate four aspects (infrastructure, quality, policy, and change) in the development, utilization, and dissemination of (O)ER in HEIs in Korea and Japan at macro (national), meso (institutional) and micro (individual and course) levels.

The macro-level study aimed to examine national-level infrastructure, quality assurance system, policies and changes made with regard to (O)ER and their creation, utilization, dissemination and evaluation. To achieve this aim, the study employed a comprehensive document analysis as an appropriate method. Documents included recently published academic articles, government and other public documents, media news, and other sources from Korea and Japan.

The meso-level study aimed to explore institutional-level infrastructure, quality assurance system, policy and change aspects in the development, utilization, dissemination, and evaluation of (O)ER. For this purpose, in-depth analyses of relevant documents were conducted and interviews with key personnel who had been engaged in OCW or MOOC initiatives in five cases (two universities in Korea and three universities in Japan) were conducted. Across the cases, questions were asked regarding: regulatory frameworks existing within HEIs, actors involved in building and implementing such frameworks, joint efforts in creating infrastructure for the dissemination of (O)ER, existence of subject-based platforms, communication and exchange between repositories and servers, and partnership between public and commercial entities.

The micro-level study aimed to examine course- or individual instructor-level infrastructure, quality, policy, and change in the development, utilization, dissemination, and evaluation of (O)ER. To achieve this purpose, analyses of relevant documents, websites and previous research were conducted and interviews with two local experts who had been engaged in OER initiatives in both countries were conducted to validate the data collected from three case studies (two from Korea and one from Japan). Across the three cases, questions were asked regarding: faculty members’ knowledge on the existing infrastructure, their preference for certain technologies and working conditions in creating and utilizing (O)ER, types of (O)ER frequently adopted in teaching and functionalities helpful for faculty members to edit (O)ER and collaborate with others.

2. Macro-Level Analysis

2.1 OER Infrastructure


The National Institute of Informatics (NII) provides information networks and services exclusively for academic institutions (NII Japan, n.d.). NII manages the Science Information NETwork (SINET) which was established in 1987 as a high-speed, nation-wide campus backbone network for Japanese universities. While SINET provides the universities with an Internet connection, each university needs to physically connect to the node national universities using a commercial network. NII also promotes the use of Eduroam JP, which allows the enrolled faculty members or students at Japanese universities to use the Wi-Fi network of visiting universities with their own username and password.

Furthermore, NII has developed and managed the Academic Information Circulation system (CiNii), which offers an open access database service for articles, books, dissertations, reports and other types of academic resources created and accumulated mainly by Japanese universities, research institutes, journals, books and other publicly funded projects. CiNii provides Web API (Application Program Interface) for system linkages, and it offers the OpenURL receiving and sending functions. NII has also operated the Academic Access Management Federation called GakuNin since 2009. GakuNin is a federation consisting of universities (main users of online academic resources) and publishers (main providers of such resources). Once the federated authentication is established, the users of a university can access online resources (i.e., e-journals and reports) of other universities and commercial publishers in Japan with a single log-in on and off campus. NII also funds the creation and sharing of institutional repositories of university in-house journal articles, bulletins and dissertations. Institutional Repositories Database (IRDB) collects and disseminates metadata of the contents registered in those institutional repositories. JPCOAR schema is a new metadata standard developed by the Japan Consortium for Open Access Repository (JPCOAR) and has been applied to the content creation of the institutional repositories.

To promote resource sharing and collaborative research among universities, the Research Organization of Information and Systems (ROIS) has created the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation to promote sharing of research facilities, graduate courses, academic data and research materials produced by research institutes and departments of the Japanese universities and support collaborative research with other universities, research institutions and private sectors in Japan and other countries.

The purpose of the aforementioned nation-wide systems such as CiNii, GakuNin, IRDB, and ROIS is to develop, link and share the research products of Japanese universities and of other organizations. No nation-wide system exists for the development and sharing of (open) educational (teaching and learning) resources. It may be possible in the future that OER and other educational materials created by individual universities could be shared via ROIS or another existing system.

Japan OCW, which was established in 2005, promotes the open sharing of courses provided by its member universities and operates mostly based on membership fees (Total 19 universities, NGOs and companies as its members in 2019). Each member university offers their OCW on their website and thus no host server exists.

JMOOC, established in 2013, is also a membership-based organization with no government support. Members include both private companies and universities (Total 79 members and 140 courses in 2019). Courses are offered in four different providers: Fisdom, gacco, and OpenLearning Japan, each managed by a different company, and OUJ MOOC managed by the Open University Japan. Its steady growth has been reported in the website.


The Korea Education Network or KREN, a non-for-profit organization, has created and managed the Education Network since its creation in 1991. Until 2001, the Seoul National University and other national universities in eight different regions oversaw the Network. Since 2001, the Education Network has been using a commercial network service to accommodate the rapidly increasing communication needs of the universities and to stabilize the service for 24 hours/365 days, with the matching funds from the government and the university. So far 356 (out of 359) higher education institutions are using this network. The network fee is paid jointly by the individual universities and the government.

Eduroam or Educational Roaming is another type of infrastructure that offers a global wifi roaming service. With over 50 member universities and research institutions, it shares their wifi network service and their academic information services.

Since the development of the e-Campus Vision for Higher Education in 2002, the Korean government has supported the establishment and implementation of 1) e-Learning support centers in the universities across ten different regions of the country and funded collaborative content development among the universities located within the same region, 2) the Integrated Administration and Finance System for Universities, and 3) the Crowd-based Integrated Academic Affairs’ System, which will be linked to the Universities’ Resources Management System in 2020.

KERIS is at the center of developing, managing and evaluating various types of academic resources (both research products and open educational resources) for higher education with funds from MOE and member institutions.

Unlike Japan where OCW and MOOCs are not supported by the government or public agency, KOCW and K-MOOC are supported by two Korean government agencies, KERIS and the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE), respectively.

For the dissemination of OCW and other open materials created by Korean universities, KERIS has developed and managed the KOCW (Korea Open CourseWare) system since 2007 (Leem et al., 2017). KOCW supports the dissemination and sharing of university course lectures and supporting materials, and other theme-based lecture videos (e.g., English conversation, preparation classes for vocational certifications, etc.) to meet various learning demands of the adult learners and students. KOCW provides around 13,000 courses created by the universities, and around 2,300 videos created by the Educational Broadcasting Service, the Vocational Broadcasting Service and other educational institutes. It also provides a global MOOC provider Coursera’s meta data service for about 200 courses.

In the case of K-MOOC, NILE, an MOE-funded national institute for lifelong education, has managed the K-MOOC server centrally since 2015. As MOOCs are considered to be resources for lifelong education rather than materials for formal higher education, NILE, not KERIS, was chosen as the hub institute for K-MOOC. Course developers are the member universities (over 80 universities and 500 courses in 2018) and course users are the general public as well as university students. Currently K-MOOC is searching for a sustainable business model including introducing paid courses and collaborating with private sectors with an expected budget cut from the government in the near future.

Considering educational metadata schemes and components such as Dublin Core or DC Education and IEEE LTSC LOM, KERIS has introduced the Korea Education Metadata (KEM) standards with nine categories (general, life cycle, metadata, technical, educational, rights, relations, annotation, classification) since 2005 and applied them to the development of educational resources. KOCW applies all categories of KEM3.0 but one (annotation). The E-Learning Support Centers established throughout ten regions of the nation collect and manage e-learning courses and other digital materials following KEM3.0 (Ahn & Park, 2009).

A Shared University is a recent initiative funded by the MOE. One such example is developed by 24 universities out of 57 that are located in Seoul, aiming to share courses for credit transfer and joint degree, educational resources, research and educational facilities, job-related data and more, and co-develop and provide MOOCs for citizens in Seoul and beyond. Each member university operates a credit transfer system and MOOCs linked to other member universities.

2.2 Quality of OER


No standards, guidelines or checklists exist for the quality management of educational resources including OER and MOOCs in Japan at the national level. The JOCW consortium and JMOOC consortium do not offer any consortium-level guidelines to their members. Interviews with a few member universities reveal that the quality guidelines for the creation of materials are left to the hands of the individual universities. Often times, the guidelines prepared by the individual universities are step-by-step procedures to follow but are not necessarily for the purpose of quality assurance of the materials. Some researchers such as Katoet al. (2018) have developed a quality checklist for the development and management of OER at the personal level.


KERIS provides A Guidebook for Digital Content Development and Management (in Korean) to ensure the acceptable quality of online resources and OCW that are shared among the universities or open to the public (KERIS, 2017). The Guide specifies both minimum required criteria and optional suggestions. Required checklists include:

In addition to the use of this guidebook, KERIS continuously evaluates open digital content and online courses developed under the MOE-funded projects such as ACE (Advancement of College Education), CK (Creative Korea), and CORE (COllege of humanities' Research and Education) projects. In addition, it provides best practices in the use of KOCW and other open materials to the universities.

NILE provides Guidelines for K-MOOC Development and Management to K-MOOC providers. As K-MOOC uses edX platform, the guidelines offered in this booklet consider those of edX. K-MOOC Guidelines include a set of quality criteria (both required and optional quality criteria) and detailed suggestions across the design, development, testing and implementation stages. For example, two required quality criteria related to the learning content at the design stage include: accuracy of content (e.g., no grammatical and logical errors, no missing words, etc.) and sound ethical content (e.g., considering diversity and inclusivity, non-violent, respecting privacy, etc). The booklet is used by the MOOC developers as a tool to assure the development of quality online courses and was also adopted by NILE to assess if the submitted MOOCs follow the required quality criteria in the Checklist.

Moreover, NILE applies the following measures to assure the quality of MOOCs:

2.3 OER Policy


The necessity to increase government funding for higher education and policy support for promoting donations and investment from the private sector has been emphasized in MEXT’s most recent report in Japan (MEXT Central Education Council, 2018) although the specific plans have not been released. A policy change is expected in the area of information disclose. With the use of public assistance, the universities will be asked to disclose the quality of their education and students’ performance information, as well as the costs of education and research to the public in more detail.


MOE Korea (2017b) identified several policy areas to be discussed and prepared for digital transformation and resource sharing in the future. Those include:

MOE and other related ministries such as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, KERIS and NILE are working together to discuss and solve copyright, privacy and safety issues involved in overall digital transformation and resource-sharing in the education sector. KERIS and NILE are clarifying their roles and collaborating in offering and promoting KOCW and KMOOC in a more cost-effective manner. MOE has begun to support and promote the universities to apply AI technologies through various initiatives.

2.4 OER Change


The e-Japan Strategy released in 2001 is still considered the foremost official policy concerning the national-level ICT strategies in various sectors including higher education. In the acceleration plan for the e-Japan Strategy (IT Strategic Headquarters, 2004, 2017), changes in the following areas have been promoted at the national level:


The 2019 MOE budget (MOE Korea, 2018a) includes special funds for:

MOE are working on the following changes that are closely related to digital transformation and resource-sharing in higher education (MOE Korea, 2018b).

3. Meso Level

3.1 Cases of OER

Seoul National University (SNU)

SNU is a top national university located in Seoul, South Korea (Korea hereafter). It offers 13 MOOCs in English on edX including courses in international policies in the Korean peninsula, economics, and robot mechanics. In addition, as of September 2019, it is offering 20 courses in Korean language on K-MOOC and has uploaded 172 OCW on the KOCW server since 2011. SNU’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), established in 1975 as the Instructional Media Center and renamed as CTL in 2001, is responsible for the development, delivery and quality assurance (QA) of OER and other multimedia and online educational resources for SNU classes. CTL has 43 staff members working in six teams: Teaching and Learning Support, Writing Support, E-learning Content Development, Multimedia Production, PR, and Administration Teams.

C University (CU)

CU, a large private university in the southern part of Korea, is a member of both KOCW (offering two KOCW courses in the engineering field and K-MOOC (offering one MOOC in the field of history of literature). CU’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), founded in 2000, is responsible for the development, delivery and evaluation of CU’s online courses, OCW, MOOCs and other educational resources, and teaching and learning support. It has eight staff members who work closely with CU faculty members. Like several other universities in Korea, CU collaborates with other campus-based and cyber universities and consortia such as Seoul Digital University, KCU Consortium, Yongnam University and more, and shares their online courses for credit transfer. It also shares MOOCs created by other universities for credit transfer.

University H (UH)

UH, a large-scale national university in Japan, is the member of both JOCW and JMOOC. At UH, the Center for Open Education (OEC) is responsible for UH’s OCW, MOOC and other OER development and delivery, and training and support for UH’s faculty and staff members regarding ICT use and OER development. OEC is responsible for 1) UH OCW (creating and sharing OCW with other Japanese HEIs), 2) OEC MOODLE (supporting MOODLE-based e-learning creation), 3) Academic Commons for Education or ACE (creating and managing open courses with seven universities located in Hokkaido prefecture), and 4) MOOCs on JMOOC and edX.

International Christian University (ICU)

ICU a small private liberal arts college, is a member of JOCW. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is responsible for the development and dissemination of ICU OCW and other educational resources (e.g., ICU-TV). Since 2009, it has developed over 50 OCW course, mostly in English, in various fields including English for Liberal Arts, general education, Japanese language program, and other academic major fields. Some OCW courses are prepared for high school students.

University of Tokyo (UTokyo)

Utokyo is a top national university in Japan with 2,484 professors, 3,937 other types of teaching staff members, 1,524 administrative staff members, 14,071 undergraduate and 14,239 graduate students. The Center for Research and Development of Higher Education (CRDHE) manages UTokyo’s OCW and MOOCs. UTokyo was the first university in Japan which offered MOOCs with global MOOC providers. Since 2013 when it offered two courses on the Coursera platform, it has added five more to Coursera and eight to edX as of December 2010. At the beginning stage, UTokyo designed MOOCs as information for international students who wished to come to Japan (Fujimoto et al., 2017), but now it focuses more on reaching out to the world with their courses and fostering online learning communities.

3.2 OER Infrastructure


As noted in Keskin et al. (2018, pp. 198-199), Korea has assertively and publicly supported the partnerships with international organizations to promote OER and open education. Korea partners with the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus where several Korean institutions including SNU, Seoul Metropolitan Government, and Korea Development Institute offer their online courses and video lectures. Korea’s National Digital Library of Congress also works with Creative Commons Korea and provides open licensing to their content. All these national and institutional level efforts and partnerships discussed above and below evidence that Korea positions OER and open education as a key strategy for national competitiveness in both formal and lifelong education sectors.

KOCW and K-MOOC as OER are created, managed and disseminated mainly by two government-funded organizations: The Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) overseeing KOCW and the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE) that is responsible for K-MOOC. Both organizations are under the auspices of Korea’s Ministry of Education (MOE).

KERIS and KOCW: Development and Infrastructure

Since 2007, KERIS has operated centralized infrastructure – server, platform, network etc. – for KOCW with the MOE funding. As of September 2019, the KOCW server manages 15,777 courses created by 187 universities and 2,373 courses created by 25 other types of organizations including foundations, educational institutions and commercial broadcasting systems. When universities and other organizations develop courses for KOCW, they need to follow the Korea Educational Metadata standard, Korea’s national standard for the development of sharable educational resources. Once the courses are developed, they can be uploaded on the KOCW platform by the course developers and disseminated via each university (or organization)’s course information sharing system or KOCW content server. Upon the request from a university or any organization involved in OCW development, KERIS installs a data provider so that the university or organization can collect real-time course usage data from the KOCW server (Chang, 2015).

There are no subject-based platforms for KOCW. However, the KOCW platform integrates a strong search engine which makes it possible for searching both by academic field and by theme. KOCW has a mobile app on Apple Store and Google Play Store (Figure 1).

Figure 1

KOCW mobile app

This is the title of the KOCW mobile appThis is a picture from the mobile app

KOCW developers are mostly universities and public organizations such as the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, Korea Education Frontier Association, and Korea Copyright Commission. These public organizations tend to use KOCW to educate the public related to their mission. For example, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO offers courses on Education for Sustainable Development and World Heritage, and the Korea Copyright Commission provides courses such as “Introduction to Copyrights for University Students”, and “Contract with Publisher”.

KOCW developers also include several commercial companies. For example, a speech communication company offers KOCW on voice training and lecture skills. Three broadcasting companies provide their broadcasted documentaries and news programs on various social issues on the KOCW server. A dental clinic has two courses on implant technology on the KOCW server as well. KOCW has developed a few special programs which would promote the use of its OER for certain target groups. For example, it provides a list of OCW for 2-yr community college students. This service is titled KOCW College (or KOCWC). In close collaboration and consultation with Korea’s community colleges, KOCWC was created in 2014 with the purposes to support students in 2-yr colleges to improve their learning performance in a systematic manner and offer job-related courses for those 2-yr college students. For these purposes, the KOCWC site lists 1,725 courses in 84 majors and job training courses in ten fields following the National Competency Standards which include the individual’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform the duty in a certain industry sector at a certain level, and course metadata. It has a plan to offer more job training OCW which would help community college students and other OCW users prepare for various national-level examinations.

KOCW has a link to ACU-OCW, a collection of OER created entirely in English under the Korean government-funded ASEAN Cyber University Project. ACU-OCW offers 685 OER in various formats (e.g., video, audio, web sites, text, and weblinks) targeting the ASEAN member countries. Its server is now managed by KERIS.

NILE and K-MOOC: Development and Infrastructure

Since 2015, NILE has operated infrastructure – server, platform, network, etc. – solely for K-MOOC with the support from MOE. NILE has also managed K-MOOC’s LMS (Learning Management System), Studio (Course development tool), and K-MOOC Insights (Data management tool). The K-MOOC platform is developed based on the edX platform and its LMS, Studio and Insights are also from edX tools. Table 1 outlines key functions of the K-MOOC platform.

Table 1

Key Functions of the K-MOOC Platform

AreaKey functions
Course and Content DesignProduction and Utilization
Course Design
Learning ManagementProgress and Attendance Management
Learning Support
Learning Path Management
Data ManagementBig data Management

As of September 2019, the K-MOOC server manages 1,165 courses created by 96 universities. Among K-MOOC courses, eleven 15-week courses are counted as university credit for Korea’s Academic Credit Banking System that was established in 1997 as an open higher education system which recognizes credits gained both in- and out- of universities such as K-MOOC (Usher, 2014).

No subject-based platform is used in K-MOOC. The K-MOOC server is linked to the national Online Lifelong Learner Portal server and the Academic Credit Banking System server, both of which are managed by NILE. But there is no communication between the NILE-managed K-MOOC server and the member organizations’ servers. The K-MOOC app can be found on both Apple Store and Google Play Store (Figure 2).

Figure 2

K-MOOC mobile app

This is the title of the K-MOOC appThis is what the app looks like

University eLearning Support Centers

Several e-Learning Support Centers have been established within HEIs across Korea’s 10 regions with matching funds from MOE and the universities. Universities in the same region have collaboratively developed and shared online materials and courses for credits and non- credits, linking their network systems. For example, in the Southeast region, 50 HEIs, e-learning companies and research institutes formed an “E-Learning Cluster” and developed online content related to various Korean cultural studies for university credit and shorter vocational training content for lifelong education. But with the end of MOE funding, activities of the Centers have been gradually decreasing.

Other Consortia

Several consortia of HEIs have been formed over the past two decades. For example, KCU Consortium, founded in 1997, has over 80 member HEIs. Its infrastructure is managed by a commercial company commissioned by the Consortium and can serve 100,000 users simultaneously. Other smaller consortia operate their infrastructure in a similar way, or the representative university manages a server for its consortium members.


OER is officially defined as various types of lecture materials that a learner can use for free. These materials include lecture videos, e-textbooks, learning content objects, educational software and so on (Keskin et al., 2018, p.195). Two main organizations are engaged in the development and sharing of open educational resources in Japan: JOCW and JMOOC. These organizations are operated based on membership fees and receive no direct funding from the Japanese government. The infrastructure of both organizations is decentralized. Details of these two organizations and their infrastructure are discussed below.

JOCW: Development and Infrastructure

Inspired by MIT’s OCW activities, the top six universities including the University of Tokyo, Osaka University, Kyoto University, Keio University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Waseda University launched a closed Alliance to develop and share their courses online. This Alliance was reestablished as an open consortium called JOCW or Japan OpenCourseWare (JOCW) in collaboration with MIT in 2006 (Keskin et al., 2018). JOCW member universities have shared course syllabi, video or audio lectures, and lecture notes via the JOCW website.

As a consortium, JOCW does not have a centralized infrastructure for its services except it provides links to the OCW webpage of its member institutions, and a repository of all members’ OCW is available to the member institutions and the public. In addition, JOCW regularly publishes a newsletter to share the national and global news on open education and announce related events to JOCW member institutions.

Individual member institutions of JOCW have established and maintained their own server and platform and created their own portal which is linked to the website of JOCW. JOCW has a repository managed by the Open University Japan (OUJ)–CODE which is a GLOBE (Global Learning Object Brokered Exchange) member organization in Japan.

Unfortunately, the JOCW consortium has not attracted the attention of Japanese HEIs. As of July 2018, it has only 13 regular member institutions and 7 associate member institutions, and these numbers cannot be updated as the JOCW website has been down since the summer of 2019. Several scholars (e.g., Jung & Lee, 2015; Takeda, 2014) criticize the closed culture of Japanese educational institutions and the lack of support at both governmental and institutional levels and their effects on the development and implementation of OER for teaching and learning.

JMOOC: Development and Infrastructure

JMOOC or Japan Massive Open Online Education Promotion Council, founded in 2013, operates as a corporation with over 80 member institutions including universities, private companies and academic and professional associations as of September 2019. No communication and exchange structure is set up between the servers and repositories of the member institutions in JMOOC.

JMOOC offers over 140 courses (a few courses charge a fee and face-to-face components in free MOOCs are also charged) and attracts more than 500,000 learners, mostly from Japan. Matsunaga (2018) reports that JMOOC is a multiplatform consisting of four platforms:

Most of the JMOOC member universities use Gacco or OpenLearning Platform, whereas Open University Japan uses its own platform, OUJ MOOC. Fisdom offers several MOOCs from commercial sectors. There is no course-sharing mechanism among these platforms except that the JMOOC homepage offers a course search function across the platforms. No mobile app at the JMOOC level can be found but Fisdom offers a mobile app for its courses (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Fisdom mobile app

This is the title of the Fisdom mobile app

Commercial entities are active members of JMOOC and participate in the creation and delivery of MOOCs in collaboration with universities and academic associations. Some of them have opened their own MOOC service and delivered small private online courses or SPOCs via their MOOC platform.

3.3 Quality of OER


KOCW - Diverse QA Measures and Link to Other QA Standards

Until 2019, there has been no centralized QA mechanism as KOCW is often used for voluntary sharing. But it has been a common practice that individual universities set up their own QA mechanism in developing OCW or other types of OER as those OER are open to the public and other universities and an existence of a QA mechanism for OER is one of the MOE’s university evaluation criteria.

In 2019, KERIS introduced a formal QA system for KOCW and began to review existing KOCW courses that were voluntarily uploaded by individual universities in the past 10 years and requested that the universities improve or delete their courses if the quality of such courses did not meet the standards. With the introduction of KERIS’s centralized QA system for KOCW, the universities have begun to refine and elaborate their QA system. For example, SNU’s CTL developed internal evaluation criteria[1] for OCW and other types of OER and formed the Content Quality Management Committee which is responsible for QA of SNU’s OER including OCW.

Beside the introduction of a centralized QA system for KOCW, KERIS provides A Guidebook for Digital Content Development and Management (in Korean) for the development of various types of OER and other educational resources (Lee et al., 2017). The Guidebook specifies both minimum required quality criteria and optional suggestions. Required criteria include:

KERIS guidelines for the development of OER do not follow a particular regional or international QA standards. Instead, they integrate key QA criteria for various standards and suggest common QA guidelines as listed above. They also recommend OER developers to follow the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 that are developed based on international standards.

K-MOOC: Centralized QA Mechanism and Link to International Standards

NILE operates a standardized QA mechanism for all K-MOOC developers. The first step is to evaluate a course plan prior to finalizing its funding to support MOOC development. Key evaluation criteria include:

It is worth noting that a plan for QA is included as an important criterion for funding K-MOOC during the initial MOOC selection stage.

Once a course plan is selected for funding, a consortium or a university must follow its QA plan for its MOOC development. To support MOOC developers, NILE provides Guidelines for K-MOOC Development and Management. The Guidelines include 32 criteria across 14 areas at 4 development stages as shown in Table 2 and add detailed explanations of each criterion with examples and best practices. K-MOOC developers are strongly encouraged to use these guidelines as a QA checklist during the course development and implementation.

As shown in Table 2, NILE conducts two evaluations during the MOOC development process: one at the Design Stage, and anther at the Testing Stage. This two-stage evaluation is conducted by a team of both internal and external content experts and educational technologists. Those MOOCs that are not meeting the quality criteria are returned to the developers for revisions and improvements before resubmission. In addition, the best MOOCs and research and evaluation results are distributed to the K-MOOC developers to share knowledge and experience of other K-MOOC members.

The NILE Guidelines are developed based on edX’s course development guidelines and require MOOC developers to follow the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1. The Guidelines have several appendices at the end to help MOOC providers effectively and efficiently manage their course development procedure. The appendices included in the Guidelines are: K-MOOC Development Proposal Form, Copyright and Open Course Agreement Form, Course Design Template, MOOC Content Translation Contract, MOOC Video Shooting Guidelines, Video Lecture Monitoring Checklist and Post-Course Evaluation Survey.

Following the NILE Guidelines, SNU, like other K-MOOC members, has developed its own QA mechanism and designated its CTL to manage the QA process. For the MOOC development, strict QA measures take place across three stages: Design, Development and Final stages. Detailed QA criteria that are developed based on the NILE Guidelines are applied at each stage. CTL invites internal and external experts to evaluate SNU’s MOOCs. CU also follows the NILE Guidelines in developing their K-MOOC.

Table 2

Overview of K-MOOC’s QA Guidelines

StagesAreasCriteria (required highlighted; all others recommended)
  1. Design
  1. Learning Content
  1. Validity
  2. Accuracy (required)
  3. Concreteness
  4. Learning level
  5. Amount of content
  6. Ethical aspect (required)
  1. Instructional Design
  1. Learning objectives (required)
  2. Teaching & learning strategies
  3. Motivation
  1. Interaction
  1. Learner-teacher interaction
  2. Learner-learner interaction
  1. Support
  1. Learning support
  1. Assessment
  1. Assessment components
  2. Assessment methods
  3. Feedback
  1. NILE evaluation 1
  1. Evaluation of MOOC design (required)
  1. Development
  1. Video Materials
  1. Length of video lecture
  2. Quality of video images (required)
  3. Subtitles (required)
  1. Other Materials
  1. Texts (required)
  2. Images (required)
  3. Documents
  1. Web Accessibility
  1. Web accessibility (required)
  1. Copyrights
  1. Copyrights (required)
  1. Testing
  1. Self-evaluation
  1. Self-evaluation
  1. NILE evaluation 2
  1. Final evaluation (required)
  1. Testing
  1. Pilot testing (platform, LMS, user testing, etc.)
  1. Implementation
  1. Support
  1. Course information
  2. Learner management
  3. Learning support
  4. Assessment management (required)
  5. Completion management (required)

For each criterion, NILE offers detailed guidelines and suggestions. Let’s review two examples.

Take, for example, the “Amount of content” at the Design stage. The NILE’s QA Guidelines first introduce cases from global MOOC providers and say that expected learning hours per MOOC is between 25 and 125 hours in global MOOCs. In case of edX, average learning hours are set to be around 25 hours per MOOC. But if discussions, simulations or assignments are included, longer learning hours are recommended. In case of a video lecture, around 15 min. per video is recommended to maintain learner attention.

Take another example of “Web accessibility” at the Development stage. Following the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, the NILE Guidelines suggest four principles: 1) Perceivable - information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive, 2) Operable - user interface components and navigation must be operable, 3) Understandable - information and the operation of user interface must make sense, and 4) Robust - content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. The Guidelines then offer specific strategies to apply these four principles in developing a MOOC. For example, for a “perceivable” principle, specific suggestions on alternative content formats to replace texts, alternative media formats to replace multimedia, and strategies to improve clarity of content presentation (e.g., color, size, background, direction, audio level, etc.) are provided.

SNU CTL’s QA Manual for Educational Materials

SNU CTL has developed a faculty manual in both Korean and English to help its faculty members design, develop and utilize SNU’s online course management system[2] called eTL that is linked to SNU’s academic management system. The manual consists of 9 sections:

Each section has detailed explanations on how to do things step-by-step with sample screen shots and concrete cases. Along with this manual, periodic faculty development sessions are offered. This manual, along with the manual for SNU students, is used as QA guidelines for (O)ER development and management.

CU CTL’s Strategies for Quality MOOC Study

When developing a MOOC to be serviced on the K-MOOC platform, CU CTL applies the NILE Guidelines. When it comes to promoting the use of K-MOOC or any other educational resources by its students, CU CTL uses two reward mechanisms:

Related Studies on QA for MOOCs in Korea

Despite the MOOC guidelines offered by NILE, several studies still indicate the quality being an issue in MOOC design in Korea. Lee, Keum, Kim, Choi, and Rha (2016) indicate a lack of appropriate MOOC design models as a reason for inconsistent findings with the quality of MOOCs. They argue that the MOOC-specific instructional design (ID) model is essential to guide design activities considering the unique features of the MOOC. Precedent studies on MOOC design indicate that most of the MOOCs in Korea and elsewhere are developed based on a generic ID model, that is, the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) model. While this ADDIE model, which has been applied in designing various formats and types of instruction, can guide general design activities of MOOC development, it does not seem to address distinctive characteristics of MOOC teaching and learning.

Below, three studies are discussed that examined unique features of MOOCs and MOOC design principles and models in the context of Korea.

Limet al. (2014) analyzed the procedures engaged in preparation, development and implementation of SNU’s first MOOC on edX and categorized important steps of principal facilitators in MOOC design and delivery. Principal facilitators are leading staff from a MOOC administration team, MOOC support team and MOOC instructors. Four steps include: Agreement, Design and Development, Administration, and Training and Communication.

While this study offers stages that MOOC developers need to go through while they design and develop a MOOC in collaboration with an external global provider, it does not integrate these four stages into a systemic MOOC design model which can be applied in other contexts.

In another study conducted employing a SWOT analysis method, Lim and Kim (2014) identified seven elements that need to be considered in the design of MOOCs in Korea:

Unfortunately, the study by Lim and Kim (2014) does not suggest a MOOC design model which considers these seven elements delineated from the SWOT analysis of MOOCs.

Considering unique features of MOOCs investigated in the previous studies such as the ones analyzed above and other well-established e-learning design models (e.g., Alonso et al., 2005; Jung, 1997; Lee & Owens, 2002), Lee et al. (2016) developed an ID model which can be applied in MOOC design and specified step-by-step activities that would improve the quality of MOOCs in Korea. Through employing the model construction and model validation methodology suggested by Richey and Klein (2007), their study suggests a six-stage MOOC design model consisting of Analysis (first iteration) – Design – Development – Implementation – Evaluation – Analysis (second iteration) as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4

A design model for MOOCs (source: Revised from Lee et al., 2016, p.24)

This is a model example for MOOCs


JOCW: Decentralized QA Measures

JOCW does not have a set of common QA guidelines or criteria. In principle, each member institution is responsible for setting up its own QA system. In case of UH, OEC uses a set of key performance indicators in creating and implementing OCW and other OER of UH. These indicators[3] are related to well-established ID strategies for online courses. OEC is expected to produce 20 courses for JOCW and 200 OER content items per year and support six or more courses to integrate OER contents for flipped learning.

ICU does not have institutional level QA guidelines or criteria for creating its OCW. To develop ICU OCW, CTL contacts individual faculty members across different disciplines who are known to be good teachers and develops some of their class sessions as video clips. Faculty members decide which classes to be recorded. For all new faculty members, CTL offers the new faculty development program, which includes guidelines for syllabus development, various teaching strategies to promote critical thinking and learner engagement, and integration of various types of OER in their class. Various types of content (e.g., texts and video clips) offered in this new faculty development program are developed as OER and thus can be shared with other universities who wish to develop similar kinds of faculty orientation. As for the open campus talks, invited guest lectures, and other conference presentations, ICU’s CTL develops their presentation videos as ICU OCW upon presenters’ permission.

JMOOC: Limited QA System

JMOOC has a committee consisting of three experts in instructional design and online learning from the universities to oversee the quality of MOOCs and examine if the courses fulfill the quality standards as a MOOC. This committee evaluates the course development plans submitted by the universities in advance against a set of QA criteria. JMOOC QA criteria are kept for internal use only and thus could not be obtained for this report. But this evaluation of MOOC plans is an option. If a university submits its MOOC development plan and asks for approval from JMOOC, then it gets funding from JMOOC.

Once a MOOC is developed, the committee will review its overall quality and offer certification if the quality standards are met. Each MOOC is assigned to one of the following three categories:

Like most of the JMOOC members, UH follows the JMOOC’s QA standards in developing and delivering its MOOCs as explained above.

JMOOC’s QA guidelines do not follow any international e-learning/OER standards specifically, but they are created based on instructional design principles suggested in several studies including the studies discussed below. One of the JMOOC platforms, gacco, offers a student manual to help its MOOC learners study their courses using various functions of the platform. The manual offers useful tips for enrollment, self-test taking, certification and various troubleshooting.

Ichimura and Suzuki (2017), acknowledging the lack of research informing MOOC providers to design high quality of MOOCs, analyzed MOOC-related literature with a focus on the content design of a MOOC and identified common design elements. Studies published on databases such as ERIC and Scopus, journals including Distance Education, and International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL), Google Scholar and other relevant sources were included in their analysis. Based on the analysis of these sources, the authors suggested 10 important key elements at two decision stages for quality MOOC design (see Figure 5).

As the Basic Design Decision stage, three dimensions and sub-items are considered:

Once the basic decisions are made, the MOOC developers should pay attention to the seven dimensions that are interrelated. The following dimensions ensure that the MOOC is an interactive learning environment:

Figure 5

Ten dimensions of MOOC design (Source: Revised from Ichimura & Suzuki, 2017, p.47)

Some small-scale consortia have developed their own set of QA guidelines in order to share online courses. For example, a consortium of Shikoku’s five national universities developed the “Instructional Design Guidelines for Common Online Courses” to be applied in efficient online course development in those five member universities (Nemoto, Takahashi, & Takeoka, 2015; Takahashi, 2018). Instructors who develop an online course collaboratively are to review together such documents as an online course plan, an online course content sample written in a common template, an e-learning material sample on the Moodle, a Moodle course template, and a Moodle style sheet. In reviewing these documents, several ID criteria are often applied:

Issues Related to OER and QA in OER in Japan

In general, the development and sharing of OER in Japan and QA system is not impressive. Several studies have indicated major issues in OER practices in Japan. A lack of funding is often indicated as a critical issue for the sustainable development of OER. Aoki (2011) points out two funding issues related to OER. One is that there are no private foundations like the Hewlett Foundation that support OER movements in Japan. Another issue is that in many cases, the Japanese government supports individual researchers who develop and study OER, but not HEIs that initiate OER projects. Even if the government funds the institutions, funding ends in a few years and OER projects tend to stop there or disappear.

Related to funding issues, a lack of vision and strategic planning on the development and sharing of educational resources at the national and institutional levels is indicated as a problem for slow OER movements in Japan. Shigeta et al. (2017, p.197) point out that the Japanese government, unlike its counterpart in Korea, does not have OER policy at the national level and its funding for open educational initiatives is quite limited. At the institutional level, as seen in the cases of two Japanese universities, they do not seem to position OER as an integral part of their education and thus do not make a serious effort to develop a strong QA system for their educational resources.

Another serious issue is a lack of skilled ICT personnel and support organizations within a university. Funamori (2017) revealed that almost 95% of Japanese universities surveyed in 2015 reported a lack of staff and insufficient support systems for creating digital content and maintaining infrastructure. He then pointed out that a great deal of effort and budget had been used in creating the catalog, keywords, abstracts, and other metadata in a digital format for databases of Japanese journal articles and bibliographic catalog systems (p.46). Not much contribution has been made for developing and sharing educational resources.

Finally, there is a cultural barrier introducing digital technologies and digital forms of educational resources in Japanese education. As indicated in several studies including Jung and Lee (2015) and Funamori (2017), face-to-face interaction is highly regarded as a most effective and desirable way of instruction and teacher-created materials are greatly valued. Thus, there is a reluctance among educators to introduce e-learning or online learning and use OER that have been created by someone else.

3.4 OER Policy


Each university in Korea develops its own policy on the development and uses of (open) educational resources ((O)ER). At the institutional level, the Office of Academic Affairs (or another university-level office) is often responsible for policies on (O)ER. At the operational level, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in each university plans, develops, disseminates and evaluates (O)ER. Additionally, CTL often works with a committee when it makes major decisions. Participation in the development and utilization of (O)ER is promoted in many universities and is often included as a criterion for faculty evaluation and promotion. The development, utilization and sharing of (O)ER including KOCW and K-MOOC is promoted by Korean MOE and included as one of the criteria in the MOE’s Evaluation of Universities. All universities are affected by this national level policy (Chang, 2015).

Among various OER, MOOCs have been strongly supported by the MOE and the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE), a governmental agency responsible for K-MOOC operation. A road map of K-MOOC[4] implementation created by the MOE and NILE offers key directions and tasks each year as shown in Figure 1 (Lee & Chung, 2019). Phase 1 (2015-2019) focused on the development and stabilization of the system with full government funding. Phase 2 (2020-2024) will see further development of the system and exploration of various business models for self-reliance in the future.

Following this development map, NILE develops more detailed plans and solicits a number of universities for new MOOC applications each year. Considering these plans, universities develop and implement their own policy on K-MOOCs.

Figure 6

A road map for K-MOOC implementation (Retrieved and revised)

This image shows the road map for K-MOOC

Key University Policies

With the increase of K-MOOCs and other (O)ER, policies to promote the use of such online courses and resources have been introduced in many universities in Korea. One such policy is to promote and institutionalize various ways of utilizing online courses and contents in the university courses. For example, strategies such as utilizing online courses/contents for self-directed learning in flipped classrooms, utilizing online courses/contents for blended learning during face-to-face classrooms, introducing completely online courses in the traditional higher education system, and utilizing online courses/contents for remedial or group tutoring sessions (Lee et al., 2016) have been introduced to faculty members via faculty development programs and academic associations’ conferences and seminars. Further, those who participate in the creation and utilization of such online courses and resources are recognized and rewarded during the promotion and evaluation process.

Another policy has been developed to support a collaborative relationship building or a consortium building with other universities and award different types of degrees and certifications to MOOC learners. NILE has recently introduced a new “Series Courses” category in which a set of courses related to the 4th Industrial Revolution are offered together. To apply for this category, universities are required to collaborate or form a consortium with other universities and institutions including four-year universities, two-year colleges, industrial colleges, education universities, Korea National Open University, research institutes, private companies, corporate affiliated research centers, and vocational education and training centers, and non-profit organizations, and create a set of courses under one series course category. For example, under a series course titled “Big Data Analysis with Python”, courses such as Utilizing Python, Data Collection and Modeling, Resources Analysis and Statistics, Mathematical Modeling, and Data Visualization can be offered as a set. These series courses can be more effectively used to create nano-degrees and certifications in collaboration with other partner universities. Considering the evaluation criteria for a series course project (Table 3), several universities have developed policies and guidelines to facilitate collaboration with other academic institutions in the creation and management of series courses and new types of degrees and certification.

Table 3

2019 K-MOOC Evaluation Criteria for a Series Course Project (Korean MOE & NILE, 2019)

AreaEvaluation ComponentEvaluation Criterion
Essentials (20 points in total)Project Team Structure (10 points)Applicant institution’s vision and plan for K-MOOC (2 points)
Project team’s organization and member composition (4 points)
Budget and funding (4 points)
Competency of Applicant Institution (10 points)Experience with OCW or online course development and implementation in related fields (5 points)
Applicant institution’s specialization in related fields (5 points)
Course Development (60 points in total)Selection of Courses (15 points)Needs for a Series Course Development (10 points)
Systematic Offering of Courses (5 points)
Course Content and Structure (30 points)Course content (15 points)
Instructional design and interaction strategies (10 points)
Assessment strategies (5 points)
Instructor (15 points)Instructor’s expertise and reputation (10 points)
Instructor’s teaching competency (5 points)
Course Implementation and Utilization (20 points in total)Course Implementation (10 points)Course quality assurance plan (5 points)
PR plan (5 points)
Course Utilization (10 points)Course utilization plan (10 points)
Total (100 points)

Moreover, a policy to link MOOCs to the national Academic Credit Bank System (ACBS) has also been institutionalized in the universities that offer K-MOOCs. ACBS is an open higher education system which recognizes diverse learning experiences acquired from in- and outside-school settings. Learners can acquire credits through various education and job training institutes, part-time enrollment in traditional universities, certification acquisition from MOOCs and other lifelong education courses, and passing the Bachelor’s Degree Examination program for self-education (Fulbright U.S. Education Center, 2008). Once the learner accumulates the necessary approved credits, he/she can be awarded a degree.

Another important policy guideline related to copyrights of (O)ER has been developed. The universities that are selected as a K-MOOC provider use a consent form created by NILE (Table 4). Following the detailed guidelines provided by NILE, universities have refined their existing copyright-related policies and have educated their faculty members not to use the copyrighted materials without written permission from the copyright holders, and if possible to only use those materials in the public domain or with open license (NILE, 2019).

Table 4

K-MOOC and KOCW: Copyright and Consent Form (created by NILE)

Year of Development Number of Enrollment 
Course Title 
Content OverviewCreative Commons License
  • by
  • by-nd
  • by-sa
  • by-nc
  • by-nc-nd
  • by-nc-sa
  • Default: "by-nd"
Content ClassificationMacro 
Course Outline 
  1. This course does not include any copyrighted materials without permission.
  2. Copyright and ownership of this course belong to the participating faculty member and the university.
  3. This course will be used for K-MOOC and KOCW.
Date: Applicant: (signature)
Two Cases: Policy Directions and Actors Involved

In the case of Seoul National University (SNU), depending on the types of (O)ER, three different policy frameworks for selection and management exist: 1) for internal courses, 2) for K-MOOCs, and 3) for global MOOCs, that is, edX.

To support the internal courses offered to SNU students (or sometimes open to the general public or community members), CTL, which is positioned under the Office of Academic Affairs, receives applications from faculty members in a wide range of majors and selects a certain number of courses considering its capacity to support (O)ER development. Two types of resources are often supported. One type is the development of a set of online video lectures to be used for blended or flip learning during regular classroom-based courses. In this case, each video lecture is composed of 15 – 20 minutes. Another type is the creation of a totally online course for faculty members who wish to offer their courses completely via the internet. While CTL works closely together with faculty members and their teaching assistants in developing these online resources, it also offers a series of workshops for faculty and TAs to develop competencies in such areas as producing a video lecture, introducing flip learning, coaching, using an LMS, and other teaching strategies.

To support the courses that will be provided as K-MOOCs, CTL receives applications from faculty members. As these courses will be open to the public and represent SNU’s education as K-MOOCs, the selection procedure is stricter than that of the internal courses. One of the most important criteria is the subject matter. Courses that show high demand from the general public and are expected to have high learning impacts are often selected as K-MOOCs as the Korean MOE and NILE emphasize and prioritize the courses related to topics of the 4th Industrial Revolution. So far, such courses as Youth Psychology, Happiness Psychology, Micro Economics, The Analects of Confucius and Modern Society, Language and Human, Understanding Religious Symbols, Reading Nietzsche, Data Mining, Humanoid Robot, Drone - From Principles to Programming, Robotics, Counselling, Contact Lenses: Selection and Fitting, Robot Manipulator and Underwater Robot, etc. have been developed and disseminated as K-MOOCs. Quality guidelines for K-MOOCs developed by NILE are applied in the development and management of these courses.

For edX courses, CTL does not develop new courses for edX from scratch. Instead, it selects a few courses from internal online courses and K-MOOCs and revises them for the purpose of edX courses. In selecting such courses, it considers whether the courses can represent the quality of SNU education and if they have shown high learner satisfaction.

During the process of establishing and implementing policies related to (O)ER development and use, several committees and teams are involved. Following the policy directions of the university, CTL works with the Curriculum Committee in making decisions on CTL activities. Within CTL, three teams work closely together to implement such decisions: 1) Instructional Team, 2) Development Team and 3) Planning & Support Team.

  1. The Instructional Team is responsible for the design, development and management of online content and online courses together with faculty members and TAs.
  2. The Development Team produces high quality online content and courses often in collaboration with external e-learning companies.
  3. The Planning and Support Team manages the selection and planning process for online contents and courses, communicates with NILE regarding K-MOOCs and edX on edX courses, evaluates and approves digital contents developed by the Development Team and external companies, manages internal online courses and supports the Instructional Team.

In the case of C University (CU), CTL, positioned under the Office of Academic Affairs, is responsible for the development, delivery and evaluation of CU’s online courses, OCW, MOOCs and other educational resources, and teaching and learning support. For its activities, CTL’s Committee for Teaching and Learning, consisting of CTL director and team leader and a few faculty members from different departments, sets up relevant policies. CTL’s policies include areas such as infrastructure, including CU’s LMS and smart classrooms, online content development and improvement, K-MOOC development, sharing online contents with the community, promotion of CU’s cyber campus, and participation in national level initiatives. CU offers one MOOC titled Human Images shown in Literary History on the K-MOOC server.

Actors involved in CU’s (O)ER development and dissemination include CTL’s two teams: 1) Teaching & Learning Support Team and 2) E-Learning Support Team.

  1. The Teaching & Learning Support Team is responsible for CU’s overall planning on teaching and learning including (O)ER development, evaluation studies on various teaching and learning strategies, a faculty mentoring program, various learner support and development programs, and other teaching and learning support activities.
  2. The E-Learning Support Team is responsible for the development and management of CU’s online content and courses and K-MOOCs. It also offers ICT/e-class training sessions, digital material development workshops for faculty and TAs, flipped learning and other innovative teaching strategy workshops, and other types of workshops for new, experienced and senior faculty members.


Overall, the development and dissemination of OER including OCW is still not popular in Japan (Shigeta et al., 2017). However, with the growing popularity of the concept of open education and MOOCs in Japanese HEIs in the late 2000s, several HEIs in Japan led by major national universities (e.g., University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Osaka University, etc.) and a few top private universities (e.g., Waseda University, Keiyo University, etc.) launched the open education movement and established a center similar to UH’s Center for Open Education (OEC) and began to promote the use of OER (especially MOOCs) within a university and among universities. As Shigeta et al (2017) argue, several universities in Japan have viewed MOOCs as a means to offer their education to adult learners and thus expand the opportunity for lifelong learning.

While major policy changes within HEIs have not been reported for OER development and sharing, a set of policies for JMOOC development has been created. Such policies include:

Shigeta et al (2017) explain that the slow OER movement in Japanese universities is a result of no national policy on OER and a lack of funding from the government and public foundations. Another reason for the slow development and use of OER is explained by the fact that the cost of learning materials, including textbooks, is not high compared with that in the USA and thus the universities do not feel the need to introduce free educational resources for students. They criticize the Japanese government for not developing OER policy and limited funding for open education activities in HEIs, and public foundations for not allocating funds for open education initiatives. As most OER initiatives are self-funded for a limited period and often are led by individual faculty members, institutional level OER policy development and changes are considered to be difficult or unnecessary.

In the case of the University of Tokyo (UToKyo), the Center for Research and Development of Higher Education (CRDHE) is in charge of the development and delivery of educational resources. CRDHE aims to support and improve the quality of education and research of UTokyo, support innovative projects for UTokyo's global education, and build an innovative university-wide educational infrastructure utilizing ICT. Specific projects include:

  1. Online education: UTokyo OCW and UTokyo OCWx[5] (opening up UTokyo’s regular courses and video clips to the general public, MOOCs (developing and offering seven Coursera courses and eight edX courses), TodaiTV (producing and delivering video programs for seminars and speeches to UTokyo students and the public),
  2. Faculty development: Workshops for teaching staff (mainly TAs and graduate students), Workshops and online training for teaching staff (mainly TAs and graduate students) who wish to teach in English language, Online training on interactive teaching.
  3. Educational information: Informational website on instructional design and teaching, UTokyo course catalog navigation system, UTokyo event navigation system

It is clear from the list of CRDHE’s projects that CRDHE’s function is similar to that of CTL in Korean universities. CRDHE plays the role of coordinator in developing and implementing MOOCs and OCW by working closely with UTokyo faculty and special project team members, and external forces. But it does not seem to develop an institutional strategic plan for UTokyo’s online education and ICT use in education.

In case of the University H (UH), OEC, a university-wide organization under the Institute for the Advancement of Higher Education of UH, makes policies and action plans related to instructional design, the development and production of (O)ER and MOOCs, learning platforms, and copyrights. It then develops and disseminates (O)ER and MOOCs and promotes online learning and OER-based blended learning within the university. It also integrates various e-learning initiatives of different departments on campus and works closely with UH’s OCW Office in developing and sharing OCW with other universities and the public. In particular, OEC has created a collaborative project titled Academic Commons for Education (ACE) and created and shared a number of online courses for liberal arts education with six other universities in the Hokkaido region. For the project, an open edX-based OER Repository has been set up among the universities and a policy to support such collaboration has been established.

OEC consists of two divisions: 1) E-learning Division and 2) CoSTEMP Division.

  1. The E-learning Division focuses on OER and MOOC development and dissemination. OEC has developed over 500 OCW both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, eight online courses in the category of general education, and one edX MOOC titled ‘Effects of Radiation: An Introduction to Radiation and Radioactivity’.
  2. The CoSTEP (Communication in Science and Technology Education & research Program) Division creates and delivers educational programs for students and faculty members of UH to develop their communications skills for sharing knowledge in science and technology. Its role does not include OCW and MOOC development.

In the case of the International Christian University (ICU), CTL offers various means of support for faculty and students. It organizes and runs a series of faculty development programs including the New Faculty Development Program (NFDP) and MOODLE and Google Classroom workshops. It is noticeable that ICU’s NFDP is developed as a flipped learning and blended learning format. It consists of three modes: online website, mobile app and face-to-face discussion session. New faculty members have to read and view online or app materials before attending each face-to-face session. Upon completing this 10-week program, the participants experience effective applications of video lectures in flipped and blended learning and come to understand the effective use of OER and ICT for their classes. They also become familiar with open licenses as all the materials (except some ICU’s internal documents) on the NFDP website are creative commons licensed. Figure 7 presents the NFDP website and menus.

ICU’s CTL is also responsible for the creation and dissemination of (O)ER. It supports faculty members in creating OCW and producing digital content for their courses. So far, ICU’s OCW site lists over 90 regular courses online (primarily in video format) plus other special lectures and short courses. Regarding OER creation and utilization, no particular policies have been established. However, faculty members are required to apply “Online Information Posting Guidelines”, “Privacy Information Guidelines” and “Confidential Information Posting Guidelines” when deemed necessary for OCW course offerings. In particular, no violation of copyright and property rights and rights and privacy of others are emphasized in these guidelines.

Figure 7

ICU’s NFDP website

This shows you the NFDP website

In addition, a policy to promote the use of a university LMS, MOODLE, has been established and both synchronous and asynchronous online classes with other universities in Japan and other countries integrating various formats of (O)ER have been promoted alongside with ICU’s recent project titled ‘Top Global University Project’ funded by the Japanese government. While the goals of this project are not directly related to the promotion of (O)ER, collaborative development and sharing of courses and educational resources have been emphasized especially to create a ‘Global Liberal Arts Model’.

3.4 OER Change


Linking National Policy to Institutional Strategic Planning

The Korean government national policies play an important role in formulating institutional strategic plans of HEIs in Korea. In particular, the policy and guidelines of the University Evaluation, which is carried out by an evaluation team consisting of experts from academia and practical fields whom are appointed by the MOE, is considered to be vital as the evaluation result is directly linked to the MOE’s funding decisions. In addition, the university accreditation in a 5-yr cycle conducted by the MOE-designated agency, the Korean Council for University Education, affects the strategic planning of Korean universities. A few years prior to the evaluation, the MOE announces the policy and guidelines for the next university evaluation and accreditation.

Recent key national policies include structural reforms of the Korean universities and the introduction of a flexible education system. To bring about structural reforms, the universities are requested to reduce the number of typical university student quota and increase the number of new types of student quota, restructure academic programs accordingly, take a specialization and concentration approach to their major offerings, and promote graduate education (in the case of research universities).

Another important national policy on higher education reform is to promote industry-university cooperation. For this purpose, a funding project titled ‘Leaders in INdustry-university Cooperation (LINC+) has been created. In 2017, 75 universities and 59 junior colleges were selected for this project and have offered job training to their students, supported and vitalized start-up businesses, and worked together with the business sector in their local community to create jobs (Korean MOE, 2017). Several universities in the LINC+ project, including top universities such as Korea University and Yonsei University, have offered online courses for their students’ job training and created an integrated portal system linking all databases and sites related to students’ career development and management.

In promoting the flexible education system, it is suggested that high school graduates take various online courses and lifelong learning programs offered by certain universities while working and then later get a degree once they fulfill the requirement. Another way to introduce flexibility in higher education is by utilizing MOOCs. One of the national key policies is to invigorate K-MOOCs (Korean MOE, 2017; Korean MOE, 2019a). This policy has led many universities to allow their students (both prospective and admitted) to take MOOCs for both self-study and credits. Figures 8 and 9 show that 55% of the MOOC subscribers are in their teens and twenties, and over 58% are high school and university graduates, which indicates that the national policy to promote flexibility in higher education via K-MOOC has been successful at least concerning quantity.

Related to K-MOOCs, a policy to offer MOOCs in a smart learning environment has led to the development of a K-MOOC mobile app in 2017. The app allows MOOC users to study their course with no limitation in time and place.

Another policy to develop and share MOOCs with other countries such as Thailand and Ukraine has led some universities to develop their MOOCs in English. So far, out of 1331 MOOCs, 82 are offered in English, one in French and the rest in Korean.

Figure 8

Distribution of K-MOOC users by age group (NILE, 2018, p. 22)

This diagram shows you the distribution of K-MOOC users by age group

Figure 9

Distribution of K-MOOC users by educational background (NILE, 2018, p. 22)

This diagram shows the distribution of K-MOOC users by educational background

Those universities that follow these national-level directions would get more financial support from the government. Figure 10 displays an overview of the Korean government’s policy to link university evaluation and funding.

Figure 10

An overview of Korean MOE’s policy to link university evaluation and funding (Korean MOE, 2017, p.52)

This is an overview of Korean MOE's policy

The MOE’s 2019 university evaluation guideline titled ‘The 2019 University Basic Competency Assessment Handbook’ offers more specific directions for HEIs regarding the development and use of (O)ER. First, in the assessment area of Reforms in Curriculum and Teaching, the Handbook includes a university's effort to introduce innovative curriculum and teaching methods in both major and general education areas as one of the evaluation criteria. Integrating various ICTs, OER, MOOCs, and other resources in teaching and learning in innovative ways is highly promoted. Some examples include using OER (e.g., MOOCs and OCW) for flipped learning, student-centered learning, inquiry-based learning, creative and critical inquiry process, problem-based learning, service learning, and competency-based learning (Lee et al., 2017). Second, in the assessment area of Student Support, the Handbook includes a university’s plan to develop a system to support student learning, career development and advancement to the post-graduate program. Introducing an online or offline system to encourage team-based learning with other majors and other universities and using an e-portfolio system to link student learning to job market are highly regarded in the university evaluation (Koreann MOE, 2019b).

In general, HEIs in Korea first analyze the national policies and university evaluation guidelines and then create the institutional strategic plans accordingly at the top leadership level. Then, various committees and offices (e.g., Curriculum Committee, Student Association, Center for Teaching and Learning, Career Development Center, etc.) develop action strategies to realize the institutional plans in collaboration with majors, departments, and other offices. During this process, seeking opinions from such stakeholders as professors, alumni, students, parents, employers, and local communities via interviews, surveys, and discussion forums is commonly practiced and encouraged.

Two Cases: SNU and CH

As discussed above, a top-down approach is often used to make key decisions to bring about institutional-level changes in HEIs in Korea.

In the case of SNU, based on the president’s vision and the university’s long- and short-term development plans, the Office of Information System and Technology (IS&T) develops and implements SNU’s institutional strategic plan for digital transformation. The IT Committee, chaired by the university vice-president, works as a deliberation body which discusses such matters as: SNU's institutional-level digital transformation plan, SNU’s individual offices and departments' long-and short-term plans and their integration, matters related to SNU's informatization and research information system, and projects and funding for SNU's digital transformation. The Committee members include deans of major offices including the Office of Academic Affairs. SNU’s digital transformation plan entitled ‘SNU Information Integrated Development Plan’ is developed every three years by IS&T in collaboration with other offices such as CTL (Office of Academic Affairs), Main Library, Office of General Affairs, and Office of Research Affairs.

The current plan focuses on offering world-class information service by building u(ubiquitous)-Campus in a flexible mobile environment with its improved information security system. Under this plan, IS&T has established wireless LAN and Ethernet cable Internet access to the campus network, converted computing network equipment into state-of-the-art gigabyte equipment for 18 zones on campus, installed 10 Gbps high-speed optical cables for backbone networks among different zones, and duplexed each zone in case of network failures. Under the u-Campus creation, four objectives are set to be built:

  1. an innovative and smart IT environment,
  2. an open IT environment for a creative knowledge community,
  3. a convergent platform for maximized cost-efficiency, and
  4. an integrated system of organizational structure, management and infrastructure to quickly respond to environmental changes.

While IS&T oversees the university level digital transformation and digital infrastructure (including hardware, software and network), CTL, an office responsible for support in teaching and learning, focuses on informatization in education by developing and implementing strategic planning for the development, management and support for online learning and (O)ER creation and use. In developing and disseminating online courses and resources, CTL considers the IS&T’s institutional plan and objectives for creating a mobile-based u-Campus. Functions of different offices for SNU’s digital transformation are presented in Figure 11.

While following the Headquarters (IS&T)’ plans and guidelines, CTL can make requests to IS&T to change or improve digital infrastructure and the university plans that are needed for its tasks related to online learning and (O)ER. This part could be considered as a bottom-up approach. For example, CTL has asked the headquarters to consider introducing a more systemic and systematic policy to manage digital and online materials created by SNU’s offices and departments other than CTL. IS&T is considering developing a standardized management guide to strengthen the governance system in digital transformation. Also, to more effectively and efficiently facilitate CTL’s duties, systems such as video production equipment and studios and anti-plagiarism software are managed by CTL, not by IS&T.

Figure 11

SNU’s structure for digital transformation

This image shows the structure from SNU

Like SNU, CH also adopts a top-down approach. Considering the national policies discussed above and the university’s long- and short-term development plans, the Information & Computer Center (ICC) develops and carries out an institutional strategic plan for digital transformation every few years. It aims to respond to changes in information and communication environments efficiently and support teaching, research and administration by developing and managing various programs and systems. Unlike SNU, digital infrastructure (e.g., servers, platforms, studios, etc.) needed for CH’s online courses, OCW and MOOCs is managed by the CTL.

At CH, a bottom-up approach is also introduced to meet the emerging needs of student groups, departments and offices. Students and faculty members have requested that their university develop an online career development system where students can design their career, assess their competencies for certain career paths, note their job prospects, obtain tutoring and mentoring services from the university, locate and take career development courses (including related MOOCs), and build a community with other students who have similar career interests. As a result, CH’s Student Integrated Support Portal called Career Up Plus (CU+) has been created.


Lack of Linkage between National Vision and Institutional Strategic Plan

In many cases, a university’s strategic planning regarding digital transformation at the institutional level happens via the university’s future plan presented by its president or a reform committee. Naturally, a top-down approach is prevalent across HEIs in Japan in bringing about institutional-level changes including digital transformation. When a university develops its future plan, the national policy is seriously considered. In 2018, under the request from MEXT, the Central Council for Education presented a report titled ‘Grand Design for Higher Education toward 2040’. The document lists several policy directions under six categories (Central Council for Education, 2018):

  1. Vision for the year 2040 and ideal higher education: Shifting to learners-oriented education,
  2. Education and research systems: Ensuring diversity and flexibility,
  3. Quality assurance and information disclosure: Restructuring of quality assurance for "learning outcomes",
  4. Sizes and locations of higher education institutions in light of the decline of the 18-year-old population: To maintain the "Basis of knowledge" for all generations,
  5. Roles of individual higher education institutions: Diverse education provided by diverse institutions, and
  6. Investment in higher education: Visualization of costs and expansion of assistance from all sectors in society.

Under the policy direction 2) Education and research systems, diversity and flexibility in such categories as student population, teacher population, educational programs and strengths of universities are emphasized. Two policy directions included in this long-term design plan are to:

  1. create and deliver ‘diverse and flexible education programs’ to broaden learning opportunities using advanced technologies and sharing educational resources, and
  2. clarify and further develop strengths and features of individual HEIs from the perspective of human resources development by employing flexible and diverse approaches to teaching and learning.

JMOOCs are considered to be one exemplary case for a flexible education system, especially for lifelong learners. As shown in Figure 12, around 70% of JMOOC users are adult learners (whereas only 19% are in the 10s and 20s) and around 75% have associate or above degrees.

Figure 12

Distribution of JMOOC users by age and educational background

Most of registrants are college graduates and some of them have other advanced degree

However, unlike the case of Korea, neither specific action strategies at the national level nor governmental annual funding schemes are linked to these policy directions. Past experiences with other national policies such as e-Japan Strategy, New IT Reform Strategy and i-Japan Strategy tell us that Japanese universities are likely to reflect the government policies in their future plan and vision, but not likely to develop specific action plans and allocate human and financial resources to implement such policies (Suzuki, 2009). It is more likely that specially funded MEXT projects for a certain period of time will be created to support a few selected universities with their innovative plans. Or, faculty members and researchers will apply for research grants individually or collectively to conduct research on ICT use in education or open education.

Another problem can be found in Japanese traditional culture of teaching and learning. Aoki (2010) indicates two gaps existing between the government vision and the actual implementation at the institutional level and between research and application. She explains that these gaps exist because the universities do not know how to take advantages of ICT in bringing about pedagogical innovation or do not believe research findings on the effectiveness of ICT for higher education. When the Japanese government first introduced the New IT Reform Strategy in 2006, it aimed to double the number of departments and programs which offer e-learning and utilize ICT with a learner-centered approach. However, it was found that most HEIs implemented ICT to reinforce traditional teacher-centered approach, not to bring about pedagogical changes. A majority of university classes continued to offer lecture-based teaching with faculty as sage on the stage and students as listeners.

Three Cases: UTokyo, UH, and ICU

Just like in the case of SNU in Korea, large research universities in Japan usually have a dedicated center or office for digital transformation at the university level. This office develops and implements the institutional strategic plans for digital transformation.

In case of UTokyo, the Information Technology Center (ITC) is responsible for campus-wide digital transformation. ICT has five divisions which carry out tasks related to various ICT services including (O)ER development and online learning.

  1. Campuswide Computing Research Division: This division is responsible for operating, administering, and maintaining the Educational Campuswide Computing System (ECCS) at Tokyo University. It also promotes on-campus information literacy and provides an information technology environment with the latest technologies that are suitable for university education and research. Moreover, it promotes e-learning initiatives such as digitalizing teaching and learning materials and utilizing LMSs, and evaluates the effectiveness and efficiency of the current infrastructure system with the purpose of designing future e-learning and ICT services.
  2. Digital Library Division: It supports academic activities by digitizing and updating scientific information and sharing it online. It also develops and provides access to a wide range of databases and offers training sessions for users of its resources.
  3. Academic Information Science Research Division: This division is responsible for using the latest technology to develop big data processing and new innovative services such as the Web 2.0-enhanced library navigation system and the “GENSEN Web” automatic domain terminology extraction system. The division also conducts both research and education activities for future developments in a digital library, data mining, machine learning and privacy protection technologies.
  4. Network Research Division: It is in charge of building, operating and maintaining a secure and stable network environment for research and education throughout six campuses and over 50 research facilities of Tokyo University. The division’s effectiveness is vital to ensure a smooth flow of the university’s research and educational data.
  5. Supercomputing Research Division: It focuses on the operation and upgrades of the supercomputers to ensure the enhanced processing power and high quality services for the users from various departments (especially graduate schools) and research institutions at the university.

While ITC is in charge of supporting infrastructure for UTokyo’s online activities including online courses and resources, the development, maintenance and implementation of MOOCs and OCW are handled as “Special Educational Activities” and are managed by CRDHE. CRDHE’s policy and projects are discussed in the section above.

In the case of UH, the Information Initiative Center (IIC) is responsible for university-wide digital transformation. It conducts research and development to promote ICT application in research and education, develops and manages ICT infrastructure, and provides support and training for the use of ICT in education. It consists of seven divisions to accomplish these tasks:

  1. Supercomputing Research Division focuses on research and development on the improvement of computing and software, big data system design, and their applications.
  2. Information Network Research Division focuses on research and development on the next generation network, ubiquitous computing, and information distribution and their applications.
  3. Digital Content Research Division focuses on research and development on digital content storage, processing, disseminating and utilizing and their applications.
  4. Media Education & Research Division focuses on research and development on ICT use in education and support, e-system design, open education and their applications. The director of UH’s OEC (Center for Open Education) is a faculty member who belongs to this section.
  5. System Design Research Division focuses on research and development of crowding computing and optimization of information system design and optimizing algorithm.
  6. Cyber Security Research Division focuses on research and development of cyber security and data analysis, safe and reliable network services and their application.
  7. Cyber Security Center is responsible for the computer security of UH systems and training of UH members.

As seen above, IIC’s main tasks focus on research, development and application of digital infrastructure and skills, but not on the development of a university-wide strategic plan for digital transformation. At UH, the institutional strategic plan for digital transformation is usually included in the university’s strategy report which is developed every few years. The most recent comprehensive future strategy report was prepared in 2014 (Hokkaido University, 2014). It includes the promotion of open education with a great emphasis on “large-scale introduction of education employing ICT” to enhance UH’s teaching and learning environment. Upon receiving a large grant from MEXT in 2013, IIC’s Media Education & Research Division created OEC and allocated resources necessary for the development and dissemination of OER including OCW and MOOCs. Since then, OEC has led open education initiatives such UH OCW, ACE open courses and UH MOOCs. Most of the decisions at the operational level are made by the director and staff of OEC in close collaboration with faculty members who engage in UH’s OCE and MOOC creation.

Individuals or departments/offices who receive the government research grant or MEXT project for their innovative ideas may be able to receive funding from the university even after the project is over as those ideas are often aligned with the UH’s future strategy. One OEC project titled Nucla-hokkaido is an example case. The consortium of seven national universities in Hokkaido has developed and shared MOOCs for their liberal arts education.

While UTokyo and UH employ a top-down approach combined with a bottom-up approach to developing and implementing strategic plans with regard to digital transformation, ICU as a small private liberal arts college where government subsidy is only a small part of its budget, often takes a bottom-up approach in making such decisions. At ICU, the process to make decisions on institutional strategic planning with regard to digital infrastructure is somewhat simpler than that of UTokyo and UH. ICU’s CTL plans which infrastructure ICU needs to establish for its education and services and applies for the special budget from the university. As for the large scale budget needed for the improvement or update of campus network and computer systems, the Information Technology Center, which is under the University Secretariat, makes a request to the university and a decision is made by the president often with the approval from the board of trustees as it involves financial investments. Recently, a new future plan to review and improve ICT infrastructure and its use in education was developed by CTL and presented to the board of trustees and the university administration. Decisions are yet to be made.

The problem with this bottom-up approach at ICU is that it can lead to the lack of a broad vision and institutional-level strategic plan for digital transformation unless the university’s top leaders deliberately include the plan in the university’s future strategic plan.

4. Micro Level

4.1 OER Infrastructure


Required Faculty Development

Most Korean universities have been implementing a policy which requires all newly hired faculty members to receive an orientation program. During this orientation program, the new faculty members are provided with information about the existing national- and institutional-level infrastructures, services and (O)ER available for their use. They are offered opportunities to develop skills to use the institution’s LMS, educational software, MOOCs, and other technologies, and learn about flipped learning, blended learning, copyright issues and more.

The case of C University (CU), a large private university located in the southern part of Korea, shows a common practice among Korean universities. CU, like many other universities in Korea, specifies in its Teaching and Learning Bylaws that newly hired faculty members must spend a minimum of 14 weeks for professional development during their 1st semester and attend a teaching consultation or microteaching session by the end of the 1st year of their employment. Moreover, all faculty members are required to participate in at least one training program per year to improve the quality of their teaching. Those who are in the bottom 5% of the course evaluations from the previous semester should attend either a teaching consultation or microteaching session or two or more training programs.

For new faculty members, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) of CU runs a 14-week professional development program for new faculty members, one hour per week. The program covers such topics as LMS, teaching methods, individual teaching consultations, library services, research grants, administration and important university rules. For other faculty members, CTL offers various training programs through face-to-face or online workshops and consultations, with a special focus on the training of the “CU-MOOC-Flipped Learning System” which supports the creation and implementation of online courses, flipped classrooms, and blended courses. If a faculty member submits the proposal to develop an online or blended course using this system, CTL’s e-learning team supports the development of online content for the course.

(O)ER Creation and Utilization before and after COVID-19

Before COVID-19, (O)ER have been developed mainly at the national and institutional levels. For example, KOCW and K-MOOC as OER have been created, managed and disseminated mainly by two government-funded organizations: The Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) overseeing KOCW and the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE) that is responsible for K-MOOC. Universities have uploaded their OCW and MOOCs onto KOCW and K-MOOC servers. At the individual level, only a few faculty members were engaged in (O)ER development despite consistent professional development and support for both new and experienced faculty members. In the case of CU, 97 out of 6,549 courses were offered online and shared with other universities. Lim et al. (2017) identified several barriers to faculty involvement in the creation of (O)ER such as the heavy workload put onto individual faculty members in creating all course materials, the continuous use of these materials as (O)ER without an opportunity for revisions or updates, and financial incentives not enough for faculty members to continuously share their copyrighted work such as textbooks and other materials from their lesson plans.

After COVID-19, most Korean universities have introduced emergency online teaching and supported their faculty members to create and implement online courses. A series of online surveys conducted with students, full-time faculty members and part-time lecturers at the Seoul National University (SNU) between April 8 and May 8, 2020 showed trends of emergency online teaching during COVID-19 (Park, 2020). The following presents key findings of three surveys conducted by SNU.

A survey with 716 full-time faculty members at SNU uncovered that around 80% of the members taught their classes via the synchronous platform Zoom, over 32% used self-created video lectures, and over 22% offered task-based online lectures (multiple answers allowed). Overall, many faculty members (80%) expressed satisfaction with the online teaching platforms such as SNU’s LMS and Zoom. On the other hand, less than 30% of the faculty were satisfied with the interaction with students. Some faculty reported difficulties in understanding students’ reactions because many students muted video and audio during the class and while carrying out the synchronous online discussions while others noted students’ active participation in class discussions and focused motivation during online classes. Several faculty members noted the need for support for students with a poor network environment.

Another survey conducted with SNU’s 493 part-time lecturers revealed that around 70% offered synchronous online classes using Zoom and over 84% used asynchronous approaches (46% used self-created video lectures, and over 38% provided task-based online lectures). Compared with the full-time professors, more part-time lecturers adopted asynchronous formats. Many lecturers (70%) expressed satisfaction with the platforms, while only 30% were satisfied with the interaction between instructors and students. Several lecturers pointed out the urgent need for technical support and training to improve their online teaching.

A survey with 2,062 SNU’s undergraduate students revealed that students were generally satisfied with emergency online teaching (3.53/5 points), that the lower their grade level the less satisfied they were with online teaching and that students majoring in music, fine arts and physical education who needed practicum were less satisfied with online teaching compared with their colleagues in other majors. The most popular type of online teaching was faculty-created video lectures (34%), followed by Zoom lectures (around 29%) and PPT-based video lectures (20%). It is clear from this result that students prefer to study via pre-recorded video lectures at their own pace while instructors prefer to offer their class using the synchronous tool, Zoom. It may be that instructors (both full-time professors and part-time lecturers) did not have enough time and expertise to design and develop good instructional videos. While instructors had difficulties in interacting with students, students reported difficulties more with increased workload in assignments and learning tasks and unstable connection, and less with interactions between peers and the instructor. Those students who were satisfied with online courses indicated time-saving and flexibility in time management as the main reason for their satisfaction whereas those who were not happy with online courses expressed disappointment over the quality of online courses and difficulties with practicum and hands-on experience. Many students indicated the need for clear assessment criteria and replacement of the current relative method with the absolute approach to learning evaluation for online courses.

Popular Tools, (O)ER Formats and Useful Functionalities

Many Korean universities use xinics’ products such as Everlec to create and edit (O)ER and add a few other authoring tools. Using Everlec, faculty members create screen recording video which includes their face and voice and captures other moving images or videos. A report published by NILE (2017) shows that over 50% of KOCW materials are PPT-based video materials (see Table 5), which implies that a video lecture, which includes the presentation materials or PPT, the instructor’s appearance, and voice is the most popular format of (O)ER among Korean faculty members. To develop this type of (O)ER, xinics’ products are often used.

Table 5

File Format and Service Type of KOCW (NILE, 2017)

File TypeFormatPPT-based VideoText-basedFlash-basedAudio & othersTotal
 # of materials122,59066,84734,3013,423227,161

Reflecting this trend, NILE (2020) offers specific guidelines for K-MOOC providers to develop and utilize PPT-based video lectures.

A significant number of Korean universities use a locally developed LMS called iMaxSoft as it provides an optimal environment for delivering PPT-based video lectures, promoting interactions via various bulletin boards and providing instant feedback via flexible mobile LMS. Compared with foreign products such as Moodle and Blackboard, iMaxSoft is known for its ease of use and intuitive user interface, and for the inclusion of a management mechanism for administrative academic affairs such as attendances, assignment submissions and grading.

As described above, many Korean instructors develop and use visual materials such as PPT, PPT-based audio/video lectures, and other freely available videos on YouTube, Ted Talks, MOOCs, etc. In the areas where certain procedures need to be shown (e.g. programing) and special characters and symbols need to be used (e.g., math class), computer screen recording is frequently used.

The video production and editing tools such as xinics’ Everlec and iMaxSoft’ Lecture Space are most widely used to create (O)ER. These tools have features that minimize post-production work and get it right the first time while recording. For frequent communication between students and instructor and students-students, Kakao Talk, the most popular SNS in Korea, is often used.


Optional Faculty Development

Many universities in Japan have their own campus-wide organization or team which oversees teaching and learning matters including (O)ER creation and diffusion. Good examples include the Center for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education (CPEHE) at Kyoto University, the Center for Open Education at Hokkaido University and the Department of Teaching and Learning at Osaka University. These organizations provide faculty members with information and training sessions regarding the creation and utilization of (O)ER. For example, CPEHE at Kyoto University offers frequent faculty development workshops on how to utilize (O)ER for effective teaching and learning (Fujioka et al., 2019). In addition, it runs an online training program called the Mutual Online System for Teaching & Learning (MOST) to help faculty members develop effective teaching and learning strategies including the use of various kinds of (O)ER available for higher education (Fujioka et al., 2019; Kubo, 2017). But the participation in these programs is mostly up to the individual instructor. Unlike their counterparts in Korea, attending faculty development sessions for a certain number of sessions or hours is not required for instructors in Japanese universities.

Another example is the CTL at International Christian University (ICU), which is a small liberal arts college located in Tokyo and well-known for its faculty support for ICT use in education. ICU’s CTL offers a 10-week new faculty development program in a blended mode combining online materials and in-person seminar sessions. Most of its online materials are offered as OER for other liberal arts colleges as well. The program includes information session on OCW and other available (O)ER.

(O)ER Creation and Utilization before and after COVID-19

Unlike Korea, there has been no national level effort to develop (O)ER for higher education. (O)ER have been developed mainly at the institutional and individual faculty levels. For example, JOCW and JMOOC as OER have been created, managed and disseminated mainly by member institutions. Member universities have encouraged individual faculty members to create OCW and MOOCs and linked them to JOCW and JMOOC sites.

Before COVID-19, the adoption rate of OER was around 14% across Japanese universities (Shigeta et al., 2017). OCW was often mentioned as one of the most popular OER among Japanese faculty members. A large survey study conducted by Academic eXchange for Information Environment and Strategy (2017) revealed that OCW was often mentioned as popular OER by university instructors. Similarly, Kubo (2017) reported that OCW was the focus of OER discussion in many Japanese universities. But this trend seems to be changing during/after COVID-19.

Let’s consider an example from ICU. As a member of JOCW, ICU has offered 143 courses as OCW and shared them with other universities and the public. Its OCW are mostly video recordings of regular classroom teaching sessions and thus the video quality of such OCW is not enough to be used as teaching materials in other courses.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, ICU was one of the first Japanese universities which made an early decision to offer its courses online. A survey conducted with 82 full-time faculty members and part-time lecturers by ICU’s CTL between May 20th and 27th, 2020 presents types of platforms and (O)ER used in emergency online teaching and learning at ICU. It revealed that around 55% of the instructors taught their classes via the synchronous platform Zoom, over 20% used self-created video lectures uploaded on Moodle, over 17% used both Zoom and Moodle, and 5% offered their classes mainly via reading materials. Over 23% of the instructors indicated that they decreased the amount of content covered in each class, especially video clips they used to show during the class hours were not shown during synchronous Zoom sessions due to slow connection and data shortage on the side of the student. Most frequently used (O)ER were instructor-created written materials, figures and tables followed by printed/e-textbooks or books. A few instructors used online materials offered by Open University UK and Creative Commons. Among the video materials used, 48% were instructor-created, 47% YouTube, and 20% were from other sources (e.g., Ted Talk, MIT OCW, OUUK, NHK, edX, IU library’s Academic Video Online, etc.) when multiple answers were allowed. To create the video lectures, tools such as Kaltura and PPT were often used; to promote interactive online teaching, tools such as Kahoot and mentimeter were used.

During the COVID-19, the use of (O)ER has increased in Japanese universities and the concept of (O)ER has been expanded from OCW to print materials, audios, videos, web links, MOOCs, and more. Some universities have introduced various resources which can be adopted during online classes on their website. One example can be found here.

Popular Tools, (O)ER Formats and Useful Functionalities

After COVID-19, several Japanese universities have promoted the production of video materials using PPT, Kaltura, Koantic, and other content creation tools. In addition, they have updated and refined their LMS by adding useful free or paid plug-in tools. Also, free Google products such as classroom, meet, drive, form, slide, and doc have become quite popular. Test tools such as Kahoot, mentimeter, Quizlet, and Socrative have also been utilized. While a variety of tools and platforms have been introduced, the most popular technology for online learning during COVID-19 is the synchronous platform Zoom. PPT is widely used to create audio/video lectures. Line, the most popular social media in Japan, is used for communication between students and the instructor and between students for group projects.

4.2 Quality of OER


Guidelines for defining the quality of (O)ER

In defining the quality of (O)ER and infrastructures, faculty members often utilize the evaluation criteria offered by their institution. Each university’s CTL or a similar unit which is responsible for (O)ER development, support and implementation has created the university’s quality assurance (QA) criteria based on the national level standards and QA criteria offered by Korean Ministry of Education (MOE), KERIS or National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE).

For example, CU’s CTL provides the self-evaluation criteria for individual faculty members who are engaged in the MOOC creation and delivery. These criteria align with NILE’s national level QA system (Table 6). Faculty members use these criteria together with NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation in creating and assessing the quality of their online courses and other (O)ER.

Table 6

Korea CU’s Self-Evaluation Criteria for MOOC Creation and Delivery

Course Title 
Status□ New MOOC□ Revision of an Existing MOOC
Support for Interaction□ Need for Teaching Assistant□ No Need
 Evaluation CriterionReview Result
1ContentCourse SelectionNeeds to develop as a MOOC considering demands from learners and society, etc.□ Y□ N
2Course ContentNeeds-based content selection and structure□ Y□ N
Comment on Content 
3Instructional DesignLearning ObjectivesClear statement of performance learning objectives in each week (Refer to p.25 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N
4Teaching-Learning StrategiesEffective teaching and learning strategies to achieve learning objectives (Refer to p.26-31 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N
5Motivation StrategiesAppropriate strategies to promote and maintain learning motivation (Refer to p.32-33 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N
Comment on Instructional Design 
6EvaluationEvaluation ComponentsAppropriate strategies to evaluate the achievement of learning objectives and feedback strategies (Refer to p.46-50 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N
7Evaluation MethodsAppropriate formative and summative evaluation methods for each module (Refer to p.46-50 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N
Comment on Evaluation 
8InteractionLearner-TeacherLearner-Teacher interaction strategies to promote learning support and feedback (including the use of email, announcement, discussion board, SNS, and other tools) (Refer to p.34-38 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
9Learner-LearnerLearner-Learner interaction strategies to promote knowledge/experience sharing, collaborative work, resources sharing, etc. (Refer to p.39-41 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
10Learning SupportAppropriate learning, administrative and technical support strategies to ensure effective learning and successful completion of learning objectives (Refer to p.44-45 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Interaction 
11EthicsContentCompliance with the Broadcasting Code Acts 9 – 45 regarding fairness, objectivity, human rights, diversity and inclusion, and other ethical measures (Refer to the Broadcasting Code)□ Y□ N□ N/A
12LanguageAppropriate use of language following Broadcasting Regulations Act 51 (Refer to the Broadcasting Code)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Ethics 
13Web AccessibilityWeb AccessibilityCompliance with the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (Refer to p.8-29 in the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 and p.64-77 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Web Accessibility 
14VideosVideo/Audio QualityQuality of video and audio of lectures and other educational materials (Refer to p.53-6177 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
15Subtitles 1Provision of subtitles in Korean of all video lectures (Refer to p.10-11 in the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 and p.68-69 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
16Subtitles 2Synchronicity between videos and subtitles (Refer to p.10-11 in the Korean Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Videos 
17Learning MaterialsTexts & ImagesNo errors in all text and image materials (Refer to p.63 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Learning Materials 
18CopyrightsManagement of CopyrightsPermission/clearance of copyright issues related to course content (Refer to p.81-87 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
19Indication of CopyrightsIndication of copyright information following international standards (Refer to p.78-80 in NILE’s Guidelines for K-MOOC Development & Implementation)□ Y□ N□ N/A
Comment on Copyrights 
Summary# of Yes# of No# of N/A
Final Comments 
CTL and individual faculty involvement in the QA process

As mentioned above, CTL or a similar unit within each university is responsible for defining the quality of (O)ER and deciding platforms and tools for online education and its decision-making follows its own QA process and involves a representative faculty member from each school or discipline. For example, the internal regulation of CTL at CU states a few key QA considerations to follow in developing (O)ER including MOOCs and OCW. Table 7 shows the regulation at the planning stage of (O)ER development.

Table 7

Korea CU’s QA Regulations for (O)ER Development Plan

Article 5 (Planning)

  1. A plan for a new program (e.g., a MOOC, OCW, other resources) should be developed based on specific needs identified from a needs assessment study.
  2. A plan should include:
    1. Background, need and objective of the program
    2. Recommendations and feedback from the needs assessment study
    3. Features, expectations and development process of the program
    4. Outcome evaluation and QA measures
    5. Strategies to share and diffuse the program
    6. Strategies to manage collaboration and budget details

Individual faculty members need to follow the CTL’s regulations and guidelines when they develop and utilize (O)ER at the institutional level. Once the (O)ER development plan is submitted to CTL or a similar unit by an individual faculty member, it will be reviewed by a group of internal and external experts. Once the plan is accepted, a prototype is developed and evaluated by the same group of internal and external experts. Then the final product is evaluated by the same group of internal and external experts. This same procedure applies to the creation of MOOCs, video lectures for flipped learning, and other online materials. NILE’s QA procedure is often adopted by many Korean universities when they develop online courses for K-MOOC and individual faculty members should follow the steps specified in this QA procedure (NILE, 2019).


No QA criteria for OCW, MOOCs and other OER exist in Japan at the organizational and national levels. However, CTL or a similar unit within some universities provides general guidelines for OER selection that individual faculty members can refer to when using (O)ER. Takahashi (2018) reports QA guidelines for e-learning design which have been applied in a collaborative online learning project linking five universities in Shikoku region in Japan. These guidelines were developed based on agreement between experts in online learning and instructional design from the five universities (Table 8) and have been applied in QA for e-learning and (O)ER.

Table 8

QA Guidelines for E-learning and (O)ER Design (revised from Takahashi, 2018, pp. 630-631)

Scope of e-learning contentAny teaching materials that are developed and implemented for the online knowledge platform should be organized applying the following definitions:
  1. The smallest unit of teaching material that can be used independently is called an "object".
  2. The material composed of multiple objects is called a "module". One module corresponds to one lesson.
  3. Multiple modules combining several modules is called a "block". Blocks are used accordingly based on the subject composition to make the overall course structure easy to understand.
  4. One course consists of multiple modules or multiple blocks. “One course” refers to a group of modules (or blocks) that satisfies the academic activities corresponding to the criteria for credit.
  1. Academic activities included in each module are used to check attendance.
  2. Conducting and submitting a certain amount of academic activities in all modules is required to receive a grade for a course.
  3. Grades will be evaluated based on a combination of the academic activities included in the module and other academic achievements (examinations, reports, assignments, etc.).
  4. The minimum requirement for credit acquisition is to obtain a score of 60% or more for each test, report, assignment, etc. that is to be evaluated.
Instructional design
  1. Include the same number of modules that correspond to the number of traditional face-to-face lessons in one course.
  2. Indicate appropriate learning time for each module and create an optimal learning environment for online learners.
  3. Make several modules or blocks of content available to online learners to allow bulk learning of several topics at once.
  4. Set a recommended study period or set a deadline to help learners manage bulk learning of several topics.
  5. Introduce the course syllabus at the beginning of the course.
  6. Provide the following supplementary information at the start of each course, block or module, depending on the characteristics of the subject and the learners.
    1. Contact information (e.g., emails, virtual office hours, technical support, etc.) for various inquiries.
    2. A short video or visual introduction of a person in charge of the course.
    3. Outline of the course (title, learning process, how to use available contents, how to approach the academic activities such as textbook learning, video learning, discussions, etc.)
    4. Schedule (content publication/availability dates, deadlines, recommended study period, etc.)
    5. Conditions for earning credits including items that will be graded, evaluation criteria for each item that will be graded (that is, obtaining a score of 60% or more for each test, report, assignment, etc. that is to be graded, or the score if it is 60% or more of the set cut-off line), how the academic activities in the modules are equivalent to attendance.
  7. Include academic activities (e.g., quizzes, reports, etc.) that are aimed to support the learning of prerequisite knowledge of the course if necessary.
  8. Assure the same quality as face-to-face lessons by providing an environment in which the learners can independently work on their academic activities and by allowing them to confirm how much they have achieved in their learning. To do that, the following should be included in each module or each lesson.
    1. Lesson content in the formats of text, audio, video, images, etc.
    2. Academic activities that are closely related to the lesson content in the forms of quizzes, short reports, online discussions, etc.
    3. Requirements and conditions to pass each academic activity, method of feedback (automatic scoring, manual scoring, mutual feedback between students, individual feedback/bulk feedback on assignments from teachers/teaching assistants, posting of model answers, breakdown/commentary, etc.), setting a feedback period, etc.
  9. Include content and/or activity for further independent learning outside the class. Some examples are:
    1. Reference information (links, articles, advice, reference materials, reference lists, etc.)
    2. Academic activities to support learners who are having a hard time following the lesson content to review necessary content (links, articles, advice, reference materials, reference lists, quizzes, short reports, online bulletin boards, etc.).
    3. Academic activities to support progressive learning (links, columns, advice reference materials, reference lists, etc.).

In the case of ICU, faculty members who participate in the new faculty development program are informed of (O)ER selection guidelines during a session on technology use for liberal arts education. Faculty members are provided with a few links (e.g., Creative Commons, Open Education Consortium, Quality Matters, JMOOC, etc.) to explore some QA procedures for (O)ER and e-learning. As ICU, like many other universities in Japan, does not have its own QA guidelines for (O)ER and infrastructures, individual faculty members are the ones who make their own QA decisions during the (O)ER creation and selection.

4.3 OER Policy


One of the important policies that are specific to online courses or programs is related to faculty incentives. While different universities have different policies and practices in offering incentives to faculty who are engaged in the development and implementation of MOOCs, OCW and other (O)ER, two major incentives are common: monetary support for course/material development and additional points for faculty evaluation.

Individual faculty members are involved in decision-making processes via various committees and internal/external reviews. Major committees for (O)ER include: planning and steering committees of CTL, Cyber education committee, and IT committee.

Overall, Korean faculty members are well aware of institutional policies related to (O)ER as they are provided with announcements regularly via their department and CTL and receive frequent emails and SNS messages promoting the development and utilization of (O)ER. The reason for this is that the development and utilization of MOOCs and other online courses, flipped learning, blended learning and technology-enhanced approaches by faculty members are included in the MOE’s Evaluation of University Basic Competencies as the most important evaluation criteria under the categories of learner-center approach and new learning initiatives.

Despite the emphasis on (O)ER creation and utilization, there is still a need for policy improvement to further promote (O)ER adoption by individual faculty members. Lee and Kim (2015) point out three challenges for the active adoption of OCW: 1) lack of mechanism to ensure the quality of OCW, 2) lack of support for the development and location of quality OCW, and 3) lack of technology competence at both faculty and institutional levels. To address these challenges, policies to support the training and re-training of faculty members, strengthening the incentive system and creating social and economic values of OCW are suggested.


Similar to Korean universities, different universities in Japan have different policies and practices related to support for (O)ER development and utilization by faculty members. Unlike Korean universities, monetary incentive is not common in Japanese universities. Instead, there might be a reduction in teaching load, assignment of a teaching assistant (TA), and technical support from CTL or a related unit.

In the case of ICU, in creating OCW, CTL provides video-recording and editing services and a TA is assigned in large classes. When creating other kinds of (O)ER for one’s own class, no such CTL-level support is offered unless those (O)ER can be shared with other classes or partner universities. In making such support policies, CTL operates a committee which consists of a representative faculty member from each disciplinary area. As CTL makes a frequent announcement on OCW, most faculty members know these policies on OCW creation.

Unlike Korea, the creation and use of (O)ER is not formally reflected in either the university evaluation or the faculty evaluation. In the case of ICU, the participation in OCW development and other major (O)ER project development is mentioned as an innovative teaching activity, but no numerical point is assigned to (O)ER related activities in the faculty evaluation.

4.4 OER Change


As described above, individual faculty members in Korean universities are strongly and continuously asked to engage in the creation and utilization of (O)ER by their university as the (O)ER is included in the MOE’s university evaluation. Thus, training workshops and information sessions are regularly provided by CTL to help faculty members develop the technical and pedagogical skills needed for (O)ER development and implementation. It is a general perception of many faculty members that their participation in (O)ER is important for the university as well as for their own teaching.

As (O)ER creation and utilization is important at the institutional level, faculty members who decide to develop (O)ER are well supported with (O)ER development grant and technical and administrative support. For example, in the case of a MOOC development for K-MOOC, CU offers USD 4,500 to an individual faculty member for one MOOC development, allows the faculty to use the MOOC internally after one-year service on K-MOOC, and adds 30 extra points to their teaching category in the faculty evaluation. In the case of the development of video lectures for flipped classrooms, CU offers USD 600 and adds 10 extra points to one’s teaching category. For other kinds of (O)ER, CTL’s studio facilities and instructional design support are provided to individual faculty members.

Korean faculty members often integrate external (O)ER to their courses or materials. In such cases, YouTube video clips, open resources on edX or other MOOCs are used with clear indication of their sources. (O)ER that are copyrighted cannot be used unless permission is obtained and copyright issues are cleared. NILE’s guidelines on copyrights are to be followed in developing a MOOC.

Korean faculty members tend to use OCW to supplement their classroom teaching (Lim et al., 2017) or to introduce a flipped learning approach (Kang et al., 2016) without any significant revisions in those OCW. Lee and Kim (2015) report that Korean faculty members have both external and internal motivations affecting the use of external (O)ER. The external motivation is to support their university’s effort to get good results in the MOE’s university evaluation while the internal motivation is to share (O)ER, support student learning, and improve their teaching. A more recent study by Jung and Lee (2020) reveal that Korean faculty members are using (O)ER rather habitually with an expectation of their teaching performance improvement.

When sharing (O)ER, three types of target user groups are identified: other faculty members, students and the public (Lee & Kim, 2015). When sharing (O)ER with their colleagues, faculty members expect that their colleagues use (O)ER to prepare and improve instruction and to have vicarious experiences of other classes. When sharing (O)ER with students, faculty members use them as teaching materials during class hours, preview and review materials to be used at students’ homes, and alternative materials for English language learning for students. When sharing (O)ER with the public, it is often to provide a flexible opportunity to access lifelong education (Figure 13)

Figure 13

Types of OER sharing among Korean faculty members (revised from Lee & Kim, 2017, p. 79)


Japanese faculty members are involved in the (O)ER creation and advancement of the infrastructures via various faculty development workshops and events organized by CTL or a similar unit. Those who are interested in (O)ER creation and platform development often apply for the government research grants. One famous case is the establishment of the Center for Open Education at H University with the large government grant in 2014. Since then, it has developed various OER including OCW and MOOCs to promote student engagement and learning outcomes for both HU and other partner universities, managed HU’s LMS, and provided supports to faculty members for (O)ER creation.

A large-scale survey with educators from Japanese higher education institutions between 2015 and 2016 shows that a majority of the respondents from the four-year institutions were well or somewhat aware of OER (Figure 14)

Figure 14

Awareness of OER in Japanese higher education institutions (Shigeta et al., 2017, p. 199)

A diagram about the awareness of OER

However, when it comes to the development and adoption of OER, the figures are much lower. Figure 15 presents that 13.6% of the four-year institutions, 2.3% of the two-year colleges and 3.7% technical colleges developed OER, and that 13.4% of the four-year institutions, 8.6% of the two-year colleges and 14.8% technical colleges utilized OER. Shigeta et al. (2017) note that most of the institutions that developed OER were funded by the Japanese government.

Figure 15

Development/Offering and Adoption of OER and MOOCs in Japanese higher education institutions (Shigeta et al., 2017, p. 200)

A diagram about the development/offering and adoption of OER and MOOC

As mentioned above, types of incentives and supports are diverse depending on the university budgets and policy directions. In the case of JMOOC, some monetary incentives are provided to faculty members who create and implement the courses. But generally financial incentives are not common in Japanese universities. The most popular type of support is technical and other supports via CTL or a similar unit. For example, HU’s Center for Open Education offers technical and design support services ranging from consultation for instructional design and visual design to video recording and editing.

Jung and Lee (2020) reveal that Japanese faculty members, like their counterparts in Korea, are using (O)ER rather habitually. But, unlike Korean professors, social influence from their peers is more important than performance improvement in adopting OER. But in another study, Jung and Hong (2016) reveal that both Korean and Japanese faculty members tend to use (O)ER to improve effectiveness in instruction (55%), extension (16%), appeal (15%), and efficiency (13%). On the other hand, faculty members from Europe indicate extension as the most important instructional priority for OER use (33%), followed by effectiveness (27%), appeal (25%), and efficiency (14%). It is important to note that in both Korea and Japan, OER are often used as supportive technology to provide quality content and offer learner-centered materials rather than disruptive technology to offer expanded and extended learning opportunities and improve sharing and networking.

Concerning the time and effort needed to locate high quality OER and revise and remix OER for their purpose, Japanese faculty members tend to use YouTube and OCW more often than other types of OER as these two technologies are perceived as simple to use and easily accessible without making any changes. A study conducted by Jung et al. (2013) show that while the USA faculty members used YouTube as educational content (65.4%), movies/TV shows (46.2%) and music videos (30.8%) for teaching, and to upload their own lectures (34.6%), Japanese faculty used YouTube as educational content (53.3%) and movies/TV shows (36.7%). None of the Japanese faculty members had created video lectures and uploaded the lectures to YouTube whereas over 34% of USA educators had uploaded their own lectures to YouTube. As this study was conducted several years ago, there might be some changes in this result. Overall, we can say that YouTube is considered as a source of supplementary teaching material and a personal entertainment and learning tool for Japanese educators.

5. Final Question

In this section, the question, “how are micro, meso and macro levels connected with one another?” is addressed.

Macro-level analysis is used to examine infrastructure, quality, policy and change aspects of (O)ER at the national, regional and international levels. For this macro-level analysis, close attention is paid to the broad national systems and policies in Korea and Japan, and interrelationships with regional and international worlds that shape the four aspects of (O)ER in higher education institutions in both countries. And consideration is made to take into account the sociocultural, political, economic, and other forces that impact (O)ER practices in higher education in both countries.

Meso-level analysis focuses on the study of infrastructure, quality, policy and change aspects of (O)ER in higher education in Korea and Japan at the group and institutional levels. For this meso-level analysis, detailed examination of a few selected universities in Korea and Japan is carried out, and their ties with national entities and mechanisms are reviewed.

Micro-level analysis involves the study of infrastructure, quality, policy and change aspects of (O)ER from the perspective of individual teachers. For the micro-level analysis, close examination of individual faculty members’ understanding and involvement with the four aspects of (O)ER is conducted.

Having completed all three levels of analyses, the following conclusions can be drawn (Figure 16):

Figure 16

Key success factors of (O)ER creation and adoption at macro, meso, and micro levels

As Bertalanffy (1968) once argued, the complexity exists within the elements of a whole system and thus one cannot understand the dynamics that occur among the elements unless all elements are thoroughly examined and put in a broader context. This macro-, meso-, and micro-level approach has helped the author understand the key elements of (O)ER such as infrastructure, policy, quality and changes from a systems perspective.

6. Conclusion

A macro-level study shows that in Japan, individual universities are responsible for their own digital transformation including ICT infrastructure, resources, and services without being supported by the government’s action plan and necessary follow-through or funding. Thus, development and dissemination of (O)ER and campus e-transformation have been slow and not readily accepted. JOCW and JMOOC, two main organizations engaged in the development and sharing of OER, are operated based on membership fees and receive no direct funding and policy support from the Japanese government and thus until now have not attracted enough attention from Japanese universities even though a few large-scale top universities are offering MOOCs on global MOOC platforms such as edX and Coursera as an institutional-level initiative.

Whereas, in Korea, almost all universities and colleges have established a Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to develop and disseminate educational resources and support their faculty and students since early 2000 with the initial financial and policy support from the government and continuous follow-through and funding support from KERIS and NILE. With the promotion of OER, MOOCs and open education as a national initiative, Korean HEIs have also developed international partnerships with international organizations such as the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus, Creative Commons, and several global MOOC providers, and shared their online courses, video lectures and other educational resources under the national- and international-level quality assurance framework.

From the cases of Korea and Japan, three macro-level factors are found to be critical to advance digital transformation of higher education. Those factors are: 1) the development and implementation of the government’s policy and action strategy in digital transformation, 2) the existence and effective operation of supporting agencies at the national level, and 3) the provision of competitive funding and incentives to universities for their high accomplishment in digital transformation.

A meso-level report highlights the importance of a centralized QA mechanism and its link to national or international standards in promoting the development, dissemination, and sharing of online courses, OER and/or MOOCs of HEIs. For example, in Korea, KERIS’s standard QA system combined with a specific guidebook has helped Korean universities to develop various types of quality OER and other educational resources and share them with other universities and the public. Moreover, NILE’s standardized QA mechanism along with specific guidelines that are developed based on a global MOOC provider’s course development guideline has made it easier for K-MOOC partner universities to develop and share MOOCs at international level.

In a context where no centralized QA system and development guidelines exist, institutional-level guidelines play an important role in OER development and dissemination. In Japan, several large national universities and a few top private universities have established CTL or a similar unit and developed their own set of guidelines or key performance indicators in creating and implementing OER. While this decentralized system could work well when institutions and individual faculty members are motivated to carry out open education movement even with no or little policy and funding support, it may not consistently ensure the active creation and quality of OER.

A micro-level report on the cases of Korea and Japan reveals that a policy requiring all newly hired faculty members to receive an orientation program and/or all faculty members to regularly participate in a faculty development program which includes OER-related knowledge and skills is important to promote individual faculty understanding and involvement in OER use, if not OER development and sharing. CTL in many Korean universities develops and implements faculty development workshops and seminars on ICT uses in teaching and learning, LMS functions, creation and uses of various educational resources including OER and MOOCs, innovative pedagogical approaches, and others and make it a requirement so that faculty members, especially newly hired ones, must attend all or some sessions. Similar faculty development sessions are offered in Japanese universities but the participation in these programs is not required for faculty members, unlike their counterparts in Korea. This policy difference may be one of the factors explaining faculty members’ different levels of understanding of OER-related policies and information, and different rates in OER/MOOCs creation and adoption in the universities in two countries.

Another important policy that could promote innovative use of ICT in instruction and OER creation and dissemination is the one related to faculty incentives. While their incentive systems still need to be strengthened, Korean universities tend to offer various incentives to their faculty members. Common incentives include monetary support for OER or online course and material development, additional points for faculty evaluation, and involvement in OER-related decision-making processes. Similarly, several Japanese universities have provided their faculty members with incentives for OER development and utilization such as a reduction in teaching load, assignment of a teaching assistant, and technical support from CTL while monetary incentive is scarce.

It is hoped that the three studies conducted in Korea and Japan will help educators and policy makers in HEIs around the world better understand key policies, systems and other factors that are important to promote or hinder campus e-transformation and (O)ER creation, dissemination and sharing at the macro-, meso- and micro-levels.

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[1] Unfortunately, the internal evaluation criteria are kept as internal use only.

[2] A student manual is also provided in Korean language along with video lectures. https://edtechbooks.org/-yTgZ

[3] Unfortunately, the key performance indicators are kept as internal use only.

[4] For detailed K-MOOC plans and course list, see: https://edtechbooks.org/-CuiMk

[5] UTokyo’s OCWx is an interactive version of UTokyo’s OCW. While OCW is mainly lecture-based, OCWx includes extra activities such as assessment test items and learning activities. https://ocwx.ocw.u-tokyo.ac.jp/

Insung Jung

Christian University in Tokyo, Japan

Insung Jung formerly was a Professor of International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. Her major books include Quality Assurance in ODE; Distance and Blended Learning in Asia; Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Distance Education and E-learning; Online Learner Competencies; Culture & Online Learning; and ODE Theory Revisited.

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