Holmes B, Huet I, Leahy D, Gardner J, Dolan D & Tavares J (2009) Elearning in European Higher Education: An Analysis of Present Practice in Ireland, Portugal, and the UK, with Lessons for the Bologna Process. In: Fegan J & Field M (eds.) Education Across Borders: Politics, Policy and Legislative Action. Amsterdam: Springer, pp. 93-113. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-9411-8_7#
The Bologna Declaration has put in motion a series of reforms aimed at making European Higher Education more compatible and comparable, competitive and attractive for Europeans and for students and scholars from other continents. The result is to be a European Higher Education Area in which by the year 2010 students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high-quality courses. Reform, it is argued, was needed then, and it is still needed today, if Europe is to match the performance of the American and Asian systems. The European Commission was not directly involved in the initial work of the Bologna process though the Commission has since become directly involved in the process, through hosting meetings, providing consultations, and working documents as well as grant support for projects in the area of standardization of degree offerings, benchmarking, and quality assurance. As part of the Bologna process, the Commission now supports a large number of European projects (e.g. TEEP project) connected to quality assurance, standards, promotion of university offerings. The outcomes may make it easier for countries and institutions to recognize one another's degrees and promote their own. The EU has also promoted a specific way of interacting with member states and institutions - the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). We argue in this chapter that the Commission should focus less on standardization and explore more ways of "communally constructing" knowledge in a European context. What the Bologna process is setting out to undertake, in our opinion, is to create limits on education, whereas the Open Method of Communication could, instead, liberate systems of education and move them forward. We look to three case studies of elearning experiments to provide lessons for learning across European borders.