The Open University of the Netherlands develops and provides open higher distance education. The Open University of the Netherlands also conducts research into teaching and learning, specifically but not exclusively in distance and lifelong learning settings. There is a special focus on the use of new ICTs and teaching/learning methods to provide effective, efficient, attractive and accessible lifelong learning facilities and education to Dutch speaking Europeans. Within the Open University of the Netherlands, the Welten Institute integrates expertise in the learning sciences and technology-enhanced learning. Our focus is on learning and teaching in technology enhanced learning environments. The Welten Institute has chosen the approach of the ‘ecology of education’. This means that the institute is not only active in the field of theoretical scientific research but also collaborates with users in developing and implementing scientifically sound learning environments, forms of education and didactics. The research activities take into account the complexity of education and the use of the rapidly developing technologies play an important part in them. The underlying thought is that the contact between educational science and educational practice is of vital importance for good educational research and therefore for the improvement of educational quality. Nevertheless the Welten Institute imposes on itself very stringent scientfic demands: the results of its scientific activities have to be validated, have to be susceptible to generalization and have to find their way into authoritative (national and international) publications.
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