OOFAT Models

Models for online, open, flexible and technology enhanced higher education across the globe – a comparative analysis


Developing a deeper strategic understanding of contemporary education systems


Do open, online, flexible and technology-enhanced (OOFAT) approaches to education result in sustainable and innovative business models? This was the focus of the OOFAT Models project funded by International Council for Distance Education and conducted by researchers from The Open University’s OER Hub and Forschungsinstitut für Bildungs- und Sozialökonomie (FIBS). The main purpose of the study was to develop models that demonstrate different practice in terms of how one or more elements of OOFAT are used to offer flexible learning in a sustainable model. Our OOFAT concept models Content (consisting of subject knowledge, support and guidance and learning analytics, which together make up the entirety of the didactical process); Delivery (consisting of the qualities of place, pace and timing of delivery of the content, key events and processes); and Recognition and assessment (consisting of both assessment and credentialization, which are formal processes leading to recognition of learning achievements). Each of these dimensions are analysed in terms of flexibility (how digital technology is harnessed to reduce the need for physical presence) and openness (how the principle of openness is integrated (in various ways) into the core processes; from closed group to open network). More than 50 case studies have been developed using this model and published as a collection. 

The role of IET

IET was a full partner in this project, with members of the OER Hub team co-leading the concept and design of the project; collecting data; performing the analysis and co-developing the OOFAT model itself.  IET also hosted the development of an online tool for reviewing the collection of case studies, see here.


The OOFAT model was partly developed to facilitate the development of HEI strategies through a framework that applies universally to institutions and academic departments. Several institutions have used the model in this way to refine policies, clarify strategic goals and develop business models (e.g. see here).

Research programmes


  • International Council for Distance Education


  • Forschungsinstitut für Bildungs- und Sozialökonomie