Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia – UNED

Who are we?

The National Distance Education University (UNED) is a Spanish public university that provides distance education at national and international levels. It was founded in 1972 to enable priority access to university and further education for all those who, while capable of pursuing higher studies, were unable to attend on campus classes for work, financial, residential, or other reasons. With more than 260,000 students, it is the largest higher education institution in Spain and one of the largest universities in Europe. It is also the leader in the implementation of cutting edge technologies applied to teaching and learning, with the largest offer of online courses in Spain. The difference between UNED and the rest of universities in Spain lies not only in its student numbers but also on its geographic dimension (national and international) and on the use of a blended-learning methodology and complementary pedagogical tools (television, radio, video and online virtual university campus).

UNED has more than sixty associated regional study centers with more than 100 extensions and classrooms, where tutoring takes place and also the venues for the proctoring of in-person exams, allowing students to access all kinds of academic services, including libraries, audiovisual materials, face-to-face tutorials, videoconferencing and a virtual campus (telematic tutoring). Furthermore, UNED is present in thirteen countries in Europe (Germany, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy), America (United States, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela) and Africa (Equatorial Guinea). UNED has more than 1,400 academic teaching staff, distributed in nine Faculties and two Technical Schools. Moreover, the associated regional study centers have more than 7,000 tutors.

Why we are participating in the project

UNED has a long history of researching in open educational resources and practices. As an organisation, it has a mandate for inclusive education at a national level in Spain. It particularly focusses on the needs of people with disabilities and prison inmates. Over the years, it has lead and been involved in many funded projects, at both national and European level, relating to different aspects of open distance learning. Specifically, UNED was one of the first universities to offer MOOC at a European level, starting in 2012, an initiative that focused not only on the technical and pedagogical aspects of such open online learning but also its recognition, certification and accreditation.

The participants of UNED in this project research in OER, OEP, ODL, MOOCs and MALL. As such they bring a wide experience to the project and are greatly interested in the research being undertaken therein.

Our role in the project

The role of UNED in this project is to lead Output 2, the Model Credit Recognition Agreement, and to participate in the other outputs in order to help and support their successful resolution.

In general terms, the research team from UNED will apply our expertise of the underlying academic questions related to open blended education, its recognition and certification, to the project objectives. In this process we will work with our project partners to establish the bases for a faster cross-institutional credential recognition process, that is considerably more flexible than current ad-hoc solutions, while at the same time guaranteeing the quality of the credentials. Our participation in related EU projects beforehand, such as MOONLITE (moonliteproject.eu/) and OEPass (oepass.eu/), give us the experience we need for this process together with a clear idea of the problems that need to be solved. Specifically, our role as the leaders for Output 2, the preparation and application of the Model Credit Recognition Agreement, enables us to develop a document that details credential recognition in a stable, scalable and robust manner. This will hopefully be the first step toward a standard recognition process can be applied by any HEI wanting to offer their students the benefits of such recognition.

Our Team

Dr. Timothy Read

Dr. Timothy Read

Senior Lecturer in Computer Languages and Systems

Timothy has held positions in the university government at UNED. He is an EDEN Fellow and the cofounder of the ATLAS research group. He is currently working in funded projects in the area of mobile assisted language learning (MALL), massive open online courses for languages (LMOOCs) and open education.

Prof. Elena Barcena

Prof. Elena Barcena

Full Professor of Languages and Linguistics. Founding Director of the ATLAS research group. Coordinator of the PhD Programme in English Studies. Coordinator of the Postgraduate Course

She has lead several officially funded national research projects on CALL related topics and has published extensively in this field at both national and international levels. She is also an expert adviser for national and international institutions and a member of the editorial board of a number of specialized journals.

Dr. Beatriz Sedano

Dr. Beatriz Sedano


Beatriz Sedano has a Ph.D. in Education & Treatment of Languages through the ICT Doctoral program at UNED on LMOOCs and open education. She has worked at UNED for 3 years in an Erasmus+ project called MOONLITE. Her role encompassed research, coordination and administration of the project.

Also collaborating in this project are members of the ATLAS research group (Applying Technology to Languages).