With this in mind, I bring up a news report that Wayne recently posted on Facebook from Australia:
"University of Southern Queensland plan for free online university: The University of Southern Queensland is leading a charge to establish an open source online university for all-comers, no matter where in the world they reside.
This sounded great, until one got to the end of the article, where it was stated: "However, USQ would anticipate putting up just 1 per cent of its courses for fear of cannibalisation of its educational resources by freeloaders."
Huh???? Isn't that the point of OER --- OPEN?????
It is this very attitude that has kept the major universities in a self-protectionist stance for years. The article more or less states that the partner universities agree that a modest amount for the credentialing would be charged but that the courses are open. And then USQ more or less says that, well... not all courses would be open.... just 1%. Ah well.... baby steps.
Do we really believe that some nefarious university (or diploma mill) will steal our materials (or our professor's syllabi and words) and earn money at our expense? Or is this still the lawyers running our universities?
We need a full scale experiment.... all the courses required for a complete degree and the credentialing for the degree available at a nominal cost. We need to look at new teaching models, so that student support and guidance through OER materials is possible at a reasonable cost. I applaud USQ and Athabasca and Otago.... I don't know all the details of their intention, so I can't be too critical. But we need to commit... not dilly dally around the edges.
I concur that credible credentials are mission critical for the success of an OER university concept.
I agree with your observation that all course materials should be available as OER and not restricted. I suspect different organisations are at different points of their capability maturity on the OER journey, and if some institutions only want to commit some of their courses as OER that's fine. Within an open ecosystem as courses are donated or developed, pretty soon we have full degrees. If every institution were to commit one paper / course and we remix available OERs -- how long will it take to implement the first degree for the OER university concept?
At Otago Polytechnic, there is no policy restriction to having the course materials for full degrees available as OER. Otago Polytechic has implemented an intellectual property policy which defaults to a CC-BY license.
I think we're off to a good start - -as organisations begin to understand how this works, I suspect they won't want to be left out :-).
Diploma mills sell fake credentials for cash, so they have no need for curricula. But even if legitimate institutions do attract students in part from using other universities' curricula, isn't it supposedly the mission of taxpayer-funded institutions like USQ to act in the public interest regardless of who gets the pat on the head?
However, at my own university we have tried to come up with a business model for an OER-based university, based on Osterwalder's model - and have not been able to think up a sustainable model except for one: heavy (Government) subsidizing. As we all know these days that by definition means it is NOT sustainable. I have to admit that we included staff- and other running costs in our model on the costs side.
What I have seen from the OER university's conceptual model in another discussion here, is that costs may be reduced substantially by involving volunteers - for OER development/aggregation as well as learner support services. This to me means that in terms of Osterwalder's model the key component of an OER University business model need not be the 'cost structure', but foremost the 'key resources' in terms of human capital it will be able to commit to its cause. This to me poses the real challenge.
The degree certificate as incentive to invest energy in learning is indeed an issue that needs to be regarded in a multicultural context. In some settings, a CV and cover letter are enough to be awarded a job, then, certificate comes later or not. In other setting however, no degree certificate, no one will waste their time to read the job application. Without degree certificate, learners in settings where a diplama is the starting point to think about applying for job or hiring employees will not be motivated to learn using OERs.
I probably sounded more negative than I meant. I am extremely encouraged by the OER movement. What was lurking behind my comments was my experience with the World Bank a few years ago. It always amazed me that the one organization that had more economists than almost any other in the international development arena couldn't seem to come up with an economic model that offered low cost university education to developing countries. With all the money that the World Bank had,they simply couldn't see the forest because of the trees. In my heart of hearts I believe there are a variety of economic models that might support OER universities. One utilizing volunteers is one.... but I believe there are others. With enough Universities contributing, it might be possible to offer student support and instructor supported courses at a relatively low cost... although I suspect that a critical mass must be met before this is possible.
I'm an optimist by nature ;-).
I think we already have a critical mass -- at least to get one degree operational. Surely among Otago Polytechnic, Athabasca university, USQ and the credential resources developed by BCcampus as OER we could achieve this - -not too mention the existing OER's we can remix.
We'll need to do some thinking about the selection criteria for choosing the right qualification -- but just a matter of time in my view.
I completely agree with Gene "We need a full scale experiment.... all the courses required for a complete degree and the credentialing for the degree available at a nominal cost." This should be our next milestone.
I am fully confident that currently planned consultations will pave way for that.
I agree that the idea of pirating is somewhat ridiculous. I cannot speak for our President but SUNY/Empire State College has a good reputation in the US and creates very valid courses which cost quite a bit in terms of develpment team time, but I do not think we would be too reluctant to make our courses available for OER...folks would be welcome to use them for self-directed learning and maybe even PLA...because what they would get by paying tuition would be interaction with our instructors and other students as well as credit and credentialing.
As a long time community organizer, my intution is that we should not push reluctant institutions into joining us as much as concentrate on finding willing participants who are already mostly on board with our particular quiet revolution. All the best. J.
Well said Joyce, and I'm adding a reflection on why in my view this is so to take us beyond your intuition:
"As a long time community organizer, my intuition is that we should not push reluctant institutions into joining us as much as concentrate on finding willing participants who are already mostly on board with our particular quiet revolution."
First let us recognise that the concept of an OER-university is an innovation and a major one for the educational globally (maybe society too).
Therefore, we can apply the literature on the adoption of innovations, which is pretty clear that individual and organisational adoption must depend on the current concerns and benefits of this innovation for them (as well as the systems that they inhabit, including the world as a global bio-educational ecosystem (I can provide citations and readings on change with digital technologies in education and teach a class on the topic, see Davis(2011, under construction) ). Essentially we all cannot help but be constrained by the behaviour and rules that surround us all, and the closest is the most influential.
So as part of our work in helping the OER-university come to life, if possible, is to provide examples of situations in which it can be possible with the help of early adopters who come forward. Those with community-centred missions, including global outreach, are good examples of people and organisations who are less constrained than some with more inward looking visions and aspirations. Naturally we should be listening to and involving colleagues in regions that have most to gain (a point made by Wayne yesterday in one of his postings).
Therefore, as you read this you may only be becoming aware that you are one of the 'participants who are already mostly on board with our particular quiet revolution' and also keen to be an 'early adopter' (Everett Rogers' term (2003)).
For those of us who are constrained to move forward more cautiously, these 'early adopters' will help to open the path and hopefully point to benefits that we can use to draw more individuals and institutions forward.
Great to see this thread developing so well, and I'm happy to support it to develop more! Responses and questions for clarification will support that, so please use Reply.
I must echo your advice ...
Similarly corporate research is also clear that it is very hard to achieve transformation within existing organisations where disruptive technologies are concerned. This is why the OER Foundation was established as an independent charitable organisation. It provides the flexibility, agility and autonomy to move quickly in building the new value proposition. However, its articles of association commit the Foundation to helping education institutions to achieve their objectives through selected adoption of open education approaches. (Most notably -- the OER Foundation is not a teaching institution -- so we're not competing for students ;-). We want to help organisations widen access to learning in more sustainable ways, so they become more effective.
With the calibre of foresight and experience in this group -- I think we have a good chance of getting this right!
Hi Wayne and Nikki
I have followed the resources and posts on these sites with great interest. As both of you so ably argue, one of the keys to progressing the OERU is a recognition of our difficulty in casting off dialogic, oppositional modesl of thought. What attracted me to the OERU construct from the beginning was the concept of 'parallel universites'. This concept represents a firm step away from oppositional thinking in that it challeges the dominant 'uni' versities mindset by suggesting a 'multi'-versities mindset.
As you suggest, Wayne, disruptive technologies challenge institutional hegemony. But perhaps the challenge is even greater: many of us are scholars, teachers, administrators, managers etc attached to particular institutions but we are also - at the same time - human beings and there is something about the OERU construct that speaks to our common humanity - or we would not be having this discussion.
That is an astute observation. I do think the dialectic approached, rooted in open discourse will produce better results in the long term.
I think our commitment to Open Philanthropy will provide sufficient flexibility and freedom for different paradigmitic points of departure to contribute what they can to how the OER university concept unfolds. We should also recognise that different institutions are at different points on their open education journey -- however, they will still be able to contribute within the parameters of their own autonomy and restrictions. In the end, all contributions will add up to "more than the sum of the parts".
You sum up the opportunities rather well -- we are all human. The notion that the the worlds knowledge as a public good is fundamentally human and this must be good for society. This is why we will achieve success!
I suggest our degree must be at not less level than any other university degree. I mean to say, it must be at par world's best university irrespecvtive of spatial constraints.
So the curriculum framework as well as coursework must be highly qualitative one. It should support multi strategies, multi approaches and multi tasking.