OER university: Feb 16-Mar 2, 2011

OER University Logic Model

 
 
 
Picture of Paul Stacey
OER University Logic Model
by Paul Stacey - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 11:02 AM
 
This seminar is being held in support of the OER University meeting taking place in New Zealand next week. One of the key objectives for that meeting is to "Develop a shared understanding of a logic model for the OER university concept." This objective is crucial.

We launched this SCoPE seminar a few days early with the OER Challenge which explores some of the underlying logic of an OER university by engaging you in the use of OER to fulfill your own personal learning objectives. There are some great responses to the OER Challenge already underway in that discussion thread and I invite you all to join in.

Today is the official launch of the OER University SCoPE seminar and I'd like to focus in on the OER University logic model explicitly with this discussion thread and with a live Elluminate web conference session Friday Feb 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm PST. Information about the web conference session will be posted separately on the SCoPE OER University forum page.

The OER University section of the Wikieducator site has several resources exploring the logic model. You can go there and explore them in more detail but for our purposes I've pasted the high level logic model diagram and OER university concept diagram here into this post.
550px-OERU-logic-model.png
High Level Logic Model


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OER University Concept


The overall aim of the OER university intervention is to:
  • develop and implement a sustainable and scalable ecosystem which provides free learning opportunities for all students worldwide using OER
  • ensure pathways for OER learners to obtain credible certification and qualifications within national education systems.

So lets get some discussion underway on this logic.

What questions do you have about the OER university concept or high level logic model?

Here are just a couple of mine:
  • Should the OER University be an actual entity/institution or is it better for it to simply be a framework or designation that institutions can adopt should they choose to participate?
  • Do students formulate their own learning pathway based on available OER or do institutions identify a curriculum of OER and formulate credentials they are willing to provide for completion of that curriculum?

Feel free to post questions, suggest answers, or just comment overall about the logic model or concept.

Paul

Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model: Question One
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 11:55 AM
 
Should the OER University be an actual entity/institution or is it better for it to simply be a framework or designation that institutions can adopt should they choose to participate? I am not sure exactly what you mean by an actual entity, but I think that it should be clearly accessible to students and that there should be real people who can provide guidance about how to use OER effectively to develop self-directed learning plans that lead to credit through prior learning assessment. JMcK SUNY/Empire State College USA
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 12:02 PM
 
Do students formulate their own learning pathway based on available OER or do institutions identify a curriculum of OER and formulate credentials they are willing to provide for completion of that curriculum?

At ESC it has worked well to develop mentor/student relationships where the student identifies his/her learning goals and objectives and an adviser (that we call a mentor) helps create the actual learning plan. This dialogic approach works very well. It gives the student emotional as well as intellectual support but leaves responsibility for learning with the student.

The creation of formal curriculum is arduous and really just replicates what established universities do. I think that the OER-U should help students create learning plans and that "receiving" universities should be ultimately responsible for curriculum design.

On another topic I am not sure that given today's economy that most colleges/universities will able to give prior learning assessment for free...but it can be reasonable. At ESC we charge $400 maximum for up to 96 PLA credits in a 128 credit undergraduate degree program. Of course, few if any students actually receive that many PLA's most have a combination of transfer credits, PLA's and ESC studies...but the maximum credit award is not unknown.
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 1:25 PM
 
Hi Paul,

You're doing a sterling job of facilitating the seminar - -thank you.

My question:

  • What mechanisms or processes should the OER university use for articulation of course credits?
Scenario

A learner decides to commence study towards a Bachelors degree in Commerce. She accesses the Introduction to Economics course at the "OER univeristy" which is based solely on OERs. No cost for learning. As an independent learner and given the high quality of the learning resources she chooses not to make use of the open assessment services for formative assessment and feedback. However, she applies for credit for her learning (perhaps a challenge exam or other PLA version of formal assessment) at Athabasca University (Canada) and is granted credit for the course. She decides to continue with a course in Accountancy and Commercial law. She chooses to acquire credit for the Accountancy paper at Otago Polytechic (New Zealand) and the Commercial law course at the University of Southern Queensland (Australia.) She has selected the Commercial law OER course because this has been localised for the Australian legal framework as she resides in Australia. How does the "OER university" facilitate that all her course credits will be recognised by the relevant institutions?
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 2:34 PM
 
I can't speak for Athabasca but I can speak for SUNY/Empire State College. She would apply to the college as a matriculated student, she would be assigned a mentor (adviser). Her mentor and she would work together to identify her goals, prior college level learning, and studies she would need to take at ESC. In the case study you mention she would be in our Business, Management, and Economics Area of Study probably with a Concentration in Australian Accounting or Australian Business Administration. As part of the degree planning process she would investigate the requirements for such a degree at accredited Australian institutions. Her degree plan would include all of the studies you mention and perhaps many more. She would write a rationale essay explaining her degree design, how it is similar to those of other institutions and how it is different. A committee of three ESC faculty members and an assessment professional would review the program and probably approve it pending prior learning assessment.

We would award Prior Learning Assessment credit in one of two ways. As of today (2/16/11) she would write brief essays describing the work she did through OER as well as any relevant experiential learning and a brief explanation of what she learned. She would apply for PLA, be assigned an evaluator familiar with the academic area, have a telephone conversation with that evaluator or possibly an Elluminate type interview (I have done that), a credit level would be recommended. She would soon know the credit she is to receive, but it would not be formally awarded until graduation.

The second way would have to be worked out with OER-U. We do have many courses and courses of study that have been pre-evaluated for credit. Many US military courses fit into this category, as do some licenses like a certified addictions counselor, etc. This pre-evaluation is done by an appropriate college office and is applied to everyone. We also use an international body (I am sorry I don't remember its name, that pre-evaluates credits from colleges and universities in other nations. This process is rather expensive and students have to pay for it themselves. I am sorry that I am a bit foggy on the pre-evaluation process as I have mostly done individualized PLA. Almost all of my own mentees (advisees) receive some sort of PLA...it is probably one of ESC's greatest strengths.

Sorry for the long post but you asked for the process. J. smile
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 3:43 PM
 
Hi Joyce,

That's very useful feedback. I identify two issues for the OER university concept:

  1. Institutions like ESC are well prepared to respond to PLA needs from OER learners. Therefore from an OER university perspective -- We need to look and see if there are ways to use OER models to enhance the efficiency and reduce costs of PLA for participating institutions.
  2. What mechanisms and processes can the OER university implement for pre-evaluated courses within a broader curriculum framework.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: Answer Wayne's questions
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 5:11 PM
 
  1. Institutions like ESC are well prepared to respond to PLA needs from OER learners. Therefore from an OER university perspective -- We need to look and see if there are ways to use OER models to enhance the efficiency and reduce costs of PLA for participating institutions. I don't want to be too ESC specific but we may be one of the few institutions in the world that have literally been doing this for forty years. From the OER U perspective I think that we should offer some kind of guidance for students wanting to go this route. This should include a list of "OER friendly" institutions made available to students and the kind of mentoring/advising I described earlier.I do think that these advisors would need to be paid a reasonable amount of money as it is labor intensive work. I do not think volunteers would be able to do it well.
  2. It would probably be wise for students to choose one or more target institutions from the very beginning so liaisons could be made early in the process. I think that in many cases there could be articulation agreements with the "receiving colleges" so students coming from OER-U would be expected and easily managed. Many four year colleges including ESC in the US have such agreements with two year community colleges. I think that at first we may want to work mostly with PLA friendly colleges (although I do not want to be exclusive or be seen as trying to create business for ESC or Athabasca etc). Once we have clear processes for working with two or three receptive universities/colleges, these models will be more easily transferred to other institutions...who will be more easily convinced once they see it works.
  3. What mechanisms and processes can the OER university implement for pre-evaluated courses within a broader curriculum framework. After a try way back in the 1980's at having some kind of pre-evaluated courses that would fit a multitude of colleges (a process I likened at the time to "mating 18 dinosaurs) I think the best route would be to work with each receiving institution to have them pre-evaluate courses and/or degree programs. Alternatively, we could develop our own accreditation scheme like the US military has...but that would take longer...I would like to see us have a prototype available soon and then we could do formative evaluation as needed. The easiest way to do that would be to work with a few friendly institutions.
  4. As an aside, many of the OER courses already available like those from MIT and other "big guys" would be fairly easy to pre-evaluate except that OER-U and/or the receiving institution would probably need to have some way of testing the students' knowledge...because presumably someone could enter the OER courses and really have little or no understanding of their content. ESC handles this through our essay and interview process or I suppose OER-U could develop exams. ESC is not big on exams especially multiple choice or short answer...we like reflective writing and talking sometimes including case studies, videos of performance etc....and so are probably quite different from the British model. Hope this helps some.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 4:51 PM
 
I received a question about costs on my e-mail but can't find the thread here. ESC has a blanket charge for Prior Learning Assessment of $400 US no matter how much credit is requested so students requesting two credits pay the same as those requesting the maximum 96 credits. We have charged the same price for years, a real bargain given rising tuition rates. Even two credits for $400 is a bargain and most of our students probably request at least eight credits...transfer credits from accredited institutions are free.

Of course, we are a part of a state university and have had a well-defined community service mission for many years...our PLA pricing reflects our history and mission. For institutions that would be new to this idea, price would almost certainly be a factor.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Leo Wong
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 6:10 AM
 
Good morning from the Eastern US. I received this response from Leo Wong in China on wikieducator...I am not sure he is on SCoPE so I am posting it here with my reflections.
hey joyce , thank you for the explanation and case study very helpful
but still , let us play the role playing game , if i were a future student ( namely joseph ) jerry is not a real person .
jerry want to go to university in US , however jerry is from asia , so if he want to do that , he can go to university who have the working connections with schools in US , so he doesnot have to go to US , so he can still get US or UK degree but he can study in china or other places which is near to his home country , do you think it is even saving more cost ??

and for other people , say a girl names Mary ( sorry this is not a Xmas story ) , she is from US , she would like to come to china , however she would also like to go to china not only for travelling , but also getting a degree at the same time , so if a chinese school can offer a place so that Mary can come to china to study , she can get the credit , meanwhile she is also get the internatoinal experience of studying aborad .

For me , the OER university should be a concept which is based on so called web2.0 technology , like wikieducator , which is just the time to help people who canot afford the costs , but in a lower cost , however also getting the good quality of teaching and support from schools . i think the next step , is we should not only thinking less about technology , but start to look for more of the good people and university and even good bussiness model or non-bussiness model as well .

and instead of just looking at the credit regonization , but also looking at , where are the future students ?

Joyce , you are making such a good point abt self -direct learning , which from my work , i found very important and practical as well

let WE work together to move this forward !

Thoughts: Leo, all of your scenarios are exactly what I am talking about. A student using OER could literally study anywhere in the world for free and transfer his/her learning to a "receiving institution" for conversion to transfer credit. If s/he were taking credit-bearing courses at an established college or university, these would "come in" directly as transfer credit, if s/he were studying independently using a self-directed learning plan, learning and credit to be awarded would be done through a prior learning assessment process, if the person took non-formal training type courses from a recognized provider those would be pre-evaluated for credit, and if the person had a license or other credential recognized by the receiving institution as "creditable" that could be used as well. All of this prior college level learning would then be used by the student guided by their mentor to create a coherent degree plan. At ESC the student would still have to take and pay for 32 credits with us and that could be done completely online from anywhere in the world that is computer accessible. Thirty-two credits plus $400 US for any individualized PLA evaluations is a major savings over 128 credits. Although state university tuition has been rising, state tuitions are still quite a bit less than those for private universities. This scenario could already be played out at Empire State...in fact, it is played out daily for the US military.

What the OER-U could offer is guidance to students on how to the self-directed learning plans for the PLA they desire and information on the various colleges from which they could choose.

I see it as a win-win. Colleges and universities would be fulfilling their community service missions on a worldwide scale. They would receive valuable publicity and credibility and probably at least some tuition. The tuition would not necessarily have to be borne by individuals. It could be paid for by governments, businesses, NGO's, scholarships etc.

Empire State could probably do it now with little trouble. I am sure that there are other places that might do it too...but I am not really familiar with other models. The future is already here...until now ESC hasn't really had a chance to share it...we have been too busy working with students. smile

Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank
by Maria Droujkova - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 6:14 AM
 
Do you have age restrictions, Joyce? I started a separate topic about children, but I want to ask specifically about ESC policies.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank Age Restrictions
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 12:52 PM
 
We have no age restrictions but matriculated students must have graduated from a high school recognized in the US or their home country and/or have passed a high school equivalency exam the US calls the GED (general education diploma...)   You bring up an interesting question about how and whether the OER-U should offer elementary and secondary programs leading to post-secondary so someone could presumably begin at the primary/elementary level and progress seemlessly to undergraduate or even graduate degrees...now that would be an exciting concept!
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank Age Restrictions
by Maria Droujkova - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 4:32 PM
 
Here is an issue I would like to bring up. Most people learn unevenly in different subjects. In some cases, differences are very dramatic, for example, college level math and elementary level writing. When education is unbundled, it becomes more possible for students to progress at their own speed in different subject areas.

Even when differences aren't as dramatic, many people may be ready for college level work in their favorite subjects a few years before being done with general education requirements. Conversely, most people have one or two subjects where they are weak, and need more time. That's why seamless and asynchronous progress would be nice to have, rather than abrupt "gates" that have to be passed in all subjects all at once, such as the current high school graduation.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: Reply to Ilene Frank Uneven learning
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 5:23 PM
 
I totally agree Ilene about individuals being at different levels in different areas so I think that our main emphasis should be on enabling students to create self-directed learning plans rather than trying to develop bundled degrees...although we could offer samples of learning paths to give guidance to folks who are not and have no need to be curriculum design experts.
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank Age Restrictions
by Wayne Mackintosh - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 5:43 PM
 
Maria,

That's a very good point. "Unbundling" the learning from a traditional administrative academic year makes it possible to provide more flexible solutions. A number of single-mode distance education providers have already implemented an open academic year with multiple "examination" points where learners can choose when they are ready to present themselves for formal assessment.
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model Reply to Ilene Frank Age Restrictions
by Maria Droujkova - Friday, 18 February 2011, 4:32 AM
 
Here are dimensions of openness/unbundling/disintermediation:
  • Multiple entry points throughout the year
  • Individual pace of learning, multiple exit points, including instant certification by testing (that is, unbundling of learning and certification)
  • Entry by exams rather than prerequisite courses or degrees
  • Removal of affiliation requirements
  • Removal of residency or citizenship requirements
  • Removal of age restrictions; some colleges restrict upper age as well as lower (used to be 35 year old limit for graduate schools in Russia)
  • Addressing economic restrictions - that's what OER is all about
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Your points
by Joyce McKnight - Friday, 18 February 2011, 2:57 PM
 
I enjoyed our conversation on Elluminate immensely. It is wonderful to put a voice to a person. I agree with all your points above except perhaps the one that requires an examination for entry. I suppose that is because the US institutions I have served including community colleges, two year institutions, and now SUNY/ESC do not really have entrance exams although most do require placement exams in case students need tutoring to reach college level skills...this is especially true in math and writing.
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model Your points
by Maria Droujkova - Saturday, 19 February 2011, 3:30 AM
 
Joyce, I was glad to hear your ideas in your voice!

Here is an example of what I mean by "entry by examination." We recently investigated a local community college course in anthropology for my daughter. It had a list of prerequisites, which in turn had prerequisites - all of them in English writing. If the course, instead, had a placement test prerequisite you could pass to enter, my daughter would be able to take it.

A lot of colleges require entry tests that are too general (SATs) or even IQ tests (think of unfortunate implications, given the history of use of IQ tests in administrative decisions). Unbundled courses will require much more specific placement tools - quick, particular, painless.

Mechanical Turk, which is an interesting model for what Paul talked about - a rather open marketplace for labor from Amazon.com - uses placement tests for more complex tasks and keeps tracks of which ones you pass. Some expire and some do not.

Art of Problem Solving, one of my favorite places for quality k-12 math, has a page per each course that has math problems kids need to be able to solve before taking the course. It is voluntary, by the way - just a way for students to place themselves appropriately.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Placement Exams
by Joyce McKnight - Saturday, 19 February 2011, 7:53 AM
 
Hi Maria: It was great to hear your voice too. I have a feeling that you and I agree on many major issues in this effort. There are many placement exams for English reading and writing as well as math that are used throughout the US mostly by community colleges. (In fact, the community college where I worked before coming back to Empire State, had several and that was more than eight years ago). Since that is not my area, I am not sure of the names of them but surely placement exams are far easier than prerequisite after prerequisite.

On another topic, placement exams are a bit difficult online though...there is the question of proctoring to make sure the registered person is actually taking the exam. I know college's have mastered this problem, but it is something the OER-U will have to consider if we do the learning evaluations for various offerings. If we leave evaluation up to what I have been calling the "receiving institution" we would avoid that problem.
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model Placement Exams
by Maria Droujkova - Sunday, 20 February 2011, 10:20 AM
 
How have colleges mastered the problem of online proctoring? I hear of difficulties all the time, up to and including a concerned citizen group obtaining an MBA degree for their dog.
Picture of Eric Kluijfhout
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Eric Kluijfhout - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 2:46 PM
 
Hi Paul, other participants: interesting questions. Re. the second question about the 'pick and choose' model against the curriculum model, when I look at it from the student side I would say that working professionals will go for the 'pick and choose' model of individual courses, and that more 'traditional' learners will most likely opt for a full programme/curriculum as this will help them most to enter the labour market.
From the perspective of the awarding institution, I think it will all depend on the business model: what will it costs the institution, and what will they gain from it (be it financial or otherwise)?
I am therefore especially interested in the 'Open Business Models' component of the concept diagram as I think in the end this will be the key to success or failure of the OER university - would someone have some pointers for me?

Best, Eric.

Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Joyce McKnight - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 3:43 PM
 
Our experience at Empire State bears out what you are saying. We have students who prefer more structured degrees and we have templates for them to use that are typical especially of professional areas (business administration, accounting, criminal justice, even human services (social work) and psychology are examples. Other students prefer to have personally designed programs and everything in between. In fact, more and more students especially younger ones want the pre-structured programs. We have many different examples of degree plans, many of which are already available free on our web-site. I am reasonably sure OER-U could use them as examples...most, if not, all of these structured degrees are based on comparable degrees at other institutions around the world. As Wayne says, "Exciting Times"
Picture of bronwyn hegarty
Re: OER University Logic Model
by bronwyn hegarty - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 8:21 PM
 
Hello all
I am jumping in here for the first time. In response to Joyce and the recognition of prior learning model. I believe this is a workable model where people who have "picked and mixed" put together their evidence. At Otago Polytechnic we have a tried and proven process where facilitators mentor candidates to "Graduate from the School of Life" at Capable New Zealand. Their life experience and mix of courses or training can be assessed for qualifications in business, health, design, hospitality, sport and adventure, trades and technical careers and life sciences. There are several established pathways on offer but the process can be customised and negotiated to suit a candidate's needs.

Candidates prepare evidence for a presentation on which they are assessed. The length of time depends on the skills of the candidate and the complexity of the pathway. This model could be adapted to suit the OER philosophy I am sure. Bron
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Capable New Zealand
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 6:21 PM
 
Capable New Zealand...what a great idea and very much what I was talking about! We don't need to invent this really...among us we already know how to do it and do it well!
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 4:46 PM
 

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

I am therefore especially interested in the 'Open Business Models' component of the concept diagram as I think in the end this will be the key to success or failure of the OER university - would someone have some pointers for me?

Agreed -- the "Open Business Models" initiative in the Logic model is important because the OER university concept must be self-sustaining. A few early thoughts and ideas which I'd like to throw into the mix. Clearly we will need to refine these as we move forward.

Open business fundamentals
  • The cost of replicating digital knowledge is near zero, and using open content licenses there should be no barriers to access or the rights to adapt and modify these materials.
  • It is far cheaper, for example, for 10 organisations to collaborate on the development of high quality distance learning materials than one institution doing this alone. Conceivably, savings in time and costs associated with course development could be reinvested into other priority areas, for example research or providing student support for formerly enrolled students at participating institutions.
  • The model would not require significant "new money", what is needed is a reallocation of existing staff time and agreement to release some courses under open content licenses. I think this is a strategic leadership challenge.
  • In the case of publicly funded institutions, taxpayers have, to some extent, already paid for the development of course materials by virtue of the Professor's salary which is sponsored through government grants to the institution. Why should taxpayers pay twice for their learning materials?
Thoughts on cost recovery of a parallel learning universe
  • I think the model will need to operate on a cost recovery basis for value added services like open assessment and open credentialising -- this gets complicated when we think of international programmes and the issues associated with national budgets sponsoring international students. Another view is to argue that course development is a "sunk cost" and by opening up the resources, the institution concerned has nothing to loose. At least there is no substantive research evidence to justify that institutions will loose students by using OER. On the contrary -- I suspect marginal increases in enrolment given that there are an estimated 100 million learners in the world who currently qualify for a seat in higher education, but will not have the privilege of studying at a university.
  • The fee for service components (assessment and credentialisation) should be regulated by normal market forces -- in other words, the participating institutions determine their own fees for these services. Institutions which charge exorbitant fees will be in "competition" with those organisations who charge more market related rates. The system will be open for learners to choose.
  • There are potential revenue streams from open textbook publishing, where print-on-demand publishers print and distribute open textbooks at significantly reduced prices when compared to the closed publishing model. A small commission could be routed back to the OER university infrastructure to help defray costs. All the course materials will be freely available on the internet. However, some learners may prefer to have hard copy study guides -- that's their choice. Industrial digital printing technologies could produce bound text books at prices lower than the cost of printing out copies on a local desktop printer.
A few thoughts to start the conversation on open business models.


Picture of Dick Heller
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Dick Heller - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 7:45 PM
 
To report that the Peoples-uni http://peoples-uni.org has just gained approval from Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK to offer their academic awards for our students. This fits clearly into the model outlined by Paul and Wayne. Peoples-uni uses OER, volunteer tutors and support staff and the focus is on Public Health capacity building in developing countries at very low cost. The accreditation process has been demanding, but has allowed us to gain external credibility for our offerings and to benchmark our academic level. A good business model is our next hurdle! Dick Heller.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 1:04 PM
 
Your model is very interesting.  I took the liberty to pass the web-site on to a couple of my colleagues who are working in the public health area...already this university idea is working.  J. smile
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Maria Droujkova - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 5:09 AM
 
Wayne wrote:
It is far cheaper, for example, for 10 organisations to collaborate on the development of high quality distance learning materials than one institution doing this alone. Conceivably, savings in time and costs associated with course development could be reinvested into other priority areas, for example research or providing student support for formerly enrolled students at participating institutions.


There is an inverse relationship between specificity and adaptability of curricula. The more specific materials are, the harder it is too adapt them in different circumstances. However, more specific materials (arguably) have higher pedagogical efficiency.

At one end of this spectrum are homeschoolers who create custom curricula from scratch or from components for each child. At the other end are various "standards movements."

One of the biggest components of quality is the close fit of materials to the needs of particular, individual students or groups learning together.

So, we need to talk about "Lego blocks for materials" - 10 or 1000 organizations collaborating on making large, highly customizable, well-tagged construction sets of OER activities, rather than a large single curriculum.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model--Lego model
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 6:23 AM
 
I really like the Lego metaphor. In fact, I use a similar one (taking packages off a shelf and filling a grocery cart) when I work with students. Cheers. J.
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 2:42 PM
 

Maria Droujkova wrote,

There is an inverse relationship between specificity and adaptability of curricula. The more specific materials are, the harder it is too adapt them in different circumstances. However, more specific materials (arguably) have higher pedagogical efficiency. At one end of this spectrum are homeschoolers who create custom curricula from scratch or from components for each child. At the other end are various "standards movements."

You're right -- David Wiley calls this the "reusability paradox" . This is a challenge for both closed and open learning materials. However, OER has an advantage above closed materials when it comes to reusability -- namely the legal right to adapt and modify OERs (which incidentally is why the OER Foundation subscribes to Free Cultural Works Licensing which has a requirement that OER must be stored in open and editable file formats.)

Maria, your point is well made -- in the "Open Design and Development" initiative of the logic model, we will need a focused activity on designing for reuse. I suspect there are also related aspects under the "Open Curriculum" initiative.

Picture of Eric Kluijfhout
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Eric Kluijfhout - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 2:11 PM
 
On the open business fundamentals:
  • Near-to-zero duplication costs in the e-age are a fact of life already, and open content licenses should be possible to realise for many subjects given the amount of material that is already available. From my experience in a number of developing countries however, students may not have access to the 'players' to consume these e-age learning materials (computers with internet access, smartphones/tablets). I would therefore like to ask attention for relatively 'low tech' carriers and distribution channels as well, like DVDs to distribute OERs to play on a DVD player together with a television set, or just copied/printed paper .....
  • Experiece from one of the oldest university associations, the EADTU, shows that the shared development of materials does not necessarily lead to cost savings. The same was evidenced by the 'Dutch digital university' in which Dutch HE institutions a couple of years ago aimed to jointly develop courses - in which a lot of money was burned. The lesson to learn here I think is that we have to stick to a bottom-up approach, and that financial sponsorship/subsidies may actually lead to unwanted mechanisms.
  • Fully agree on not needing 'new money', better not! - see above. On the reallocation of existing staff time however, I am somewhat skeptical. Salaries form by far the biggest part of HE budgets. And these are under pressure everywhere ...... Could we not follow the same model as industry - 'outsourcing' to low-cost countries? I realise I may not be making friends here smile but I think this ties in well with the notion of 'normal market forces' you introduce on costs-recovery for service components.
  • The argument that taxpayers should not pay twice for their learning materials surely is now dawning on politicians. But this is not to say that the institutions will move towards an OER strategy. And most likely they will only do so when they are either forced ( but as in general they employ fairly clever people, they will be able to frustrate this for a long time) or see a clear benefit for themselves. This to me is the hardest nut to crack, as we need accredited and reputable institutions to award the certificates, diplomas and degrees ....... or will it be possible to set up a real 'parallel' HE universe that will also take care of these core academic services?
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 4:33 PM
 
Hi Erik,

Very valuable discussions and interactions -- I hope you will be joining the "Open Business Models" workgroup to help us refine the business model for the OER university.

Apology for the long email -- but these are very important issues.

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

From my experience in a number of developing countries however, students may not have access to the 'players' to consume these e-age learning materials (computers with internet access, smartphones/tablets). I would therefore like to ask attention for relatively 'low tech' carriers and distribution channels as well, like DVDs to distribute OERs to play on a DVD player together with a television set, or just copied/printed paper

Absolutely! I couldn't agree more. I spent the majority of my career working in ICTs for Development (I was born, raised and started my academic career in Africa.) The reality for the majority of learners in Sub-Sarahan Africa is that they will not have reliable and/or affordable access to the Internet. So one of the first projects we tackled in the early days of WikiEducator was to develop wiki-to-print technology in collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation and PediaPress. Effectively we made it possible for every person on the planet to get a free print copy of the worlds largest free encyclopaedia. Using the create-a-book feature on WikiEducator it is possible to download a pdf master of any collection of OER pages. So in effect it would possible for a local business entrepreneur in a rural village of Uganda to produce print-based study guides from WikiEducator for local distribution -- This model will also contribute to local income generation

There is also an option to download the same content collection in open document text format which educators can then edit locally off-line using a word processor. We have also built conversion features for educators to develop materials offline and upload and share when they have access to an internet connection.

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

Experiece from one of the oldest university associations, the EADTU, shows that the shared development of materials does not necessarily lead to cost savings.

Not sure that I agree with this one -- The experience of the single mode distance education providers does suggest that the team approach produced high quality materials, but granted it is more expensive. The distance education model is to scale usage across high numbers of learners. So we use the same approach for the OER university. Team design of high quality materials. Fact: The direct cost shared across multiple institutions is cheaper. (Cost of development) divided by 10 results in a smaller number than (Cost of development) divided by 1 wink. Clearly project management will be an important facet in achieving savings benefits.

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

Salaries form by far the biggest part of HE budgets. And these are under pressure everywhere ...... Could we not follow the same model as industry - 'outsourcing' to low-cost countries?

Agreed -- and that's the huge advantage of the OER model. A percentage of salary time is spent on course development. The solution is simple, change institutional policy which requires that course materials will be released under open content licenses. Win-win scenario for all involved. The OER university will be an educational charity - -therefore, surplus funding generated will be reinvested back into course development and maintenance. So yes, I think there will be opportunities for "outsourcing" and paying academics to develop OER course materials.

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

The argument that taxpayers should not pay twice for their learning materials surely is now dawning on politicians. But this is not to say that the institutions will move towards an OER strategy.

I also think that many educators joined the profession as a vocation -- with the intention and commitment to share knowledge freely, so both politicians and educators will help the cause in my view. You're right, many institutions will be reluctant to open up their course materials. That's unfortunate, but not an insurmountable barrier. We already have the nexus of a critical mass of institutions who are committed to making the OER university concept work. For example, Otago Polytechnic (one of the anchor partners) has a default Creative Commons Attribution intellectual property policy -- its only a matter of time before all course materials are available under open content licenses. I believe that Athabasca Univeristy (also an anchor partner) has implemented a course development policy where all course revisions and developments are required to first find OER materials before they are permitted to use close source materials. The OER Foundation will be lobbying governments around the world to allocate a small portion of earmarked funding for OER course development. So for example, BCcampus administer a sizable government fund for the development of OER course materials for the Government of British Columbia. The University of the Western Cape in South Africa as a Free and Open Resources for Education policy prioritising OER development. Institutions are free to join us in making these futures happen (or they can sit on the fence while watching and join us later.) Moreover, I'm confident that that the vision of providing free learning to all students worldwide, is sufficiently compelling to acquire philanthropic bridging funding to achieve this goal.

The OER university is going to happen - -and everyone is free to help us in returning to the core values of the academy -- i.e. to share the world's knowledge as a public good.

Exciting times smile.



Robert Schuwer
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Robert Schuwer - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 11:10 PM
 

On a couple of the arguments my collegue Eric uses I have some remarks to add

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

Experiece from one of the oldest university associations, the EADTU, shows that the shared development of materials does not necessarily lead to cost savings.

To reuse learning materials, one has to find out rather easily if the materials are suited in the context you want to reuse. This means a.o. fitting to the learning goals, in accordance with your way of teaching, which preknowledge is needed etc. For the majority of learning materials this (meta)information is hard to discover (if present), so it cost a lot of time to find out if reuse is possible. Furthermore, when reused, changes are almost always needed to localize the materials. Current metadata models only partly offer solutions to this problem. Developing for reuse in my opinion therefore includes adding this metainformation to the materials (a teachers guide). Maybe we should look to software development to learn from lessons in that field of reusing software objects. The faced the same problems (huge libraries of software objects where it was hard to find out if a specific object is fit to include in a specific piece of software).

Eric Kluijfhout wrote,

Salaries form by far the biggest part of HE budgets. And these are under pressure everywhere ...... Could we not follow the same model as industry - 'outsourcing' to low-cost countries?

Another way could be to have a more industrial proces of course development (without the rigidity that kills all creativity). In my observations, the process of course development is more an art than a science, resulting in planning schemes that are not met, exceeding budgets and difficulties to adhere to quality standards. Here also I think we can benefit from experiences in industry where production models exist for different production situations, including the necessary IT support.

Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Maria Droujkova - Friday, 18 February 2011, 3:41 AM
 

Eric Kluijfhout:

Experiece from one of the oldest university associations, the EADTU, shows that the shared development of materials does not necessarily lead to cost savings.

Wayne Mackintosh:
Not sure that I agree with this one

Both are probably right: the number of creators/time per creator curve likely looks like the upside-down U, and only experiments will determine its exact shape and scale. From personal experiences, developing among small groups of entities takes more effort than solo projects, but raises quality. I do not know where is the tipping point, and I suspect it depends on the platforms and architecture used. This is one more reason to make reusability topics - modularity, meta-data, easy embedding - prominent in the model.

There are also other variables besides cost and quality that are important. For example, collaborative projects have higher visibility, and voices of their participants are amplified in the shared space. Universities may want this. It surely beats spamming prospective students with old-fashioned paper brochures.

Peter Rawsthorne
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Peter Rawsthorne - Friday, 18 February 2011, 3:42 PM
 
I am certainly in agreement that an OER University is going to happen, for better or worse I am still uncertain. I just hope that it will happen in a way that honours the core values of many academies, and shares a diverse world knowledge as a public good. I am still struggling with any centralized body facilitating this. Is there a way to create an OER University that works closely with the village to capture their local way of knowing without negatively impacting it via another way of knowing inherent in the technological vehicle (the internet and OER). I know I am sounding Margaret Meedish, but the observer does influence the outcome.

I believe this Ted talk by Wade Davis captures this very well. How is an OER University going to honour what Dr. Davis speaks... or should it?

http://www.ted.com/talks/wade_davis_on_endangered_cultures.html

I'd hope the OER University embraces (in fact encourages) a knowledge / educational diversity. I believe this should be one of its foundational principles.

Be Well...
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model--All the World's Knowledge for All the World's People
by Joyce McKnight - Saturday, 19 February 2011, 8:24 AM
 
Peter...what a wonderful talk thank you for sharing. I totally agree that this should be one of the OER-U's core principles or values and I believe we could support it by developing an approach to the learning evaluation that does not depend on course cognates but on depth of thinking required for mastery...with "depth of thinking" defined as broadly as possible. I hate to keep pushing my own institution, but already native speakers of any language other than English can receive PLA for this knowledge. Not only can it be done, it should be done. If native speakers of endangered languages knew that these skills could be acknowledged, it seems to me that there would be a greater incentive to learn them (not that it should be needed, but it might be a push back on the power thing). Let's work to make sure that acknowledgment of multiple ways of knowing is one of our core values. J.
Picture of Bernard Nkuyubwatsi
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Bernard Nkuyubwatsi - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 9:28 PM
 
Hi Paul and thank you for OERs University concept.

Who will be awarding the degree certificate? The local participating higher learning institutions? In the last year OERs discussion, it was voiced that many institutions are reluctant to use OERs because they have doubt of the quality of learning materials? How can the delay of accessibility of learning materials to learners in need caused by the lack of local participating institutions be dealt with?

To what extent is OERs really going to contribute to the decrease of tuition fee to make education more affordable, especially in the developing world?


Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 10:32 PM
 
Hi Bernard,

We're still in the planning process -- hence these discussions and the open planning meeting, but I would imagine that the local institutions participating in the OER university concept would award credit for the OER courses.

The cost of replicating digital knowledge is near zero -- therefore it is possible to provide free learning to all students worldwide. Students may need to pay for credentialisation services where governments are not able to subsidise local institutions to do this. So I do think we have exiting opportunities to widen access to tertiary education, while reducing cost to more affordable levels.

You can help us plan these futures.

Picture of Anil Prasad P
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Anil Prasad P - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 8:15 AM
 
"
  • Should the OER University be an actual entity/institution or is it better for it to simply be a framework or designation that institutions can adopt should they choose to participate?
  • Do students formulate their own learning pathway based on available OER or do institutions identify a curriculum of OER and formulate credentials they are willing to provide for completion of that curriculum?"
Hi Paul, above queries of yours are really thought provoking. Let me scribble down some raw thoughts below:

OER University can be:-
  1. a consortium of partner universities, which maintain a framework PLUS
  2. It will maintain a repository of OER approved by the consortium for courses in accordance with the framework as stated above PLUS
  3. It will maintain the registry of graduates in the so established system, so that the registry would become a single window qualification verification facility for the prospective employers.
  4. It can be a University of Universities that make the Universities truly Universal smile
Regards
Anil
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 12:36 PM
 

I really like the idea of maintaining a list of participating colleges/universities with some kind of logo that they (we) could post on our web-sites designating us as participants.

I prefer the student initiated use of OER because it easily fits our models, but I suppose either model could work.  More traditional institutions might like to create their own acceptable degrees (but if they do that why would they not want to charge tuition for it?)

Picture of Anil Prasad P
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Anil Prasad P - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 9:12 PM
 

Hi Joyce,

That’s a great idea -an emblem/logo for the OERU that will be displayed on Partner University websites as well as on the degree certificates issued based on the OERU framework. It again triggers more raw ideas like:

1. Partner Universities will be free to discuss/adopt OERU framework for their existing/ new courses and share the course materials to OERU course repository/ OER Course Management System.

2. In the above context, each partner university will be free to link the existing OER courses of other partner Universities to its new OER Degree Programmes by following same or similar systems like the “Meta Course” concept in the Moodle.

3. As I have noted in my earlier remark, OERU may need a consortium of partner universities behind it. The said consortium can collaboratively develop degree programmes that will be implemented by OERU itself. In this scenario, partner universities will take up the responsibility to validate the performance of students for credits. There shall be no restriction in various universities validating different courses of the same degree programme.

4. In the above case, Degree will be awarded by the OERU, logos of universities participated in the validation process may also be displayed in the certificate.

Regards

Anil

Blossoming Ever
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Vinod Kumar Kanvaria - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 4:04 PM
 

Hi all,

I suggest, we should have -

1. A highly motivated and helping administrative section too.

2. A 24x7 call center for assisting students irrespective of spatial constraint.

3. A 365 days online registration and evaluation process.

4. Exam on demand mechanism.

Regards.

Vinod

Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model Specific Ideas
by Joyce McKnight - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 6:02 PM
 
Great specific suggestions. Do we have someone who will be catching all these great ideas and categorizing them so we can use them in the creation process? Just wondered. Brainstorming sessions like this one are wonderful...but we need a way to make sure these great ideas especially the specific ones are somehow caught for later on in the process when we move from generalities to details. smile
Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model Specific Ideas
by Wayne Mackintosh - Thursday, 17 February 2011, 7:22 PM
 
Joyce,

Paul will be preparing a high level summary document for input into the meeting. He will be joining the meeting via audio link from Canada.

There are excellent suggestions and ideas in this forum. As we identify the mainstream activities for each initiative of the logic model -- collectively we will transfer our collective wisdom onto the relevant wiki pages for more detailed planning of the project.

So we won't loose these inputs.
Picture of David Kernohan
Re: OER University Logic Model
by David Kernohan - Friday, 18 February 2011, 4:20 AM
 
Thanks for posting this - I'm just reading through all the discussions and materials now, it's an audacious plan. I'm sorry that time differences mean that I can't be there for this meeting, I hope to attend as much of the main meeting on the 22nd as I can.

One worry however - all the stuff that actually costs serious money seems to be coming out of established traditional institutions. Content creation (in that they pay the academic staff who gain the expertise who release the content they develop as OER), and accreditation of prior informal learning (which, as anyone who has been involved will know is labour-intensive and near-impossible to standardise).

What the OER University seems to be doing is cutting out the part of the process that involve traditional institutions being paid - the teaching, for which (depending on the system) students pay fees and governments give grants. Whereas this is of obvious benefit to the students involved, I don't see how it adds to the sustainability of the sector.

Now I'm not just being a stick-in-the mud, I know that HE as a global system needs to change, and I'm keen to see new models developed. But anything that relies on what we are doing in the gaps within traditional institutions is not moving us to a new resilient model.

I think we need to grasp the nettle and set about getting real degree awarding powers, developing low-overhead quality and accreditation systems building an entirely new model rather than leaching off the old one.
Peter Rawsthorne
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Peter Rawsthorne - Friday, 18 February 2011, 11:17 AM
 
I have quietly been following along with this discussion because I think it is really really important. I am glad that their are people being critical of what is being proposed and asking fundamental questions... this is all good. I do believe their is two fundamental flaws to this discussion that need to be remedied as it moves forward.

First, we need to engage the students. I look at the demographic having this conversation and I'd hedge the average age is > 50 and very entrenched in traditional models of HE (even though we don't think we are, who pays our salary? Sorry, but please think about this statement). I think there is a reason their are no 20 or 30 somethings participating in this discussion... they are learning somewhere else and developing skills in the open, they use the social network for reputation (the replacement for the credential). I think a rigorous body of research is required to see what value 10 (cause they are the target for all this) - 20 - 30 years old's put on credentials and the idea of OER.

Second, don't underestimate the importance of indigenous and localized knowledge. We are talking about creating a global centralized governing body. Does that make sense? Thinking about cultural / learning differences, etc... Should this be built from the bottom (village) up? I believe there is a lot of evidence showing the failures of centralized efforts toward development / education. How is this any different?

I think the first step to this project would be to gather the funds together and take a serious look at student engagement 10 to 25 year olds (what they want, how they want to learn, is OER something they will engage with? and how important is the credential?). Do some serious and rigorous research at the village level in a whole slew of developing countries. Document this research, get critical feedback. Engage the target demographics...

Deep down I think this conversation is perpetuating the system we seem to want to change. I believe this discussion needs to be younger and bolder. We need to get our heads into being 15 to 25 again, discard our realities and then begin this discussion.

<big smile> Wayne, would you have expected anything different from me?

I'm looking forward to the responses. Be well everyone...
Picture of Pat Tymchatyn
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Pat Tymchatyn - Friday, 18 February 2011, 12:20 PM
 
Great points on the cultural differences and their impact on learning. I agree that credentialing is part of the past - up to a point - since hits on Google or how many tweets there are out there don't necessarily add up to substance. the question then rests on what exactly are the benchmarks.
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model--Indigenous Learning
by Joyce McKnight - Friday, 18 February 2011, 1:13 PM
 
This one is a little easier because the PLA process used by Empire State College and probably other institutions would make room for indigenous learning because we do not require that our college level learning be equivalent to a course cognate (although many are). If there is indication that the students' learning has involved high level thinking skills especially critical analysis, synthesis of complex ideas or skills, creative applications, problem solving etc. we will readily find a name for it that sounds academic and award credit. In fact, I have something of a reputation at the college for being able to find college level learning, draw a boundary around it, and help the student name it...This process could rather easily be done at the OER-U level before the student comes to what I have been calling "the receiving institution".

Both of your points are well-taken. We should keep them in mind, but they can be mastered because they are being mastered.
Picture of Bernard Nkuyubwatsi
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Bernard Nkuyubwatsi - Friday, 18 February 2011, 12:50 PM
 
I totally agree with you Peter, and I don't think asking senior leader in developing world tertiary institutions will lead to any considerable progress. Learners and teachers in Rwanda for example seem to be the viable promoter of OERs and change the senior leaders' attitude. This would be a bottom-up approach instead of the usual top-down one. There is willingness among learners, but they lack access.

Coming to your idea of engaging students, well, I am both a students and an educator. OERs have been beneficial in my Education. To have access to student's loan to do my undergraduate education, I had to regularly follow English lessons on the BBC and Voice of America. This enabled me to have a good grade in National Examinations for secondary school leavers I took as a private candidate, which was the only way I had to access this lone. I am currently working on two MAs (OU and EMU) but I am also technically employed by one of higher learning institutions in Rwanda as EFL instructor.

Regarding your concern about indigenous/localized knowledge and cultural differences, I agree with you that participation from the African context is still minimal. However, I think accessibility might be one of the issues. The other thing is, virtual environment is still not yet well understood, even among higher education staff. It will take some time for people to be familiar with online discussion. Your idea of rigorous research at the village level is critical and this is one of the things I want to be doing when I go back to Rwanda (in three months).

Maybe we need to connect and see how those studies can be conducted.

Bernard
Picture of Joyce McKnight
Re: OER University Logic Model--students/indigenous knowledge
by Joyce McKnight - Friday, 18 February 2011, 1:07 PM
 
You make two very good points and even though I am in the "ahem" older demographic I think I can reflect on them from the Empire State College student perspective. As we have moved online our demographic has been getting younger and younger for a variety of reasons including the advantages of asynchronous learning. Oddly or maybe not so oddly, our youngest students are far more likely than their older peers to be primarily interested in degrees and credentials, being told exactly what to learn and when and being evaluated through multiple choice tests rather than demanding written assignments at least until they are with us awhile and are bitten by the "learning bug". I blame this on the industrialization of education and its subsequent separation from learning. At any rate it will be awhile before formal credentials go away as commodities that can be purchased and that is an additional battle.

That said people of all ages seem to have internalized the dichotomy between credentials and self-directed learning just to learn something. Again though I am not sure that younger people actually use the new OER's for learning very much. The teens I work with in another context use it almost exclusively for social networking and games. They have no idea how to use the net for learning because in New York State school based computer systems have so many firewalls that students almost cannot get out of the building. I tried to give a demonstration of how online courses work at ESC and was not even allowed to access our web-site from the local high school computer...the same is true of all other colleges.

I agree that we cannot speak for students...but we cannot assume that their take would be different from ours especially from those of us who already work with younger students. You are right about research though...perhaps we could recruit some younger students or potential students who would be willing to join us in our quest.

Indigenous learning is addressed next.
Picture of Maria Droujkova
Re: OER University Logic Model--students/indigenous knowledge
by Maria Droujkova - Saturday, 19 February 2011, 3:54 AM
 
Joyce, good point about commodities. Young people are hungry for credentials because they have so few. Being cynical here, but learning opportunities and credentials can be simply bought if you are able to pass, whereas job experience requires much more complicated processes to acquire. So, a test or a course credit is seen as an accessible way to boost your resume. This is hugely problematic and breeds a lot of social ills, starting from degree inflation.

I think it is a brilliant idea to have students of multiple demographics participate in this panel. Maybe we should recruit some. Though we filled in the sign-up task for our learning, I think most people here think of themselves more as organizers and facilitators.


Picture of Wayne Mackintosh
Re: OER University Logic Model
by Wayne Mackintosh - Friday, 18 February 2011, 5:14 PM
 
Hi Peter,

I think of the evolution and transformation of our global education provision in all its forms as part of a larger and dynamic ecosystem compromising many nodes and points of connectivity.

This spans the full spectrum of indigenous learning, "informal" / "non-credentialised" learning (aka OpenPhd, DIY U etc) and formal eduction systems.

Whether we perceive OER and networked learning as evolution or revolution --- doesn't really matter from my perspective. As long as we move forward in sharing the world's knowledge as a public good. After all, lots of small changes over time eventually add up to big change.

Clearly the inputs of learners are important in any system of learning and knowing.

The OER university concept is just one small node in a much larger and complex ecosystem. Think of the "OER university" concept as a contribution from the formal education sector to these changing landscapes. There are individuals, communities and projects much better positioned and more experienced to pioneer the "non-traditional" components of the evolution of the system.

The OER university concept is predominantly focused on bridgeing the gap of finding flexible pathways for learners using OER to gain credible qualifications in the "traditional" sense. We are not attempting to dismantle the traditional university, but looking for ways to add value and augment existing provision by providing free learning for all students worldwide based on an OER philosophy.

The university is one of only a few organisations which survived the industrial revolution and I suspect they are well positioned to survive the knowledge revolution. So I guess we are working within our means and capacity to effect small changes within a larger ecosystem. When we add the contributions of each of the nodes in the system -- I suspect we may achieve the transformation you are talking about.

Cheers
Wayne