OER university: Feb 16-Mar 2, 2011

SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Paul Stacey -
Number of replies: 20
Hi all. As you know from discussions and plans today is the OERU face-to-face meeting happening in New Zealand. For instructions around virtual participation see:
http://wikieducator.org/OER_for_Assessment_and_Credit_for_Students/Virtual_participation

This SCoPE seminar has been planned to stimulate discussion in advance of todays meeting and to provide a forum for follow-on discussion after today's meeting. I promised Wayne I'd provide a short summary of our discussions and drop-in think tank web conference as an input into today's face to face meeting.

Here's what I submitted:

OER University - A Summary of SCoPE Seminar Inputs

The following notes are summarized from SCoPE OERu online discussions and an OERu drop-in think tank web conference session held over the period 4-21-Feb-2011. The summary has been distilled from contributions made by participants from Israel, United States, New Zealand, India, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Portugal, and Brazil.

OER University Model and Ideas

The OERu:
  • is a a consortium of partner universities - a university of universities. Participating colleges/universities are given an OERu logo to post on their web-sites designating them as participants.
  • un-bundles the package of services traditional universities provide: recommending (and selling) learning materials, forming learning groups, arranging learning experiences, supplying teachers, certifying
  • provides a search service for OER materials and maintains a repository of credit based OER approved by the consortium
  • brings together currently separate OER initiatives to generate collaboration between them for development and assemblage of OER into mutually credentialed outcomes.
  • creates a framework within which existing OER can be assembled and new OER development positioned.
  • establishes a world OER credit bank and trans-national qualifications framework. Institutions developing OER can register their OER with the credit bank specifying what credit they are willing to accord those who successfully complete the learning outcomes associated with it. OERu assembles or creates the transfer/articulation aspects of assembling OER into a credential. Each OERu university partner can link existing OER courses of other partner universities to its OER degree programmes
  • facilitates creation of an OER learning path, learning plan, and/or PLAR documentation template for students ideally through consultation with advisor or mentor
  • helps learners systematically pursue learning plan and create a portfolio that can be assessed
  • provides student support resources to help students navigate their learning paths and compile portfolios. Partners with institutions who provide options for student support possibly on a fee for service basis. A 24x7 call center for assisting students.
  • creates a social learning context for OER reinserting or applying pedagogy to OER. Utilizes mass collaboration approaches combined with social networking to establish peer-to-peer and tutor-student support potentially with senior students receiving credit for tutoring juniour students. Provides a brokering/marketplace where those who want to facilitate learning can meet those who want to learn. Emphasizes peer-to-peer social learning over teacher/student traditional learning. Students as teachers solidifies learning.
  • prioritizes low-cost / low-bandwidth solutions for learner support and uses mobile technologies for these interactive components
  • provides continuous entry points throughout the year with entry by exams rather than prerequisite courses or degrees. A 365 days online registration and evaluation process.
  • supports individual pace of learning, multiple exit points, including instant certification by testing
  • removes affiliation requirements, residency or citizenship requirements, age restrictions (make OERu undergraduate and graduate programs open to children)
  • provides certification or links to colleges and universities who do a PLAR like assessment of the portfolio
  • ­awards the degree with logos of universities who participated in the validation process displayed on the certificate or alternatively the universities themselves confer the credentials
  • maintains a registry of graduates

OERu Users and Use Cases
  • 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
  • personally designed pick and choose model where students formulate their own learning pathway (likely favoured by working professionals)
  • structured degree model where templates of predefined OER are assembled into a curriculum leading to a credential (younger students looking for qualifications to move into professional area in labour market)
  • OER-U could also work in K-12 sector to establish 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

OERu Questions & Challenges

How to develop the course materials for learners globally?

Providing not only free education but free authentic, valid and reliable certification too. Leaners may need to pay for credential services unless national governments provide grants to cover these costs through the state education system.

Finding a free online platform or specifying that learning materials for the OER university be developed (or converted) into open file formats that are equally accessible by a variety of Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

OER have to be available or at least readily convertible to low tech, pencil and paper, or print-based materials.

Institutions will not move toward an OERu strategy unless they see a clear benefit for themselves. Does OERu need to be a parallel higher education universe?

Develop low-overhead quality and accreditation systems building an entirely new model rather than adapting the old one.

The concept of an OER-university is an innovation and a major one for the education globally. Individual and organisational adoption will depend on the current concerns and benefits of this innovation for them.

Be more creative. Start without thinking about existing systems and courses. Rethink units of learning.

OERu needs to be younger and bolder. We need to get our heads into being 15 to 25 again.

We already have a critical mass to at least get one degree operational.

This summary is available for the New Zealand participants and anyone else as a .pdf download in the OERU Meeting Agenda.

Its always a challenge to distill and coalesce the rich discussions we've been having but I'm hoping you all find this a reasonable representation. Thank you all for your insights and suggestions, I think this summary is a great start to defining an OERU. Feel free to post a reply here with anything you'd like to add. I'll be briefing the New Zealand participants on our activities and this summary via phone later today.

Paul
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Nicholas Bowskill -

Paul, thanks for doing the hard work of bringing it all together. I think it's a wonderful wide-ranging discussion we've all had. I still see one problem. Will we/anyone provide or receive it all for free?

I wish I could convince my local supermarket to join this idea of everything's free, fresh, fully staffed etc but they don't seem to get the idea. I use this flippant example only to point up the oddity of such expectations.

I can't see my university saying let's get our staff to allocate a year to develop free stuff and then support any and every passer-by for free. Then give free accredition for it and provide free subject, technical and information management support in the free package. There are costs involved so who's picking up the tab? I can see lot's of interesting opportunities in this but the issue of cost must surely be addressed.

I think SCOPE is a brilliant model of an OER. It's well run, well supported and intellectually stimulating. You can't ask for more and it brings in a global perspective. But even here someone pays for it.

Finally, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those of you in New Zealand after the recent earthquake. It was a shock to us all.

Nick

In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Maria Droujkova -
Nicholas, I love your supermarket example because it underlies the differences between the space of physical objects and informational spaces. If apples were OERs...
  • Once a gardener grew an apple, infinitely many copies could be made for "almost-free" (cents per millions)
  • If I made an apple pie, I could give it to all my friends anywhere in the world, instantly. And I would not have any less left for me!
  • If I organized an apple party with bobbing for apples and other fun apple games, my party would have infinitely many rooms for infinitely many companies of guests. Each room would come with all the party supplies.
  • If I developed an orchard that produces exceptional apples, a fellow farmer could instantly grow its clone at another place, then work on localizing it.
In reply to Maria Droujkova

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Robert Schuwer -

@Nicholas and Maria: Of course the supermarket example differs from the wordl of OER, but I do support Nicholas in being realistic about what can be offered for free and what not. To built upon the apple-metaphor:

  • Before the apple can be harvested, a gardener has to plant the tree, maybe fertilize the ground, take care birds are not picking the apples. All these activities cost time and he has to spent money on buying fertilizer et cetera.
  • For growing the clones the same argument counts.
  • When I bake apple pies from the almost free apples, this cost energy and cost my time. Someone has to pay for that.

At our university (Open Universiteit Netherlands) we are investigating ways to have as much OER available as possible. We are thinking about services where people want to pay for to finance the offering of OER. One rule of thumb is that every service that is generated without any human interferention is offered freely. Among those services are not the assessment and crediting services. Other institutions maybe want to pay for making those services available to people who cannot afford this (e.g. by giving grants), but someone has to pay the bill. And for me that is not necessarily the organisation offering the OERs.

In reply to Robert Schuwer

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Maria Droujkova -
Very helpful, Robert! This made me think of a few ideas:

Some students in the US put up "finance me through this semester!" requests on pledge aggregator sites, and there are even platforms being designed for the purpose. Something of that sort can be designed to sponsor professors developing materials.

Grassroots groups put together grants that finance researchers - for example, last year I shaved my head in St. Baldrick's event (childhood cancer research support). Quite a lot of genetics studies in rare deceases are financed this way. To provide examples from my field, mathematics education - concerned parents can raise funds to support a course on mathematics curriculum development in the style they find appropriate. Iconic personalities who already have strong following can be sponsored to develop materials and to teach, by their "fan clubs." "If you want to take a course with Maria Montessori, here is where you can make a donation to make it happen" - well, Montessori isn't with us anymore, but that's the idea.
In reply to Maria Droujkova

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Robert Schuwer -

Nice ideas! The question remains if there are ways for financing and supporting OER that are more "stable". I guess the possibilities will differ per country (e.g. US and the Netherlands are very different in the way initial higher education is supported by the government). The challenge is to develop business models taking into account the possibilities and limitations for each context that can be distinguished. Creative one-time solutions however will always be necessary to take care for exceptions or for those situations where more institutional business models are simply not possible.

In reply to Robert Schuwer

Re: Financing Models

by Joyce McKnight -
I agree Robert. The US has very different approaches to funding higher ed than the rest of the world. Here it is mostly seen as a private investment rather than a public good so it will require different approaches as the OER-U moves toward self-sufficiency. On the other hand, we can perhaps build a conceptual business model and then adapt to each country or at least each broad funding model.
In reply to Robert Schuwer

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Maria Droujkova -
Since there are no clear precedents, any solution, initially, will be creative and one-time. Hopefully, sustainability patterns can emerge from such examples.
In reply to Maria Droujkova

Re: Love that metaphor

by Joyce McKnight -
I love that metaphor Maria...and I think it is one of the main points we want to convey...perhaps we could add another thought. If you made the apple pie and I made the cheese or maybe the ice cream...around the world we all could have apple pie and cheese or ice cream! :-)
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Joyce McKnight -
Yes, please add my thoughts and prayers to those affected by the earthquake in New Zealand. Joyce McKnight
In reply to Joyce McKnight

Re: SCoPE Summary Input - thanks from the earthquake zone

by Niki Davis -

So sorry to have missed input to this debate, especially I really appreciate your ecological metaphors for growing the OER-U. I had also hoped to stimulate discussion on teacher education and PD.

However there were more pressing concerns here to support students, colleagues and community. I can see that there are plans afoot to continue so I hope to have an opportunity in future.

Meantime please accept our thanks for your concern and your support - as my yoga teacher says "Everything that lives moves and everything that moves lives" and we apply that to the whole world too of course. So our earthquake is also sign of life that the world is changing and we need to do our part to ensure the change is healthy and ameliorate challenges.

Best wishes and thanks to you all, especially Paul and Joyce,

Niki

In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Anil Prasad P -
Hi Paul,

Excellent summary! Great job! SCoPE seminar inputs will definitely speedup the formation of OERU .

Thanks a lot,

Warm regards
Anil
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Joyce McKnight -
Great summary of our discussions over the last week or so. The meeting yesterday was great. Even though it was disrupted by the earthquake those who were present physically and those of us who were present virtually seemed to be able to make great progress. One concern I have is that as we keep some kind of continuity as we divide into the various components of the logic plan. Several of the steps are rather similar now, but could go off in rather different directions.
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Richard Schwier -
Let me echo your thanks to Paul for these notes and also to Wayne, Jim and others who created an energetic and important environment for this discussion. I was privileged to be at the meeting, and I was impressed by the commitment and passion of people at the table and attending virtually.

Given the supermarket and other similar threads of conversation here, I think we are seeing a very real tension that naturally accompanies OER ideas like this. How tied to traditional institutions and traditional notions of funding, developing, delivering, and assessing courses should we be?

This initiative seems to be taking the position that the OERu will be careful about what is included as legitimate and how courses will be assessed and lead to certification--funding partners and partner universities will serve up what they can and contribute to a larger, collective, shared vision. This is a fairly institutional view of things.

That's not bad, and I'm not demeaning it, but I think some tension comes from acknowledging that there are other views of OER and how it might be turned into meaningful experiences for learners. The proposed approach won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I consider it a useful and important contribution to the landscape. And it will address what a lot of people are looking for.

I'm also interested in seeing some development in other directions--less institutional, less prescribed, less controlled, and yes, more chaotic. I suspect there is some appetite for those kinds of initiatives too. But what I'm interested in is probably more appropriately thought of as a food bank than a supermarket.
In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: SCoPE Summary Input Thoughts on the Two Directions

by Joyce McKnight -
I too think there are at least two major directions for OER, but using some of the jargon of Adult Education as discipline, they are not mutually exclusive. Here we have been working on a largely institution piece that will enable people to use OER resources to build transcripts and/or portfolios leading to formal credits and credentials. I personally find the global emphasis on credentials rather than learning repugnant but it is a reality that credentials do open doors...so I think our emphasis on links to formal education is necessary.

On the other hand, OER opens the doors to marvelous opportunities for self-direction and life long learning, but many people (including me) need some guidance on how to use resources to plan learning projects for their own enjoyment, avocational learning, or career development. I think there is a need for guidance for such informal learning as well as the more formal credentialing. I am hopeful that some of what we learn in making these formal linkages will spill over into the informal use of OER...in fact, I hope one of our pedagogical goals will be to assist students in learning the skills of self-directed learning that will lead beyond the degrees and credentials into life-long learning and sharing with others.

I hope we will keep both goals in mind, but I think our efforts will be most useful if we can use OER and linkages to accredited institutions as a way of helping those who are now locked out of formal education attain recognized credentials. Joyce McKnight, State University of New York, Empire State College
In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Richard, pleased you could make the meeting and thank you for your contributions.

Richard Schwier wrote,

This initiative seems to be taking the position that the OERu will be careful about what is included as legitimate and how courses will be assessed and lead to certification--funding partners and partner universities will serve up what they can and contribute to a larger, collective, shared vision. This is a fairly institutional view of things.

That's correct -- the OER university concept aims to achieve credible qualifications from OER learning that will be recognised by the formal sector.

I agree the unfolding OER ecosystem will need to be complimented by the development in the "less institutional, less prescribed, less controlled, and yes, more chaotic" nodes of the ecosystem for networked learning on the open web. There are other communities, projects and initiatives who are far more experienced and better positioned to build these nodes, and I hope to see rapid development in this area.

I don't see these as being mutually exclusive when core learning artefacts are shared as OER. The OER university concept is intended as a contribution from the formal sector in addressing the need for credible qualifications from OER learning - both formal and "non-traditional" learning. There will be many learners who choose other pathways - -and that's healthy in my view.









In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Richard Schwier -
Yes, Joyce and Wayne. I agree we need a wide array of opportunities to properly serve a diverse and changing world. And there may, in the long run, be some fascinating synergies possible. University programs have long recognized the need for electives, and while we're expanding the notion of university, we might also be able to expand the boundaries of what we think of as elective study.
In reply to Richard Schwier

Great Idea!!! Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU

by Joyce McKnight -
What a great idea! Enabling students (and their professors) in traditional universities and colleges to use OER's to build independent studies (as electives) would be one exciting and relatively painless way to bring traditional but progressive institutions like the one I attended many years ago into the fold! At least in the US a great many institutions already have provisions for such elective study.
In reply to Joyce McKnight

Re: Great Idea!!! Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
I get the feeling that there are a lot more OER or learning objects as many of these used to be called in the past, out there. Is there a plan to connect all OER under one roof or just to categorize and share the links? I have been following the Merlot, Edna, and Wisconsin Learning Objects OER concept for a number of years. I am trying to envision the development of the OER university. I hope it will have lots of traffic.
In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: SCoPE Summary Input to Today's OERU New Zealand Meeting

by Richard Schwier -
And thanks again, Wayne, for so graciously allowing me to participate in the meeting. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I hope our paths continue to cross from time to time. All the very best.

Rick