Designing OERu Credentials: Aug 29-Sept 13, 2011

Non-traditional OERu Models

Non-traditional OERu Models

by Paul Stacey -
Number of replies: 37
In my own presentations and conversations with others on the OERu many participants have expressed discomfort over OERu discussions focusing exclusively on working within existing traditional education models.

Some participants in the Jumping Right In discussion thread have made similar comments. A sampling includes:

Mary Pringle suggesting the OERu "articulate processes and standards for becoming part of a professional or scholarly community for online and distance learners--I imagine the guild-like online groups that have sprouted up around various DIY activities, for example."

Asif Devji asking, "Does focusing on credentials not reinforce the logic (dare I say hegemony) of traditional educational institutions?" and goes on to say, "I guess I was hedging towards a model in which OERs, or an OERu, could be used to help people without access to a university education build portfolios of work in their chosen fields and prepare for job-skills testing -- thereby developing a workaround to university credentialing while nonetheless gaining 'credible' experience/knowledge of the field."

Wayne Mackintosh thinks, "the trick is not to innovate beyond the capacity of institutions or society to integrate those innovations", and that there are, "a number of projects which are better equipped and experienced to respond to the needs of "informal", "non-formal" and "Edupunk-like" learning -- for example, P2PU, initiatives like the Saylor Foundation and many dimensions of the MOOC model."

So I thought I'd try and separate the two conversations. The Jumping Right In discussion is seeking to use OER within the traditional education model where institutions are key partners and enablers.

This Non-traditional OERu Models thread is devoted to non-traditional model ideas for the OERu.

Use this thread to share your more radical ideas and aspirations for the OERu. How would it work? What are OER making possible that wasn't possible before and how would an OERu help make that happen?

Paul
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Rory McGreal -
Supporting one "go forward" model does not preclude others. The key aim for me in supporting the OERu initiative is to take a step forward in building a global educational system that anyone, anywhere can access AND get some kind of official recognition for their efforts. The recognition part is important to many people if not to all. This does NOT preclude other initiatives in moving forward the agenda of universal accessibility to learning as a human right. The non-credentialed approach is valid, bypassing traditional structures. Some learners will prefer this. Some will want credentials. In education there is too much "either/or" devaluing alternative approaches. We need BOTH or many approaches. The key question for the 21st century is how we can efficiently and cost-effectively educate/train 6 billion people. The present system is not sustainable and certainly cannot be expanded to accommodate. New approaches are needed. I am focusing on the OERu because I think it is the best approach, I've come across so far, others may prefer different approaches. Other approaches may arise in the future.
Thanks Paul for opening up this discussion.
All the best
Rory
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Reflecting on the history of organised education -- there was life before school :-)

The mass organised and formal school system was in many respects a consequence of the industrialisation of society. There was a time before organised school as we know it. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask whether there will be life "after formal school" as we know it today in a digitally connected word.

I'm with Rory on this one -- the "traditional" does not preclude "non-traditional" solutions. In fact, I suspect they may be able to support each other in a connected future. I see the traditional, non-traditional and everything in between as nodes within an evolving OER ecosystem.

From a strategic management perspective -- I see the OERu initiative focusing on the formal sector and corresponding traditional approaches. Not that the non-traditional are not important, just that the OERu must not be led into the allure of mission drift and trying to be all things to all people.

We have an important task at hand -- widening and providing more affordable access to the additional 98 million learners seeking placements in the post-secondary education sector in the next 15 years. Stated differently - -this equates to building the equivalent of 4 sizable universities (30,000) every week for the next 15 years.

As a small educational charity - -the OER Foundation has opted to focus our contributions to the more traditional approaches.

Exciting times ... .but looking forward to seeing what the non-traditional nodes will be able to contribute to our collective eco-system.


In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Joyce McKnight -
I'm with Rory on this one -- the "traditional" does not preclude "non-traditional" solutions. In fact, I suspect they may be able to support each other in a connected future. I see the traditional, non-traditional and everything in between as nodes within an evolving OER ecosystem.

Me too...the more we can try to help "traditional" and "non-traditional" come together the better. There are a substantial number of us non-traditional institutions that have credibility now that it can be done. Joyce McKnight, Empire State College

As a small educational charity - -the OER Foundation has opted to focus our contributions to the more traditional approaches.

I think you are right to focus...the OER Foundation is taking on quite a lot...but on the other hand several, if not most, of the anchor partners are already "non-traditional". We have just been around long enough and formally accredited long enough to have some credibility. smile
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Gina Bennett -
I understand the interest (even focus) on building an OER credential from existing systems & I can't argue with Wayne when he notes how innovation falters when it exceeds the capacity of institutions to integrate those innovations. However, I think Asif Devji makes a critical point about the hegemony of traditional educational institutions, alluding to the degree to which major universities in effect 'own' the world's academic credentialling. I wonder: does it have to be that way? Forever??? So even though it may not seem sequential to ponder non-traditional credential ideas for the OERu, I still think it's valuable to take a few minutes to dream about an optimal system. Even if such a system is impossible to implement given current realities, identifying an ideal to work towards can help us make decisions about those realistic increments along the way.

So what would such an optimal system look like? Here's my daydream...

First of all, I recognize the desire for a credential. A credential is a social document: it recognizes a particular bundle or collection of learnings that together have more social value or more utility than the same collection when documented in an unconnected way. A credential is an implied guarantee that I can perform a particular function/job in society; it's social metadata.

So the people & organizations that employ or define social functions would need to detail the knowledge, skills & attitudes (to use traditional instructional design language) required for each function. And they would need to have a process by which this definition can be kept up-to-date. And the definitions need to utilize somewhat standard terminology & they need to be stored in a common database.

And then we would need detailed – I mean DETAILED – assessment tools, transparent & available to all. So when I become interested in qualifying for a new job, I can look at the assessment tools & do a pretty good self-evaluation of what I know & can do. I can use a variety of resources (OERs, experts, learning communities) to develop knowledge & skills I lack. When I'm ready, I can utilize a supervised testing service to have my knowledge formally assessed & I can book time with an expert to have my hands-on skills assessed. When I have demonstrated a prescribed level of readiness, I become eligible for a co-op placement or internship or maybe even an entry-level job.

So my daydream is very similar to Asif's portfolio idea with one difference: my dream includes that master database of social functions with the detailed list of learnings required to work in those positions. Such a database would be outside & ABOVE the authority of the universities. Educational institutions could still be involved of course because they often provide very efficient pathways for acquiring a package of learning. But in my daydream, they no longer have the power to credential; only to support preparation for credentialling. And something larger than the network of current institutions would be responsible for storing & maintaining the database & maybe that's where the OERu (would have to change its name though I think) would come in...

Lots of flaws in that model I know but that's as far as I get in my dreaming before I tend to wake up :)
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Gina -- great to see you here -- College of the Rockies is an early pioneer in the OER space. I recall your early donation of teaching materials to WIkiEducator a few years ago :-).

Gina Bennett wrote,

I can't argue with Wayne when he notes how innovation falters when it exceeds the capacity of institutions to integrate those innovations. I wonder: does it have to be that way? Forever??? So even though it may not seem sequential to ponder non-traditional credential ideas for the OERu, I still think it's valuable to take a few minutes to dream about an optimal system.

Nope -- it doesn't need to be that way. I don't think the traditional and non-traditional approaches are mutually exclusive. I don't think that building a a sustainable OER ecosystem (formal, non-formal and informal) is like the revolution versus evolution debate. Lots of small steps in the formal sector will add up to big change for all learners in the future.

That said, I envisage that the majority of your suggestions and ideas for the future will be implemented by the OER university concept with the added advantage that those learners who choose to acquire a formal credential will be able to do so -- much easier, faster and cheaper than currently possible today.

Gina Bennett wrote,

And something larger than the network of current institutions would be responsible for storing & maintaining the database & maybe that's where the OERu (would have to change its name though I think) would come in...

I think we have these aspects covered as well. Very easy to change the name of the OERu -- its openly licensed content and derivative works are possible :-). I suspect that the network will want to talk about the most appropriate name for this innovation partnership and it will be an agenda item at the planning meeting. The OER Foundation is an independent non-profit which stands outside the university and college sector to facilate the kinds of things you are talking about. The OERu is one of number the flagship projects co-ordinated by the OER Foundation.

If you are looking for a larger network -- well you can increase the size of the network by one by getting the College of the Rockies to join us as one of the founding anchor partners. Send me the address particulars of the correct person to whom I should address an invitation and I'll send the college a formal invitation. You will be in a better position to implement your vision for the future by sitting with us at the planning table ;-)




In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Gina Bennett -
Hi Wayne, you wrote:
I don't think the traditional and non-traditional approaches are mutually exclusive. I don't think that building a a sustainable OER ecosystem (formal, non-formal and informal) is like the revolution versus evolution debate. Lots of small steps in the formal sector will add up to big change for all learners in the future.

I suppose you are right although it is agonizing for those of us who grasp the potential of an OERu sort of idea to have to wait for those countless 'small steps'. After all, most institutions already have some sort of PLAR process in place but as has been noted so many of those processes a) provide opportunity to acquire only a small proportion of required credits; b) are more time-consuming than taking the course they propose to circumvent; c) are prohibitively expensive. We did a lot of research into existing PLAR policies when we revamped our policy at College of the Rockies & we were impressed by the "tone" of many such policies which we found to be restrictive, negative (punitive even) & in effect extremely discouraging. Maybe an initiative like the focus of this SCoPE discussion will help a significant number of institutions move beyond such stillborn PLAR policies & move us closer to the tipping point.

And finally
you can increase the size of the network by one by getting the College of the Rockies to join us as one of the founding anchor partners.

An intriguing invitation Wayne & I will follow up with you on that.
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Gina Bennett wrote,

I suppose you are right although it is agonizing for those of us who grasp the potential of an OERu sort of idea to have to wait for those countless 'small steps'.

By joining the OERu, you will be joining a winning team. The size of the OERu's steps exceeds the average of conservative institutions. So we will get to your dream faster than others. The OERu is a team of leaders - not followers.

The OERu team, is in my view, best positioned to make the changes we need for more sustainable education futures. I can't guarantee that there will be no "agony" but can assure you that it will be less on the OERu side of the fence ;-).

In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Gina Bennett wrote,

We did a lot of research into existing PLAR policies when we revamped our policy at College of the Rockies & we were impressed by the "tone" of many such policies which we found to be restrictive, negative (punitive even) & in effect extremely discouraging. Maybe an initiative like the focus of this SCoPE discussion will help a significant number of institutions move beyond such stillborn PLAR policies & move us closer to the tipping point.

Gina, I'm working with colleagues at Athabasca University on a small Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant looking at how existing PLAR policies, protocols and practices could potentially serve OER learners within the OERu context.

I'd be very interested in touching base with the College of the Rockies on your own research findings. Were you involved in the research project? Who should I contact to find out more?

The UNESCO/COL Chair for OER at AU is leading the project which means the research project will be open :-) -- so excellent opportunities to share and build better futures for us all.


In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Mary Pringle -
I like your daydream, Gina. It makes sense to me. Mine is smaller, reflecting the fairly narrow sphere of my work life, but outlandishly big at the same time: the problem of rampant plagiarism and cheating reported in North American universities is to me a symptom of a bankrupt pedagogic paradigm and a clear call for a completely new way of doing things. I have seen students put as much energy into getting around the system as it would take just to to what is asked of them. Instead of being excited and motivated by the chance to learn, they are cynically doing what they think it takes to get "the piece of paper".

I would like enterprises like OERu to be part of a movement to redesign higher education so that the idea of plagiarism becomes mostly irrelevant, and cheating is a less viable option than just doing the work because the work is really relevant to the student's goals and virtual self-presentation. I know the pieces are out there, put putting them together will take a brain bigger than mine (probably a collective one).

I think a lot of this is already implicit in the ideas circulating around OER and PLA--I just haven't seen it spelled out in this context.
In reply to Mary Pringle

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Mary Pringle wrote,

The problem of rampant plagiarism and cheating reported in North American universities is to me a symptom of a bankrupt pedagogic paradigm and a clear call for a completely new way of doing things.

When you refer to plagiarism -- are you referring largely to the unauthorised copying of information?

Fascinating -- OER provides the solution -- using open licences our content encourages legitimate plagiarism - -that must be a win for the OERu ;-)




In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Mary Pringle -

 

Wayne Mackintosh wrote,

When you refer to plagiarism -- are you referring largely to the unauthorised copying of information?

Fascinating -- OER provides the solution -- using open licences our content encourages legitimate plagiarism - -that must be a win for the OERu wink

You are very focused on the cause, Wayne! I don't think using OER would deter plagiarism by students—as you know, rather than write papers themselves, they cut and paste from the Internet or use essay-writing services. This is mostly a problem in the humanities whereas the sciences have more of a cheating problem with copying/sharing solutions. Computer science, the discipline I work with mostly, has a plagiarism problem with students copying code rather than writing it themselves.

It is a problem in assignment design and also the focus on grades rather than the learning process that both students and teachers fall into. I like to see students working with the materials in ways that promote authentic learning and make cheating irrelevant. The best example I know of is the Wikipedia school and university projects, where a group of students might collaborate on writing or editing a Wikipedia entry with a goal such as creating a featured article. Students are able to develop many needed skills, including higher-order thinking, in a public way that makes plagiarism immediately problematic—an embarrassing situation to be avoided.

I know there are cultural differences with respect to how acceptable it is to copy, but I feel it is especially crucial in disciplines such as nursing and engineering that can have life-or-death consequences that students really learn the content and skills. If principles that support this could be built into the OERu system, it would be a huge gain. This would be a good time to generate ideas on how to do that.



In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Plagiarism and Copyright

by Steve Foerster -
Wayne wrote:

When you refer to plagiarism -- are you referring largely to the unauthorised copying of information? Fascinating -- OER provides the solution -- using open licences our content encourages legitimate plagiarism - -that must be a win for the OERu wink

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are completely unrelated!

Plagiarism is not unauthorized copying of information. It's referring to the words or ideas of another without crediting them as the source. For example, it would be plagiarism for me to claim to have written Hamlet even though the works of Shakespeare have long entered the public domain.

Plagiarism is a legitimate concern because it's an issue of academic honesty and because avoiding it doesn't raise barriers to access to knowledge, since it's always possible to credit the source of ideas — permission of the source isn't required, only crediting them is.

That's very different from a copyright, which is a state-granted entitlement of monopoly by which one can be barred from transmitting knowledge or ideas at all.

-=Steve=-
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Rory McGreal -
Stephen's description of the difference between plagiarism and copyright is important. I would add however that they are not "completely" unrelated. There is a relationship however small. They are quite distinct as he points out. On the other hand people should be aware that there is NO copyright or plagiarism involved in copying ideas. It is only the particular expression of an idea that is protected under a limited monopoly as Stephen points out. It could be considered unethical to take someone else's idea without crediting the source, but who ever has a truly original idea of real merit? They are very rare. Of course the idea could be patented, but patents only last for 17 years unlike copyright which is now lasting "forever less a day".
In reply to Rory McGreal

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Rory, Steve and Mary

I think we are all concur that academic dishonesty and unethical use of ideas and published resources without acknowledging the source (even when there is no legal requirement to do so) is unacceptable.

Eben Moglen, Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University illustrates the issues rather well in his 2001 speech on the ownership of ideas. You can view a extracts of the video here. Eben remarks that if he has seen into the future, its because he stands on the shoulders of Giants. Eben points out that:

"I stole that from Isaac Newton, who stole that from Luis Steothis, who stole that from Bernard Shouters. Which we know because the American sociologist of science, Robert Merton, taught us that, who stole it from an anonymous author of a note in a British journal, in 1934, who stole it who-knows-where."

My concern is when educators and education institutions unintentionally communicate through their pedagogy, policies or systems that copying is a bad thing.

Copying can be good. Its good in research, because we build on the ideas of others. Copying is good in software development as demonstrated by the free software movement - -its more efficient because it saves time, resources and produces more robust and secure code. Copying is good in learning -- think of young children mimicking behaviour of adults and the extensive learning models based on apprenticeship -- that is "copying" or to be like the "master".

I recall when my family reallocated back from Canada to New Zealand. Given the difference between academic years in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere -- there were situations where my son had already covered work in Canada, which was "repeated" here in New Zealand. My son was required to submit a project in New Zealand -- with virtually identical requirements to a project he completed in Canada. He did the smart thing and copied his work done in Canada, tweaked it a little for local outcomes -- He saved time and energy. The local educator was not pleased with the fact that he had copied work he had done previously which from my perspective had already met the educational outputs of the assignment. This illustrates that sometimes we in education are obsessed with the issue of copying when in fact copying is educationally sound.

The "cultural" dimensions of copying or not valuing copying is one of the major challenges we face in the mainstream adoption of OER. We need to cross the chasm from "sharing to learn" (ie sharing OER teaching materials) to "learning to share" (starting from a culture that its OK to copy learning materials.)


In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Mary Pringle -

Wayne Mackintosh wrote,

Copying can be good.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with you on this. I'm actually working on a "21st-century" composition course that begins by asking students to consider their roles as consumers, repurposers, and creators of data/information/knowledge. My concern is that students are cheating themselves when they don't learn how to attribute authorship as expected and even more when they don't do the work it takes to become a confident thinker and writer. In my own teaching, I've noticed that overburdened and underprepared adults often feel that this is their only recourse. Of course, the issue pretty much disappears when students are studying something because they want to learn about it, and there is no grade or credential attached. But since a credential will be attached, I like Gina's ideas about open, transparent, and unbiased assessment.

Here is one of my favourite comments on copyright:

In reply to Mary Pringle

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Mary Pringle wrote,

My concern is that students are cheating themselves when they don't learn how to attribute authorship as expected and even more when they don't do the work it takes to become a confident thinker and writer.

Absolutely! Hopefully we will be able to optimise the design of the OERu model in a way which helps learners to discover these truths.

I think we're on the right path to finding the best solution -- with open and transparent processes we ought to get this right.


In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Joyce McKnight -
I am not so concerned about plagiarism in the sense of copying like Wayne's son did when he copied a Canadian assignment in a New Zealand context and tweaked it appropriately (I call that learning transfer when I do it myself). I am concerned with students who actually hire people to write their papers or go out on line and cut and paste something vaguely relevant to an assignment and don't even bother to change the verb tenses or the context...and I swear sometimes they don't even read the article they have copied...
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Steve Foerster wrote,

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are completely unrelated!

Steve -- I agree with the underlying rationale referring to the ethics of acknowledging and appropriating sources as an issue of academic honesty. However. I don't agree that plagiarism and copyright infringement are completely unrelated.

Unauthorised copying of all rights reserved content outside of the legal parameters of fair use or fair dealing is plagiarism. So there is a relationship.

Similarly, your Hamlet public domain example does not require legal attribution (which in this sense is "authorised" copying) in common law countries, but in civil law countries there is some debate on the duration of moral rights (i.e. a legal imperative for attribution once copyright has expired.) Nonetheless appropriation of a public domain work as your own in Hamlet example is copyright fraud,-- but we agree that this is an issue of integrity and academic honesty. This is an example of a work in the public domain because copyright has expired.

However, in the case of an author who dedicates works to the public domain with a very clear statement that the author intentionally wants to waive all claims to economic and moral benefits. In other words this is not in PD because copyright has expired and the author has expressed a clear wish that they do not wish to have moral rights or appropriations -- if the original author is attributed by the re-mixer, is this potentially an absurd example where attribution is not honouring the requests of the original author. Fortunately we don't have to worry too much about this exception - -there are so few of us who would be prepared to waive moral rights and benefits.

The satire of the concept "legal plagiarism" is having the desired effect of allowing us to explore the issues :-)

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Steve Foerster -
Wayne wrote:

Unauthorised copying of all rights reserved content outside of the legal parameters of fair use or fair dealing is plagiarism.

Nonetheless appropriation of a public domain work as your own in Hamlet example is copyright fraud

I believe you have it backwards.

The former case is copyright infringement. If you write a book and don't license it or release it into the public domain, and I email a PDF copy of it to all my friends, then that's copyright infringement, but you're still clearly noted as the author so it isn't plagiarism.

Only in the latter case, where I falsely claim to be the author of something, would it be plagiarism — and it would still be plagiarism even though Hamlet is in the public domain and thus there is no copyright to infringe.

As for "moral rights" of the author, yes, there are some jurisdictions that don't permit people to disclaim government entitlements of monopoly on their output. But if for some reason I don't want a work to be attributed to me, I'd hope people would respect my stated wishes rather than some legislation that was emitted by some parliament somewhere.

-=Steve=-
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Plagiarism and Copyright

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Steve Foerster wrote,

I believe you have it backwards. The former case is copyright infringement. If you write a book and don't license it or release it into the public domain, and I email a PDF copy of it to all my friends, then that's copyright infringement, but you're still clearly noted as the author so it isn't plagiarism.

Yes - I agree in your example above, however I don't see that I have it backwards -- it depends on the nature of the copying and the context. There are clearly instances where unauthorised copying can be both copyright infringement and plagiarism.

For example, if as a student, I were to cut and paste (i.e. make a verbatim copy) of a number of paragraphs from Wikipedia into my essay and submit my essay assignment as if those paragraphs were my own without acknowledgement of the source, the act of unauthorised copying in this example is plagiarism (including infringement of copyright). Hence establishing a relationship between unauthorised copying and plagiarism.

We're splitting hairs here - -but all forms of plagiarism involve misappropriation of authorship but can involve unauthorised copying which is easier to do in a digital world.

Steve Foerster wrote,

Even though Hamlet is in the public domain and thus there is no copyright to infringe

It is the national copyright act and Berne Convention that gives Hamlet its public domain status. In case where copyright has expired, the public domain cannot legally exist in the absence of national copyright.




In reply to Mary Pringle

Non-traditional OERu & plagiarism

by Gina Bennett -
Mary, I agree that plagiarism is a problem when it refers to the kind of copying that reflects academic laziness & dishonesty. Of course, some of the behaviours we label as 'plagiarism' in European-based academies would not be considered misconduct in other academies. For example, I understand that in many Asian cultures good ideas are often regarded as a 'common good' without requiring (socially or legally) the recognition of a specific individual.

There really is something to be said for the separation of formal learning assessment (examinations for credentialling) and learning support ('teaching'). In my earlier days as an adult educator I taught many GED classes. For the uninitiated, 'GED' refers to the General Educational Development tests which are sometimes used to credential a level of learning equivalent to the completing of secondary school. At first I highly resisted the need to 'teach to the test', rebelled against the stress for my students of the 'high stakes' tests, & wanted the right to assess my students' learning myself. With time however, I began to appreciate that with someone else doing the assessment & credentialling, I was freed to teach without the power differential that inevitably develops when the teacher is also responsible for assessment. And although it *is* possible to cheat when writing the GED exams, it's much, much more difficult than sneaking in somebody else's essay as if it's your own work.

So I really like the potential of the OERu to provide an open, transparent & relatively unbiased venue for assessment & creditation.
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu & plagiarism

by Valerie Taylor -
Having worked in science, engineering and information technology, where it is essential to understand and use the work of others, it continues to concern me that so much of academic "training" focuses on plagiarism and eradicating it. In order to get anything new accomplished in STEM fields, one must be ready, willing and able to use the work of others. Not using other known work because it was "Not invented here" is considered remarkably short-sighted. There seems to be a serious disconnect between academic practice and life after academia.
In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: Non-traditional OERu & plagiarism

by Valerie Taylor -
Learning to build ethically and constructively on the work of others is an invaluable life lesson.
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Asif Devji -
Hi Gina -- fantastic dream:

  1. An always-upgrading databank of knowledge/skills/attitudes defined for jobs in particular fields.

  2. Detailed and transparent evaluation tools that learners can self-access and use.
What you seem to be calling for is open learning objectives and open evaluation within an OERu model -- and it makes perfect sense.

These are areas where an OERu can set higher standards and deliver a superior product to (rather than mimicking) traditional universities.

University courses tend to lag behind the rest of society/economy -- when things change rapidly, the university cannot quickly integrate those changes into its curricula.

Your model has the changes being documented by the field itself directly in the database (ie. on-time, on-the-ground needs assessment), and therefore allows immediate access to data on which an OERu can act to modify its materials (including evaluation tools) to reflect the new reality.

A learner emerging from such a program of OER study would then possess more current (and so relevant) information and practices than would one emerging from a traditional university program.
In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Asif Devji wrote,

What you seem to be calling for is open learning objectives and open evaluation within an OERu model ... These are areas where an OERu can set higher standards and deliver a superior product to (rather than mimicking) traditional universities. University courses tend to lag behind the rest of society/economy -- when things change rapidly, the university cannot quickly integrate those changes into its curricula.

Hi Asif - I like your ideas of open learning "objectives", open assessment, open PLR etc which are developed transparently and collaboratively because this provides a more cost effective way for universities to keep curricula up to date without necessarily excluding institutions "outside" of the conventional post-secondary sector.

I agree this is an area where the OERu can be more agile and responsive when compared to the traditional curriculum model of many post-secondary institutions.


In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Gina Bennett -
Thanks Asif; you are correct: open learning objectives and open evaluation are precisely the concepts I had in mind. I just didn't know that there were functional terms to define these concepts but as I see you use the terms in context it makes perfect sense. And I love your insinuation that by setting such a high standard, an OERu could theoretically offer a learning credential superior to those offered by traditional universities.

I do appreciate Wayne's desire to keep our innovation within the limits of how far the current system can stretch but I love to contemplate what *could* be given the limits of what is.
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by simon fenton-jones -
Hi Paul,

Can I just give a history of the only institution from which I've been issued a credential. 35 years ago, when i wanted to learn the ins and outs of a recording studio, I went searching for a uni who had some equipment. After playing in bands and going into recording studios since I was 16, I was used to a certain level of gear.

After doing the rounds of the local unis, it was pretty clear they had nothing which i would call professional equipment. I knew what I needed to learn; most of it was practice on some decent gear.I already knew enough musos to rope in some guinea pigs; the tradeoff being a demo tape.

I ended up in a recording studio where the engineer was starting to run a short 9 month course. The equipment was professional. Today, the private company looks like this; the largest A/V/web design college in the world. They have some courses accredited by Middlesex uni.

It seems we are in much the same situation today. There are loads of jobs going begging, primarily because the unis don't have the professional tools or techniques to prepare students for the global media business. SAE included.

Just reading some of Susan's dreams it's pretty obvious I'm not alone. So I have to ask. Surely, if we are looking for approaches that separates the OERu from local unis, shouldn't we be looking for what the need is in the market. I'd suggest a course like "Master of Comms (global). But that said, how could OERers offer a course when they haven't the professional equipment/platform on which to teach/learn?
In reply to simon fenton-jones

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

simon fenton-jones wrote,

Surely, if we are looking for approaches that separates the OERu from local unis

To be clear -- the OERu is not a physical organisation in the sense that it confers degrees. It is a network of accredited post-secondary institutions from around the world.

The purpose of the OER Foundation and the OERu initiative is to support educators and education institutions in the achievement of their objectives using open education approaches. We are not in the business of undermining the formal education sector -- but rather, we are helping formal education institutions better achieve their missions through the mainstream adoption of OER. As I have said before in this forum -- there are numerous projects in the global OER ecosystem who are better placed and more experienced to distinguish themselves from the local unis in the "Edupunk" sense. I suspect that our OERu efforts will help and support the future growth of all forms of education.

You're own life story is a good example -- Traditional universities are not the best institutions for all forms of learning - which is particularly true in a number of technology related areas or entrepreneurship. History abounds with university and college "drop-outs" who have become very successful business people. Also, industry and employers know this. We're an open source software organisation -- when appointing technical staff, we would sooner look for coders who have demonstrated their skill and experience in real open projects than appointing a Masters or PhD graduate from MIT.

I'm suggesting that the OERu must keep an element of realism in its work -- let's restrict ourselves to what we can realistically achieve while providing and exemplar for more ambitious futures.


In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by simon fenton-jones -
To be clear -- the OERu is not a physical organisation in the sense that it confers degrees. It is a network of accredited post-secondary institutions from around the world.

Sorry, I was under the impression that the OERu was a network of post-secondary institutions from around the world who issued degrees for the same course, which some of their employees jointly provided.

I'm looking at SAE's online approach. They have a distinct advantage over the "accredited institutions" as they have bricks and mortars on 5 continents, and one management. So putting a short course, or curriculum for a long one, together isn't that hard.

But they do suffer from the same problem as an OERu. They don't have a modern platform on which to teach/learn. That's why Susan's ideas about a dual mode conference were so interesting. I'm talking to a few secretariats who have to support international (disciplinary) groups, mainly in government, who could really use this kind of approach (and the other ideas OERers will have in mind).

I'm also at the point with a few NREN apps managers, where I have to give them an idea of what "low lying fruit" (i.e. services) an OER would see as necessary to do the job well. There's a meeting soon between some leaders in the network.edu space to talk about co-ordinating globally.

So please believe that I'm being realistic. The hardest thing for me is convincing people who are in the government and education industries to believe that, in the online world, they are in the media business. I'd love to see about a POC on this patent.
In reply to simon fenton-jones

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

simon fenton-jones wrote,

Please believe that I'm being realistic. The hardest thing for me is convincing people who are in the government and education industries to believe that, in the online world, they are in the media business. I'd love to see about a POC on this patent.

mmm, not sure if I would equate a university education with the media business.

I think the university is and will remain to be an important institution for the future of society. It is one of a handful of medieval organisations that survived the industrial revolution and I see no reason why it will not survive the information revolution. The "universitas magistrorum et scholarium" as an independent and autonomous community of scholars continues to provide society with an important voice for the future of humanity.

That said, I have no doubt about the realism of your intent or your passion to convince government and industry to believe that they are in the media business. You have a number of very innovative ideas and I think these have a place in the larger business ecosystem.

The OER Foundation who is co-ordinating OERu activities as an education charity does not have the remit or authority to submit proof of concept proposals for your patent. Perhaps the venture capital market would be a better and more productive avenue for proof of concept funding for your patent?

It would be great to see your idea operational. Do you envisage developing this as an open source software product? The OER Foundation is an open source shop.







In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by simon fenton-jones -
Hi wayne,

Just a explanation of what I meant by unis being in the media business. I think it's pretty obvious that if you're producing/capturing OEResources, you're producing media. Here's an example of what I mean in the OER video space. It's a problem, as Steven points, out that our education systems view OERs as static objects and not flowing streams. That's been the paradigm shift in media which edu institutions haven't been able to come to terms with (a failed English major:).

The big problem that I've seen for the past decade is that OERers, who are progressive disciplinary groups scattered around the world, simply aren't offered some decent open ICT tools and infrastructure (by their National institutions and Networks). E.g. "Let's use Elluminate today. We'll get around to an open version in the future".

There have been many attempts by different parties at writing a credential for global release. Here's one that was attempted by a group who wanted a common diploma for Europe and beyond. NEM has a membership of big broadcasters like the BBC (with who the OUUK has a working relationship). None has gone anywhere because they don't focus on the students and the jobs into which they might fit. One only has to monitor the unemployment rate of grads internationally to see the results of this institutional myopism.

So please keep in mind that OERs, or their lacking, is a not problem. The problem is in the way they are aggregated and disseminated from points in cyberspace. One only has to go through the OCWC members sites to see the profileration of "me too!"

At the moment we're about to start a nice little discussion between some NRENs and some service providers. One of them should give OERers a half-decent replacement for Elluminate. But even then we have the same problem. OERers, and their materials, are scattered around thousands of domains, in different languages.

So please don't dismiss the patent out of hand. If I wanted bucks, I'd be going to Google and saying "here's a way to nail down your Google + "hangouts" in cyberspace. Just give me an alternative to how one can create a directory for OERu's global disciplinary (inter-institutional) group's comms and resources. i.e. media
In reply to simon fenton-jones

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Asif Devji -

simon fenton-jones wrote,

So please believe that I'm being realistic. The hardest thing for me is convincing people who are in the government and education industries to believe that, in the online world, they are in the media business.

Here's the funny thing -- when you tell a university it's in the business of doing business and should therefore be delivering cutting-edge education using cutting-edge media, you'll get to hear how the university serves a wider social and humanitarian function than simply training workers for jobs; when you tell a university that it can serve a wider social and humanitarian function by offering low-cost online options to millions of potential learners hungry for knowledge and skills, you'll get to hear how the university is in the business of doing business and can't afford to give away its 'competitive advantage'.

Just as with the Britannica-versus-Wikipedia battle, universities may still occupy their traditional role as the bearers of (peer-reviewed) knowledge, but they don't yet know how to package that product for efficient large-scale distribution (and still make money).


In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Asif Devji wrote,

when you tell a university that it can serve a wider social and humanitarian function by offering low-cost online options to millions of potential learners hungry for knowledge and skills, you'll get to hear how the university is in the business of doing business and can't afford to give away its 'competitive advantage'.

Hi Asif -- enjoyed reading your post.

Well its not necessarily true that universities and colleges will argue that they are sacrificing competitive advantage when serving the humanitarian goal of providing low cost options to millions of learners. Although sadly -- this is true for the majority of post-secondary institutions.

However there is a silver lining and hope for the future. I can name a few post secondary institutions who will be contributing to more sustainable education futures through the OERu and hopefully prove your statement wrong ;-).

Consider for example:

My faith in education is restored observing these leading institutions who are returning to the core values of education - -that is sharing knowledge freely.

While the majority of formal institutions will argue that widening access to more affordable education opportunities might impact on their "competitive advantage" - -there are a critical mass of institutions who don't buy into the idea that taxpayers should pay twice for their learning materials. That must be good for humanity :-D


In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by simon fenton-jones -
Thanks Wayne, Asif,

By media, all I mean is that we're going through the same hiccups which were happenng when the steam-powered printing press was introduced and all those things called "scientific journals" popped up. (I love the story of Lancet). Institutions adapt or die, so it's interesting being in the middle of watching a change in from industrialized edu institutions to ?? My preference is the euro approach. You might like this August issue.

But so far as the infrastructure, the yanks do tend to lead. So when I talk about virtual rooms, I'm talking about the kind of global network infrastructure which will enable OERers to do what they want. I'm beginning a cross-Atlantic conversation, terena in Europe, which might have a few NRENs focus on (services for) Global disciplinary groups (OERers) rather than National institutions.

You've got it in one Asif. "Packaging a product" is not something I would ever accuse a university at being good at. It's in the aggregation AND distribution which gets all of them in a tiz. Using a uni's name for an aggregation point (DNS) means they suffer the same restrictions as any publisher. (Look how impressive our brand name is! Britannica?)

I must tell you Wayne. I had this dream of investing the patent in the OERu foundation. My ideas are not that grand. You only have to look at how the OUUK supports the mass media today. (Watch a TV program/stream. Go to a web site) But we've still got a little way to go with how "IP networks" are conceptualized.

That's still a confused subject. E.g. NREN managers have given progressives the largest wireless network in the world. But what do they do? Go to "their" institutional DNS rather than one in which "an independent and autonomous community of scholars" share their learning.

It took 100 years, from the intro of steam-powered printing presses, for Melvil Dewey to put some shape on institutional libraries. I do hope it won't take so long with the Web's DNS.
In reply to simon fenton-jones

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Asif Devji -
Hi Simon,

Sorry for the late response -- I took the time to go through your info and links -- excellent idea & excellent initiatives to move it towards implementation.

For me, the model you're proposing fills in the tech gaps in the OERu concept in terms of providing common networks to undertake learning communications & collation of/access to learning materials.

Question: Would an independent learner not associated with a university be able to become part of the networks?
In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by simon fenton-jones -
You're right. It's one of the problems. But most of that can be developed by including a guest account, which apps like Moodle can handle. This is a 'levels of access' (configuration) challenge. e.g. You can read everything. But might not be allowed to write unless you're enrolled in a course. (maybe via a paywall). I'm sure you and others have some ideas of a broader credentialing process; the most open being for gov's to issue credits to a lifelong learning account.

So far as "insiders" are concerned, there's a road to plough in getting the geeks (my affectionate term for network app managers) to align a country's federated Institutional credentials with a combination of apps (services in network speak). This is the Australian view.
Refeds provides the best illustration of the international perspective. I'm rounding up a few refed cats. But progress requires a few global OER communities to go "woof!surprisesurprise (at the same time.)

The problem for me has always been how to come up with a non-institutional directory to an experts group's global space. E.g. This seminar is hosted on a domain called bccampus.ca, with the research discipline classified as (say) New education systems/pedagogy. Even if OERers went to their individual refed guys and said "we want a Moodle and xxx on the (con-federated) common services list" you'd still want a way to tie the apps to an IP address, so that the Community could be found, apps shared, and the goings-on, left with associated materials, as a (long term) archive.

You'd also want a way to tie the real time comms to an IP address, so E.g. when you logged onto a moodle, you could see who else was online and have a chat/conference. (Time zones are a problem). OUUK did do this quite well a few years ago, for a while, but it can't be sustainable unless you develop the services as a global (inter-NREN) ones. (quality-of-service issues as well)

Please keep in mind that with a directory, I'm only talking about the DNS scheme. Each IP address could be hosted anywhere (or same place). Also, the combination of services attached to each could vary.
Thanks for the interest.
In reply to simon fenton-jones

Re: Non-traditional OERu Models

by Betty Hurley-Dasgupta -
Hello. I'm Betty Hurley-Dasgupta (formerly Betty Lawrence) from SUNY Empire State College, recently named the Open University of New York. These are exciting times for Empire State, as an anchor member of OERu.

Empire State College was founded on the premise that learning should not be restricted to facilities and other resources owned and managed by us. Rather, we encourage and expect our students to credential with us what they already know and then work with us to identify the best resources for attaining their goals. Until very recently, the college did not own any buildings and many of our locations are still in shared space, primarily at community colleges. We have no labs other than a few computer rooms. But, through our network of resources, we work with students to find what they need when they need it.

So, we would either credential the learning in recording through our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process or work with the learner as a student by arranging for independent studies.

Our PLA process is relatively non-traditional, since, rather than it being the student "testing-out" of pre-defined topics, the student works with a mentor to define topics that reflect their actual learning.

This is pretty time intensive. And, as Wayne indicated in anther post, our services are currently only available for matriculated students. I'm pleased to see our institution move to considering ways to expand our outreach. Our participation in OERu will certainly help us move forward on this important part of our mission as the Open University of New York.