Designing OERu Credentials: Aug 29-Sept 13, 2011

Organisational models for free (no-fee) learning and low cost OER credentials

Organisational models for free (no-fee) learning and low cost OER credentials

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Number of replies: 0
There are a few international examples and approaches emerging which are using OERs and open access learning materials to provide free learning opportunities with options or plans for acquiring credentials or some form of recognition.

It is interesting to compare the organisational models with reference to credentialing and to consider whether the organisational approach makes a difference. However more importantly, I think its important for post-secondary institutions to realise that there are early prototypes which show remarkable similarities to the characteristics associated with disruptive innovation. OER and credential may change the way your organisation does business in the future.

Here are a selection of early models and approaches.

New start-up plus accreditation application -eg. University of the People

The University of the People claims that they are the world's first tuition-free online university. The University of the People is a non-profit dedicated to providing universal access to higher education. University of the People is in the process of applying for accreditation in the USA. Shai Reshef -- an experienced and successful businessman in the international education market has a every chance of success in achieving accreditation and a sustainable model -- judging by past experience.

Philanthropist model - Alternative path to traditional education - eg Saylor Foundation

Michael Saylor, a business entrepreneur has established a sole trustee non-profit. The Saylor foundation aims to provide a zero-cost alternative to those who lack the resources to attend traditional universities. It is reported that Michael Saylor pledged $100 million for this free Internet university. Saylor.org have listed a number of degree programmes and are assembling courses from existing OERs and filling gaps with their own development. Their own website is licensed CC-BY and they report that 77% of their content is now complete. They are planning to run online assessments and hope to establish relationships with industry who will recognise this form of learning and assessment. See video from Alan Harrington, Program Director at the Saylor Foundation prepared for first OERu meeting.

University-based OER projects plus host institution accreditation

There are a growing number of university-based projects who publish OER courses or open access courses which students can access at no cost. This try-before-you-buy model is being implemented by a number of institutions, for example the Openlearn project of the British Open University, and the Flexilearn initiative of Indira Gandi National Open University in India. I believe there is government sponsorship for tutoring services with the Flexilearn project. Accreditation is provided by the host institution.

Non-traditional non-profits and new accreditation models eg P2PU

The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots OER project which facilitates peer to peer learning groups on almost anything. Drawing on open source software traditions, P2PU are collaborating with the Mozilla foundation on a Open Badge system for accreditation.

Traditional university networked collaboration eg OERu

The OER university is a non-profit networked model of accredited colleges, polytechnics and universities collaborating on providing free learning opportunities using OERs combined with assessment and credential services from participating partners. OERu partners agree credentials and cross-credit transfer and articulation of course credits.

Questions for discussion

We need your advice ...
  • Are there other models emerging which should be listed?
  • Does the organisational approach make a difference regarding cost, scalability and sustainability of the model?
  • What are the most important advantages / disadvantages of each of these models?
  • How might these models interact and collaborate within an evolving OER ecosystem?
  • Which model would you recommend for your institution?
  • Which model will you be able to sell to your Vice Chancellor or President?
  • Other thoughts and ideas ....