Designing OERu Credentials: Aug 29-Sept 13, 2011

Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Number of replies: 19
Hi everyone,

SCoPE seminar members have suggested that a qualification like a Bachelor of General Studies would be a good candidate for the inaugural qualification. There is also the suggestion for planning exit point credentials along the pathway to achieving a Bachelor's degree.

This is well aligned with early thinking and discussions among some of the anchor partners. The ideas and context posted here are largely based on the thoughts and summary posted by Professor Jim Taylor AM from the University of Southern Queensland on the main OERu list on google groups. (Jim is away travelling at the moment - -and I've taken the liberty to repost his ideas here.)

Diploma of Arts -- A prototype credential for OERu

Potential anchor partners are naturally interested in how each institution might best contribute specific courses to the OERu initiative. In preliminary discussion among existing partners we have used the Australian context of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Diploma of Arts (DART) as a potentially useful starting point.

A dIploma means different things in different countries -- but in this context it is a credential which is the equivalent of the first year of study (Freshman year) of a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

The DART program aims to provide students with an introduction to study in Arts disciplines and programs, and to provide a basic qualification for credit transfer/exemption in other programs.

In effect, the Diploma of Arts is available as an entry point for most USQ programs not subject to auditions and interview requirements. This program should appeal to those students who want to sample a range of university subjects before embarking on a more specialised degree program. The program offers substantial choice and flexibility, allowing entry to a wide range of career and study options, including transfer to other degree programs. For example, the DART provides articulation into the following USQ undergraduate programs: Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Business; Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science ; Bachelor of Creative Arts; Bachelor of International Studies; Bachelor of Communication; Bachelor of Social Science.

In many respects, it could be regarded as a step towards a transdisciplinary foundation year. To explore the current range of courses from which students may choose at USQ, please review the program structure.

Anchor partner participation scenario

The OERu concept is to assemble courses based largely from existing OERs. The idea is to integrate and use a "pedagogy of discovery" using e-tivities now possible with digital and networked learning (We'll start a new thread to share ideas about pedagogical approaches for the OERu - -so this post is restricted to thinking about the appropriateness of the credential and how the curriculum collaboration might work.)

In the broader context of OERu, in the first instance anchor partners in the OER Tertiary Education Network (OERTen) could contribute to assembling a small number of OER courses at the foundation level.

For example, with just 6 partners providing support to assemble 3 courses each, there would be a total of 18 courses with students able to select 8 from 18 options to gain a Diploma of Arts, equivalent to the first year of a Bachelor’s degree. (The credits and number of courses may differ slightly internationally -- but the network will fund solutions to resolve cross-border study load / credit differences. Think of this credential as the equivalent of 33% of a Bachelors degree.)

With more anchor partners it would of course be possible to extend the range of courses and choices offered across disciplines to extend the transdisciplinary nature of the Diploma. Again using the Australian context as a reference point, with 10 institutions assembling just 3 courses, students could have a choice of studying 24 from 30 courses for the equivalent of a a full three year Bachelor’s degree in transdisciplinary studies. The structure of the open curriculum will be discussed in detail at the forthcoming Anchor Partners Meeting in November in New Zealand. Associated issues of guaranteed cross credit between anchor partner institutions, and relevant national qualifications frameworks will also be on the agenda.

Advantages

  • More flexibility for participating institutions to choose what courses they could contribute.
  • Many institutions already have a Bachelor of General studies or similar on their books.
  • Attraction of transdisiplinary studies with more flexibility to suite individual needs.
  • The prototype credential could be operational within a reasonable time frame - -eg one year.
Questions, thoughts ideas and suggestions welcome.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Prince Obiri-Mainoo -
Very well illustrated! Thank you Wayne but how does this translate into for the student in the US and the U.S. credentialing system generally? Or phrased differently, how would the Dip in General Arts be seen by a US university that would receive applications from students with this certification in view of the fact that the diploma is not very popular with several US universities? Please, correct me if this assertion is not the case!

Prince
In reply to Prince Obiri-Mainoo

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Steve Foerster -
Most American schools accept foreign credit in transfer based on how it is evaluated by a fairly small set of foreign transcript evaluation services. These consist of a non-profit group called AACRAO and the various members of a trade association of these services called NACES.

Assuming a favorable evaluation by these providers, I expect that most American schools wouldn't accept it as a diploma, as such, but would accept all the credit that goes into it, which is functionally identical. Most American Bachelor's degree programs have copious requirements for liberal arts subjects and electives, so there would be plenty of "space" where this sort of credit would fit — almost no matter what subjects were involved.

-=Steve=-
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Prince Obiri-Mainoo -
Dear Steve,

Thank you for filling me in. The mentioning of the two accrediting bodies is great for me.

Prince
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Prince Obiri-Mainoo -
Dear Steve,

Thank you for filling me in. The mentioning of the two accrediting bodies is great for me.

Prince
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Joyce McKnight -
I still don't think that we should be offering an actual credential...diploma or otherwise...but if we do (and I will bow to the majority)...I believe you are right...the credential itself would need to be evaluated by one of these international bodies and then ESC at least could bring it in as a whole chunk of prior evaluated credit...having an international agency would be easier than doing it ourselves although I think we do that sometimes too. Betty probably knows better than I do as would Nan Travers who is the one who is in charge of PLA stuff for the whole college and an expert. J.McK
In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Irwin DeVries -
Hi Wayne,

The Arts Diploma will obviously provide a broad-based array of laddering possibilities. One thought is to cluster the 18 courses into (overlapping) sets of 8 that best support the next layer of choices and to promote those as well while not excluding general studies. This arrangement may then appeal both to those who want to sample, and to those who have some clear goals in mind and can begin tracking from the outset. For instance, one area of strong interest in higher education - and with broad global relevance - is Business. Access both to degrees and to opportunities for employment are relevant factors here. If some of the initial Arts courses double up for career program prerequisites or requirements, all the better.
In reply to Irwin DeVries

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Irwin DeVries wrote,

One thought is to cluster the 18 courses into (overlapping) sets of 8 that best support the next layer of choices and to promote those as well while not excluding general studies. This arrangement may then appeal both to those who want to sample, and to those who have some clear goals in mind and can begin tracking from the outset.

Hi Irwin -- I think you have identified a significant opportunity for the design and implementation of the inaugural credential for OERu.

When you say cluster (overlapping) -- are you referring to different designations or specialisations streams within the credential?

I suspect this may also have strong implications for how the OERu might provide or automate carreer guidance and learner support for assisting students with particular career goals in mind.

Definitely want to here more ...

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Irwin DeVries -

Wayne Mackintosh wrote,

When you say cluster (overlapping) -- are you referring to different designations or specialisations streams within the credential?


Yes – the idea is that the initial OER/courses could focus on such areas as nursing and education or business with several of the OER/courses possibly common to all three or at least two of such areas while also allowing for an Arts diploma. Quite a few lower level courses that are useful (core or elective) for regulated professions are generic. International credentialing services provided by various higher education jurisdictions could be consulted to see which courses are broadly accepted internationally for starters. I realize this approach aligns more with the existing system of higher education than some would advocate, but it makes sense to me to start with as many knowns as possible and move forward from there. This approach also does not preclude building new and unique credentials from the same OER/course pool.
In reply to Irwin DeVries

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Irwin DeVries wrote,

Yes – the idea is that the initial OER/courses could focus on such areas as nursing and education or business with several of the OER/courses possibly common to all three or at least two of such areas while also allowing for an Arts diploma. Quite a few lower level courses that are useful (core or elective) for regulated professions are generic

mmm -- I like this line of reasoning. Conceivably, within an OERu model the pedagogy could be more flexible in streaming assessment for different "carreer" groups.

For example, Communication skills for Nurses, Business or Science students. In other words the OER collaboration model facilitates better alignment for different audiences within "core" courses of an Arts or other credential.

So it is plausible to have different assessment and e-portfolio paths for different careers / professions within generic courses. Easier to do and scale cost effectively within an OERu network than trying to do this as an individual institution. Smart thinking!

I'm beginning to like the OERu concept more than when this SCoPE seminar started.



In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Deleted user -



Adding a credential system for bachelors of Education and Nursing would also be great. These two professions tend to be the most widely practiced in some developing countries and the majority of existing teachers and nurses are under-qualified.

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Steve Foerster -
I certainly agree that Bachelor's degree programs in Education and Nursing would be great, but the more regulated a profession tends to be the more challenging it will be to design OER-friendly programs for it, particularly if they're to be useful internationally.

-=Steve=-
In reply to Steve Foerster

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by David Porter -
Me too.

I agree with these very practical choices for degree programs. They make a lot of sense in all contexts with respect to need. They also come with a sort of non-competitive feel to the subject matter in that both are what might be termed "helping" professions, always in need of new people with aptitude and commitment.

Like Steve, I have to admit that each would have its regulatory challenges. But, a challenge is also a good place to begin because it brings focus and a clarity of purpose to the goal.

I like these choices.
In reply to Deleted user

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Asif Devji -
I would agree that an education-based credential (B.Ed?) would be a good one to pilot this initiative.

That way you'd be building both an educational program as well as educators (whose feedback could be invaluable during the process) who can then spread the model in their own work.

Plus what a great way for future educators to learn -- immersed in the real-world messiness of educational system change and experimentation.
In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Mary Pringle -
When I first started studying instructional design, we briefly dealt with the question of education versus training. I think the instructor concluded that it was no longer a relevant question. Maybe it isn't, but I like the idea that this program might be more weighted toward the traditional education end versus, for example, http://alison.com/, which is not a bad thing, but clearly on the training end of the continuum. If I were designing an OER e-learning program, this would be a great piece for the technical part of it, but not sufficient for an educational program IMHO.
In reply to Mary Pringle

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Hi Mary,

I think the education versus training questions are particularly relevant for the OERu network. The OERu network spans the full spectrum of universities, community colleges and formal vocational education providers.

In today's world, I don't think the traditional institutional-based distinctions are appropriate, for example, to say that polytechnics or community colleges are not focused on the education side of the continuum while universities are not concerned with vocational education.

I think it is important for all involved in formal education to take a careful look at initiatives like http://alison.com/ . This is a good example of the for-profit sector operating as a social enterprise to provide access to free learning opportunities. At one level -- the message is clear, if universities do not provide free learning opportunities, the private sector will and its already happening -- notwithstanding the cost advantages public institutions have through government subsidies.

There are hybrids of the model closer to home as well. Consider for example the London School of Business and Finance who offer a free MBA. -- ie MBA course material at no cost. The "LSBF Global MBA" is trademarked and accreditaion is provided through the University of Wales.

My recommendation is that the OERu network should use our strength as experienced educators and providers of credible credentials to provide fee learning opportunities with pathways for credentialling, cheaper, faster and of better quality than the likes of alison,com or the London School of Business and Finance or others. We should lobby governments for changes in the funding model which promote the use of OER in our systems - -this is how we can argue legitimacy in an economic sense.

Note that neither Alison.com or the LSBF base courses entirely on OER and the course materials would not be available for adaptation or modification by OERu partners -- However as open access materials -- there nothing to stop the OERu from directing students to using these materials. Under this scenario -- I wonder how long those materials will remain open access?

We live in an interesting world.





In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Asif Devji -

Wayne Mackintosh wrote,

At one level -- the message is clear, if universities do not provide free learning opportunities, the private sector will and its already happening

This is interesting -- one thing I've been pondering since the beginning of this seminar is: What's in it for the universities?

As the gatekeeper of credentials and the jobs they lead to, they currently hold the monopoly on their product. Only when they see their market share drop enough will universities begin to change the way they deliver education and credentials.

But what you say above is true -- the universities are starting to see competition for their consumers from (for-fee) private sector start-ups.

So something that could be in it for universities in participating in OER networks are partnerships that can give them (1) a wider brand presence in the online marketplace as well as (2) a jumping-off point for restructuring towards a more efficient system of targeted course development and delivery -- assuming the OER model is able to offer more efficient/workplace-centred needs assessment and more efficient/learner-centred evaluation frameworks and consequently superior educational products.

In this way, a win-win scenario could be played out -- in which both the OER movement and the university restructuring process might enable one another to move forward in a sort of mutual symbiosis that could then benefit education as a whole.

I would call this the strategic leveraging of a "co-operative advantage".wide eyes

All depends on the quality of the product(s) produced by the OER movement, however.

I'm seeking critical thinkers to take task with my logic above -- just to make sure I'm not wandering down the meandering path towards idealism.

In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Asif Devji wrote,

I would call this the strategic leveraging of a "co-operative advantage". ... I'm seeking critical thinkers to take task with my logic above -- just to make sure I'm not wandering down the meandering path towards idealism.

I think you raise valid points, and OER networking in the formal sector is the equivalent of industry's co-opetition model, i.e. where organisations choose to collaborate so they can compete better.

Co-opetition refers to the practice where companies work together for selected parts of their business where they do not believe they have competitive advantage, and consequently agree to collaborate in areas where they can share common costs. Consider for example, the collaboration between Toyota and Peugeot Citroen who share design, component parts and a jointly owned manufacturing plant to produce competing city cars. There is clearly an element of this competitive driver in the decisions for institutions to consider joining the OERu network.

That said, I am personally an optimist by nature and also believe that our founding anchor partners have a deep seated commitment in the educational values which underpin the OER movement -- that is to share knowledge freely and that this is the most important driver for engagement. Apart from the OER Foundation which is an educational charity -- all our partners are state-funded education institutions who are widening access to learning as part of their community service mission.

So a double win-win -- The OERu provides and effective mechanism to realise the university's community service and educational mission with the added advantage of becoming more competitive when compared to those institutions who do not engage in the OERu.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Paul Stacey -
During the webinar a consensus seemed to emerge around a Bachelor of General Studies being a good choice as an OERu inaugural credential.

It seems to me that a possible process for moving forward is to:
  • use existing anchor partner Bachelor of General Studies program definitions as the starting point
  • design an OERu Bachelor of General Studies degree that complies with anchor partner requirements while at the same time providing options, flexible specializations, and laddering opportunities
  • identify courses that could comprise the OERu Bachelor of General Studies degree
  • search for and correlate existing OER resources to match identified courses
  • identify gaps and develop new OER to fill the gaps
  • work with OER anchor partners to leverage existing student support and assessment services that could be made available to students pursuing this degree
  • openly publish PLAR templates, portfolio requirements, challenge exams that match program/course requirements
  • and so on …

I thought it might be interesting to visit OERu anchor partner web sites and seek out their Bachelor of General Studies program and course descriptions.

The following anchor partners have a Bachelor of General Studies program on their sites:

Athabasca University - Bachelor of General Studies
http://calendar.athabascau.ca/undergrad/page03_07.php

Thompson Rivers University - Bachelor of General Studies
http://www.tru.ca/distance/programs/general-studies/bachelor.html

The following anchor partners don't specifically have a Bachelor of General Studies but have other credentials that could fit within that scheme:

Empire State College
http://www8.esc.edu/ESConline/Across_ESC/academics.nsf/allbysubject/Undergraduate+Degree+Requirements?OpenDocument

University of South Queensland
Diploma of Arts
http://www.usq.edu.au/handbook/current/arts/DART.html

University of South Africa
http://www.unisa.ac.za/default.asp?Cmd=ViewContent&ContentID=26606

Otago Polytechnic
http://www.otagopolytechnic.ac.nz/schools-departments.html

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
http://www.nmit.ac.nz/schools.aspx

Another interesting suggestion made during the webinar is to design the OERu Bachelor of General Studies in such a way that anchor partners would each be responsible for at least one course. This would mean they all have skin in the game and establish a collaborative consortia approach to OERu credentials.

Paul
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Thoughts on a "Diploma of Arts" as the the protype OERu credential?

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Paul Stacey wrote,

and so on ...

That's a good summary of the discussions and webinar reflections. I'd like to add a bullet with reference to the possibility of specialisation streams or designations. So for example, Athabasca's Bachelor of General studies has designations for Arts, Science and Applied Studies. I thought your suggestion regarding an Associate Degree in the sciences given the availability of OER in these disciplines was a good one and a specialisation stream covers this rather well.

Also, I don't want to loose this point because it would possible for us to have specialisations for education, nursing etc as suggested by members of the list.