Designing OERu Credentials: Aug 29-Sept 13, 2011

OER innovation threshold - What is the number of OERu innovations

OER innovation threshold - What is the number of OERu innovations

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Number of replies: 2
Hi everyone,

One way of thinking about innovation is to measure the concept as creativity or new ideas successfully implemented. It is conceivable that the world could provide free (no cost) learning opportunities for all students worldwide -- however we are a long way from achieving these ideals.

Sir John Daniel prepared a short video called "Open but tough" for the inaugural meeting of the OER university. Worth a look. In this short introduction, Sir John advises that the OERu should not innovate beyond the capacity of society and the economy to accept the changes.

It's worth reflecting on a few historical innovations in the world of open education and how this might inform the planning of the OERu. Consider these examples:

Institution
Innovations (Change)
Static
University of South Africa (Unisa)
In 1946 became the world's first single-mode distance teaching university
Academic structure, academic year, development process or entrance requirements.
British Open University
In 1969 the Open University abolished entrance requirements, shifted academic year to the calendar year and implemented a team approach for course development.
Academic curriculum, assessment models.
Empire State College (ESC), State University of New York
In 1971 Ernst Boyer established the ESC introducing the "Open curriculum" where students could design individualised degrees, progressive credit transfer (RPL) and innovative student support services.
Assessment and credentialing model (State University of New York credential), no major unbundling of serves
Athabasca University
Created by Alberta government in 1970, Athabasca would take credits awarded at multiple Canadian universities and award a degree making it possible to earn an AU degree by taking as little as one university course and implemented an open academic year allowing course enrolments every month. Also implemented the world's first open access University Press.
Academic curriculum, assessment models

It's interesting to note that three of the four pioneers listed above are founding anchor partners of the OERu. Moreover, a significant difference of the OERu model is the idea of networked innovation. All post-secondary institutions are free to connect to the OERu node in the network.

A few questions for us to consider and think about:

  1. What do you consider to be the major innovations of the OERu?
  2. What are the possible innovations the OERu should consider for the future?
  3. Which of the innovations in 1 and 2 above will be "acceptable" to society and the economy?
Perhaps the answers to these questions will contribute to sustained and successful innovation for the OERu.



In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: OER innovation threshold - What is the number of OERu innovations

by Wayne Mackintosh -
mmm -- think I'm going to have a bash at answering my own questions. I think there is a threshold regarding the number of innovations which are likely to be accepted by society and the economy.When it comes to education, institutions and society are surprisingly conservative.

What do you consider to be the major innovations of the OERu?

In no particular order of preference:
  • Basing course offerings and programmes entirely on OER. (Leads to scalable cost advantage of the network when compared to institution-based OER approaches.)
  • Unbundling assessment and credential services as discrete components to enable free learning opportunities. (This provides a sustainable funding model for participating institutions in that recurrent costs for assessment and credential services can be recouped on a fee-for-service basis or alternate sources like government subsidy for OER credential services.
  • Networked international model for providing credible credentials (The model is able to use existing assessment protocols, eg PLR and existing national quality authority agencies and qualification frameworks combined with existing institutional matriculation requirements for addressing cross-border credentialing of OER learning.)
The pilot implementation of these innovations can be achieved within a 1 year time horizon.

I think emerging pedagogies associated with connectivism, digital pedagogies of discovery etc are enablers rather than innovations per se. However, these pedagogies will enable the OERu network to provide more flexible, agile and cost-effective offerings than is possible with the traditional delivery model.

What are the possible innovations the OERu should consider for the future?

  • Sustainable models of student support through the concept of Academic Volunteers International.I think this is fundamentally doable -- but may take a little longer than a 1 year implementation horizon largely due to the software development requirements for implementation.
  • Finding solutions for integrating accreditation approaches within the informal learning sector and the more traditional formal sector.
Which of the innovations in 1 and 2 above will be "acceptable" to society and the economy?

OER courses, plus the unbundling of assessment and credential services for OER learning plus networked international course articulation agreements are acceptable to society and economy without questioning the credibility of college and university credentials.

I'm keen to hear what others think -- mmm getting this right is the secret to successful strategy innovation.
In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: OER innovation threshold - What is the number of OERu innovations

by Joyce McKnight -
You are right...it is interesting that three of the four institutions you mentioned are also anchor partners in the OER-u. I find it interesting too that all of the institutions are about forty years old...mature enough to have a proven track record and some respect in the broader world of higher and adult education...still "young" enough to be innovative and not too institutionalized...I think this will be great fun for all of us. J.