OK I'll take a nibble at this, just for fun.You must have seen this sign when exiting the airport in Denpasar, Bali for the OCWC 13 conference. I couldn't resist taking a picture! So: I'd suggest that one of the distinctives of the OERu is that it's open for all to use and adapt to their own needs and cultures rather than presenting a standardized product.
Great sign! And to make a point. If OERu is open to all this would include commodified learning packages! Oops! We can't call them that can we? Or, do we have to refer to "learning pathways".
Burger King allows you to get your burger without the pickle, unlike McDonald's. Maybe that version of commoditisation is more acceptable. The Canadian chain Harvey's gives even more choice.
All the best. CU in Kamloops
To cut it a little finer, I offer the distinction that my colleague, Lawrence Parisotto at BCcampus, uses to distinguish shared service offerings. It may also apply to OERu differences.
- Some organizations offer a fixed and described service (the service they offer)
- Some organizations offer flexible services attuned to identified needs (the services you need).
It seems to me that OERu may be tilting closer to open and flexible services that provide a category of students with educational services that fit their needs. Describing the range of "fitted" educational services and their open qualities would be the differentiator.
David I see one further and finer distinction: not only is the service potentially provided in a more tailored manner, but also users can take a self service approach based on the 4 Rs of openness evident in the OERu model to roll their own courses, i.e. ability to reuse, redistribute, reuse, remix.
In this I'm thinking of users in a broader sense to include educators, who can "4R" these courses to fit their needs. That in part is why so much work goes into ensuring that every piece of every course is developed or contributed under open licenses.
Great distinction! The continuum between "described service" and "individualised flexible services" can, in my view, be achieved through the adoption of the principles of mass-customisation (referenced by Hadyn).
Incidentally, the theory underpinning mass customisation has played an important part in the strategic planning for the OER Foundation and the OERu. We are shifting the traditional model of mass standardisation associated with single mode ODL where "economies-of-scale" drive the economic model to one where "economies-of-scope" leverage the principles of mass customisation to achieve "individualised products" at costs lower than those associated with economy of scale approaches.
We have learned from industry that the successful adoption of mass-customisation requires new organisational structures and processes which are often difficult to implement in large organisations. However, the OER Foundation as an independent entity, enables our member institutions to leverage the affordances of mass customisation for their own organisations through a networking model without the need for major reorganisation and/or re-engineering of existing processes. Win-win for all involved.
By way of example, we have been collaborating with Rory McGreal, Diane Conrad, Angela Murphy and Gabi Witthaus on a small research project to explore the economics of disaggregated models for assessing and accrediting informal learners, with particular attention to the OERu. Using open education approaches it is possible to disaggregate a traditional university package into discrete service components for implementing the principles of mass-customisation in a fiscally sustainable and scalable way. (See diagram below.)
Returning to your example, based on needs, an individual may want to have a “described service” similar to those offered by the conventional system. The difference is that the OERu model of mass-customisation will enable partners to provide the “described service” cheaper when compared to the conventional model with the added advantage to reconfigure new service packages for individuals without increasing the unit cost in the OERu production model.
This is smart philanthropy. Watch this space :-)
in my discipline (Marketing) we call the idea of commoditised but personalised - Mass Customisation.
I agree with you and David that this is where we should be heading. A core of efficient and effective learning opportunities/pathways which, never the less, become an individual route for the individual learner. And as Irwin points it is even more flexible, because it is not just the individual learners who benefit from taking their own study route, but is also a benefit for educators who can reuse, redistribute, remix and repurpose for yet more educational and personal learner journeys.
I think students and teachers are using a far deeper and richer stream of information. Students are accessing all available info on all screens 24/7 and teachers are trying to keep up. The world and info is a lot more fluid fast moving and diverse than the streams on offer here. I am thinking of 3D modelling of data, 3D printing of designs and 3D Art music and drama that is occuring just in my school at the moment. I think text and writing is dying and moving image is all - this is a difficult time of transition for those baby boomers like myself or even later generations. The books, texts an essays that we przied and prised from students are as dead in the water as oracles keel. Students are flying on foils and we are in case boats and zodiacs last seen on babylonian tablets. I thought the future was gaming then 3D simulation then altered and augmented reality but that was the last 3 years (2011 - 2013) now its singualrity, travelling towards epsilon and mega data. In short the speed of info is reaching towards an asymptote at exponetial growth - the old power relations and numeric processes fall away and we are left in the dust of our star flung students - we are rounded ere on earth while their minds, technology and processes raom the universe. We need more than a paradigm shift we need new species, ecosystems and ways of being to remain relevant and useful to our offspring in the next 3 months days or hours let alone 3 years.
The topic of credentialing is a big one and has been directly or indirectly referenced several times already in this forum. From early on, the intent of OERu has been to address the growing need, particularly among underserved populations, for access to both the learning opportunities and the credentials provided by higher education institutions. I suspect most if not all of us in this forum, and in the wider field of education, are well supplied with academic credentials that allowed us through the door to work in our field. Of course there are many learners who wish to take their own path and learn as they will, without a need for (further) credentials, and the opportunities in this regard are bountiful, including in the OERu.
On a more strategic level, i.e. institutional transformation, the OERu provides a catalyst for institutional partners to think about alternative ways of assessing and credentialing learning in new and creative ways, as well as new ways of engaging more widely with the world of open.