I'd like to gather a few thoughts from the experience of prototyping on the OERu so that we can get better at offering courses and programs for the future.
Here at USQ we are in the middle of the second offer of AST1000 Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific and while our enrolments have been relatively minimal we have learned from the experience. However, our experience is based upon limited feedback and needs to be confirmed by greater participation.
Firstly, the 'discovery' pedagogy employed in AST1000 seems to have worked well. The original developers of the course (Anna Hayes and Jim Taylor) have produced a quality product which essentially facilitates participants to self-direct their studies. This free-ranging approach has enabled learners to pursue specific areas of personal interest and relevance. It's an empowering approach to pedagogy and simultaneously has been building e-literacy skills through self-discovery and appraisal of relevant resources. We think this has worked extremely well in this environment.
Secondly, in order to offer AST1000 we needed to develop operational processes, such as registration and payment for assessment, which didn't interfere with normal USQ practices and regulatory requirements. These 'gateway' systems have functioned quite effectively but stand apart from the University's normal processes. We've negotiated a path from successful completion of AST1000 through the OERu to on-going and formal enrolment in a USQ undergraduate program (General Studies degree) but as yet haven't converted any students.
Perhaps the major challenge for our prototype offer has been recruiting students. There is lots of genuine interest in OERu and the promise of free and global expansion of education but getting the word out to those persons who will benefit the most from the opportunity has been a real hurdle. I suspect that the greatest interest in the offer has been other educators rather than prospective undergraduate students. I also suspect that prospective undergraduate students find the offer of a free (or almost free) undergraduate course, almost too good to believe. That is, they are so use to internet based offers which turn out have a 'catch' attached that they suspect this might also apply to this situation. It is an understandable reaction to an altruistic offer over the internet. I also think this has been compounded by the fact that AST1000 is currently the only undergraduate course on offer through OERu. This might well be overcome once a suite of courses are in place.
One of the matters which I think should be a focus of the anchor partner meeting in Kamloops is how to further develop a brand for OERu and also how to promote that brand and its promise to the populations who can best benefit.
I hope these thoughts can be a bit of a discussion starter for how to improve future offers of this course and others.
Great to be participating in this SCOPE planning session
All the best,
Open Access College
University of Southern Queensland
Toowoomba, Qld, AUSTRALIA 4350
Ph: +61 7 46311814