An interesting and perhaps congruent approach to OERu in using OER to provide a free content resource and a malleable course structure within a self-directed learning program is the concept of Textbook Zero.
The textbook zero idea comes from work that David Wiley has been doing recently through Lumen Learning. A textbook zero pilot project was announced by Tidewater Community College in March 2013.
It is described succinctly in a press release:
“Partnering with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Ore.-based company that helps educational institutions integrate open educational resources into their curricula, TCC plans to offer a textbook-free associate of science degree in business administration based on Lumen’s Textbook Zero model.
For students who pursue the new “textbook-free” degree, the total cost for required textbooks will be zero. Instead, the program will use high quality open textbooks and other open educational resources, known as OER, which are freely accessible, openly licensed materials useful for teaching, learning, assessment and research. It is estimated that a TCC student who completes the degree through the textbook-free initiative might save one-third on the cost of college.
Although many colleges offer OER courses, TCC will be the first accredited institution in the United States to offer a degree in which students pay nothing for required textbooks.”
To see what an initial course structure looks like using a Textbook Zero approach, you can browse this link: http://www.lumenlearning.com/courses
Take a look at the English Composition course as an example. It is a very bare bones framework, but it will give you a sense of the structure that Lumen is employing in its quest to use OER to fuel self-directed access to higher education, and credentials.
The notion is to scaffold a pathway through a subject domain using a lightweight and open framework that harnesses OER and that can be easily adapted or enhanced to suit learner needs or localization requirements.
So, my question for the participants in our OERu online planning seminar is about exploring whether the Textbook Zero approach is valuable structure to consider in the context of OERu development and implementation for institutional partners.
Being a practical sort, my approach to OERu planning is to look for clear answers to the why, what and how questions about the OERu and then think about ways of turning those answers into marketing, pedagogical and and assessment processes.
I confess I’m the type of person who would equate the value proposition of OERu as being inversely proportional to the number of words it takes to describe the concept. I search for clarity.
You may have other questions, and I invite you to contribute them.
Mine is simply a “story starter” using Textbook Zero as a clear concept that might help OERu describe itself better and help structure its offerings in ways that students and potential partner institutions could more easily understand.