## OERu: Developing an Agenda Together Sept 18 - Oct 2, 2013

### OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -
Number of replies: 37

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.

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi David,

In response to your challenge for clarity ...

If Tidewater Community College, as one institution, can develop an associate of science degree in business administration based entirely on open textbooks by 2014 -  the performance of our OERu network as a collaboration of 29 international partners is embarrasing by comparison.

The game is on!

I will place a call for courses to our OERu partners this week to see if we can match or improve on the leadership demonstrated by Lumen Learning and TCC. The courses we identify will be listed on the OERu launch website. With the leadership of BCcampus and the the Open Textbook projec, surely our OERu network can match or improve on the outputs of a single community college. One caveat -- we are not allowed to reinvent wheels as we will be able to reuse and remix the TCC associate of Science degree materials.

Lets make OER futures happen.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

Hi Wayne:  I am quite concerned about the direction the OERu has taken with its emphasis on Anchor Partners creating courses...I have been hoping that the emphasis would be more learner centered...enabling learners to use OERs to create learning portfolios that the Anchor Partners could accept in transfer.  I have also been hoping that you would encourage the Anchor Partners to have all of their existing courses created in an easily sharable framework (as I understood Moodle was supposed to be) so that rather than creating new courses for the OERu which is very difficult we could just open our curricula (much like a poor man's Coursera), enable students to access the learning from it, document their learning, and convert it to credits based on individual institutions' policies.   Such a model would be a win-win for most everyone...OERu would have high quality resources, learners with limited financial resources would have access, institutions would not have to set up a separate course development path for the OERu (a major stumbling block), and many institutions would be able to receive at least some new tuitions.   In this budget driven age financial viability is a big one.   I may be jaded because early in my career I represented a small college in a collaborative attempt much like the OERu seems to be evolving into and it was an utter failure...but I think something like the path I have described above may work...or at least it should be a strong second.

In short...encourage the partners to develop courses for their own students that use open materials, are avaiable on an open platform, and can be advertised through OERu at the same time develop a robust way for learners to document their learning and encourage those who want credentials to find places that will accept them (hopefully the partners).

I think we will have to make the course development process and sharing as painless as possible for the institutions or we are unlikely to get much of anywhere.  Nevertheless, we have a great idea and I think it will eventually win.  :-)

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Joyce wrote:

I am quite concerned about the direction the OERu has taken with its emphasis on Anchor Partners creating courses...I have been hoping that the emphasis would be more learner centered...enabling learners to use OERs to create learning portfolios that the Anchor Partners could accept in transfer.

I think you are misinterpreting the OERu model.

We are designing “pedagogical neutral” approaches for OERu partners to assemble learning pathways from existing OERs, open access resources and open textbooks.

One example is to use what Jim Taylor has called the “pedagogy of discovery” where learners are directed to source their own resources in pursuit of their learning interests in relation to the specified learning outcomes. This approach was used for the Regional Relations in Asia and Pacific Course developed by the University of Southern Queensland. It is a learner centred approach. The summative assignments are designed as “mini-portfolios” with clear assessment rubrics so that the learners know what is expected and how they will be assessed. Learners choose their own countries of interest and source their own open access materials to achieve the course objectives.

Another example is to remix and build learning pathways from a variety of OERs, not unlike the open source software development model where we reuse existing code to build new applications. I used this model for developing the Open Content Licensing for Educators mOOC which Otago Polytechnic has contributed to the OERu network.

Thompson Rivers University, for example, took an existing OER course originally developed by the Open Course Library initiative in Washington state and remixed the course by improving the pedagogical design for independent study.

Other OERu partners are donating existing courses by changing the license to an open content license. This is the approach being used by the University of South Africa (Unisa).

The other model is to use PLAR where member institutions assess the experiental learning gained from learning on the web, the workplace etc. Our research shows that the cost to student for assessment fees using this approach is double what the costs would be using courses assembelled from OERs. PLAR needs to be in the mix to provide more flexible alternatives for OERu learners, but to date we have not found cost effective ways to scale this approach.

Each of these approaches provide a cost effective solution for assembling courses from the inventory of OER. OERu partners who prefer using learner centred pedagogies are free to use this model.

Joyce wrote

I have also been hoping that you would encourage the Anchor Partners to have all of their existing courses created in an easily sharable framework (as I understood Moodle was supposed to be) so that rather than creating new courses for the OERu which is very difficult we could just open our curricula (much like a poor man's Coursera), enable students to access the learning from it, document their learning, and convert it to credits based on individual institutions' policies.   Such a model would be a win-win for most everyone

The approach of using a single learning management system is problematic for the OERu because:

• Within our network there are at least 5 different learning management systems used by our partners. Choosing one learning management system will exclude those partners who use different systems from integrating OERu courses in parallel mode for local delivery to registered students. This is where the greatest cost savings lie for our partners. They can integrate OERu courses developed by other partners without spending a cent on development costs. Moreover, openly licensed they will have the freedom to adapt and change to fit their own courses like you have done with the Scenario Planning mOOC for your own course. The other technical challenge related to OERu courses running in parallel mode is to find a solution for the full-fee registered students on campus to interact with the free OERu learners. Most OERu partners will not provide access to the local learning management system for non-registered students.

• We need to separate the course development technologies from the delivery technologies to enable collaborative open design. This requires a sophisticated and detailed system for version control. For example, if Otago Polytehnic wanted to collaborate with ESC on designing a course, we can't collaborate within a learning management system because if Otago Polytechnic makes a change to the course, you will not have a reliable way to know what changes were made. We also need a development environment which can transform and brand the content for different delivery platforms  eg LMSs, Blog sites, static websites etc plus the ability for partners to mix and match OERu mOOCs for local courses. We can't do this with a learning management system.

• Running a central learning management system for all OERu learners is a challenge because these systems do not scale well for large student cohorts and we do not have the capacity or funding to administer central systems on the scale of the OERu collaboration. Would ESC be prepared to donate the hosting and administration costs for the central infrastructure for all future OERu learners?

Our major challenge (which is also an opportunity) is that the majority of our partners do not have adequate experience and capability in collaborative open design models. This requires a different skill set and culture when compared to the traditional production model used by most distance teaching institutions. The opportunity is for the OERu to leverage our networked model to build local capability in open design models using a learn by doing approach.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Rory McGreal -

All,
OERu is a big tent with room for different approaches. I for one support courses using traditional credit systems. I am not opposed to other informal or semi-formal approaches as Joyce seems to desire, but the emphasis is determined by the different OERu members and their faculty. I, for one do not particularly support "learner-centred" approaches, but rather "learning-centred" approaches. Is there not room for both? I am not against portfolios, but I am not against exams and more traditional assessment either. They all can be used depending on the course (or non-course), the institution, the faculty member, the jurisdiction etc. Isn't this what an open initiative is all about? I strongly agree with Joyce's view that we should aim for easily sharable frameworks - modularisation of lessons can support this and allow for many different approaches including even PLEs and connectivist approaches as well as more traditional structured courses.
In our university, we have academic freedom, which precludes us from dictating the approach, technique or pedagogy used by our faculty. We could not participate in OERu if it supports only one view. Does anyone really believe that +25 institutions plus the faculty within their instituions could agree on one view? And if they did, would it then be open?

All the best.
Rory

Rory McGreal
UNESCO/COL Chair in OER
Athabasca University

In reply to Rory McGreal

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Rory,

An important reminder of a core principle of the OERu and a decision taken at the founding anchor partner meeting. We will not dictate pedagogical approach and strive for "pedagogical neutral" structures for our courses, insofar anything can be neutral.  I imagine that some educators may argue that taking a position on neutral is taking a position ;-).

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Steve Foerster -

From the Tidewater Community College press release:

"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."

I like this Textbook Zero initiative overall, but this statement is false.  There are a number of schools in the U.S. that include textbooks, several for-profit schools (yes, accredited ones) have used it as a selling point for some time.

-=Steve=-

In reply to Steve Foerster

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -

Thanks Steve.

Yes TB0 seems like a clear and straightforwardly described framework for harnessing open resources in an online course, or even micro-course format. Seems like there would be value there for OERu.

As for the claim you critique, it is from a press release, and we are all familar with the history of claiming precedence in that genre of communications.

Is there anything else in the LumenLearning approach that you like or that you believe could be used or enhanced in the OERu context?

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Sylvia Currie -

For those interested in digging into the Open Textbook topic, we have a 4-week "Adopting Open Textbooks" workshop running here at SCoPE. We're in Week 1, so just getting started. The workshop is open to everyone so feel free to pass along the invitation to colleagues. http://scope.bccampus.ca/course/view.php?id=374

In reply to Sylvia Currie

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -

Thanks Sylvia for that heads up.

A link to open textbooks that are being reviewed for adoption, adaptation or enhancement in the British Columbia context can be found here:

http://open.bccampus.ca/find-open-textbooks/

Click on any textbook title to see the texts themselves, or retrieve them in mutliple download formats.

Scroll down after clicking any title to read reviews by faculty members, if a review has been completed to date.

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

Back to the original post...I think that the Lumen model has a lot of possibilities and could somehow be made to work for us.   Another thought...maybe we have been approaching this somewhat backwards...instead of asking the Partners to create courses (modules etc) for us, maybe we could create courses for them...I can easily imagine using a "core" OERu offering as a kind of center for a new course or the revision of one of my old ones...in fact, I already did use some of the scenario planning stuff in a course...it might be easier to go that way...and once we show how valuable we can be we are likely to snowball...just a thought...feel free to tweak and/or tell me I am completely off...J.

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -

I think you're onto an interesting track here, Joyce.

What I think you are suggesting is providing a sub-library function for OERu members by contributing lightweight frameworks for study matched to open resources on the web or chapters from open textbooks.This is congruent with the whole idea of the 4Rs of openness - providing the raw materials on which educators can build learning pathways for course structures. Alternatively, the structures can be presented to learners as typical pathways through a knowledge domain, but not necessarily the only pathway.

In an earlier post in micro-credentials you noted that some knowledge domains have developmental pathways, with precursor knowledge required before tackling more complex subject matter or skills.  I think that is an important point in any kind of pathway discussion.

What I see in Lumen Learning's approach is a commitment to using open resources as fuel building for learning pathways. Their open course framework approach is modifiable, with some effort.  It is also interesting to me that David Wiley's early efforts at large scale open courses employed wikis, like OERu. He has since taken his course ideas into a lightweight LMS framework with additional features that can be used to engage learners interactively.

In a world of permanently-beta organizational structures and technological applications, I'm seeing the Textbook Zero approach and the open course framework as another small step along a developmental path, and one that OERu partners may wish to explore or build upon.

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi David,

An interesting concept for light-weight frameworks and I think that working towards micro-courses generates more opportunities for realising the 4Rs because we can mix 'n match.

David has done a sterling job of the Lumen courses. The structure David is using is very similar to the OERu prototypes we've developed so far. The challenge with David's system is that it won't scale well for large student cohorts (+1000 learners) as the courses are reliant on a single discussion forum - -this will not be an issue for individual OERu partners - -but is an issue for the OER Foundation which is responsible for hosting large cohorts ;-). The approach we've been using is to distribute interactions accross the Internet enabling principles of self-organastion. In large courses where many learners are sipping and dipping into topics of interest, solutions for managing subgroups are a nightmare because of transient learners visiting the courses only for a short while.

The Textbook Zero model is very similar to what we used to call a wrap-around course in the distance education world. Its a learning pathway based on a "prescribed" textbook. The difference here is that we are using an open textbook. I'd be keen for one of our OERu partners to design a wrap-around "Textbook Zero" course based on one of the BCcampus open textbooks. Any takers?

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -

Re. The Textbook Zero model is very similar to what we used to call a wrap-around course in the distance education world.

Yes, TB0 is an updated wrap strategy, with a lineage that fits within distance learning. No doubt about it.

My goal in bringing TB0 into the OERu planning discussion was to gently push us towards what Johan Maeda suggests in the Laws of Simplicity when considering design principles. Have a read... http://lawsofsimplicity.com/tag/laws/

In that context, TB0 is an easy fit for OERu in my opinion because it's simple to describe, economical to build, and sufficiently malleable to provide options for students, instructors and institutions to localize or substitute alternative open online resources to align with competencies or outcomes that could map to credentials, micro or otherwise.

So, if OERu could get a simple statement of what is is, what pain point it addresses, how it works and how it is evaluated in a quality assurance context (an elevator pitch describing value for learners), you'd be on solid ground for the launch in late October 2013.

As it stands, it seems to me it would take 30+ minutes to describe an OERu value proposition to encompass all the nuanced conversations of this planning session. I'm still looking for the compelling pitch that makes me pay attention and want to play hard for this team. Learners will feel similarly.

My co-instructor and I have 40 students currently in "Ventures in Learning Technology," UBC Master of Educational Technology program who would be delighted to view and critique a 1.5 minute OERu elevator pitch. http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec522sept13

Go for it!

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

David wrote:

So, if OERu could get a simple statement of what is is, what pain point it addresses, how it works and how it is evaluated in a quality assurance context (an elevator pitch describing value for learners), you'd be on solid ground for the launch in late October 2013. ... I'm still looking for the compelling pitch that makes me pay attention and want to play hard for this team. Learners will feel similarly.

This is a big challenge for our OERu family  -- but it is imperative that we get it right (or as best we can with the time and resources at our disposal). In some respects its a chicken-egg problem, not unusual during the "entrepreneurial" phases of a complex project with a BIG vision. We don't have the critical mass of courses assembelled yet, but we do have the critical mass of partners to achieve a fiscally sustainable and scalable model.

OK -- so an update of where we are at in preparing for the 1 November launch. With the volunteer help from a small group of individuals from OERu partners we've been working on the launch website.  The OERu family serves two primary audiences, learners and prospective partners.  For the launch website we're going to go with the following strapline for learners:

First-class, accessible and affordable education at your fingertips

for prosepective partners, our strapline is:

Distinctively open

So here's the homepage "pitch" for our audiences:

Learn with OERu

All you need is an internet connection, and you can study with us – no matter where you live! Study online for free, using open educational resources. Get your study credited towards an academic qualification, while paying significantly reduced fees.

Become an OERu partner

Join our philanthropic network and explore new business opportunities with us! Give more people access to affordable education. Our network of academic institutions, spanning five continents, is growing.

With time and more resouce, I'm sure we could do better - but this is what we have got. Fortunately everything is openly licensed, so derivative works and and incremental improvement is definitely on the cards! But I hope we're on reasonable solid ground for the launch.

We are very fortunate that Otago Polytechnic donated a small internal budget for the benefit of the OERu partnership in building the lauch website. Two put this in perspective, if each OERu partner donated the equivalent sum in cash or kind for OERu marketing, our market budget would be 1.3 times greater than the total annual cost of operating the entire infrastructure of the OERu network. The point being -- we have a very lean and nimble OERu machine which means we will achieve fiscal stustainability plus a guaranteed revenue stream to cover recurrent costs for our partners.

This is smart philanthropy ;-).

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by David Porter -

That's the stuff!

Bravo.

In reply to David Porter

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi David,

Thanks for that.

I'm afraid you will need to wait until Sir John Daniel clicks the OERu launch button to sign up ;-).

An interesting relection: At the first meeting where we floated the idea of the OERu, broadcasting the open meeting to the world in February 2011, Phil Ker, CEO at Otago Polytechnic remarked that the OERu was an aspirational but achievable goal. Judging by our progress thus far - we are achieving this aspirational goal!

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Kathleen Zarubin -

I am sure this will be discussed in more detail later … especially during the session -    Quality issues for the OERu: Mon 30 September 2013

RE by Wayne Mackintosh

Become an OERu partner

Join our philanthropic network and explore new business opportunities with us! Give more people access to affordable education. Our network of academic institutions, spanning five continents, is growing.

While this comment uses L&M as a small assessment only Australian RTO as an example, I will not take any responses ‘personally’.  (I am coming out of my WAITing period)

And so … from the very beginning – I have been wondering what and how my little RTO could be involved.

Personally I know I can participate in these types of sessions, promote the OERu concept remain aware and interested, volunteer my time as a mentor (maybe) etc etc …

Within my little RTO I already am and can and will be very open to all types of evidence presented by any candidate for recognition towards Qs I have on scope.  I very much see ‘evidence’ created from any participation within the OERu courses as just another form of evidence but probably most likely to be of a quite high quality form of evidence.

I am also really mindful of a couple of other things.

1. I would not want to be seen as trying to ‘poach’ (?) students for my ‘fee for service assessment RTO’ from the anchor partners who will be ones who will have put in all the hard work and are hoping to recoup some of the financial investment via their accreditation services.  BUT I am very mindful of the huge difference between the reputations of such major institutions and so personally I do not see any comparison really. (in the Australian context I guess I am really thinking about 'VET Qs & - USQ and all the work they have done - but again I do not see myself in the same 'group' at all for a lot of reason ..)

Also while I acknowledge and respect ‘economic freedoms’ and wanting to spread the service and opportunities to as many people as possible in the most affordable way …  I am not a ‘cut price /  lowest $type’ operation so I will not be ruthless driving down costs, deliberately undercutting others etc (if that makes sense). In fact one of the things I take issue with is the idea of “get a Qualification for under a buck” which can lead to the devaluing of the ‘value’ of the accreditation (ie a piece of paper from a cereal box) 2. This sort of relates to above as well – but I will be very interested in further comments around the topic of “What are the issues associated with an institution with questionable quality standards joining the OERTen (eg degree mill operator)?” and finally .. 3. I am also very mindful, that as an organization L&M as an RTO might actually be just too little to be ‘playing in this playground’ (officially). Having said that I am also very mindful, that Kathleen Zarubin as an individual may well have some skills and experience to share in some capacity within, around or for the OERu .. Looking forward to more discussion Cheers In reply to Kathleen Zarubin ### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero by Wayne Mackintosh - Hi Kathleen, Your post is a great lead for Monday's discussions where we will explore the quality related aspects and the risks associated with degree mill operators. I can assure you that no partner of the OERu will be prepared to compromise its accreditation status or brand through sub-quality operations. For now - -a few comments. The OERu is first and foremost a philanthropic collaboration in responding to our community service agendas. The OER Foundation is committed to building sustainable open education ecosystems. We are not opposed to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which includes the rights for individuals to earn a living wage including private service providers like yourself. However, we are committed to a level playing field because all OERu learning materials will remain open without password access as a matter of policy. Our commitment to open philanthropy is clear. Since our inception, all meetings have been conducted openly and transparently -- like this SCoPE seminar preparing the agenda for the next meeting of OERu partners which will also be streamed live with opportunities for the remote community to participate in our breakout sessions. The OERu's core principles of engagement are also clear -- we do not apply the non-commercial restriction to our courses. I see no objections to enterprises like yourself providing high quality RPL services using OERu courses. In fact, I would encourage this. If we are serious about widening access to education for the millions of learners excluded from a formal credential -- we need hundreds of operations like yours to make a difference. Learners who can afford it will pay top dollar for the quality of the service you provide. We are not like some networks in this space, for instance, Coursera, who claim economic rights to an individual's learning from their courses through their terms of service. You, for example, will not be able to assess the experiential learning from Coursera courses without prior permission from Coursera. The OERu partners will also be offering new services to support OERu learners - -we can do this through the disaggregation of the traditional university package. If a learner, for example, needs a few hours of tutorial support, as publicly funded institutions we will be offering these services on a cost-recovery basis – this is the “new” business we are referring to. Our mission at the OER Foundation is to build a sustainable ecosystem for the mainstream adoption of open education approaches worldwide. To be clear, the OER Foundation is a registered charity which means all operations are restricted to charitable activities. We are not building a for-profit start-up here, but we will by the nature of our operations be building a model which the commercial start-ups will find hard to compete with. I'm thankful that we're not trying to find ways of paying back millions of dollars of venture capital investment. All our course materials will always be open. Watch this space :-). In reply to Wayne Mackintosh ### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero by Kathleen Zarubin - hi ... 1. need the 'like' button again 2. Always watching Wayne ... always watching .... (but not in a creepy way) - lol 3. really interested in your comment "You, for example, will not be able to assess the experiential learning from Coursera courses without prior permission from Coursera" As a total aside I do not see how they could possible stop a person saying here is some evidence of stuff I have done - oh by the way it was 'via Corsea' and then making me say - Sorry i can not look / assess that. but maybe people do not get to keep evidence of waht they have done? - OR maybe it is more about i could not say ... I use your Coursea stuff as part of the assessment? either way, no matter what 'they' and others are doing .... (or not doing) ... I feel like I have 'found' my tribe and I am sure many many others feel the same, with many more to come. Will watch next and more convos with great interest :) Cheers PS - again as an other aisde ... I can assure you that I (as a partner of the OERu or not) am not prepared to compromise my accreditation status or brand through sub-quality operations, either :) So good to know we are all singing from the same song book so to speak :) - Not that I had any doubt! In reply to Kathleen Zarubin ### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero by Wayne Mackintosh - Hi Kathleen, FYI - If a student signs up for a Coursera course, they agree to the following contract: I quote from the terms of service from the Coursera website: "You acknowledge that the Statement of Accomplishment, and Coursera’s Online Courses, will not stand in the place of a course taken at an accredited institution, and do not convey academic credit. You acknowledge that neither the instructors of any Online Course nor the associated Participating Institutions will be involved in any attempts to get the course recognized by any educational or accredited institution, unless explicitly stated otherwise by Coursera. ... You may not take any Online Course offered by Coursera or use any Statement of Accomplishment as part of any tuition-based or for-credit certification or program for any college, university, or other academic institution without the express written permission from Coursera. Such use of an Online Course or Statement of Accomplishment is a violation of these Terms of Use." So if you want to use Coursera learning for RPL -- you will need their permission. They control the economic rights of the learning. That's their right as a commercial startup, but I can't help wondering how many of the public funded institutions who have signed up for the collaboration have actually debated the ethics of this clause before joining the herd. Interesting times for sure. In reply to Wayne Mackintosh ### Strange Thinking at Coursera by Steve Foerster - I can understand why Coursera would disclaim responsibility for having to help students get credit through PLA. But I can't for the life of me figure out why they'd try to stop students from doing so on their own. Does anyone have any idea why they'd purposefully seek to make their own courses less attractive to ambitious students? In reply to Steve Foerster ### Re: Strange Thinking at Coursera by Wayne Mackintosh - Hi Steve, I have no inside knowledge and can only surmise or speculate why they have done this. It seems to me that Coursera is a classical Silicon Valley start up - build a big base and then figure out how to make money later by whatever revenue stream generates big$. For the time being, until they've figured out the business model, they are reserving the economic rights of assessment, because this is potentially a big revenue stream. Its a delicate relationship with the partner institutions because the the contributing partners retain copyright on the materials they put into the mix, but on the counter side, partners share in Coursera revenue.  Effectively Coursera courses are all rights reserved materials -- so they're protecting this one as well.

In practice, learners don't read the fine-print of TORs until they need it.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: Strange Thinking at Coursera

by Irwin DeVries -

Wayne said, re Coursera's restricting rights of assessment:

In practice, learners don't read the fine-print of TORs until they need it.

That is one of many reasons why we need to keep pressing and modeling the message of "open" as a broad ethos about learning and sharing on the web, rather than in the limited and potentially confusing senses used by organizations like Coursera. Here's a great video interview with Audrey Watters, Philipp Schmidt and Jim Groom on getting back to "open."

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

Hi Wayne and Kathleen:  I am not sure the two of you are speaking exactly the same language (or perhaps I don't truly understand either of you). LOL   In the kind of Prior Learning Assessment I am used to we don't care whether the person attained the learning from Coursera, their private reading, a compendium of mini-courses or their own reflection...we care about whether they have college level knowledge and skills that they can articulate (in Empire State College's case through a combination of a comprehensive essay and an oral interview)...since that is the case (and I think it may be true for Kathleen as well) Coursera or lack of Cousera doesn't enter into the process at all...it is the student's ability to demonstrate learning that matters...thus I don't think it is unethical for a student to take a Coursera course to gain knowledge and skills which s/he then uses as a basis (or hopefully one of several bases) for evaluation.   We affirm the student...not the Coursera just as we would affirm the student and not the textbook s/he read...

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Joyce,

I understand the PLAR model and you're right, its about the learning which a student can articulate.

The issue here is that the learner agrees to a contract with Coursera that they will not present their learning experience for assessment at another institution without Coursera's permission. The learner would first need to get permission from Coursera, once those permissions have been negotiated, they will be able to proceed.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Stephen Downes -

I can't imagine how that could possibly be legal, let alone enforcable. It's a pretty bold step to assert that a company has rights to knowledge that is in your head.

In reply to Stephen Downes

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Stephen,

Yes it is a bold step and I guess this TOR from the Coursera site is open to interpretation:

"You may not take any Online Course offered by Coursera or use any Statement of Accomplishment as part of any tuition-based or for-credit certification or program for any college, university, or other academic institution without the express written permission from Coursera. Such use of an Online Course or Statement of Accomplishment is a violation of these Terms of Use."

I find it unusal for an organisation involved in learning to stipulate this kind of restriction. By the same token -- there isn't an audit trail for determining the origins of learning in our heads.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

Right, but my (probably sneaky) point is that the student wouldn't have to mention Coursera at all...just document what they know...we really don't care where they learned it...for instance, a lot of our students take a wide variety of workshops etc. from commercial providers as they work toward a US credential called the CASAC...the Credentialed Alcoholism and Subtance Abuse Counselor designation.  The full CASAC involves an extensive test that ESC has evaluated for credit and brings in as a credential...but many other students who have not yet taken the exam nevertheless receive PLA credit when they are able to demonstrate knowledge and skills in the the field.  We do not ask them where they obtained that information or their skills, we simply evaluate them to see that they have them.   Another example...I now know quite a bit about OER from things I have taken from wikieducator, correspondence with Cable Green, exploration of web-sites, some short courses, even some things ESC has offered.  I can imagine asking for credit for such knowledge but would not have to sort out where I obtained it...just show that I know it.   I guess my point is that the receiving institution is not breaking the Coursera contract, nor do I think is the student as long as s/he is not using Coursera copyrighted materials or certificates to justify the credit.   (As you can tell there is more than a little rebel in me that says that if you pretend knowledge is free it should really be free.)  JMcK

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Kathleen Zarubin -

Hi Joyce, yes I do think Wayne & I are talking the same language and also you do understand us both.

According to the ‘terms’ it seems like coursea are saying ‘what you learn via us, stays with us, and if you try and take it somewhere else, for something else – you will be in trouble …

And while, like Wayne says,  ‘well they can say that’ – Like Stephen Downes says “I can't imagine how that could possibly be legal, let alone enforcable. It's a pretty bold step to assert that a company has rights to knowledge that is in your head”

I think we all agree we don’t care where the learning came from, as such, and the fact we are assessing / confirming the knowledge and skills and the person.

3 things stand out for me

1. Until Wayne highlighted Coursea terms it never crossed my mind such an ‘organization’ would even consider trying to ‘own the learning’ of a person

2. again like Wayne said .. “In practice, learners don't read the fine-print of TORs until they need it.” (&  for one will be reminding people do that from now on)

3. If anyone or any organization was to say, for example: Bring your Coursea piece of paper to us so we can use that as a piece of evidence (in and of itself) help you get ‘something else’ – there could be ‘trouble’ (?)

But, again I come back to the question “how legally enforceable is it?”

Either way, they can do and say what they want to I guess.  Our vision is much more … open, holistic, altruistic and ultimately will be of so much benefit to so many and I think will actually result in a higher level of ‘quality’ by a number of definitions

In reply to Kathleen Zarubin

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Rory McGreal -

Could someone provide me with information for any another use of a certificate other than as proof that you have learnt or mastered something? Even if you only stick it on your wall, that is an announcement that you have mastered a course, programme, unit, etc.

So Coursera will give you a certificate, but they forbid you to use it without their permission. Not only that, you are not allowed to use what you've learnt for your own purposes. Are Coursera students trapped in a Monty Python skit?

Thanks Stephen for pointing out the absurdity. It cannot possibly be legal anywhere! But then again, we have eternal copyright and other such nonsense.

All the best.

Rory

In reply to Rory McGreal

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

I thought it was absurd too.  What are they going to do chase you down and shake you until you forget what you learned and/or where you learned it?  Hmm...

In reply to Kathleen Zarubin

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Kathleen Zarubin -

Funny enough I just got this - it was really interesting (sorry if people have already seen or know of it) ...

"Thanks for flagging this; I can see it be a very useful document.  I have found the COL publications to always have a level of practicality I appreciate.

Related to this, we recently hosted Dr Christine Geith (from Michigan State University) and recorded a round-table discussion about Credentialling.  The work of the OERu received a mention (David Bull was one of the participants), as well as a few other initiatives and aspirations.

The full video is available on the USQ Vimeo channel here: http://vimeo.com/user10756933/review/74433880/78790a8114

I hope this is useful.

Regards,

eLearning Designer

University of Southern Queensland "

In reply to Kathleen Zarubin

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Joyce McKnight -

If anyone or any organization was to say, for example: Bring your Coursea piece of paper to us so we can use that as a piece of evidence (in and of itself) help you get ‘something else’ – there could be ‘trouble’ (?)

I would not think very highly of an institution that would convert a Cousera certificate directly without doing some kind of evaluation on its own.  I can guarantee that we wouldn't.

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Kathleen Zarubin -

I agree Joyce. Which sort of leads into the bigger 'idea' for the OERu -

Is the idea (because of quaility control etc) that there is the 'hope' (?) that a person who comes to you for example -

with 'evidence' of successful completion of an OERu course (whatever those 2 things look like) ...  That

it will be at least fairly easily (?) /  pretty much 'directly'  - converted into the other partner's accreditation system (part or full Qualification / units / credit points - or whatever )

In reply to Kathleen Zarubin

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Kathleen,

One form of evidence will be the summative assessments OERu partners design, for example:

• A summative assignment designed as an "e-portfolio" (not to be confused with an RPL portfolio) which the learner submits for assessment or
• Automated credit-by-exam models for selected courses.

This system can operate in parallel with institutional RPL models to provide greater flexibility to individualise the curriculum and recognise learning outside the classroom.

A key aim of the OERu is to reduce the cost of study using open education approaches.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Gail Morong -

Wayne says that OERu is " smart philanthropy."

Maybe this can be part of the marketing pitch...not just philanthropy, but smart philanthropy...it's catchy and should appeal to future partners.

Gail

In reply to Joyce McKnight

### Re: OERu Session 4: Textbook Zero

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Joyce wrote:

Another thought...maybe we have been approaching this somewhat backwards...instead of asking the Partners to create courses (modules etc) for us, maybe we could create courses for them..

In the open model assembling a course for yourself (eg ESC as part of normal course development) from OERs is simultaenously creating a course for "them".

An interesting tweak on the model is the recent example of the Scenario Planning mOOC embedded in the University of Canterbury post graduate course on Change with Digital Technologies in Education.  The University of Canterbury contracted the OER Foundation to assist with the design and development of these courses because they wanted to include a mOOC experience for their registered students and did not have local capacity for this development. The full course was designed to be easily converted into micro-course format.

As these materials are openly licensed, Otago Polytechnic will be able to reuse the 3 micro-courses for a special projects elective in the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education. This creates an interesting opportunity for the OERu to run one Scenario Planning micro course for two different credentials at two different OERu partners. This saves time and cost for all involved and is a good example of simultaenously developing one course for multiple reuse scenarios.