In this closing session of our open OERu planning session we will summarise our discussions to inform the agenda of the 2nd meeting of anchor partners and identify research gaps to inform our development using an educational design research (EDR) framework. (See 7 things you should know about educational design research)
What is EDR?
EDR addresses education problems in the real-world. It has two aims: to develop knowledge and to develop solutions.
EDR, not unlike action based research or incremental software development approaches, uses repeated cycles of:
Analysis where educators, researchers and students talk to one another about the root causes of practical problems (for example, our discussions during this ScoPE seminar);
Design where multidisciplinary teams review theoretical knowledge and generate designs for prototyping solutions to real-world problems;
Evaluation for revising both design and ideas on which the solution is based.
What is the OERu knowledge base?
The OERu is slowly building its knowledge base through a number of research activities and outputs, for example:
McGreal, R. Mackintosh, W. & Taylor, J. (2011) OER University: Towards a logic model and plan for action
Murphy, A (2012) OERu context evaluation study.
Murphy, A. (2012) Benchmarking open educational practices in higher education. In ASCILITE 2012: 29th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education: Future Challenges, Sustainable Futures, 25-28 Nov 2012, Wellington, New Zealand.
Witthaus, G.(2012). The OER university: from vision to reality. In: Okada, A. (2012). Open Educational Resources and Social Networks: Co-Learning and Professional Development. London: Scholio Educational Research & Publishing.
- Conrad D., Mackintosh, W., McGreal, R., Murphy, A., & Witthaus, G. (2013). Report on the Assessment and Accreditation of Learners using OER. Commonwealth of Learning.
Questions for this session
Drawing on our evolving knowledge and open SCoPE discussions:
What are the real-world problems the 2nd meeting of OERu anchors should prioritise for our agenda?
What design solutions do you propose for addressing these problems.
Look forward to reading your advice on how we can build more affordable education futures for all students worldwide.
some big questions without easy answers. I'll make a go at number 1, and see where that leads others in their reflections and in developing solutions (as in 2)
What are the real-world problems the 2nd meeting of OERu anchors should prioritise for our agenda?
Re-affirmation of our priorities - one of the great things for me in these discussions has been the quiet, gentle, way you have reaffirmed the values of OERu to the participants. No matter whether people directly challenged some of the principles or made points about things the OERu could do which were outside scope, you have come back with a clear reiteration of the values and purpose of the network. While I grant much of that is already written up in previous documents I see a value in you creating a summary of it which can be re-affirmed at the Anchor Partner meeting. It will firmly set in context the rest of the discussions.
MOOCs and Short-Courses: The MOOC and short-course ideas have been a key feature of discussion and the SCOPE group has reached a consensus about this direction of travel. But as not all the Anchor Partners have joined the discussion a re-iteration and approval for this direction of travel would be useful.
- Sustainability: The sustainability of OERu needs to be discussed. How to get to that next set of partners that will make the network self-sustaining is a key issue.
- Recognising what keeps the network going: Support for the hub and spoke approach which has developed in OERu is important, and I think it is not always recognised explicitly. I have been clear from the start that this is only a small part of my day job and I can only commit to it time that is often over and above my working week (what's new I hear you stay). But in that context USW's engagement with OERu has only been sustainable because of the time and commitment you provide to the network Wayne. The regular reminders, the prompts to action, are what enables me to prioritise OERu, even if it is over breakfast! So the network needs to recognise how critical that central network support is. I'm not saying this to make you feel good, I'm sure someone else with your enthusiasm and commitment could do the job, but without a someone in that role I would be worried about the networks survival and I think the Anchor Partners need to recognise that.
I'm sure there is much more - and if I think of them I'll add them here. But for now I think those four issues are ones that need an airing at the meeting.
All excellent points. Funny how innovation generates BIG questions.
I think the OERu model of an independant non-profit entity focusing on the successful implementation of the OERu enables our partner institutions to move forward with open education in ways which would not be easy to achieve working as single institutions. The network model results in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Collective value of the network far exceeds the contribution from individual partners.
I like your suggestion that we should summarise the values of the OERu and its characteristic features at the beginning of the meeting. As you point out, not all our partners have been able to contribute to these discussions and it will be important to start the meeting from the "same page" and bring our new partners up to speed with how the OERu network functions.
Mika has also highlighted the sustainability question. Fortunately as an open organisation, the OER Foundation can share our budgets and numbers transparently. The OER Foundation has done some modelling to illustrate the sustainability of the network and network value for our individual partners. We can discuss these at the meeting. We'll also focus discussions on ideas to recruit at least 10 new members and this is where our exisiting partners can help through their own networks.
The central (and open) coordination which the OER Foundation provides helps to move our project forward. During this "entreprenuerial" set-up phase -- it would be benefical to have a management / leadership team steering identified, but clearly defined bits of the puzzle. Perhaps we could use a rotation model so that these tasks are not overly onnerus on any individual. This could accellerate our implementation as we are building the model.
A key feature of our partnership is that the implementation of the OERu is an official project of the UNESCO-COL OER Chair network. Another advantage which the OER Foundation brings to the table.
We've come a long way since the idea of the OERu was floated in February 2011. Now to lay the foundations for exponential growth in 2014 and beyond!
Haydn said: Recognising what keeps the network going: Support for the hub and spoke approach which has developed in OERu is important, and I think it is not always recognised explicitly. I have been clear from the start that this is only a small part of my day job and I can only commit to it time that is often over and above my working week (what's new I hear you stay). But in that context USW's engagement with OERu has only been sustainable because of the time and commitment you provide to the network Wayne. The regular reminders, the prompts to action, are what enables me to prioritise OERu, even if it is over breakfast! So the network needs to recognise how critical that central network support is. I'm not saying this to make you feel good, I'm sure someone else with your enthusiasm and commitment could do the job, but without a someone in that role I would be worried about the networks survival and I think the Anchor Partners need to recognise that. (italics mine!)
I imagine that Haydn's statement about time contraints is true of all of us who are involved. Wayne, you are a very important hub...and an excellent facilitator. While most of us know how important you are as the hub, it should be made explicit, and I also think that the partners need to be aware of need to find a way to have backup to your function. One of my nightmares is that (God forbid) you become ill or just plain burned out...I think at this point the whole enterprise would implode...Somehow we need to communicate to the partners just how valuable you are and also the need to strengthen and sustain the whole coordinating function. You probably can't say these things yourself without seeming to brag or, worse yet, making people feel that you are somehow in this for personal gain, but those of us who know how important the coordinating function is should somehow find a way to say it to the Partners...We need someone with credibility and authority to do just that...I have neither at the moment...but I am reasonably sure that others do.
Thanks for your confirmation of my feelings on this. As I re-read my point and read your comments I remembered this was a key point I made to Gabi Witthaus when she interviewed me for the POERUP project. In my interview with her I said:
I think there are layers of sustainability. I think the community has got a very powerful network and is largely people who are enthusiasts, not just people who are doing it because it’s their job. So, at one level that community of interaction does have that sustainability. Colleagues like the one you interviewed from Rwanda - he’s got no value-added to being there other than that he thinks it’s a good thing to be doing, and that’s a sense I have. In terms of long-term sustainability in education, that question which I really, really wouldn’t want to be putting any money betting on, I think the network’s got significant strengths in terms of the people who are beginning to work together, but it’s also got the weaknesses that any network has. You know, this goes back to the days when I used to teach business, and you argued for why you’d have organisations that were centrally managed like a Ford or a Shell or a BP, or why you’d have organisations that were multiple small businesses that were only connected with networks, and some of the benefits of networks is that innovation, that creativity, that doing things you never expected you would do are possible. Some of the strengths about single organisational control are more direction, more clear mandate for movement, and I think the OERu has all the strengths of that sort of small business: working in collaboration, the innovation and development happens. But it has a weakness in that, without a central unit, institutions could wander off in various directions. You know, Wayne does a brilliant job of keeping people in the loop, of engaging with new partners, of getting contacts together, but currently it definitely feels like a series of spokes around a hub. I have often wondered how sustainable that network would be without a Wayne or equivalent doing the facilitation or engagement. When I think of other social networks of which I am a part, which haven’t got a central coordinating conduit... I mean it’s a weak coordinating conduit in that there’s nobody forcing us to do stuff, but networks which are more pliable and less central, you tend to, as anyone who has done social network analysis knows, get people working in groups together, whereas I think currently, and maybe because of its youth, there is still quite a strong dependence on the mid-point of keeping this network together. Which is a strength when the mid-point works well, but would be a weakness if that mid-point were ever to disappear.
Extract selected from the full interview
I reaffirm these reflections from the Skype interview with Gabi and would happily have someone use them to make this key point at the Anchor Partners' meeting. Sorry Wayne, but there is no way to spare your blushes.
1. A couple thoughts:
- I believe that assessment for credit is a big issue we need to spend some time on. A lot of thought has gone into various possibilities, clearly (thanks to Rory for pointing us all to the report on assessment and accreditation of OER!), and now is a good time for OERu to look at scalability and sustainability as it considers the various possibilities. Can we arrive at a sense of best practices for assessment and identity verification? Minimum standards? Sharing of assessment resources? OERu's success will depend on having a smooth process for assessment and/or credit transfer.
- How do we increase awareness of OERu and position it amongst all the other alternatives out there?
2. For the assessment and credit piece, a consensus on requirements for assessment and/or transfer credit would be very helpful. We could set a group working to draft criteria (I know that Empire State, Excelsior, and Thomas Edison already have people who have done some thinking in this area).
Thanks for that. Yes the assessment and credit processes are a big issue for our network and we will allocate quality time for the partners to discuss these issues at the meeting. We also have the COL TQF meeting where our PLAR experts can delve deeper into the course articulation and credit transfer issues.
For the launch of the OERu we will be adopting a two phase approach:
- Phase 1: Each OERu course must offer credit at the OERu partner who contributed the course (plus any credit transfer pre-arranged by individual articulation agreement or existing policies at the respective receiving partner.)
- Phase 2: Maximising the protocols for course articulation in the network
I like your suggestion for a working group to draft the criteria. One approach we could consider is for the partners to provide the generic guidelines / issues to be resolved during discussions at the 2nd meeting of partners for the working group to take forward and prepare the first draft criteria for consideration by the network. The scenarios published by COL in the Report on the Assessment and Accreditation of Learners using OER provides a useful structure to frame the discussion.
We will also allocate time to discussion the fiscal sustainability and scalability of the OERu model.
If there was any value in a very small Australian organisation's pov - I'd be happy to virtually / remotely do 'whatever' could be of help ... (if anything)
1. About a range of legal / business stuff re Aust RTOs / VET ... and
2. All about an RPL program for the Australian VET Qualification TAE80210
Vocational Graduate Diploma of Management (Learning)
This 'program' IS highly labour intensive from & by the way I 'operate' ... BUT - all of these things are open and I am happy for anyone to 'do with them what they may' if they (or parts of them) are of any 'value' - Cheers
Your organisation is part of the ecosystem and our open planning philosophy at the OER Foundation welcomes the advice and support of all organisations who care about finding more affordable solutions and pathways for access to higher education credentials.
Any help you can offer is glady received. Hope you will be joining us as a remote participant during the next meeting. The time zone difference between OZ and Canada is workable.
I agree that having partners provide what they have for discussion at the meetings, and then having a working group to put a draft together, is a good way to go. I would certainly volunteer to be on such a working group!
Thank you kindly for your offer to join the working group. Your expertise will add significant value. This working group will collaborate in the wiki -- we have a robust wiki process for working groups.
We'll see you online!
How do we increase awareness of OERu and position it amongst all the other alternatives out there?
That's a good question and I agree that we should allocate time to this discussion at our meetings.
I think an important feature of the OERu network is that we are a collaboration of "like-minded" institutions with our strength coming from our geographical diversity. I think flying below the radar of the media hype of the commercial MOOC startups has been good for us. Through incremental design we're able to take small steps ensuring what we do is implementable within existing policies and practices at our member institutions. This will contribute significantly to our sustainability and future scalability.
I love the "flying beneath the radar" of the MOOC hype because I think they are seen as a "fad" and unlikely to have staying power...but I am a bit concerned about being too quiet...I was in a SUNY session today about Open Education...and even those who are most excited about it knew very little...some knew about the Creative Commons and no one really knew about wikieducator or the OERu...people kept saying "we need a place where people can develop courses together"...where we can share materials...where we can collaborate like the open software developers do. I did mention wikieducator and the OERu in the chat line but no one else knows much if anything about them...and those who do know a little aren't taking them seriously. It may be a case of US isolationism or perhaps we really are being too quiet.
You're right - -we do need a marketing workgroup to assist in getting the word out, and the timing is about right and we will set time aside for the marketing side of things at the meeting. Good suggestion for the agenda.
In the higher education sector I think that it is prudent to wait until we have something of substance to market -- rather than soft launches promising something which might (or might not) happen in the future.
We will have a spanking new OERu website listing the courses we have on offer as well as those which will be scheduled for completion in the near future. I have distributed the call for new courses that will be listed on the launch site to all our partners. Each course listed on the website will offer pathways to university credit at a minimum of one of our partner institutes. OERu parnters will also be profiled on the launch website. This website will help with our marketing.
I'll be contacting our OERu partners within the next few days for the text they would like to have on their respective partner pages for the launch website including the option for promotional videos.
We're getting better at our marketing -- now that we have something real to "market".
Empire State has 40+ years of thinking in this area and I am one of those thinkers. :-) I have also taken the liberty to reach out to CAEL (the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning) a network that is doing tons of research on PLA (which is the preferred US term) and to Nan Travers and Alan Mandel (also at Empire State) who have been publishing an online, refereed journal on PLA...I hope to gather up information and ideas from them to bring to the BC meetings. There is a lot of work being done on PLA in the states right now...in fact President Obama has endorsed the concept. Now if we ever have a government again, things should be OK (sigh) Joyce McKnight
OK, We'll take this EDR approach. (Can't say I'm particularly happy with it, as it limits the conversation to the education business, but ....)
I'll just point to this history of the modern education industry. And you can enroll in the course if you think it's of interest.
We have two problems to overcome here. The primary one, from my perspective, is that we have passionate individuals within an institution, within an National R&E network, who are attempting to develop Global "collaboration hubs". They have little understanding of how networks are constructed, so usually, when they get a F2F conference together, they find it very difficult to include others as the kind of tools which they dream about would require them to approach their National network engineers on a coordinated basis.
To illustrate the challenges from their National network manager's perspective, I'll just point to the last meeting of some of the network managers who run R&E networks in Europe.
So, as far as design is concerned, we have the OER perspective. (i.e. the content people), and the NREN perspective (i.e. the infrastructure people). One group rarely talks to the other. That's why I produced this video back a few years ago. (Warning. I'm a bad teacher)
As I've always said to my terena mates, it's a bit useless engineers trying to design a house; that's an architect's/OERer's job. And they can't design a global collaborative hub without understanding (at least) a little about how IP networks are constructed. (the basis of which is the concept of having the same resources & bandwidth -between users - when they log on to their institutional network, and these days, outside their institutional networks). For OER, all they know is the web - the bit that sits on top of the Internet.
The other challenge in design comes back to trying to remember a world where people weren't drowning in content. e.g. we have lots of OER initiatives, all working in their hubs, with a few spokes, and ultimately, when it comes to marketing, they (their promotional people) need to collaborate. Another web site is about as useless as .....
I don't have a degree in Marketing. I just have 30 years experience, and would never employ a graduate in any of the businesses I've started and sold, primarily because they will have had their imaginations ruined by outdated theories, and academic practices.(not another thesis!)
So, as far as busying oneself around building credentials for jobs that no longer exist. I would tend to be designing a new marketing concept for inter-OER initiatives. Eventually, that will revolve around the idea of collaborating, and not competing with one another. There's no course for it either, yet :)
BTW. You might be interested in this graphic, as this same discussion is going on in the "open governance" space. We seem to have the same problem in the Open Education space. No one invites the users to co-design. (every project starts at Stage 4).