Bringing the OERu strategic pieces together: 4-8 August, 2014

Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Number of replies: 12

Greetings everyone

The OERu open strategic planning consultation is directed by three questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where should we go?
  • How do we get there?

Background and approval process

The OERu is distinctively open. To date, all our face-to-face partner meetings have been streamed live on the internet with opportunities for virtual participants to engage in the breakout sessions and help shape the OERu agenda. Our face-to-face meetings are supplemented by: an open planning portal in the wiki; a number of communication channels; and these online SCoPE seminars with thanks to BCcampus for sharing this infrastructure to help the OERu achieve more affordable education for all.

The draft strategic plan was derived from recommendations generated during the OERu 2013 series of meetings. The draft plan was posted in the wiki in May 2014 for comment from the community. This SCoPE seminar marks the beginning of the synthesis phase where we aim to bring the strategic pieces together. The Strategic Planning Working Group will consider all feedback in preparing an integrated set of documents linking the OERu strategic plan and associated management structures. The strategic plan will be tabled at the 2nd meeting of the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers on 10 November 2014 leading to final approval by the OER Foundation at the December meeting of the Board of Directors.

Support resources for Session 1

Discussions during Session 1 of our SCoPE seminar will focus on the OERu planning context. Please read:

  1. The brief summary of the OERu journey to date

  2. The OERu baseline data as of 1 January 2013.

  3. Our 2014 operational priorities

Guiding questions for Session 1

  1. Any clarification questions about the OERu

  2. Do we have the baseline data correct? Are we missing anything?

  3. Did we get the 2014 operational priorities right? Are we missing any key priorities?

  4. How are we performing on the 2014 operational priorities?

  5. Any other questions which are relevant to the planning context?

I look forward to an informative session as we unpack our OERu planning context.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Maria Droujkova -

Can you add something student-centered to the priorities? I mean a way to get students involved in the process, now. If I send my pre-college students your way, what will they be able to do to help build this dream?

In reply to Maria Droujkova

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Thanks Maria.

Valid point - yes we should add something student-centred to the priorities. We really need to pick up on early brainstorm work around designing Academic Volunteers International - this is missing from the plan.

I've added your point to the summary for the Strategic Planning Working group.

Thinking out loud -- I wonder if student engagement should be incorporated into the community source objective of Strategic Goal 1 which deals with building a sustainable and scalable OERu network? Volunteer contributions, especially from learners will help scale the OERu collaboration.

Thanks Maria.

 

 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Scott Johnson -

Hi Wayne, agree with Maria on the need for outreach to students as early as possible. For me, school was a lost cause by the time I was 14. There being no means for me to contact people who cared, left me in a pointless spin until I could escape.

If you are suggesting that Academic Volunteers might help I think the first step is to decide what categories those volunteers will come from. If all are from an academic background then OERu will simply repeat what we already have.

In reply to Scott Johnson

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Scott,

Thanks for sharing.

During a previous SCoPE seminar, we started brainstorming "user stories" for different categories of volunteers. This still needs a lot of work, but your point is well made that simply replicating what we already have will not necessarily get us to where we want to be.

The fundamental challenge we are trying to address is to widen access to free learning opportunities, especially for the millions of learners who are excluded from the tertiary sector, with pathways to acheive credible degrees.

As a small charitible colloboration - we simply do not have the resources for sophisticated outreach to students. Our model is designed around smart integration of peer-learning support.  On the technology side, we use a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) approach with careful integration of peer learning activities. 

Terry Anderson's work on the interaction equivalency theorem provides some research evidence that if we can effectively ramp up student-student support, we can get away with not having high levels of lecturer-student interactions. 

To be candid - in a large online class, there is a strong likelihood that a number of learners will "know the answer" (or at least know how to find it). 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Maria Droujkova -

Good call about volunteers, because volunteering is something a lot of active teens already do. 

How can students participate in decision-making, with appropriate support? Power, agency, design, that sort of thing.

In reply to Maria Droujkova

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Maria, exellent point about power, agency etc of decision-making in volunteer models.

I think there is a lot we can learn from the meritocratic approaches used by a number of open source projects where influence is earned through the recognition of their contributions. 

I think the OERu is evolving in this direction - we are distinctively open in all our processes but folk who have earned their stripes and gained authentic experience through their contributions play a significant part in the open decesion-making in our network. Using this model, there is no reason why learners can't influence the shape of the OERu in a meaningful way.

The model seems to work, because OERu partner institutions retain decision-making autonomy regarding, for instance credit transfer and course articulation which keeps a healthy balance. 

I suspect there is still a lot we need to learn - but doing it helps us move forward in an incremental way. 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Scott Johnson -

Hi Wayne, I appreciate the difficulty of organizing a system of volunteers but also think this can emerge from an interested community. It wasn't until after graduating high school that I realized education was actually interesting and even occasionally useful.

Having worked most of my life with apprentices in the building trades it's now clear to me I wasn't oddity. Of course by then it was too late. Strangely, there seems to be no one in schools that can explain the value of education beyond it being the thousands of rules called "learning".

If school is going to be for everyone there's going to be a need to convince young people that themselves educated is available without surrender.

In reply to Scott Johnson

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Scott Johnson -

Hi again Wayne, just realized my comments are not particularly helpful so instead ofgeneralities...Reading; "Summary of AVI ideas as of November 2011" the last source of support existing open communities sounds good.

Isolation is a large weakness in online learning. People simply drift away, get behind, feel ignored or have some crisis that could be noticed and fixed f2f. Someone who will respond with support within a reasonable period of time on the net might be service shared out among a community. This person need not be an expert but rather a reliable companion with the experience of the "silence of the internet.

Beyond being saved from disappearing by being noticed this mentor-like role provides a membership example of where education can lead. This was vital working with apprentices as a validation of effort noticed.

In reply to Scott Johnson

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Scott,

Yes, I see what you mean now. In the absense of "designing" learning pathways with integration of peer-support, independant study online can be a lonely experience.

In the OERu model, we incoporate microblog posts and something called WENotes which provides a 24/7 stream for peers to interact with each other. We've also developed support tutorials to help with technical support. 

The idea is that volunteers could help with both content and "how to learn" support using these interaction tools.

We have experiemented with a peer-based question and answer technology (similar to Stack Exchange) in some of our prototype courses where learners could post questions, and anyone could provide answers earning karma points for good answers voted by the community. This worked reasonable OK until the critical mass of main questions were populated on the site, and then it became a read-only resource rather than a community support tool. 

I do agree, building a community of OERu mentors could help tremedously, including retired educators, peer-learners, community service initiatives where learners "pay-back" their learning by offering help and support or actually earn credit for providing support etc. I think the challenge is to build the critical mass of volunteers to make this work. It will take time, but I think we could build an amazing global community of support.

W

 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Colby Stuart -

Just adding some experiential insight here regarding polling. When we have added polling with well-scripted questions that build on the previous responses, we discover that participants/students help shape how we move forward in building an engaging framework for online learning.

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Marc Singer -

Hello all--sorry to be joining Day 1's conversation late. I am having a bit of trouble figuring out how to contribute to our discussions, I think in part because I don't have a clear sense of where we stand at this moment. I apologize if my question seems naive, but how much progress have we made to date? What sort of projects (aside from this strategy meeting, of course) are currently underway? We have solicited courses from the partners, and have gotten some back in return. Are we happy with those courses? Are there any guidelines for developing them? Any standards to which we all should be adhering? Or that we should be attempting to enforce?

I know this may be asking a lot of someone else, but some sort of annual report, or a place where all of our initiatives are summarized, would be very helpful in this regard.

To address a couple of the questions Wayne has posted above: The operational priorities seem fine, and I have appreciated the discussions that led to their creation and refinement, though I agree with Maria that the absence of students is a serious issue to be addressed. Aside from the Academic Volunteers, what do students want? What do they need from something like the OERu? There has been some research lately focused on online education and its effectiveness--does any of that have implications for what we want to do? Have any of your students requested anything of us and this endeavor? Have we asked? (I haven't.)

As for how we are performing on the operational priorities: I think it would be helpful not only to know where we are with these, but also whether we are progressing at a pace that seems reasonable compared with where we thought we would be at this point, and if not, what resources we would need to speed our progress. I might do better with a bit more direction: in other words, I would not mind at all were someone to tell me what to do, and by when.

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 1: The OERu strategic planning context

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Mark

You can't be late in an asynchronous discussion, its just that New Zealand (given our geographical location) has seen the future which has already happened ;-). Thanks for popping in. 

Marc asks: 

I apologize if my question seems naive, but how much progress have we made to date? What sort of projects (aside from this strategy meeting, of course) are currently underway? We have solicited courses from the partners, and have gotten some back in return. Are we happy with those courses? Are there any guidelines for developing them? Any standards to which we all should be adhering? Or that we should be attempting to enforce?

I'll attempt a summary update - but you will find all the information in the wiki. (It may take a while to find your way around, but after a while you will see how this all fits together. The quicklinks page is a good launchpad to find relevant information.) 

In short, the OERu collaboration is more or less on target where we expected to be at this phase of our journey.

In some areas we are a little ahead for example we have received 30 course nominations exceeding our stated target of 20. In other areas we are lagging a little behind, for example on membership recruitment. At this stage of the year I would have liked to have achieved 5 new members to reach our target of 10 by the end of the year. We have annouced 3 new members this year, and I'm anticipating 2 new institutions joining in the near future. We still need to recruit 5 additional partners in 201t4 to reach our operational recruitment target.)  

So if partners know of institutions keen to join - please point them to the prospective partners page and the organisational FAQ page. Send me a personal introduction via email to contacts at prospective partners and I can progress a formal letter of invitation. Word of mouth is our most successful recruitment approach. The sooner we achieve a target of 45 contributing partners, the sooner we will have additional resources to commission the assembly of OERu courses to fill gaps in our emerging programme of study. 

Historical targets

At the November 2011 founding meeting of anchor partners we:

  1. Agreed a Bachelor of General Studies as the inaugural credential.
  2. Aimed to develop 3 prototype courses during 2012 / 2013 in time for the launch meeting in November 2013. We competed: Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific, OCL4Ed, Art Appreciation and Techniques plus a bonus micro Open Online Course, Scenario Planning for Educators which we were able to run in parallel mode with full fee registered students studying with free OERu learners. 

In short we achieved our inititial targets. 

Q1: What projects are underway?

The OERu planning portal keeps a record of all the activities in the logic model and we do a reasonable job of keeping this up to date. If you see something which is out of date - its a wiki, be bold and help us keep the OERu project information up to date :-).  Here is a summary:

  • 2014 course nominations - 30 full course equivalents nominated. I have been informed of two institutions who still want to submit nominations.
  • Course bounty project - No public submissions submitted :-( I suspect that we will now move to shoulder tap SMEs and designers to move this forward. 
  • Course site design project -  to develop a CSS framework for responsive design to improve the presentation layer of OERu courses based on the OERu website theme plus the ability for partners to customise the theme for local branding. Project is on track.
  • Strategic planning consultation requested by the OERu Council of CEOs - project is on schedule
  • Establish working groups and corresponding management structures. OERu Management Committee established (conveners of the working groups). The first series of meetings completed.
  • Community source target of a 1 FTE contribution across the network for technology innovation and support. To date, USQ is the only institution who has responded to our request contributing resource time assisting with the development of a responsive CSS framework for the OERu.  However, there is an active Technology working group who have been meeting regularly. We have also established a Community Source page documenting priorities. Again, response has been low, slowing down our upgrade to integrate a visual editor in the wiki. However, we are targeting early September to get this operational. 
  • Establish pathways (streams) to develop a coherent programme of study. Work in progress. This is a complex chicken and egg challenge. In the absence of a critical mass of courses, its hard to develop a meaningful programme of study. 
  • GSoC Peer Evaluation project - The Alpha release was tested and we are hopeful that the student will complete the beta version by the "pencil down" date of 11 August 2014.  
  • OERu partners manual - work in progress. We have a tentative table of contents outline. I'm hopeful that this will be completed before our next series of meetings.
  • Publish operational guidelines for credit transfer and course articulation. Work in progress. Intial survey to guage what "sending" institutions are able to do is ready. I'm hopeful that we can have a draft set of guidelines for discussion at our 2014 meetings.
  • Quality guidelines for OERu courses. Work in progress. A few volunteers have agreed to review applicability of existing guidelines for the OERu context.
  • Propose procedures for streamlining the OERu course nomination process. Work in progress. The intention is to use the current nominations as a prototype to inform ways we can improve this process. 
  • Progress design and development of Academic Volunteers International. We got off to a good start brainstorming ideas for the design, but this project is currently stagnant - ironically no volunteers working on this one :-(. 

Q2: We have solicited courses from the partners, and have gotten some back in return. Are we happy with those courses?

Yes, we have received feedback. To date 30 full course equivalents have been nominated. Speaking personally, I am particularly happy that we now have two full programmes on the table. (Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education and a Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Risk Studies.) This means that the OERu will have two additional credentials and a foundation for streaming, for example Bachelor of General Studies with specialisation in Vocational Education. 

I'm also very pleased by the number of micro course submissions -- this will enhance the potential for reuse and remix in the network, and opportunities for collaborative development. Already in the area of courses for digital citizenship / digital skills there is potential for reuse, remix and collaboration. This group of developers will be meeting soon to discuss how we could collaborate. Speaking personally, I would have liked to see more microcourse submissions because its relatively easy to structure a "full" course as a series of micros. 

The next step is for our partners to develop the course descriptions (i.e. the course summaries which appear on the website). There have been some delays due to a few partners not submitting contact people for access to the CMS. 

I'm also planning to configure a course sprint for mid September so partners can work together in finding out how to develop courses for OERu. 

Q3 Are there any guidelines for developing them? Any standards to which we all should be adhering? Or that we should be attempting to enforce?

At this time, we don't have published guidelines -- this is work in progress. However, we do have the prototype examples to help guide development and we have an open partner list for asking questions. I strongly encourage partners to use this list (rather than personal emails) so that we have a public record and can share insights and ideas for the benefit of all partners.

There are two main standards I would recommend at this time:

  1. Open and transparent development of courses - there are a number of courses being developed "behind closed doors". From experience of running open online courses over the last 7 years, I know that a few OERu partners will be replicating the mistakes I have made in the past. These developments will be generating extra work in tweaking the courses for the open online delivery format. Without open development - we are unable to advise on tools to help convert resources for the OERu model.
  2. Unless partners can provide the technology infrastructure for hosting OERu courses themselves ensuring that course materials can be accessed without password access -- my advice is to keep core learning materials outside the LMS / VLE. By containing development inside the LMS -- we restrict reuse for our partner network.  

I think we are making good progress. The strength of the OERu network is in the rigour of our planning combined with a healthy dose of openness.