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

Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Number of replies: 12

During Session 2 we will review the proposed strategic goals for the OERu 4-year strategic plan.

(Note: As an asynchronous seminar, you are most welcome to comment on previous sessions. So if you missed the first day, you can access the forum for Session 1 on the planning context here.) 

Please read the proposed strategic goals which were collated from recommendations at the OERu 2013 series of meetings. 

Guiding questions

  1. Are we missing any important strategic goals for the 2014 - 2017 plan? If so please let us know.
  2. What are the substantive risks which would prevent the OERu from achieving its goals?
  3. Do you have any thoughts on the priority ranking of the stated goals?
  4. Are there any strategic objectives missing from the list which would contribute to the attainment of our strategic goals
  5. Any general comments, ideas or thoughts to help OERu achieve success?
  6. How can the OERu strategy narrow the gap between the future value the network can provide and the immediate tangible benefits partners can extract today?
  7. Additional consultation questions?

Have a great day!

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Jim Taylor -

Hi Wayne

While all the strategic goals are important, and there is an impressive amount of useful work in several of the associated working groups, it would probably be fruitful to gather opinions from the community on the priority ranking of the various activities currently underway. Working towards a critical path/GANNT chart overview would probably be productive, even though many of the activities  can continue in parallel.  

Further, from my perspective, the work on generating a Programme of Study is an immediate priority, which has the potential to engender credibility and generate momentum for the project as a whole. Concentrating our efforts on offering a transdisciplinary Foundation Year could provide a worthy focus and a worthwhile outcome, hopefully in a reasonable timeframe.

In reply to Jim Taylor

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Jim,

Indeed - there is an impressive amount of planning and work being coorindiated by the OERu working groups (see list at the bottom of the quicklinks page.)  

I'll try to compile a short online survey tomorrow listing the main activities identified by all the working groups to gather opinion on priority rankings from the community. This will be a valuable input for the strategic planning working group. Good idea!

Developing product for a coherent programme of study is a major priority for the OERu family. It's a complex challenge - but I think we can come up innovative but workable solutions particularly if we can find creative ways to bridge the gap between the future value of the OERu network and the tangible benefits partners can extract in the near future as course assembly progresses. 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Marc Singer -

I would suggest that we reconsider the emphasis on the program of study until we have gotten some courses completed. The original goal of developing courses that the partner institutions could offer for college credit at a low cost seems to have bene de-emphasized, unless I have missed something. Of the Prototype courses proposed in 2012, have any been completed? At Thomas Edison State College, we have taken one of the courses that seemed to be partly developed and, in consultation with the original developers, we have been working on completing it so that we could develop an assessment that our students could use for credit. I worry that we will come up with a completed program of study that leads to the BGS degree but will have no actual path for students to follow to pursue that degree.

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Alan Davis -

It would probably be an iterative processes: the BGS being open enough to accommodate diverse areas of study should allow members to just get started with courses where we have interest and experise, then look at what we have to find the pathways, then develop more courses that augmnet those pathways, and so on. Or are you making a different point Marc?

In reply to Alan Davis

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Marc Singer -

Alan, I think that is a good point, and probably a good solution to my concern. I have been worried that it might be easier to come up with a plan for designing a general studies degree than it is to go and do the actual work of creating the courses for it. You are right that we should not contribute courses willy-nilly, without regard to whether or not they would be useful, but what I have observed so far is that we have suggested a number of courses but not produced very many, unless I am overlooking something.

I am not suggesting that we abandon the idea of developing a degree program, only that we give more thought to the courses that make up that program. I suppose if I had a progress chart that showed where we all are with our course development, it might help me to understand whether we are proceeding in the way you suggest.

One other thing: in the case of my institution, we already offer such a degree. We joined OERu with the goal of sharing courses to supplement our offerings, and to enable our students to earn credit for a very low cost. While some students will choose to go the whole OERu route and only take these courses that we are creating, I know from experience that most students will do only bits and pieces of such a program of study. They will do our Psychology degree or the Business degree and use the OERu courses they need, picking and choosing as it suits them. For my students, then, having actual course available for their use is far more important than having a whole program of study.

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Marc and Alan,

This is a valuable discussion - thanks for your imputs and reflections. Excellent inputs for the Curriculum and Programme of Study working group. A few points:

  1. The core mission of the OERu is to offer high-quality open online courses designed for independant study with peer-learning support based soley on OER. OERu partners will offer college credit at low cost. We don't intend to de-emphasise this strategic vision.
  2. We selected the BGS degree, because that would ensure a degree exit point and this is the most flexible qualification which could accommodate a wide range of courses. A number of our partners already have a BGS degree on their Books, for example Athabasca University, University of TasmaniaThompson Rivers University, Thomas Edison State College etc. There will be others. The Curriculum and Programme of Study working group are planning to draw up an invertory of OERu partners with a BGS and/or similar qualification on their books and analyse the requirements.
  3. Marc, you raise a valid concern that students may not have an actual path to pursue a BGS degree. We must also remember that an OERu course could lead towards credit for another degree at the confering institution. Fortunately, we are still in the early phases of design and can begin to adress and plan solutions for these concerns. I think the next step is to map existing course nominations to BGS degrees in the network and find ways of commmunicating to learners the credentials which are available. It seems to me that the OERu will have 3 classifications of courses:
    1. Courses which will lead to a full BGS degree at one or more of the OERu partners. 
    2. OERu courses which can be applied towards alternate credentials (i.e other than a BGS degree) particulary degrees which cater for unspecified credit through credit transfer. (The minimum requirement for an OERu submission is that it must at least map to a credential at the nominating institution.) 
    3. Courses for full programmes at the nominating institution, for example the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education at Otago Polytechnic and the Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster Risk Studies at North-West University. (The full programme in each case will be available as OERu courses.) 
  4. Three full prototype courses have been completed. The Art appreciation and Techniques course at TRU. My understanding is that TRU are in the processes of final faculty approval for recognising this course. Colleauges at TRU will be able to update us on the status. Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific at USQ. (This is an interesting prototype because a learner who took the course at USQ, successfully applied the credit towards a degree at TRU.). USQ are currently converting this full course into micro format. The University of Canterbury developed a post-graduate course, Change with Digital Technology in Education in collaboration with the OERu. The Academic Board at Otago Polytechnic approved a 3rd year Bachelor degree course of the same name as an elective for the Graduate Diploma in Teritary Education. The course was converted into micro format and the full set of courses are available as OER. This is an excellent example of reuse of existing courses within the network.
  5. I think Alan is correct, this will be an iterative process. We need to work "bottom up" - that is see how the existing nominations can feed into pathways, but also we need to work "top down" looking at existing credentials and trying to fill the gaps.  

The power of the open model is that we don't need to develop a master plan -- its too complex to know all the answers at this time. Through incremental design, the master plan will emerge over time. 

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Marc wrote:

While some students will choose to go the whole OERu route and only take these courses that we are creating, I know from experience that most students will do only bits and pieces of such a program of study. They will do our Psychology degree or the Business degree and use the OERu courses they need, picking and choosing as it suits them. For my students, then, having actual course available for their use is far more important than having a whole program of study.

Just wanted to note that this is an excellent example of how TESC is extracting immediate tangible benefits from the OERu while contributing to the future value of the network.

Nice one! I hope partners will follow your lead. 

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Marc wrote:

At Thomas Edison State College, we have taken one of the courses that seemed to be partly developed and, in consultation with the original developers, we have been working on completing it so that we could develop an assessment that our students could use for credit. I worry that we will come up with a completed program of study that leads to the BGS degree but will have no actual path for students to follow to pursue that degree.

I'm very excited by TESC's efforts in taking Unisa's Critical Reasoning 2012 prototype nomination, adding value to the course structure and design and developing an assessment for your students.  This is another excellent example of the potential efficiencies of the OERu model. 

I suppose hindsight is a more accurate science, but I think there are a few valuable lessons we can draw from this inititative as we progress.

  1. It would have been helpful if the course material redesign was conducted openly. My understanding is that TESC will host the course materials on Google Sites (which is fine for TESC) but restricts effective reuse by others. During the early phases it may have been possible to script an early version for more flexible reuse. Not sure what technologies you used for development. 
  2. I appreciate that it would not have been feasible to develop the summative assessment openly for obvious reasons.  
  3. The OER Foundation will not be able to host the resultant course materials using proprietary technology. So extra time and effort will be needed to convert the course into open formats.
  4. Unisa is a Sakai campus, so it will be hard for them to integrate the course within their own learning management system for their students.
  5. Unisa and the OERF are keen to have a micro format version of this course - was the course structured in way to enable delivery in micro format?  

I offer this thoughts - -not as criticisms, but reflections on how we can improve OERu operations and effectiveness. 

For the future, I think we have a very exciting opportunity to host an OERu open online version (in micro format) of this course with parallel versions being available for full-fee registered students at the respective institutions studying in parallel with the free OERu learners. I think this would be a very powerful prototype for the network to explore.

Keen to hear your thoughts on these ideas.

 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Marc Singer -

Wayne--Actually, I am not the person to ask about the course design platform. We use Moodle Rooms for course delivery, but we have designed a cloud-based, "platform-independent" process for development that allows course materials to be delivered via any kind of device, including tablets and even smart phones. My understanding is that we can share course materials with any LMS. I will try to obtain the details so that our partners might have some more information about it.

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Thanks Mark,

I'd appreciate that -- Feel free to invite your tech person to respond in this forum. 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Marc Singer -

Wayne--here is what I received from Steve Phillips in my office, who has been working with a team to finish the Critical Reasoning course:

All of the course materials will be available in Word .doc format, so they can be easily remixed, reused, and uploaded to any LMS.  At the bottom of every page will be a download button (identical to the way we set up our open PLA100/200 courses).  The Google Site shell only exists to provide students (and our staff) with a more attractive and polished way of looking at the course. 

In terms of micro-courses, while our course was not designed this way (and as far as I can tell, neither was the UNISA course), there is enough of a thematic link between modules 1&2, and 3&4 to make two micro courses, and module 5 could be expanded to essentially a mini English composition course.

In reply to Marc Singer

Re: Session 2: Review of the draft strategic goals

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Hi Marc,

Thanks for getting back to us - I appreciate that.

That's a clever way to use Google Sites to provide a navigation shell for a collection of course documents to provide a more attractive and polished way of looking at the course.

The OERu course snapshot is not that far removed from the approach you are using. In stead of documents we use individual wiki pages (which can be downloaded in open document format or pdf.)  The course snapshot provides the navigation, look and feel with the advantages of a CSS framework for responsive design.  We have the added advantage of a detailed edit history for collborative / distributed authoring and the ability to target specific instances for the snapshot. The wiki also provides a good way to manage the metadata of openly licensed images.   

Yes, with access to the Word documents we will be able to automate getting a draft into the wiki.  We will need to have a think about images, in particular the metadata for openly licensed images embedded in the course resources.

Correct, when the Unisa course was first nominated, we were not thinking about micro-courses. But that's my point - if the OER development was conducted openly -- we would have had the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of a micro-format and potentially have avoided duplication of effort ;-).

No worries - design is an iterative process and we are all learning with each new iteration of the OERu courseware.

Looking forward to seeing the open version of the Critical Reasoning course. This will be a major edition to the OERu collection.