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?
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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 Tasmania, Thompson 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. 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:
- Courses which will lead to a full BGS degree at one or more of the OERu partners.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.