Posts made by Irwin DeVries


1. I believe a self-sustaining operation for OERu is the only long-term strategy that makes sense, as opposed to creating a dependency on or expectation of third-party funding. This approach maintains the grassroots ethos of the partnership and increases accountability for each of the partners both to add and to derive value from the partnership. I can't speak to the current financial realities of the OERu but membership seems to be growing by 5(?) or so per year...if that trend continues we should be at 45 within two years. Obviously institutions are intrigued and maybe even excited by the possibilities of membership.  Pro rating for the immediate future would mean another 2-3 by December 2014. But apart from posing abstract numbers, the question then is what is the recruitment strategy? What has it been till now? How can the partners contribute to this growth? How has the word gone out to date? And finally at what point does the payoff of membership, however we define that (a good discussion question?), need to be apparent?

2. Others are better positioned than I to speak to this one.

3. This is a critical piece and building more and more courses makes little sense without this element being in place. I can only think in terms of shorter-term targets as course and student numbers are hard to commit to without knowing that a robust system of credit and transfer is already in place. Even if three institutions build a working model over the next 6 months, I believe that may help to get the ball rolling and others will start to gain confidence and emulate the model. The OERu model requires only a low-risk involvement at the early stages, but over time it does require some internal policy work or commitments (advocacy) in our institutions. We all need to figure out that at some point we gradually need to step out on the ice with the faith that it's solid.

4. That number seems high to me given the progress to date. If we target a degree's worth of courses and break that down over the next three years, it would give us some good targets and milestones. So: 40-50 courses completed and running with more in the works?

5. Again if 2-3 adventurous partners demonstrate this model over the next 6 months, and also thereby begin to show value to their institutions alongside the service model, that may trigger a me-too response among other partners. That's how the xMOOCs (for better or for worse) suddenly took off. I believe we have more grounding or substance however to sustain our model than the hysteria that characterizes(ed) that phenomenon.

6. I think a focus on the enabling activities above will give us a better sense of student numbers in a year's time.

7. We’re still at an early stage in the OERu development, and we'll need a number of credible working models of each of the various sub-components of the OERu project to give a more solid basis for making longer term quantitative predictions. Also, we need to be aware that within our institutions we need to resolve issues around assessment, recognition of credit and transfer, establishing expertise and capacity to develop/contribute OER courses efficiently, completing the excellent early work that is being done by the sub-committees, etc. A big part of the payoff, to my way of thinking, is the dialogues and innovation that are prompted within our own institutions through our involvement with the OERu project. In the end, both institutionally and collectively we can make positive changes for the future of higher education and the needs of students.


Maria thanks for mentioning the "uncanny valley" term. It's new to me but it seems there's definitely a place for it. It reminds me somewhat of the creepy treehouse effect in mandated social networking dominated by faculty. In both cases, to counter these effects the suggestions in this article make sense to me.


Maybe learners don't care (or notice) much at the outset as to whether the OERu has open processes or not, but they may well be surprised when they find out that "open" as in Coursera includes prohibiting the use of their MOOCs for credit elsewhere, as noted in the Textbook Zero thread. That is definitely a point of difference that needs to be part of the OERu's marketing message. That seems like quite a biggie, in my opinion.


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."



Hayden, I wonder if part of the problem is that syndrome of expecting others to do it "the way we did it." In other words, it may be more difficult for educators who achieved their credentials and careers by traditional methods now to adopt different methods for their eventual successors. In the longer term, we will (one hopes!) eventually have educators in place who gained at least part of their education and credentials through RPL/PLAR  - and then things may be different.