Posts made by Irwin DeVries


Hi Hayden,

I certainly understand, and I myself have worked in that environment most of my life. I guess I just hope that as we continue to plan the future of the OERu, we remain open to, and maybe continue to press the boundaries of, traditional ways of assessing and recognizing learning toward credible credentials. And I think in the OERu are doing that already. I see this as part of the potential for institutional tranformation through the engagement of partners and others with open initiatives such as the OERu.


Hi Hayden,

Good point: it's not easy to be first institution in the chain to recognize credit from experiential learning. It's always easier and safer to let someone else do that and then figure out a scheme to translate from one system of assessment and recognition to another. Less risky I guess - we feel most comfortable operating in the "credit environment" as I've heard it termed. Yet as higher education institutions, shouldn't we be able to excel at assessing all kinds of learning? Here's hoping the A in PLAR isn't seen as a Scarlett Letter in HE...


I think there's room for both - i.e. one based more on an institutional sharing or repository approach - which has been around for a while now - and the other, more recently, on co-development in a collaborative environment with a larger shared objective toward credentials as in the OERu. Also, from an organizational perspective I'm thinking about what may work in a more formal educational enterprise such as a university, and what may be more successful in a.volunteer community such as the OERu.

That being said, I'm sure I'm not the only one here who cringes slightly when we find ourselves compelled to focus our discussions on learning in terms of courses, credits, contact hours and other such terms. It feels like trying to parcel out learning by the kilogram with the idea that somehow when we have filled up the bag we now have an educated student.... Nevertheless this work needs to be done so that we can offer coherent learning opportunities that also can gain the recognition of post-secondary institutions open to recognition of learning through the OERu.


Hi John,

The duration of and credit attached to traditional post-secondary courses is tied more to their Lego-block efficiencies in facilitating classes, semesters and credentials for large numbers of students than either to meet the desired learning outcomes for a particular discipline or to follow the internal logic of a learning domain. So to answer both your questions, I think where a focus on certain learning outcomes for longer durations is appropriate, there is no reason that either a course should be longer or the curricular structure of micro-courses would come with certain recommended sequences based on the goals of the learner. But given my earlier comments on the organizational benefits of shorter courses, I would lean toward the latter option.


We’ve learned from the successes of many Open Source Software (OSS) projects that the health of a volunteer developer community is a key element in successful project completion and maintenance. I think orienting much of our practice in the OERu around meeting the needs of volunteer course developer communities will benefit the OERu in the long run, and micro-courses could be a step in the right direction.

While folklore has it that developing with OERs is easier and faster than traditional practice, in fact the workflow of creating and/or finding, adapting and recontextualizing OERs can be a real challenge as it is quite different from traditional work patterns for educational developers.  Also it takes time to learn to operate efficiently in a wiki – challenges include technical aspects of wiki syntax and page layout, structuring an entire course in a flat-file file environment, developing good communication habits that leave a trail for later joiners to pick up on, collaborating with developers who may have a different approach to the project, the need for developers to take on multiple roles where there are gaps in the community, and so on. Mentoring is critical in getting novices up to speed on all of this.

Developing one’s first course in this environment forces a huge learning curve, and by the end developers typically say they’d like to go back and re-do the project based on what they learned – if they had the time.

I believe then that the shorter development cycle of micro-courses can have multiple organizational benefits, including shorter learning curves and thus better courses sooner, more likelihood of a micro-community of developers to stay with a project to completion, a developer mix that includes the diverse skillsets needed to round out the team, and less burden for mentors to come alongside a group of novices and assist them through the development of their first course.