Creative Commons licenses are enabling an international partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide free learning opportunities for students worldwide with pathways to formal academic credit. The OER university (OERu) will create a parallel learning universe for learners who cannot afford a tertiary education by offering CC-licensed courses — with the opportunity to acquire formal academic credit at greatly reduced cost when compared to full-tuition studies. The OERu will assemble courses from existing open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses, reducing the overall cost of development. It has adopted the Free Cultural Works approved licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) as the default for OERu courses.
The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu, includes an impressive line-up of education providers, including: Athabasca University, BAOU (Gujarat’s open university), SUNY Empire State College, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, NorthTec, Open Polytechnic, Otago Polytechnic, Southern New Hampshire University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Canterbury, University of South Africa, University of Southern Queensland, and the University of Wollongong. BCcampus and the OER Foundation are supporting the network as non-teaching partners. These founding OERu anchor partners are accredited institutions in their respective national, provincial or state jurisdictions, which means that the OERu will be able to provide formal academic credit towards credible degrees in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America — all using CC-licensed courses. Senior executives of the network have facilitated agile and rapid progress targeting the formal launch of the OERu operations in 2013. (More on that here.)
The OERu anchor partners have shortlisted eight university- and college-level courses to be developed as prototypes for refining the OERu delivery system:
- College Composition
- Art Appreciation and Techniques
- Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
- A Mathematical Journey
- General and Applied Psychology
- Critical Reasoning
- Why Sustainable Practice
- Introduction to Management
Collectively, these courses — all first year courses except for Critical Reasoning, which is a 2nd year-level course in Philosophy — will carry credit towards a Bachelor of General Studies, the inaugural credential selected at the OERu meeting in November 2011. Two of the courses will be based on existing course materials under CC BY from U.S. Washington State’s Open Course Library project and the Saylor Foundation.
The OER Foundation has been trailing technologies and delivery approaches of large OER courses to help inform the design and development of these prototype courses. One such course is Open Content Licensing for Educators, which was designed as a free online workshop for educators and learners to learn more about OER, copyright, and CC licenses. The course materials, also under CC BY, were developed collaboratively by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons, with funding support from UNESCO. In January, Open Content Licensing for Educators was conducted online with 1,067 participants from 90 different countries — demonstrating the success of a large, collaborative, and high quality OER project. The OERu model will build on successes such as these, and demonstrate how CC licenses can maximize the return on investment in education at a massive scale.
Kudos to Wayne Mackintosh and all of his colleagues at OERu. Well done!
To learn more, visit WikiEducator.2 Comments »
Getting students formal credit for their free and open education is a challenge, but groups and institutions are working around the world to come up with alternative pathways to recognition. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is one such group that explored the topic in an assessment workshop last September and then co-designed virtual “badges” for recognition in real time at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona. P2PU and Mozilla are piloting these badges via the P2PU School of Webcraft, and have solicited would-be developers for the skills and competencies that would best be reflected by a badge system. In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, they have drafted An Open Badge System Framework: A foundational piece on assessment and badges (Google doc).
A meeting to build an OER University
Alternatives, such as the badge system above, may factor into a plan to bring formal recognition to open education learners’ achievements. In an effort to combine institutional forces, the Open Educational Resources (OER) Foundation will host an international planning meeting on February 23 to co-design assessment and credit pathways for open learning. As open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses become more integrated into institutional education, the OER foundation (along with Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, and Athabasca University in Canada) is hoping to “provide flexible pathways for OER learners to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.”
The challenge is to find robust mechanisms for academic credit for these OER learners. “Students seek flexible study opportunities, but they also want their achievements recognised in credible credentials.” said Sir John Daniel, President of the Commonwealth of Learning. “This important meeting will tackle the challenges of combining flexibility with rigour, which requires clarity in conception and quality in execution.”
The OER Foundation invites and encourages all post-secondary institutions and others “who care about sharing knowledge as a core value of education” to join the meeting, which will be streamed virtually by UNESCO to enable participation by all.
The foundation believes “OER is a sustainable and renewable resource,” but that “collaboration among education institutions will be a prerequisite for success.”No Comments »