OERu Inaugural Meeting Day 1 highlights

Posted on November 9, 2011


It’s 3.30 am and I’m propped up in bed with my laptop… just finished watching the very interesting proceedings of day one of the inaugural planning meeting of the OERten (OERu tertiary education network) members which is being streamed live from Dunedin in New Zealand. The energy level in the room seemed high, and there really seems to be a sense of everyone working together towards a common purpose. Remote participants engaged actively on Twitter and Identi.ca, which made me feel as if I was (almost) in the room with everyone.

A few highlights:

Reps from all 13 of the universities in the OERten network were present. They introduced themselves briefly at the start of the session and explained why their institutions were involved in OERten. The rationales included a commitment to social responsibility, a belief in collaboration with other HE institutions in order to deliver to scale, a good business opportunity, the need for sustainable delivery models, and a desire to disrupt education.

Rory McGreal described the concept of “challenge exams” at Athabasca University in Canada, whereby students can opt to just sign up for the exam without having received tutorial support. Course materials and module outlines etc are made available to these students (for a fee).

Phil Ker from Otago Polytechnic gave a persuasive argument for the business case of the OERu concept. He has done a cost analysis and has concluded that assessment and accreditation services could be offered for 20-40% of the standard students’ fees. Courses with limited assessment (such as business studies, in his example) would be at the lower end of that scale, while courses with more formative assessment (such as carpentry) would be at the top end.

Jim Taylor from USQ coined the terms “free range learners” and “organic learning”. He stressed that we now have the technology to enable a pedagogy of discovery. He also mentioned the idea of creating e-tivities (with due credit to Gilly Salmon for the term and the accompanying five-stage model) for OERu students, and there was some discussion about the possibility of “continuous cohorts” of students who would work through the e-tivities as part of a portfolio assessment requirement.

A video that I had made to introduce the TOUCANS project to the OERten members (see link below) was shown. (Watching this as a remote participant was a weird experience. There was a massive lag in the video, making me appear severely drugged… Fortunately the slides and my voice seemed to be fine!) I’m grateful to Wayne for including this in the programme, as it will reduce the amount of explaining I have to do when I make contact with OERten members to interview them for TOUCANS.

The session ended with Jim Taylor putting forward a prototype for a 2012 pilot, along with an evaluation conducted according to CIPP  principles (context, input, process and products, with reference to Shufflebeam). He suggested that the pilot should aim for around 100 students per course, with funding to ensure that they can all access the OERs at no cost. The official launch of OERu is expected to take place in 2013.

All in all a very interesting session, and worth staying up all night for :-)

To be continued tomorrow…


Agenda: http://wikieducator.org/OER_university/2011.11_OERu_Meeting_Agenda

Live stream (and hopefully recording afterwards): http://www.ustream.tv/channel/oeru

Proposal by Paul Stacey and SCOPE team at BCcampus for inaugural credential: http://wikieducator.org/images/e/e9/InauguralOERuCredential_(1).pdf

Etherpad discussion on the inaugural credential: http://abbott.bccampus.ca:9001/p/OERuSession2a

Virtual participants list: http://wikieducator.org/OER_university/2011.11_OERu_virtual_meeting_participants

Video introducing TOUCANS project to OERten: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDKVosg8tpc

Five things you should know about the OERu network plan: http://wikieducator.org/images/7/7d/OERu.pdf

Visual representation by Judith Murray of Thompson Rivers University showing how they are seeing the shift from the current model of “Our students, our faculty, our materials” (three intersecting lifecycles) towards a model more suited to the OERu, which she described as “Any students, with anyone supporting them, using any materials, but with our assessment and accreditation”. Thanks to Vasi Doncheva for the picture: http://pic.twitter.com/xuCVmks0




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