Latest happenings at the OERu

Posted on January 24, 2012


There’s been a lot of activity amongst OERu (Open Educational Resource university) members over the last month – I’m going to summarise it in this post, as there doesn’t seem to be any single point of reference to find all this info.

  1. Happening right now: an open course on open content licensing. There are over 800 people from more than 80 countries participating. In true OER spirit, all the course materials are available from the Wiki site (including some great quizzes to test your copyright knowledge – should be required tasks for everyone involved in OER projects!)
  2. Possible future collaboration with MITx: MIT has launched a new platform, MITx, whereby informal learners will be able to not only access course materials, but also participate in online discussions and related activities, and obtain attendance certificates – for a nominal fee. There was some discussion on the OERu Google Groups list about liaising with MITx to establish whether there were any areas of productive collaboration – more to come about that in due course no doubt. There has also been some informal discussion on the mailing list about collaborating with  OERtest, a Europe-based initiative which has similar aims to the OERu.
  3. The summary of the Inaugural Meeting of OERTen partners, held in Novermber 2011, has been completed, including all the video and audio recordings. It’s a very well-structured and easy-to-read/view record of a significant milestone in the global open access movement in education.
  4. An Australian newspaper reported on a free, open course in Politics, the Community and the Common Good that was run at the University of Wollongong over the 2009-10 summer. ‘Subject co-ordinator Glenn Mitchell said the course had a great impact on students who had never been involved with a university: ‘‘It took those students to places intellectually and academically that they had never been before,’’ he said. ‘‘For some of the students it excited them so much that they either began to seriously think about going and doing a degree or some actually enrolled in a degree.’’ The University of Wollongong will use this course as a model for its participation in the OERu.
  5. An excellent summary of developments in the OERu to the end of 2011 was written by Jim Taylor for the Australian publication, Campus Review. (You need to create a free account to read it.) Paul Stacey also  gave a great summary of developments in the OERu over the past year, in his blog post “2011 The Year of Open”. Tony Bates referred to the OERu as the “most noticeable” development in open educational resources in 2011.
  6. An assessment and credentialisation practice survey was carried out in December: “This survey is designed to collect information regarding the various credentialing paths and existing practices for assessment and credit transfer at universities colleges, and polytechnics. The aim is to identify existing practices which could potentially provide opportunities for OER learners to gain formal recognition for their learning to assist with the planning of the OER university network.” No results available as yet, but they will no doubt make interesting reading when they’re posted.
  7. A great discussion took place about how to get volunteers involved and actively engaged in the OERu. An example – one interesting idea from Joyce McKnight of Empire State College/State University of New York : “We could develop a pre-evaluated free training course using ScopE (moodle) that would teach folks how to be volunteers, teach some basic listening skills, program planning techniques, how to work with OER’s and how to help students maintain a record of their learning.  For evaluation such a course could require reflective papers and volunteering with a set number of students (between five and ten, maybe) who would be asked to anonymously evaluate their work,  Their reflective papers and the feedback from students could be evaluated and credit awarded to the volunteer who could then use it for PLA as part of their own OER-u materials.   If it were an Empire State College course I would probably recommend that it be offered for two advanced level undergraduate credits that could be used to meet the college’s educational planning requirement.   A more intensive course could be offered for graduate level students.”
  8. Thirteen courses were proposed as “prototypes”, and members voted on the suitability of these courses for the OERu pilot, which will start in September 2012. (Look down the left hand panel of your screen for poll results.)
  9. The list includes one course produced by the Saylor Foundation (Art Appreciation and Techniques (Saylor ARTH101B)), as well as mention of the Saylor Foundation in relation to a proposed Psychology course – a very encouraging sign of potential collaboration.
  10. Some informal discussion has begun on APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) policy in relation to all of the above activities.

Altogether, an impressive list of activities, most of which took place over the holiday season. If I’ve left anything out of this list, I hope someone will send a comment or drop me a line!


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