Growing the OERu – a pre-conference workshop at Cambridge 2012

Posted on April 16, 2012


Yesterday’s pre-conference workshop at Cambridge 2012, which I co-facilitated with Judith Murray (Thompson Rivers University, Canada) Sandra Wills (University of Wollongong, Australia, replacing Graham Bell from NMIT in New Zealand who unfortunately was not able to join us) and Rory McGreal (Athabasca University, Canada), was a wonderful session full of interesting discussions. We brainstormed the dreams and of various stakeholders about the OER university, and came up with the following lists:

Dreams (Learners)

  • Study anywhere anytime
  • Don’t have to borrow money to study
  • Can compete with rich peers
  • Customize learning pathways
  • Recognition of my learning outside the course (RPL)
  • Free learning and accreditation J
  • Don’t have to study the university’s way
  • I can learn anything by combining courses/ credits from different institutions (from different parts of the world!)
  • Truly self-directed and personalized education

 Nightmares (Learners)

  • The revolving door scenario
  • All too confusing
  • Lack of support
  • Lack of recognition
  • A degree which I paid thousands to achieve is obtained for free by other people – higher academic standards are not recognized
  • Having to learning in a pre-designed, inflexible way and schedule
  • Self-directed learning requires motivation and time commitment
  • Lack of skills to participate
  • I’ve never studied online before
  • The more you pay, the more it’s worth. Go figure.
  • It’s messy and incoherent. I get different materials from different institutions.
  • People in the world with no access to computers become even more marginalized than now.

Dreams (Academics)

  • Break out of the walled garden
  • Create course materials collaboratively
  • Policy for recognition/ acknowledgement of informal/ non-formal learning
  • A space to try out innovations in learning and teaching
  • Contribute to world as a part-time volunteer tutor
  • Everyone, everywhere in the world will appreciate academic values (objective evaluation/ evidence-base/ free from prejudice), leading to increased respect between people and WORLD PEACE(!)/ harmony and ongoing questioning/ resolution of ALL the world’s problems
  • Can work from anywhere, as little or as much as desired

Nightmares (Academics)

  • “My” content is unacknowledged
  • How to support students
  • Students accredited through OERu courses are given jobs in preference to our own paying graduates
  • Movement away from content may minimize our role/ contribution
  • Not enough academic volunteers to share the teaching/ help load
  • OERu workload not acknowledged
  • Students not prepared because of lack of continuity between OERu institutions
  • I will lose my job. Volunteers will take over.
  • The whole model is parasitic.
  • “I just want to do my research.”

 Dreams (Senior Management)

  • Profile for institution/ brand
  • Providing access to learning on a global scale
  • Let’s hope all the other participating institutions we’re going to be associated with (current and future) have a good reputation
  • Part-time teachers/ lecturers will stop hassling for contracts (short- or long-term) and will have job security (i.e. be able to pay the bills)
  • Academics working for free – brilliant!
  • At the leading edge of education

Nightmares (Senior Management)

  • University closes down or is privatized (and dummed down) because of lack of income to pay salaries
  • Scalability/ sustainability
  • No buy-in from faculty/ academics
  • OER university is so successful, no need for traditional university
  • OERu fails and this has a negative impact on our university’s reputation
  • Learning outcomes in OERu are too vaguely expressed so accreditation is given (qualifications awarded) when underlying learning outcomes are not really met.
  • At the leading edge of education.
  • Not enough (faculty and administrative) expertise in assessing prior learning especially OERu courses from other institutions
  • You mean we have to recognize credits from that institution?!
  • The collection of OER courses do not form a coherent whole as a degree

Judith Murray’s presentation: Cambridge 2012 Open Learning 2.0

Sandra Wills’ presentation: What does OERu mean for a blended university

I’d love to write more about the discussion we had but must get going otherwise I’ll miss the first keynote… will be revisiting this blog throughout the conference to add more comments and insights from this amazing assembly of open educators.

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