The OERu – a model for mass provision of higher education based on collaboration around OERs

Posted on May 4, 2012


The Open Educational Resources (OER) university, known as the OERu, is a global network of higher education institutions aiming to offer low-cost assessment and accreditation to informal learners. The point of reference for these assessment and accreditation services is a body of open educational resources which are available on the Web, and which include guidance and support for learners in the form of learning pathways, marking criteria, and information about how the various resources can be combined to create a coherent credential. At present, there are 15 institutions involved in the network from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia, India and South Africa. The initiative is sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO.

For further background information, see:

Diagram by Jim Taylor (2011) showing the OERu concept.

Five things you should know about the OERu

In a series of interviews I conducted earlier this year with individuals from 14 of the partner institutions, I asked how the institutions were planning to implement the OERu concept, what their business models were, and the reasons for their participation. The following mindmaps summarise the answers I received. To see the mindmaps more clearly, click on each one and it will open in a larger frame.

Where are you planning to source your content for OERu learners?

How are you planning to assess OERu learners?

What are your policies for recognising credits obtained by students at other institutions?

How are you planning to support OERu learners?

Why has your institution joined the OERu?

These findings are being used as the basis for a series of interviews with senior management in UK higher education institutions, as well as two questionnaires. The first of these will be addressed to the OERu network members themselves, aimed at identifying the factors which are perceived to be most likely to lead to successful implementation of the OERu. The second one will be addressed to members of institutions that have not joined the OERu, but are interested in finding out how compatible their institutions are with the OERu concept. (See here if you want to contribute to improving the draft questionnaires. Many thanks to Wayne Mackintosh of the OER Foundation, who has started the ball rolling with very detailed feedback.)

Gabi Witthaus, 4 May 2012

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