Open Educational Resources (OER) in ODL

It’s Thursday morning in Tianjin, and we have a session on Open Educational Resources in open and distance learning. The panel presenters are: Prof. Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair Holder in OER; Prof. Rory McGreal, UNESCO/COL OER Chair Holder (Athabasca University); Prof. Nizam, Ministry of National Education, Indonesia; Dr. Griff Richards, African Virtual University; and Dr. Wayne Mackintosh, COL OER Chair Holder.

The session started with a video from Dr. Wayne Mackintosh (Ottawa Polytechnic?). He is launching OER University – smart philanthropy – give resources and you can receive. There are 30 contributing members from 5 continents. 150 years ago the University of London pioneered a system where if you could pass a university exam, you could receive the credit. The OERu will have this same type of format. If worried about the competition with existing markets; it’s really focusing on new markets; bringing education to those who aren’t able to access it right now.

Two Worlds of Higher Education

Dr. Mulder then started as the panel chair by sharing about the two worlds of higher education: innovative &  open, lifelong, open flexible (for more than one century); and conventional & closed – classrooms, fixed, young students, mainstream, research, (many centuries).

The open higher education has the Classical / Established (open and distance learning – one century+) and Innovative / Emerging (OERs, MOOCs, MIT, OERu, P2Pu, edX, OpenEd, etc. one decade).

  1. Are we meanwhile thrown back into the conventional world indeed?
  2. Have we perhaps gone into betrayal of our original mission of open learning?
  3. Are we too much blinded by feelings of contextual uncertainty, risks & threats?
  4. Shouldn’t we get back to our rootes and embrace OER/MOOCs as fundamental to our model?

There is a new initiative in Europe called “Opening Up Education” launched September 25, 2013. Innovative teaching, learning, reshaping/modernizing education through OER, etc.

OuE is a subtle change to Open Education – it captures the idea of movement. There isn’t a single ideal model for education; there is no fixed model for education. It’s movement and growing. It’s more about open educational resources.

What do we mean by open?

  • Open learning (1971 OU UK)
  • Open courseware (2001: MIT)
  • Open educational resources (2002: UNESCO)
  • Open education (2008 Cape Town Declaration)
  • Massive Open online Courses (2011: xMOOCs / 2008: cMOOCs)

5 Components of Open Education Model

  • 3 supply components
    • Open education resources (OER)
    • Open learning services (OLS)
    • Open teaching efforts (OTE)
    • 2 demand side components
      • Open to learners’ needs (OLN)
        • Open entrance, affordable, etc.
  • Open to employability and capabilities development (OEC)

Institutions may be open at different levels for each of these five components.

xMOOCs aren’t really open; there’s no open licensing; you cannot reuse or repurpose it.

cMOOSs are 100% OER.

He believes OER should be embraced by all institutions around the world.

MOOCs: predominantly in the US; some EU universities have joint initiatives with the US; and Europe has the new “Opening Up Education” model. Self-study model focused on European values of equity, quality, and diversity. They already have membership requests from 20 countries worldwide. They have certificates of completion, badges and 30 courses are available to earn credits. Common features: open learners, digital openness, learner-centred approach, independent learning and more. It is positioned in the public domain (not-for-profit); it has a central communication portal which is a referatory to the institutions’ platforms. It’s not for profit but for service. They want to reach out to open universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Indication of growing student enrollments in regular operation and of increasing institutional prestige.

Do we allow our institutions and their good work for learners and society to be disrupted? Reactive strategy.

Do we rediscover our mission and fully utilize and profile the power of open? Proactive strategy.

Next panelist is Dr. Rory McGreal.

Announcing a new course from Athabasca University called AU001: Bear and Cougar Awareness. If said they need this course, because if the bears eat the faculty, it makes the president look bad. Love that Canadian humor!

Open Educational Resources: The Value Proposition

He proposes that we need OER for distance education. eMundus EuroProject.

Why do we need OER? DRM – digital rights management in commercial content. Digital licenses for commercial content. He calls it digital restrictions management. The companies put restrictions on the content that are unacceptable in an education environment.

DRM: You cannot: copy and paste, annotate, highlight, text to speech, format change, move material, print out, move geographically, use after expiry date, resell.

As educators, we have to rethink what we are doing with commercial content. We cannot live with these restrictions.

When you buy a device it’s your property. But DRM restricts your freedom to use your device the way you want to use it. They make it so we cannot own and control our own property.

Digital licenses. Owners have no liability even if the product doesn’t work. Owners can invade your computer without permission. They collect and use personal data. User has a privilege to use the product not own it. It’s prohibited to show your content to others. Must accept that you have no rights. (use policies). Different countries have different fair use rights. When you use an ebook, you’ve agreed that you don’t have those rights.

Creative Commons. We need open eTextbooks. We can copy & paste, text to speech, reuse, remix, mash, we retain our rights and our students’ rights. OER are essential for eLearning implementations.

Access rights – vendors want to control how, when, where, and with what tech assistance audiences can access the content. It’s a new concept – you buy and you don’t get (David Wiley). Remember when you bought something and you owned it? Now you buy it and they still own it.

Rent a textbook – student owns nothing, can share nothing, save nothing, sell nothing, subscriptions ends, everything ends. But the publishers own the student data, notes, highlights forever. The student cannot transfer the data out of the etextbook.

David Wiley: 20,000 movies Netflix; $8/month; 15000000 songs; $9.99/month. One biology textbook – $20.25. “When you subscribe to content through a digital service, the publisher achieves perfect control over your use of the content.”

Openness is the skeleton key that unlocks every attempt at vendor control and lock in. – David Wiley.

We should seriously consider Open Educational Resources. OER is essential. We cannot work with commercial content that has all these restrictions on it.

OER Strategy at African Virtual University

Next panelist was Dr. Griff Richards. He shared the OER Strategy at AVU. He is sharing the practical application of OER.

He started by sharing about how elephants are killed for ivory because of the market in Asia for ivory. He talked about what it takes to raise the baby elephants, and shared a picture of school children visiting the elephants.

The challenge for open education in Africa:

  • On average 6% of Africans access post-secondary education
  • Goal is 12% (North American is 45%)
  • They can’t build bricks and mortar capacity fast enough
  • ODeL have promise but also capacity is limited and ICT infrastructure is thin

African Virtual University

  • No faculty and no students; no parking problems
  • 18 countries have signed on
  • Funding comes from member countries and development projects
  • Languages are English, French and Portuguese

First project was to improve teacher education programs and encourage the adoption of ICTs. Very few teachers outside of the cities have specialist degrees in their content area or even a teaching degree.

They created ODeL in each member institution. Most of the institutions didn’t have computers or Internet. That was the first thing. Capacity – training the trainers. Built models for ICT skills of teachers; scholarships for gender equity for women in university. Phase 1: modules in English, French & Portuguese available as OER.  Available as print, DVD, online, YouTube. They’ve had 2 million accesses 2010-2012. These resources have a global appeal – large downloads from Brazil because of the Portuguese.

The second phase had another $15 million. They increased to 27 universities in 21 countries. Continue momentum for teacher education and ICT; and build new program in Applied Computer Science. They are also going to bring up to date all the materials from 7 years ago as well. Fiber is just arriving now on the coastal cities, and are starting to come inland. Higher interest in ICT and mobile technologies. The new project is to build 11 new ODeL Centers. The first time they had satellite dishes and now they will have land line links because fiber is coming. 6 ODeL centers are getting upgraded. They are revising their train the trainers program. Training includes how to become an instructional designer for OER. They are training people in each of the universities.

AVU calls is courses modules.

A module can contain a study guide / text, readings, practice questions, videos, simulations, assessment). (Our module plus your instructor equals your course. That way universities aren’t reluctant to use “your courses.”).

The modules are written by African experts at the African member universities. The components can be easily adapted to the local

There are no copyright delays if someone wants to use them anywhere.

The strategy is cooperative. Bring partners together to work with each other to meet their needs. Facilitate the process of design, development, translation and review. Facilitate dissemination. Help with training. Build a community of practice.

OER makes it easier for collaboration because there isn’t copyright. It promotes local adaptation.

Next steps: Open translation. Open maintenance. How to share. An open translation infrastructure. How to turn back the maintenance of the modules back to the community of users.

Quality of Open Education and MOOCs

The final presentation is by Dr. Phil Habil Ulf from the European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning.

Openness will cause an avalanche – it will unbundle what we have bundled in the closed coments.

This presentation is on SlideShare.

OER and Open Education – what we wish is for everyone to access.

Somehow OER usage is too slow. Teachers are skeptical; learners are insecure about recognition. Closed institutions lack open business modles.

Three Grand Challenges for the open education movement: business modles, recognition, quality of open curricula.

MOOCs are the third digital revolution – first elearning hype around 2000; OER peak from 2007 (content/resources for free); MOOC peak from 2010 (courses for free). With each step, the challenge is quality.

Questions about MOOCs and quality:

  • Should we care about the MOOC drop outs?  In higher ed, drop outs are not good. But, is it the same in MOOCs? Should it be?
  • What will it look like when learning and certification are disaggregated? Learning is free but not the certification.
  • What is it that makes a model with high drop-out, little success rates, and heterogeneous target groups popular?

The MOOC Quality Project. 12 weeks, 12 experts, 12 posts. 15,000 readers; >150 comments.

From this, they extracted 7 key factors on quality for MOOCs which are on his slideshare linked above.

Questions and discussion from the audience.

  • Question from South Africa: The costs for OER degrees: $6700. OER was supposed to be a free degree. It costs 3 times what a degree costs in South Africa. It is accessible only to those who can pay.
    • Response: Actually that $6700 is the degree from Georgia Tech University. And, yes, the MOOC movement has a risk that it’s becoming more closed. It’s getting away from the idea of OER and opening up education.
    • From Dr. McGreal. OER University: If it’s a degree – each country can charge what they want within their university. It’s coopetition. The institutions in the developing countries can offer the same degree and charge less. We don’t want it to be education imperialism. We want it to be cooperative and competitive within the OERu.
    • Question from Terry Anderson, Athabasca Unviersity. To Fred. With the expectation of the European, we’ve been afraid of MOOCs because they are too close to our business model. It can be hard for open universities to swallow. What do the European Universities see in the MOOCs?
      • Fred: We don’t want to offer all of courses as a MOOC. We will offer some, but not all. Italian Open Universities has found that by offering MOOCs, paid enrollments are increasing. There is some indication that you don’t need to be afraid to offer educational resources or courses for free. Students are then tempted to come for the full degree. We should take the lead as open universities around the world in MOOCs. We have expertise in REAL open learning.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time, but his presentation is on SlideShare.

Wow! It’s amazing to see the collaboration and cooperation around the world. Exciting really. We need to consider further how to do this type of sharing within the Adventist educational system. There’s a concept that publicly funded content development should be available for everyone. What about tithe and offerings-funded content development? It seems to be a similar concept. We should be thinking larger!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.