Australia's University of Southern Queensland launches the first OERu prototype

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The University of Southern Queensland turns the OERu vision of free learning opportunities with pathways to achieve formal academic credit into reality today by announcing the launch of the Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific (AST1000) course. The course will commence on 23 November 2012 and complete during April 2013. OERu learners can enrol now and we will advise learners on the registration details for those students interested in formal assessment from USQ.
3 October 2012

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The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has always been an innovator in virtual learning. A key element of USQ’s success in broadening education participation and attainment – achieved through a combination of virtual teaching and assessment– is its concern for identifying and responding to student needs.
Professor Jan Thomas, Vice-Chancellor and President, USQ.
As a founding anchor partner in the Open Educational Resource University (OERu), USQ is proud to give students worldwide, the ability to access university level courses and where cost has been removed as a barrier to learning.

Professor Jan Thomas
Vice-Chancellor and President, USQ


AST1000 will have wide international appeal given the number of countries represented in the Asia Pacific region
AST1000 is a first-year level course in International Relations and the Social Sciences on the books of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). The course will provide basic information about, and analysis of, contemporary regional relationships, current affairs and societies in Asia and the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. Attention will be given to the personal and social skills that will facilitate better international cooperation and cross cultural communication in Asia and the Pacific.


"The world-first program that is being offered by USQ will help considerably the learning for students from regions where access and equity, due to circumstance, geography or income has sometimes been an obstacle to education" said Professor Thomas. "In keeping with USQ’s promise for personalised learning, the on-line course will allow students to study anywhere and at any time with access to a panel of international academic volunteers who will provide tutorial support, guidance and leadership. It’s part of what USQ does best.”

The OER university concept. Adapted from Taylor 2007[1]
As the PVC Learning, Teaching and Quality I am very proud that USQ is launching AST1000 for the OERu and to be able to demonstrate a high quality peer reviewed course for the consortium that can be a model for future development. This first course for the consortium is a milestone for USQ and provides leadership in the potential for international collaboration in open education to reach learners globally.

Professor Belinda Tynan
Pro Vice Chancellor, Learning Teaching and Quality


Participants who attended the OERu 2011.11 meeting of founding anchor partners.
Building on Professor Emeritus Jim Taylor's 2007 ideas[2] to provide assessment on demand, the OERu international collaboration was conceived. In November, 2011 the OERu founding anchor partners convened for an open meeting to plan the implementation of a parallel learning universe which will provide free learning opportunities for all students worldwide based solely on OER courses.


Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival.
In the space of less than a year since the meeting of OERu founding anchor partners, USQ now claims the accolade of launching the first OERu prototype course. The OERu partners are working on a number of prototype courses in preparation of the official global launch of the OERu in November 2013. The OERu network continues to grow steadily, and now with twenty anchor partners, will be able to accredit OER learning on five continents within the accreditation frameworks of twenty countries.
Introducing AST1000


Emeritus Professor Jim Taylor and Dr Anna Hayes introducing AST1000 and explaining the "Pedagogy of Discovery"

A free content video streamed from Vimeo
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University of Southern Queensland.


OERu learners from across the globe will be able to participate in AST1000 for free using the infrastructure provided by the OER Foundation and the WikiEducator website. On completion of the course, OERu learners who wish to acquire formal academic credit for their learning will be able to register and submit their assignments in the form of a course portfolio for assessment at USQ. USQ will charge a nominal fee of $200 (Australian Dollars) for the assessment and credentialing services to cover these operational costs. Academic volunteers and learners who are not interested in formal certification are also most welcome to join the AST1000 learning journey at no cost.

OERu learners that register for assessment and who are successful will have their credits recorded on the university transcript which can be recognised for the Bachelor of General Studies or alternatively, depending on registration preferences the Diploma of Arts which provides articulation options for a number of Bachelor Degrees at USQ. The OERu network partners are working towards increasing credit transfer and assessment options among the OERu anchor partners.

AST1000 represents a significant breakthrough for educational philanthropy. USQ has demonstrated its commitment to the social inclusion agenda and proves that a small contribution of one or two courses to the OER commons can serve thousands of learners currently excluded from the privilege of earning a university degree without compromising the local university model.

Dr Wayne Mackintosh
Director, OER Foundation
COL Chair in OER


The prototype phase is designed to inform the future development of the OERu. The aim is to learn from our experiences, and refine the model using manageable course sizes before the official launch in 2013. "We have no idea of the student demand or interest to participate in the AST1000 prototype offering and if demand is too high, we may need to cap student numbers but we will keep the community well informed" said Wayne Mackintosh. "However, the design model incorporates a number of MOOC-like features and the technology and approach will scale for thousands of learners in the future."
Based on the pedagogy of discovery, AST1000 incorporates well-designed learning activities challenging students to undertake meaningful investigations requiring the discovery, evaluation and discussion of OERs in collaborative networks with other students. By being placed at the centre of the educational process, participating students will not only develop expertise in Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific, but through their experience of “free range learning” they will have the opportunity to develop the digital learning literacies necessary to support self-directed lifelong learning. Studying successfully across international boundaries will also enable students to contribute effectively to multi-disciplinary teams in technology-rich work environments in an increasingly networked society.

—Emeritus Professor Jim Taylor AM.
University of Southern Queensland


USQ has been an Australian leader in embracing the OER movement. This relationship with the OERu as an anchor partner illustrates the institution's commitment to open online provision of higher education.

Within USQ the provision of AST1000 will be managed by the Open Access College (OAC), an organisational unit with a strong social justice agenda, particularly fitting for the first OERu prototype offering. The OAC will provide the processes and mechanisms for the registering, monitoring, assessing and facilitating the first cohort of OERu students to be enrolled in AST1000.

—David Bull
Director, Open Access College
University of Southern Queensland


OER provides unique opportunities for the formal education sector to become more affordable, more accessible and more efficient. USQ has embraced these opportunities and is leading by example.

About the University of Southern Queensland

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has forged a reputation as one of Australia's leading providers of on-campus and online (distance) education programs in Australia. With more than 75 percent of students studying via distance or online, our delivery of external education resources continues to lead the way. USQ is a founding anchor partner of the OER university network.

About the OER Foundation

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The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, international networking and support for educational institutions to achieve their objectives using open education approaches. The OER Foundation coordinates the OERu international network. For more information, Contact Wayne Mackintosh

OER Foundation 2011 Annual Report (1.6MB pdf download)

About the OER university

See:
5 Things you should know about the OER university network planPDF down.png


References

  1. Taylor, J.C. 2007. Open courseware futures: Creating a parallel universe. e-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology (e-JIST), Vol 10, No. 1. Online: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/e-jist/docs/vol10_no1/papers/full_papers/taylorj.htm. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  2. Taylor, J.C. 2007. Open courseware futures: Creating a parallel universe. e-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology (e-JIST), Vol 10, No. 1. Online: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/e-jist/docs/vol10_no1/papers/full_papers/taylorj.htm. Retrieved 16 January 2011.