SNHU Creates Innovation Lab and Partners with OERu

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Aspiring to be higher education’s leading player in disruptive change, Southern New Hampshire University launched the Innovation Lab – an initiative to deliver a radically different model for teaching and learning.

Robert Frost Hall, Southern New Hampshire Univeristy
SNHU is looking to re-envisage and reinvent what has been accepted since the late 19th century as the default model for higher education. The Lab’s charge is to stimulate innovative ways to provide greater access to a college education and completion.

—Kevin Bell
Innovation Lab’s Leader for Learning Development, Southern New Hampshire University.


Building on online division’s transformative growth, SNHU’s nationally recognized ideas – the SNHU Advantage program, their work with College Unbound and research into new models of teaching and learning, now have a home in the Lab. The Lab’s first tangible venture is a commitment to become a leader in the field of OpenCourseWare or Open Educational Resources (OER). These are openly available, web-based materials that, if organized and structured with an institution’s support and assessment systems, could open college education to a part of the population for whom it was always unaffordable and inaccessible.

SNHU has committed as a Founding member of the OER university (the OERu); a global, virtual collaboration of like-minded institutions committed to creating flexible pathways for learners to gain formal academic credit. Through the community service mission of participating institutions OER learners will be empowered to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.

Bell stated, “Our alliance with the OERu is the first step towards our formal charge to develop a truly disruptive model that challenges the culture of a closed, proprietary education system,

Wayne Mackintosh the director of the OER Foundation and the International Center for Open Education at Otago Polytechnic commented: "SNHU is forging a leadership role in the United States to provide more affordable education alternatives by harnessing the disruptive innovation potential of online technologies and open educational resources (OER)" said Dr Wayne Mackintosh. "We are proud to join forces with SNHU as a founding anchor partner of the OER university network. This international innovation partnership will realize the vision of more sustainable education futures for the benefit of all students worldwide."

According to the Gates Foundation, for every 10 freshmen seeking an associate degree, fewer than one will graduate in three years. High tuition and textbook costs combined with a model of instruction that is fundamentally unchanged since the late 19th and early 20th centuries is excluding many and failing more.

About Southern New Hampshire University

The university has approximately 2,562 traditional, full-time undergraduate day students and a total annual enrollment in all divisions of 14,000. Programs are offered on campus, online and on location at our centers in New Hampshire and Maine. The university offers programs in business, community economic development, culinary arts, teacher education, hospitality management and liberal arts.

About the OER Foundation

The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, international networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education. The OER university is an innovation partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics and is coordinated by the OER Foundation.

Date: 29 October 2011

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