Meet Athabasca U - Canada's First OER university

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The President of Athabasca University has confirmed the University’s commitment to join the OER Foundation and support the OER Tertiary Education Network (OERTen) initiative as a founding anchor partner. “As an open university the institutional philosophy and direction of our university is strongly aligned with the objectives of the OER Tertiary Education Network” said Dr Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University.

Athabasca university is an open university and this openness has many dimensions. Athabasca University has an open admissions policy and is dedicated to removing the educational, geographical, financial, social, cultural and other barriers that often limit access to learning.

Initiatives like the OER university network which aim to provide more affordable access to university education for learners excluded from the formal system should be embraced by all open universities” said Professor Rory McGreal, Associate Vice President, Research. "With growing economic pressures for universities and students alike and more expensive copyright arrangements for universities in Canada, OERs are becoming essential for educators at all levels." Dr. McGreal holds the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning chair in OER. "The survival of our educational systems depends on increasing our use of OERs".

Dr Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation noted, “As Canada’s premier online university with a proven track record in open access and open education, Athabasca university will raise the bar for our collective OER performance and quality. Athabasca has led in the OER movement with the ‘10 Best Courses’ and AU Press initiatives led by Dr. Pannekoek.

Host to the UNESCO/COL Chair in OER, Athabasca University is a prominent leader in the open education arena. AU Press was the first open access university press in Canada and publishes all its materials under open access licenses. The University supports an open enrolment system with the ability for students to register throughout the year and operates a challenge for credit system available to OER learners who can demonstrate ability and command of the subject without taking the course. Athabasca University also administers a respected recognition of prior learning system and the University’s ability to award transfer credits which are recognised across Canada and the USA will be a welcome addition to the OERTen. Where possible, Athabasca university has begun replacing closed proprietary content with OERs. “Adding up the evidence, I would say that Athabasca University is a world leading OER university”. said Dr Mackintosh. “and we look forward to working closely with our Canadian friends in facilitating the mainstream adoption of OER in post-secondary education".

Posted 31 August 2011.

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