Internationalising online programs/OER producer-consumer and co-production models

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

OER producer-consumer and co-production models

International benefits

The Open Education Resource (OER) approach for internationalising online programmes is an evolving model and very much in its early phases of adoption. Consequently, we do not have a substantive case history from which we can draw. However, the absence of empirical data on the the future does not validate that the future won't happen!

The OER model is based on the following value propositions:

  • Aligning academic practice with the core value that education is fundamentally an endeavour of sharing knowledge;
  • Reducing the costs of producing expensive online courseware for individual institutions;
  • Sharing the risks associated with internationalisation while enabling institutions to compete through value added services and local customisations (co-opitition model)
  • Course materials developed by teams of professionals can produce high quality outputs


Existing OER approaches can be classified into two broad models:

  • Producer-consumer models where an institution or consortium develop materials and release courseware under an open license which can be reused by other providers for example MIT's OpenCourseware ( or the British Open University's Open Learn (
  • Co-production models which encourage open and unrestricted participation aimed to leverage the benefits of mass-collaboration and the principles of self organisation, for example Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and COL's WikiEducator including the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth.


Producer-consumer model
Co-production model

Typically initiated through large foundation grants

Initiated as community-based projects. Very often volunteer driven projects.
Development approach

Closed development models until published as an OER resource

Open and participatory development models from the draft phase to completed product

Creative Commons Non-commercial license (CC-BY-NC) is the most popular license

Free content licenses meeting the requirements of the free cultural works definition (, for example Creative Commons Attribution and Share Alike licenses CC-BY and CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU(FDL))

Quality assurance

Traditional academic peer review

Open quality assurance processes derived from a “web-of-trust” model

Content management systems typically including work flow processes, and Learning Management Systems. Mostly open source infrastructure technologies.

Social software tools, for example wiki technology. Typically open source software systems are deployed.

Success factors

  • Institutional commitment from leadership, especially for the producer-consumer model. Given the potential for individual participation in the co-production model the barriers for participation are lower.
  • Commitment to develop OERs for real courses and real students
  • OERs designed for asynchronous learning situations transport to new and different environments easier than OER support materials developed for face-to-face teaching.
  • Critical mass for a sustainable community – don't go it alone.
  • The academic community is more important than the technology or the OERs themselves.
  • Digital content is infinitely scalable
  • Clarity on the value proposition for participation. Why are we doing this?
  • Mass-collaboration can produce high volumes of high quality materials

Challenges and organizational readiness factors

  • Incompatibility among different licensing alternatives hence the choice of license is critical when participating in OER initiatives
  • Interoperability of OERs among different technology systems.
  • Social software and collaboration tools for educational projects are still maturing.
  • Individualism associated with Western cultures can be a barrier to participative approaches
  • No proven models for economic sustainability of OERs in Higher Education.
  • Intellectual property policies of participating institutions

Exit and risk mitigation strategies

Paradoxically, collaborative OER development is a low risk initiative by the very nature of free content licenses. The investment in content development is freely available for everyone to use and modify without restriction. Exit and risk mitigation strategies are closely related to the nature and extent of the online programme itself.


The term "open educational resources" was first adopted at UNESCO's 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses re-mix, improve and redistribute. Open educational resources include:

  • Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.
  • Tools: Software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content,

content and learning management systems, content development tools, and on-line learning communities.

  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

From Wikipedia (, 1 November, 2007)