OERu 2012 prototype courses: Incremental OER innovation

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All accredited institutions are free to join the OER Tertiary Education Network. Join our OER university innovation partnership today
Based on post by Cable Green, Creative Commons, March 20, 2012

Creative Commons licenses are enabling an international innovation partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide free learning opportunities for all students worldwide with pathways to gain formal academic credit towards credible credentials.

The OER university (OERu) will create a parallel learning universe for learners who cannot afford a tertiary education by offering CC-licensed courses — with the opportunity to acquire formal academic credit at greatly reduced cost when compared to full-tuition studies.

The OERu will assemble courses from existing open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses, reducing the overall cost of development. It has adopted the Free Cultural Works approved licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) as the default for OERu courses.


OERu founding anchor partners are making open education history

"The OERu provides a solution for the formal sector to cross the accreditation chasm in open education"
Wayne Mackintosh
Director, OER Foundation

The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu, includes an impressive line-up of education providers, including: (Gujarat's open university) . and the are supporting the network as non-teaching partners.

The founding OERu anchor partners are accredited institutions in their respective national, provincial or state jurisdictions, therefore, the OERu network will be able to provide formal academic credit towards credible degrees in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America.

The OERu is crossing the accreditation chasm in open education to unleash the potential for more sustainable education futures. The OERu model will be a global catalyst for the mainstream adoption of OER courses in the formal post-secondary sector using Creative Commons licenses.

—Wayne Mackintosh
Director, OER Foundation

Visionary and decisive leadership from OERu anchor partners fuels rapid progress and innovation

SUNY Empire State College
Alan Davis, President of New York's open university.
"The OERu could cut the costs of higher education dramatically."
Sir John Daniel
President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth of Learning
Decisive leadership from senior executives of the OER Tertiary Education Network has facilitated agile and rapid progress targeting the formal launch of the OERu operations in 2013. Otago Polytechnic hosts the head-office of the OER Foundation and is an open education pioneer. Otago Polytechnic adopted a default Creative Commmons Attribution intellectual property policy a few years ago.

OER is the means by which education at all levels can be more accessible, more affordable and more efficient. In a small country like New Zealand, even if only 5% of the current volume of learners participated in the OERu model, we would release $300m for reinvestment in a better quality education system.

—Phil Ker,
Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic

Alan Davis, President of SUNY Empire State College, New York's open university, signals that “the importance of open educational resources is rapidly growing and will significantly increase the ability of open institutions around the world to serve millions of learners.”

"Open education means making education accessible to anyone who wants it."
Rory McGreal
UNESCO-COL Chair in OER, Athabasca University
The need for the OERu and its new pathways to learning is becoming more apparent as tuition fees continue to rise precipitously and as the demand for higher education increases in both the developing and developed world.

—Rory McGreal,
Athabasca University

Using Creative Commons ensures the permissions to adapt courses for local contexts and will enable the OERu network to cater for diverse cultural and learner needs as highlighted by the University of South Africa (Unisa) – Africa's largest university.

Located in Africa, Unisa's significant global footprint places us in the unique position to represent African perspectives within the OER Tertiary Education Network while displaying local relevance and global consciousness”

—Narend Baijnath
Pro Vice Chancellor

The OERu is helping education institutions to achieve their strategic objectives

Towards the Sky. Image courtesy of paul (dex)
The OERu model is helping Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to stimulate innovative ways to provide greater access to a college education and completion.
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.

—Kevin Bell
Leader of SNHU's Innovation Lab.

The University of Wollongong, a top 200 research university, values the exposure the OER Tertiary Education Network can provide for the University and its best teachers.

As a charitable initiative the OERu and University of Wollongong partnership supports our blended learning model as a social inclusion strategy to offer learners a taste of university study.

—Sandra Wills
Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
University of Wollongong.

Judith Murray, Vice President, Open Learning at Thomson Rivers University
Vision for a new model for Open Learning
For Thompson Rivers University, the OERu signals a timely shift from the traditional model. “In this traditional model we have Our students, using Our courseware, supported by Our faculty, to take Our assessments, to receive Our credentials.” said Judith Murray, Vice President, Open Learning at Thomson Rivers University.

“The OERu envisions a new model more appropriate for a digital age where we can have Any learner, using Any material, and being supported (taught, instructed, facilitated, mentored, tutored) by Anyone, to achieve learning which is then subjected to Our assessment, in order to receive Our credit, which can be applied towards Our credential.”

The OERu is prototyping for future success

The OERu founding anchor partners have shortlisted eight university- and college-level courses to be developed as prototypes for refining the OERu delivery system:

Collectively, these courses — all first year courses except for Critical Reasoning, which is a 2nd year-level course in Philosophy — will carry credit towards a Bachelor of General Studies — the inaugural credential selected at the OERu meeting in November which was streamed worldwide with funding support from UNESCO. Two of the courses will be based on existing course materials under CC BY from the U.S.: Washington State’s Open Course Library project and the Saylor Foundation. The OERu will add value to this investment by providing formal accreditation pathways across four continents and the pedagogical refinements of these developments will be released back freely for the benefit of all.

Trialing technology for mass delivery of OERu courses

Cable Green
Global Learning, Creative Commons.
The OER Foundation has been trailing technologies and delivery approaches of large OER courses to help inform the design and development of these prototype courses. One such course is Open Content Licensing for Educators (#OCL4Ed) which was designed as a free online workshop for educators and learners to learn more about OER, copyright and Creative Commons licenses. The course materials, also CC BY, were developed collaboratively by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons with funding support from UNESCO.

In January, Open Content Licensing for Educators was conducted online with 1,067 participants from 90 different countries — demonstrating the success of a large, collaborative, and high quality OER project.

This workshop confirmed the global demand for open and free educational opportunities. It is thrilling to consider what is possible when we remix openly licensed educational resources, a mass willingness to share, the affordances of digital things, and the global demand for learning. OERu is harnessing these global trends and is showing us how everyone in the world can learn for the marginal cost of $0,

—Cable Green
Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons
and volunteer facilitator of #OCL4Ed.

The OERu model will build on successes such as these, and demonstrate how CC licenses can maximize the return on investment in education at a massive scale.

Open design and development of OERu courses

The OERu offers a viable solution for responding to the global demand for higher education in a financially sustainable way.
Robin Day
Chair, OER Foundation Board
True to the OER Foundation's vision of open philanthropy, all planning and operational activities for the OERu are conducted openly and transparently as a matter of policy and all outputs are licensed under Creative Commons.
This open approach continues to facilitate community and stakeholder engagement at multiple levels incorporating a wide range of learner contexts and geography on a global scale

—Robin Day
Day, Chairman of the OER Foundation Board.

The first drafts of the design blueprints for the 8 prototype OERu courses were posted recently for feedback and improvement suggestions from the open community and OERu anchor partners under open licenses. Links to the respective blueprints are provided in WikiEducator and the OERu partners welcome feedback from the OER community.

OER Foundation logo.png

OERu provides a viable model for affordable innovation

University of Southern Queensland

Jim Taylor, Explaining the OERu model and illustrating "free-range learning"
The OERu is not theoretical speculation, it is entirely viable

—Jim Taylor
former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Learning Services)
University of Southern Queensland


The OERu delivery model encourages pedagogical innovation. The vast inventory of resources currently available under Creative Commons licenses on the Internet will enable the OERu to implement a new pedagogy of discovery based on the notion of “free-range learning” where students can customize their own learning according to personal interests in ways which are both affordable and scalable for participating institutions.

All accredited post-secondary institutions are free to join the OERu network and interested people should consult: 5 Things you should know about the OER university network planPDF down.png

About the OER Foundation

Open Education Resource Foundation 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 a flagship intitiative of the OER Foundation.

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it.

About the OER Tertiary Education Network (OERTen)

The OER Tertiary Education Network is an innovation partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics implementing the OER university as contributing members. The OER university is a low cost, low risk but high impact international collaboration to achieve learning for all using OER.