OERu 13.10 report

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Group photo of the attendees[1] at the 2nd meeting of OERu anchor partners on the occasion of the official launch of the OERu.

The second meeting of OERu anchor partners and international launch of the OERu collaboration was hosted by Thompson Rivers University on 31 October and 1 November 2013 in Kamloops, Canada.

Sir John Daniel, open learning visionary and former UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education, was the guest of honour and formally launched the OERu website on 1 November 2013.

As an open project, all accredited post-secondary institutions are free to join the OERu international partnership. Find out more about becoming an OERu partner or email Wayne Mackintosh, UNESCO-COL Chair in OER.

Session 1: Aims of the meeting and meeting our partners

Dr Irwin DeVries, Director, Curriculum Development at Thompson Rivers University facilitates the opening session of the 2nd meeting of OERu anchor partners.
Welcome from the Chair,
OER Foundation Board
By dreaming big, big things will happen

—Alan Shaver
President and Vice-Chancellor, Thompson Rivers University.

Video recording of Session 1
Time Presenter Item
00:11 Irwin DeVries Session facilitator
02:03 Elder Jimmy Jack Blessing
06:46 Alan Shaver Welcome from the President
15:30 Wayne Mackintosh Objectives of the meeting
18:36 Brain Lamb Participant introductions
Dr Alan Shaver, President and Vice-Chancellor, Thompson Rivers University

The 2nd meeting of OERu anchor partners commenced with a blessing from Jimmy Jack, First Nations Elder for the Secwepemc Nation.

Senior leaders including Vice-Chancellors, Chief Executives and Deputy-Vice Chancellors convened for the 2nd Meeting of OERu anchor partners at Thompson Rivers University. Thirty-five participants attended the meeting in person and one hundred and seventy nine individuals registered as remote participants.

Brian Lamb, Director for Innovation Open Learning at Thompson Rivers University, facilitated the participant introductions

President Alan Shaver welcomed the participants to Thompson Rivers University. Reflecting on his decision to join the partnership, Dr Shaver shared that the OERu was such a remarkable idea that the leadership was compelled to take a decision to join with internal consultation to follow. Alan commended the remarkable progress of the open access and open education movement, remarking that higher education is on the threshold of a new age. He concluded that the OERu partners are going to be the leaders of new futures in tertiary education.

Dr Robin Day, Chair of the Board of the OER Foundation thanked OERu partners to date who were instrumental in developing the prototype courses and welcomed new partners to this world-leading collaboration focused on widening access to learning for students excluded from the formal sector. Robin acknowledged the generous support from Thompson Rivers University for hosting the meeting; the Commonwealth of Learning for hosting the Transnational Qualifications Framework meeting; Kwantlen Polytechnic University for hosting the inaugural meeting of the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers; the funding contributions from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to establish the OERu initiative; and the counsel and advice from members of the Board, in particular Emeritus Professor Jim Taylor, Professor Rory McGreal and Dr David Porter. Robin noted that the aims of the OERu 13.10 meeting build on the work done to date and focus on establishing an implementation schedule for the sustainable and scalable implementation of the OERu.

Dr Wayne Mackintosh, UNESCO-COL Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic and the OER Foundation underscored that the OERu is not an institution but something greater. The OERu is a network of institutions cooperating on widening access to more affordable education using open education approaches. Wayne highlighted that the OERu network uses a small "u" because it refers to the original etymology of "universitas magistrorum et scholarium" encompassing our community of scholars returning to the core values of education, namely to share knowledge freely.

Wayne confirmed the objectives for the meeting, namely to: (1) transition the OERu from the prototype phase to a sustainable and scalable programme of study; (2) launch the OERu to the world; and (3) identify prototypes for supporting incremental innovation of the OERu network.

Brian Lamb, Director for Innovation Open Learning at Thompson Rivers University, miraculously achieved the impossible: facilitating the completion of the introductions of OERu meeting participants on time.

Session 2: Taking stock and setting meeting priorities

Video recording of Session 2
Time Presenter Item
00:00 W. Mackintosh Summary of the OERu model
02:42 W. Mackintosh History of the OERu
04:09 W. Mackintosh OERu logic model
18:31 W. Mackintosh 1st Meeting of OERu anchor partners and report on the prototype phase.
23:08 W. Mackintosh Questions and answers
32:55 P. Stacey Summary of SCoPE planning seminar
36:16 P. Stacey OERu point of difference
38:17 P. Stacey OERu operations
43:10 P. Stacey Microcredentials
46:05 P. Stacey Textbook Zero
48:15 P. Stacey Quality issues
51:52 P. Stacey Questions and answers
55:15 W. Mackintosh Instructions for breakout session
57:29 B. Lamb Feedback from Group 1
1:00:38 T. Donovan Feedback from Group 2
1:02:47 J. Tittsler Feedback from Group 3
1:05:18 W. Mackintosh Feedback from Group 4
1:09:30 W. Mackintosh Virtual participant feedback
Dr Wayne Mackintosh, UNESCO-COL Chair in OER and Director for the OER Foundation
Open peer review, open public input, open educational resources, open textbooks, open file formats, open source software, open enrollments – the OERu is distinctively open.

—Paul Stacey
Associate Director, Global Learning
Creative Commons

Paul Stacey, Associate Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons.
The purpose of this session was to take stock of the development of the OERu and planning discussions leading up to the OERu 13.10 meeting of anchor partners. The face-to-face and virtual participants were then tasked to identify the priorities for the meeting and document pertinent issues for the network.

As on 31 October 2013, thirty two institutions from five continents had signed up as OERu anchor partners. Wayne summarised the history of the OERu for the benefit of new partners and highlighted key decisions taken by the network to date (copy of presentation available on slideshare). He clarified the logic model and use of personal learning environments as the preferred technology for the delivery of prototype courses. The implementation of the OERu is a designated project of the UNESCO-COL OER Chair network and is now moving into the second strategic phase of developing a programme of study.

Dr Tricia Donovan, Executive Director, eCampusAlberta provides feedback for Group 2.
True to the OER Foundation's philosophy of open planning, with the support of BCcampus a SCoPE seminar was hosted from 18 September to 2 October 2013 to discuss and plan the agenda for the OERu 13.10 meeting with the open community. Paul Stacey, Associate Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons donated his time generously to develop a summary of the SCoPE Seminar: OERu - Developing an agenda together. (Summary is available on Google Docs or print versionPDF down.png.)

Meeting attendees were randomly assigned to four groups and tasked with identifying the top three priorities the meeting should address and documenting issues raised during the small group discussions as well as any leadership issues to take forward to the inaugural meeting of the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers. An open Etherpad document was available for remote participants to contribute to this breakout session. The feedback reports from the four groups and virtual participants can be viewed by forwarding to the corresponding time stamp displayed in the caption for the video recording of this session. The combined summary of meeting priorities and issues from the four groups is available in the wiki.

Three priorities emerged from this process and directed the deliberations at the meeting:

  1. Assessment, credit transfer and course articulation;
  2. Developing an OERu programme of study with emphasis on collaborative development and shared delivery of courses; and
  3. Developing a strategic and operational implementation plan.

Session 3: Strategic issues and related decisions

Video recording of Session 3
Time Presenter Item
00:00 W. Mackintosh Introduction
00:41 W. Mackintosh Sustainability of the OERu
09:42 D. Porter Open textbools and OERu programme of study
19:20 A. Davis Vice Chancellor's perspective of the OERu
28:11 W. Mackintosh Establishing groups
33:54 K. De Hart Feedback: Sustainability group
37:51 G. Morong Feedback: Open textbook group
42:22 S. Wills Feedback: Curriculum group
48:06 A. Davis Feedback: Leadership group
53:16 W. Mackintosh Feedback: Remote participants
Dr David Porter, Executive Director at BCcampus and member of the OER Foundation Board.
I do not want to see the OERu become a collection of threads. I want it to be a tapestry ... which paints a clear picture and vision of the future for students.

—Dr David Porter
Executive Director, BCcampus

The agenda for Day 1 focused on strategic issues. Three presentations focusing on key drivers were used as catalysts to inform group discussions on developing proposals for action on OERu strategy.

Dr Alan Davis, President and Vice-Chancellor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Dr Wayne Mackintosh confirmed that the OERu is well on track to shifting the question from: How do you achieve a sustainable OERu project? to How will institutions remain sustainable without OER?. Wayne summarised the OERu revenue streams using a disaggregated service model designed to achieve sustainable and scalable operations. He invited participants to develop a proposal for action to achieve fifty contributing partners by the end of 2014 which would ensure a fiscally sustainable and scalable OERu collaboration.
Kerry De Hart, OER Coordinator, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor at Unisa reported for the sustainability group

Dr David Porter, Executive Director of BCcampus and member of the OER Foundation Board of Directors, directed attention to the opportunities for the OERu to reuse components from existing open textbook initiatives and OERs to substitute or retrofit closed content with open alternatives for existing courses at partner institutions to scale up the development of an OERu programme of study (presentation available on Slideshare). David emphasised that many learners would need more than a DIY university approach whereby the OERu should describe model programmes and corresponding pathways of study. David concluded with a call to action for building momentum: What if every OERu partner said we are going to designate five courses and retrofit these with components from existing open textbook initiatives?

Gail Morong, Instructional Designer at Thompson Rivers University reported for the open textbook group
Dr Alan Davis, Vice-Chancellor and President of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) offered a perspective on the OERu from the President's window. Kwantlen Polytechnic University is an institution with a strong social mandate serving a diverse population of one million people in greater metropolitan Vancouver. Anti-elitism is part of KPU's cultural fabric yet there are still barriers to access at the University especially for adult learners, continuing education, First Nations and aboriginal learners, and immigrant populations. KPU joined the OERu to create a new and different community of interest which aligns with the University's core values and to extend the concept of community engagement globally. Alan stressed the need for the OERu to build a strategic plan for becoming a quality network for sustainable and scalable operations. The network needs a clear and crisp definition of what the OERu means for different stakeholders to build on its early successes to be taken seriously as a game changer in higher education.

Prof Sandra Wills, PVC Student Learning at Charles Sturt University reported for the curriculum group
Four groups were established to work on strategic proposals for action: 1) Sustainability group; 2) Open textbook group; 3) Curriculum group and 4) Leadership group. Remote participants collaborated using an Etherpad document for this session.

Proposal for action: Planning for a fiscally sustainable and scalable OERu network

Summary: Kerry De Hart reported that the OERu aims to increase the number of contributing members by twenty institutions by the end of 2014. A networking model will be used whereby each partner will aim to recruit one new member for the OERu network. To support recruitment a marketing playbook will be made available to partners including inter alia, the marketing elevator/ song sheet. The OERu will develop short videos from senior leaders in the network as to why they joined (testimonials) for use in the marketing pack. The OERu will implement a rotating system for partner institutions to report regularly on OERu news and achievements.

Proposal for action: Levering Open Access Textbooks for building the OERu programme of study

Summary: Gail Morong reported that the OERu network should identify number of well designed courses already in use, and substituting proprietary materials with open textbooks / openly accessible materials aligned with the Bachelor of General Studies contributing to a programme of study. The group recommended that this activity should work closely with librarians from partner institutions and existing open textbook initiatives.

Proposal for action: Curriculum working group

Summary: Prof Sandra Wills reported that the OERu will establish a working group to oversee the development of a structure for the Bachelor of General studies with clear streams of study and multiple exit points (e.g. certificates, diplomas and other exit points in the degree) and recommended that the OERu establish sub-groups for the development of the identified streams. The curriculum working group will consider processes to establish what OERu partners are contemplating for future development and processes to promote collaborations among anchor partners in curriculum development which foster reuse of courses and micro-courses at partner institutions. A working group of institutions that already offer a Bachelor of General Studies will be established. Sandra coordinated a "twinkles in the eye" activity where partners put forward ideas for course contributions taking existing courses into account. This process resulted in a number of tentative streams.

Proposal for action: Leadership group

Summary: Alan Davis reported that the leadership group focused on developing the agenda for the inaugural meeting of the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers with primary aim of developing a vision, strategic plan, goals and corresponding indicators for success for the OERu over the the next five years. The group emphasised the need for a communications package to communicate cogently and compellingly to the OERu's own institutions, boards, funders, governments and communities they serve. The chief executives (or their designates) will need to take charge of the coordination role for the work which teaching partners and non-teaching members will need to undertake for the successful implementation of the OERu.

Session 4: Public lecture

Video recording: Sir John Daniel Keynote
Time Presenter Item
00:00 Brian Lamb Facilitator
00:45 A. Shaver Formal introduction
04:00 Sir J. Daniel OERs & MOOCs in a time of economic crisis
23:52 P. Ker Response
31:46 Open plenary Questions and answers
Sir John Daniel delivers public lecture
The challenge, which the OERu is addressing head-on, is to combine the credentialing responsibilities and capacities of the ‘old dispensation’ of higher education with the ‘new dispensation’ of open education that gives people better and cheaper routes to the knowledge required. But make no mistake that credentialing is still vital.

—Sir John Daniel
Open Learning Scholar

Phil Ker offers a response from the perspective of Chief Executive for Otago Polytechnic

Sir John Daniel, open learning visionary, delivered the keynote address for the meeting entitled: OERs and MOOCs in a time of economic crisis (The Open Educational Resources university: reflections of two well-wishers) (download text and slides.)

Sir John noted that the OERu is a timely response to address the major challenges of the economic crisis in education and youth unemployment. However, he challenged the OERu to move from its cautious beginnings of "testing the waters" in new streams of education to a more audacious model which will succeed in capturing the public imagination.

Phil Ker, Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic offered a response. He felt the OERu collaboration is heading down the right path in tackling the affordability of higher education. However, he questioned whether the OERu network is doing enough and suggested that incremental development would not "cut it". While the marginal cost of providing a new learner free access to that which institutions have already developed for mainstream operations is near zero and a relatively safe strategy, the real challenge for the OERu is to find ways to rapidly scale the contribution of courses to deliver on the network's commitment to widen access to affordable education. Phil challenged leadership of partner institutions to find solutions in moving from a prototyping phase to scalable implementation.

Session 5: What did we learn from the OERu prototypes?

Video recording of Session 5
Time Presenter Item
00:00 W. Mackintosh Introduction
05:13 W. Mackintosh mOOC: Scenario Planning for Educators
14:02 G. Morong Art Appreciation and Techniques
25:19 D. Bull Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
33:04 R. McGreal Assessment and accreditation of OERu learning
42:40 J. Tittsler OERu technology & incremental design
OERu Speed Geeks. Top left, clockwise: David Bull, Gail Morong, Geek rotation, Wayne Mackintosh, Rory McGreal, Jim Tittsler.

Day 2 of the meeting commenced with a hybridised version of speed geeking where participants viewed five short presentations from selected OERu prototypes. Participants were randomly divided into five groups and a "speed geek" presenter summarised the nominated OERu prototype in five minutes followed by five minutes of questions and answers. To facilitate the broadcast for remote participants, the speed geeks rotated between groups using a stationery camera location for the webcast.

University of Canterbury mOOC: Scenario Planning for Educators

Wayne Mackintosh reported on the experience of embedding the Scenario Planning for Educators micro course into a post graduate course at the University of Canterbury. The prototype tested technology solutions for integrating an OERu course within the local institutional learning management system with a parallel version available in WikiEducator for the free OERu learners. The data suggests that embedding a micro Open Online Course (mOOC) within a formal university course in parallel with the free international OERu learners significantly increases interaction and reduces attrition measured by the analysis of page views of the course materials for the duration of the course. The critical mass achieved by the scale of this mOOC prototype demonstrated benefits for both registered full-fee university students who can interact with an international community of OERu learners who themselves benefit from increased peer-learning support from students participating for formal academic credit.

Thompson Rivers University: Art Appreciation and Techniques

Gail Morong, Instructional Designer based at Thompson Rivers University reflected on her experiences of converting an existing OER course for the OERu which was originally developed by the Washington State Open Course Library initiative.

Gail underscored the importance of pedagogically sound assessment design in the OERu model ensuring that assessments match learning outcomes. The integration of social media interactions as mechanism for peer-learning support is also important in the OERu context. The OERu model generates flexibility to design for different learning pathways depending on the personal interests and motivations of learners joining the course. Careful consideration is needed when designing for a global audience. For example, the original version of the course used extensive examples of art works from the United States requiring the OERu version to incorporate a wider range of international examples. The copyright of images needs diligent review as a number of images in the original version did not meet the requirements for open licensing in the international context. Gail emphasised the power of collaboration and advantages of consulting the WikiEducator community for advice and assistance. She recommended that designers should document and share their experiences with members of staff at OERu partner institutions to build organisational capability in open design approaches.

University of Southern Queensland: Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific

David Bull, Director of the Open Access College at the University of Southern Queensland reported on the Regional Relations in Asia and the Pacific (AST1000) course. AST1000 was the first prototype course completed for the OERu and was offered twice to a small number of learners.

The course design was informed by a pedagogy of discovery whereby learners sourced OER and open access materials in pursuit of their own learning interests combined with the integration of online digital literacies. The course materials were developed and hosted on WikiEducator which enabled easy integration into the Moodle learning management system which was used for administering course registrations and course announcements. (The AST1000 prototype pre-dated a wiki-based registration and course announcement solution.) An online facilitator at the University of Southern Queensland posted course announcements at appropriate times during the course. The University of Southern Queensland established an online payment gateway for cost recovery for the three summative assignments (AU$50, AU$50 and AU$100) as administrative solution for processing payments from "non-registered" university students. While registrations were low, learners were engaged and high achievers.

Pub Assess-Accred-OER 2013.jpg
New WikiEducator course registration feature.

Athabasca University: Research on assessment and accreditation of OERu learning

Professor Rory McGreal, UNESCO-COL Chair in OER at Athabasca University and member of the OER Foundation Board of Directors summarised the findings of the Report on the Assessment and Accreditation of Learners using OER with particular attention to the OERu consortium.

While recognition of prior learning (RPL) using portfolios is quite popular, the study noted that RPL approaches are difficult to scale and that the cost to student is still comparatively high. Rory suggested that automated assessment approaches and challenge-for-credit through assignments and/or proctored examinations offers the OERu with a scalable and cost-effective alternative to augment RPL approaches.

The report introduces a number of scenarios which provide a conceptual framework for the OERu to explore different configurations of assessment reuse and credentialing options.

New page mailer feature for course announcements.

OER Foundation: OERu technology and incremental design

The 2012/2013 prototype courses were used to incrementally refine and improve technology solutions for future OERu course delivery. Jim Tittsler, Lead Technologist for the OER Foundation summarised the technology refinements implemented during the prototype phase.

WikiEducator is used as a collaborative authoring platform for OERu courses with the ability to easily integrate content into the learning management system or third party websites. The AST1000 prototype used the Moodle LMS as the delivery platform to administer course registrations and course announcements. This approach introduced a layer of unnecessary complexity and additional administration. The OER Foundation developed a wiki-based registration form to collect the learner's email address and options for collecting the learner's Twitter username, Google+ identity and personal blog URL. This facilitates options for rudimentary participation analytics and relevant information to harvest interactions for the aggregated course feed. The course feed is available as a webstream and RSS feed for use with different readers. This enables OERu learners to use their preferred social media technologies. Using the aggregated WENotes feed, learners can monitor the pulse of the course and click through to the source of posts which attract their attention. The OER Foundation has developed a web-interface for facilitators to email course instructions to registered learners thus removing the necessity for using an LMS for OERu delivery.

A reader mode has been developed for mobile devices reclaiming screen real estate and removing the distraction of the interface used for editing which is not generally needed by learners. WikiEducator has the ability to publish any collection of wiki pages in ePub format. The OER Foundation has developed a wiki-based solution for developing slideshows with audio narrations as well as a "question-storm" feature which was used to submit and rank uncertainties for the scenario planning micro-course. In collaboration with the University of Canterbury, the OERu has successfully trialled harvesting public forum posts in the institutional LMS to enable free OERu learners to interact with fee-paying students taking a micro course.

The OER Foundation has made considerable progress with the ability to theme WikiEducator content pages using standard web CSS technologies. A significant feature is that the themed course pages can be constructed from any collection of wiki pages providing flexible options for customising OERu courses for local reuse. This will enable OERu partners to re-brand content for local use. WikiEducator has now implemented TogetherJS an innovative JavaScript library by Mozilla which enables synchronous collaboration for the authoring of wiki pages incorporating text chat and audio features.

Session 6: International launch of the OERu

Official launch of the OERu
Time Presenter Item
00:00 W. Mackintosh Welcome
01:48 A. Shaver Introduction of Elder
02:27 Elder Estella Patrick Moller Blessing the launch of the OERu
10.36 A. Shaver Introduction of guest of honour
13:37 Sir J. Daniel OERu launch address
25:58 Sir J. Daniel Launch of the OERu website
26:43 W. Mackintosh Acknowledgements
29:20 A. Shaver Acknowledgements
Sir John Daniel delivers the OERu launch address.
Sir John Daniel launches the OERu website for the world with Wayne Mackintosh looking on capturing the moment of the transition from the countdown to the live web site.
I thank all of you for having big dreams… Help us to reach hundreds and hundreds and millions of people so that mother earth will be covered with people on an equal footing with education.

—Estella Patrick Moller
First Nations Elder for the Secwepemc Nation.

To know is better than not to know ... I wish you well in this exciting endeavour and now I will press a button to announce to the world that the open education movement has taken another great step forward.

—Sir John Daniel
Open learning scholar

Sir John Daniel, guest of honour, delivered the launch address: OERu: What does it Mean?

Sir John delivered a masterly address elucidating the meaning of the OERu acronym. He noted that the launch of the OERu recalled another great milestone in the history of open education by referring to the inauguration of the Open University. Sir John cited extracts from the inaugural address of the founding Chancellor, Lord Crowther, remarking that the University's concept of open still has the power to inspire us today: "We are open, first, as to people ... We are open as to places ... We are open as to methods ... We are open, finally, as to ideas." Basing the OERu's teaching and learning activities on OER, Sir John stressed that the OERu collaboration has an excellent educational opportunity "to treat the minds of your students primarily as fires to be set alight rather than vessels to be filled with the knowledge of just one teacher." Sir John signalled that the conservatism of students in using independent study resources would initially restrict the numbers of participating learners but in time this would grow as the OERu’s advantages of flexibility and economy become apparent. He concluded that the belief that knowledge is the common heritage of humankind motivates the whole OER movement and that the OERu should cultivate an attitude of systematic scepticism for its learners. Sir John advised the collaboration to remain true to these core academic values to enable the OERu and its partner institutions to separate the wheat from the chaff as new developments come and go.

Session 7: 2014 OERu operational planning and decisions

Video recording of Session 7
Time Presenter Item
00:00 W. Mackintosh Introduction
03:20 W. Mackintosh Establishing groups
24:42 B. Lamb Facilitator
26:03 P. Forsyth Feedback: mOOC group
29:10 W. Mackintosh Feedback: Assessment and credentialing
34:05 I. DeVries Feedback: Getting it done
55:52 S. Lambert Feedback: Course approvals and quality assurance
1:10:00 J. Tittsler How open works
1:21:37 I. DeVries Research reflections on open design
Pete Forsyth from Wiki Strategies reported for the mOOC group.
The remaining sessions of the OERu 13.10 meeting focused on operational planning. Four groups were established to work on proposals for action: 1) micro Open Online Courses (mOOCs); 2) Assessment and credentialing; 3) Getting it done (streams and institutional leadership roles); and 4) Course approvals and quality assurance. Remote participants also contributed a wide range of proposals.

Proposal for action: micro Open Online Courses

Pete Forsyth reported that the group discussed the similarities and differences comparing informal and formal sector approaches to micro courses and micro credentials. Building on the outcomes of the SCoPE discussions on micro coures, this group recommended that the OERu should clearly define “micro” working to how credit can be awarded in an understandable and transferable way including how the open badge infrastructure could support a traditional credit model. The OERu should incorporate small "modules" within its programme of study that maintain student engagement and encourage network reuse of byte-sized course components, but still accommodate the traditional university credit structure.

Proposal for action: Assessment and credentialing

This group focused attention on identifying and prioritising relevant prototype projects to augment assessment and credentialing approaches for the OERu programme of study. In particular exploring the collaborative development of an assessment bank for automated assessment for credit-by-exam taking into account appropriate solutions for assessment levels and knowledge taxonomies. This prototype would need to include a review of technology options and approaches for an automated assessment model. The group recommended that the OERu should develop one or more prototype OER courses to prepare learners for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Finally, the assessment group recommended that the OERu should scope the development of an OER course with possible credit on how to develop a generic PLAR portfolio.

Proposal for action: Getting it done

Dr Irwin DeVries reported on establishing institutional roles and corresponding solutions for realising the OERu vision. The group considered establishing institutional collaboration roles beyond the 0.2 FTE individual course contributions to develop a core set of operational principles to "get the project done". The group emphasised the need for formalising tangible commitments from partner institutions with corresponding implementation plans and time frames.

The group proposed that to ensure things get done, certain OERu institutions should take lead responsibility for such items as: (1) Quality issues; (2) Credit transfer and articulation, credit banking; (3) Marketing, recruitment, communication, search engine optimization, etc.; (4) Curriculum and program design including micro courses, degree pathways and streams, supporting internationalization etc. (5) Collaborative open design; (6) Meta design level to promote good practices across the OERu; (7) Open resources; (8) Technology in collaboration with non-teaching agencies (9) Learner support e.g. Academic Volunteers International, student success (10) Business model and proposals for startup foundation funding; (11) OERu ambassadors where people involved become ambassadors.

During the question and answer session, a strong call was made to implement strategy which will produce product for the OERu programme of study as part of institutional mainstream operations.

Proposal for action: Course approvals and quality assurance

Sarah Lambert, Manager, Open Education at University of Wollongong reported for the course approvals and quality assurance group.
Sarah Lambert summarised the outputs of the proposal for action relating to curriculum, course approvals and quality assurance. The group underscored the network's commitment to quality assurance and institutional accreditation as the foundation stone of the OERu. The group proposed a "course quality team" to develop and oversee the process for nominating courses for the OERu programme of study. This would incorporate a simple but effective system of international peer review for course approvals. The optimal structure of a single group for both curriculum and course quality considerations versus two separate groups will be decided as the implementation progresses. The idea is to base course approvals using a concise course description similar to that used for course listings on the OERu website. This initial approval mechanism will contribute to building the OERu programme of study aligned with the vision of the network before the commencement of design and development work.

The group identified the need for developing minimum quality standards and will adapt the the openly licensed Quality eToolkit developed by eCampusAlberta for the OERu context. The OERu will need to consider appropriate solutions for course revisions in the medium term as changes to approved courses may impact on course articulation within the network.

Session 8: Distinctively open - our point of difference

Video recording of Session 8
Jim Tittsler, Lead Technologist at the OER Foundation.
When open courses and community do not develop in parallel the learning curve can be steep.

—Paraphrased by Irwin DeVries from
S O’Mahony[2]

This session was aimed at improving open practices for OERu operations. (Note: The video recordings of Jim Tittsler and Irwin DeVries are included in the video record for Session 7 above.)

In his presentation "Being open", Jim Tittsler offered insights from forty years of open source software development highlighting good practice which can be transferred to the implementation of the OERu collaboration. Having a clear vision with a tangible start is way better than grappling with the adoption of a finished project. Community is key to successful open projects and consequently transparent communication is paramount. During the OERu prototype phase, the OER Foundation observed a high level of private email communication between partners, however this is inefficient resulting in unnecessary duplication of responses to the same issues at the expense of a transparent public record of the OERu initiative. Jim noted that clear communication with searchable archives generates a project history documenting what was developed, why it was decided, how it got there and who did what. Drawing on the open source experience, Jim reasoned that collaboration follows transparent communication which builds long term sustainability.

Dr Irwin DeVries summarised the findings of his research on open design and course development using the OERu as a case study. He reported that the open design model imposes important considerations on the planning stages for the course development team and partner institution which are different from the traditional model. Irwin emphasised that community development is key to the success of open design and development in the OERu. Currently small numbers of people are doing large amounts of work and partner institutions need to consider ways of integrating OERu activities into regular operations. The micro-course model will enable course development to be staggered and facilitate multi-institutional collaborations. However, the network will need to ensure coherence and compatibility with a credit-bearing programme of study. Designing open courses for credit requires particular attention to assessment design. Irwin recommended the development of "templates" of good practice for what works in the OERu environment. The open authoring model enables the OERu to engage the full range of skills associated with a team approach and suggested that the OERu should be proactive in expanding partnerships with open communities. It will be important for the OERu to mentor new members into the OERu community and for these members to pay-forward by assuming mentoring roles in the future.

Dr Wayne Mackintosh facilitated the closing plenary session focusing on proposals to improve open practice and community solutions for technology improvements in support of the OERu delivery model. Participants emphasised the need to prioritise the upgrade of the Mediawiki software so as to incorporate the visual editor which would lower barriers for basic wiki editing. There was general consensus that the navigation and look and feel of the wiki content can be improved to enhance the learning experience. The OERu will solicit expertise from partner institutions including both technical and pedagogical design to replicate the team approach used for the development of the OERu launch website to progress these improvements. Participants recommended a "book sprint" model to develop documentation for getting started with the OERu and this could be incorporated into an OERu partners guide. The OERu website should also include a page providing links to the main communication lists. It was suggested that the OERu should explore opportunities for the non-teaching partners to assist with some of the technology support and technology development opportunities.


  1. Front row, left to right: Christine Lee (Thompson Rivers University), Lian Dumouchel (Thompson Rivers University), Joyce McKnight (Empire State College), Tricia Donovan (eCampusAlberta), Diane Salter (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Sarah Lambert (University of Wollongong), Sandra Wills (Charles Sturt University), Kerry de Hart (Unisa), George Gong (Thompson Rivers University),
    2nd row, left to right: Sean Mullery (ITSligo), John Sparks (Thompson Rivers University), Gail Morong (Thompson Rivers University), David Bull (University of Southern Queensland), Phil Ker (Otago Polytechnic), Wayne Mackintosh (OER Foundation), John Daniel, (Open learning scholar), Alan Shaver (Thompson Rivers University), Alan Davis (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Irwin DeVries (Thompson Rivers University), Christine Wihak (Thompson Rivers University),
    Back row, left to right:Todd Mundle (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Jim Tittsler (OER Foundation), Pete Forsyth (Wikistrategies), Diane Purvey (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Brian Lamb (Thompson Rivers University), David Porter (BCcampus), Rory McGreal (Athabasca University), Rassie Louw (North-West University), Bob Byrne (Thompson Rivers University), Judy Harris (Visiting scholar, Thompson Rivers University), Marthinus Oosthuizen (North West University), Baihua Chadwick (Thompson Rivers University), Ron McGivern (Thompson Rivers University), Clive Mulholland (University of South Wales), Paul Stacey (Creative Commons).
  2. O’Mahony, S. (2007). The governance of open source initiatives: What does it mean to be community managed? Journal of Management & Governance, 11, 139–150