OERu/Planning/Strategic planning working group/2014 OERu audit of proposed course contributions

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Key points
The OERu is a philanthropic collaboration aimed at widening affordable access to university-level education for learners excluded from the formal sector. OERu partners have agreed:
  • to assemble a minimum of two courses from existing OER and open access materials for the benefit of the network
  • to provide assessment services leading to formal credit at a minimum of one anchor partner, usually the contributing partner.
  • that developing product for the OERu network is an operational priority for 2014.

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The 2014 audit of course contributions from OERu anchor partners aims to:
  • Identify 20 definite courses (or micro course equivalents) targeted for completion within the next year by completing the online survey by 15 June 2014.
  • Identify possible courses for future development to inform the design of the OERu programme of study and to identify opportunities for collaborative development in the network. Please add your submission to the Twinkle in the eye list of possible candidates.

The audit process

The 2014 OERu audit of course contributions from anchor partners will be divided into the following phases:

  1. Completion of the short online survey of definite courses and courses currently under development by 15 June 2014.
  2. Completion of the corresponding course descriptions for publication on the OERu website by 15 July 2014.
  3. Parallel process to identify possible courses for future development to identify opportunities for collaboration and to inform the development of the OERu programme of study - Submit candidates in WikiEducator using the Twinkle in the eye page - Ongoing.
  4. Development and completion of the definite courses by specified target dates.


  • Conferring institution refers to the OERu partner who awards the transcript credit for the successful completion of a course recognised towards a local credential.
  • Course refers to the sub-component units which make up a credential (degree or diploma). Some institutions may refer to "Modules", "Papers" or "Semester Courses". Typically a course would entail between 100 to 150 notional hours of learning depending on the region. In the OERu context, course refers for example to:
    • a 3 credit course within the North American System towards a 90 credit (three-year) Bachelor's degree or 120 credit (four-year) Bachelor's degree;
    • a 15 credit course in New Zealand working towards towards a 360 credit (three-year) Bachelor's degree or 480 credit (four-year) Bachelor's degree. Typically a full course would entail 100 to 150 notional learning hours depending on the region and is sometimes called a semester course.
  • Micro course is a sub-component of a "full" course ranging from 40 to 50 notional learning hours, for example 1 credit of a 3 credit course in North America or 5 credits of a 15 credit course in New Zealand.
  • Parallel mode delivery refers to using OERu course materials for local delivery to full-fee registered students studying in parallel with free OERu learners. (See for example: Are micro-MOOCs the future of OERu offerings?)

Considerations when submitting a course for the OERu

  1. Consider courses where there is a large inventory of existing OERs. The OERu model is based on assembling courses from existing OER and open access materials. Therefore considerably less time and effort is needed when compared to building a new course from scratch.
  2. Are there any existing course(s) within your institution could easily be converted to OER by changing to an open license? This presumes that the course does not rely on third party materials which are not open access.
  3. Avoid reinventing wheels: consider developing a wrap-around course based on an existing open textbook. Start with the BCcampus Open Textbooks Toolkit or OpenStax College may have a suitable candidates.
  4. Would any existing OER courses available from one of the repositories map to a credit-bearing course at your institution, for example remixing a course from the Saylor Academy or Open Education Consortium?
  5. Evaluate the likelihood of successful completion. Work with champions and academics who are enthused by the open education model and are willing to experiment with new approaches and technologies. Avoid submissions where local institutional barriers (eg political, organisational, process etc) will impact on successful completion.
  6. Consider nominating courses which could be offered in parallel mode with full-fee registered students at your institution. This provides an immediate and tangible benefit for OERu partners by providing a contemporary and marketable international learning experience for local students.
  7. Consider courses which are scheduled for redesign and development at your institution. In this way your OERu contribution is integrated into mainstream operations and will not require additional resources.

Criteria to guide your submission

Developing product for the OERu is both a strategic and operational priority of our collaboration. The Strategic Planning working group stresses that to attract students the OERu needs a critical mass of courses available with reference to a coherent programme of study. Without a reasonable number of courses on offer the OERu risks a loss of credibility. At the recent meeting of the Curriculum and programme of study working group it was noted that we will need to work from "both ends" namely bottom-up nominations for courses in the short term and working in parallel to develop top-down guidelines contributing to clear pathways of study. This audit is the first step to achieve a critical mass of courses to inform the next phases for the development of a more coherent programme of study in the medium term.

For now, we will adopt a smorgasbord approach to achieve the initial inventory of OERu product. The Bachelor of General Studies (or equivalent) is the inaugural credential for the OERu as agreed by the partner institutions. It will be possible to identify different streams or specialisation tracks within a Bachelor of General Studies as the inventory of courses increases (see for example the "twinkles in the eye" activity from the 2nd meeting of Anchor partners). Moreover, many subjects within a Bachelor of General studies could carry credit towards a range of alternate credentials at the conferring institution.

OERu partners should consider the following criteria and priorities to guide their decisions:

  1. The OERu has a preference for first-year level subjects, but partners are free to nominate higher level or postgraduate courses.
  2. Consider courses with a high level of reuse potential, that is courses which can be reused by two or more partner institutions for their own credentials.
  3. The OERu has a a preference for micro format courses. Remember that a collection of micro courses does not preclude your institution from offering a full-course equivalent reusing the micro course materials for local delivery of the full course.
  4. The course nomination must be mapped to an approved course at your institution as each course must be available for formal academic credit at at least one OERu partner.


Note: If you have a question which is not included in the list below which will be of interest to OERu partners add it now directly in the wiki. We will post a response as soon as international time zones allow.

I have a great idea for an OERu course but not sure if I have the authority to submit a nomination. What should I do?

The membership of the OERu network has been signed off by senior executive management at your organisation. Get in touch with the OERu contact person for your institution for advice. Convene a meeting with local managers to discuss and progress your ideas.

I need to talk with someone knowledgeable about the OERu to assist with our course nomination decision. How can I get feedback?

The OERu collaboration maintains a number of communication channels. Here are a few options for the 2014 OERu audit for proposed course contributions:

  1. Questions relating to this wiki page can be posted on the discussion page
  2. General questions of interest to OERu partners can be posted to the Partners email list. If you are already a member, send an email to the list. You can join the OERu email list here
  3. We will schedule regular Google Hangout "office hour" sessions during the audit phase. The links for these will be announced on the main OERu partners list. You will need to be a member of the Partner email list to receive the links for the Hangout sessions. To join a Hangout session, you will need to create a Google account if you don't have one.

Can I submit one micro course as my current contribution?

The short answer is yes and no. Because the OERu will provide credentialing services it is important to submit the full set of micro courses (that is 3 or 4 micros depending on the required learning hours for local courses) which are required to map to an official course for credit at your institution. However, it is possible to stagger the anticipated completion dates for micro courses. It is also possible to collaborate with other OERu partners who will take on responsibility for developing individual micro courses. Note that the set of micro-courses must be available for credit at a minimum of one of the OERu partners. In cases of collaborative development, the primary credentialing institutions should submit the nomination.