Talk:OERu/Strategic plan 2014 - 2017/Strategic goals

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Consultation questions1410:46, 26 May 2014
Priorities for 2014211:50, 22 May 2014

Consultation questions

We welcome your thoughts on the following questions. Login to Wikieducator, hit the reply button below and join the conversation.

  1. Are we missing any important strategic goals for the 2014 - 2017 plan? If so please let us know.
  2. What are the substantive risks which would prevent the OERu from achieving its goals?
  3. Do you have any thoughts on the priority ranking of the stated goals?
  4. Are there any strategic objectives missing from the list which would contribute to the attainment of our strategic goals?
  5. Any general comments, ideas or thoughts to help OERu achieve success?
  6. How can the OERu strategy narrow the gap between the value the network provides and the value extracted by individual partners?
  7. Additional consultation questions?
Mackiwg (talk)16:12, 11 May 2014

Before I respond to this request, I must apologise in advance for not having the time to read all existing documentation and for any comments I make that might not be accurate or relevant because of that.

In addition my views are based on the more immediate challenges we see in front of us.

1. We are of the opinion that "Transnational qualifications and course articulation" may be the most important goal. (Anything that makes it easier for us to accept credits from elsewhere or to have credits we award accepted elsewhere)

2. We believe that international "Identity Verification" is a serious issue and one that we need to deal with. We are concerned about controlling the cost of reliable remote examinations whether through the use of traditional written examinations in physical exam centres or using remote proctoring technologies (possibly including biometric identification). To some extent we are concerned about cheating during examinations but we are more worried about personation. We are not sure that this needs to be addressed by the OERu but we feel that if this is not addressed by someone it might undermine the credibility of major awards that are granted based on several years' work from several institutions.

I would appreciate others' opinions on this as I may be overestimating the importance of this issue or I may have missed some developments in the area.

3. I agree that we should be working towards a complete programme of study. However, I worry that "General Studies" may not be attractive to many particularly in developing countries. I would suggest that we need to be driven by demand rather than the courses we feel we can supply. Would it be possible to determine what areas are in demand in the developing world? (eg Health) We in IT Sligo are. For the moment, concentrating on developing courses towards an Associate degree (Higher Certificate)in Electronic Engineering (Embedded Systems). However, this is also supply driven insofar as we have academics here who wish to do this. It might be worth identifying a programme of study that would be of great value and ask members to find courses in their institutes that they can contribute towards this. We may have to set up, what we call in our institution, a "Programme Board" that defines firstly what is needed, and secondly, what courses are acceptable. I think we should be able to do both a "General Studies" programme and one targeted programme.

Brianmmulligan (talk)01:08, 20 May 2014

Hi Brian,

Appreciate your feedback. This provides additional validation and affirmation of a number of the operational priorities we've identified so far.

  1. The mechanisms for credit transfer and course articulation have been identified as a priority 1 item. Having operational guidelines for credit transfer and course articulation mapped to the TQF is a necessary infrastructure component to inform design of courses and options for implementation.
  2. The issue of identity validation is not overstated. The Credit transfer and course articulation working group have this on their agenda. For different types of assessment, we will need to identify what the network will consider as acceptable forms of identity validation taking into account that we will work with what is practically implementable at this point in time.
  3. You point about a Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) not being attractive to many learners is well made and a number of OERu partners have discussed these challenges (see for example). The selection of the BGS is a starting point and incremental step to ensure that we have at least one credential as we move forward with developing product. That said, there is no limitation or restriction on the OERu to restrict the number of credentials and we would welcome more career oriented credentials in the network. Your suggestion for a "Programme Board" or "Academic Board" is well received, and was also suggested at the 2nd meeting of OERu partners. This recommendation will be incorporated by the Course approval and quality working group. For now, we are dealing with a chicken and egg scenario to bootstrap sufficient numbers of initial product while simultaneously configuring meaningful streams of study.

Your feedback affirms that our thinking is on the right track -- thanks for that!

Mackiwg (talk)13:10, 20 May 2014

I hope my submission is better late than never!!

I too wondered about the wording in goals 2 and 4. I am happy with how you tweaked them from Mark and Mica's comments, Wayne.

When I first read the goals I felt 'student recruitment/marketing' was missing. I wasn't sure if we needed another goal per se at the time of if we could just add another objective in goal # 1. However, after reading the discussion I see that we are attending to marketing.

I am happy to see evaluation in goal 2. I wonder if we might consider another platform for sharing and inquiring into our experiences collectively and at our respective Colleges as we move forward. I believe that creating a such a space will build relationships that will serve us well in ways that we cannot yet imagine. I also believe that creating a space to inquire into the messiness of the work we have before us will help us to make sense of your conundrum with General Studies, over time, Brian? As I suggest that we create a space for sharing and inquiring I wonder who the 'we' is on one hand and imagine that perhaps over time the 'we' will evolve as participants and students begin to conduct their own research around their experiences in OERu.

Lenora LeMay (talk)09:03, 24 May 2014

Hi Lenora,

You have a time zone advantage and I figure that your submission was received well on time :-). Of course, as an open wiki environment we welcome ongoing contributions.

We are attending to marketing and recruitment through the Marketing, recruitment and communication working group - but I think you're right - this needs higher prominence in the strategic plan. I think we need to include the marketing dimension as an additional strategic objective under Goal 1 of the draft plan.

What platforms did you have in mind for sharing? The OER Foundation is very supportive of building relationships that will serve us in ways we cannot imagine. We already have a number of spaces for sharing - the e-mail lists the wiki which documents all our planning since the inception of the OERu - few projects can compare to the openness and transparency of the OERu collaboration. As long as we're using free software platforms - we welcome any solutions which can improve communication. I do wonder if we are dealing with a cultural transformation from sharing to LEARN --> LEARNING to share insofar as technologies are concerned?

Great contributions -- I will note this in the summary recommendations.


Mackiwg (talk)19:07, 24 May 2014

Hello all--I do second all of Brian's comments. These are all (identity verification, ease of articulation and transfer, the idea of a General Studies program) issues that we are thinking about here at Thomas Edison State College. We are using an online proctoring service for our assessments now, and it seems to work well, but the cost (about $20 US dollars per administration) might be prohibitive to some. Still an issue for us to consider--identity verification would help address transferability via increased accountability.

I do not mean to harp on this, and I mean no offense to anyone (my own housekeeping skills are less than optimal) but improved communication amongst our members is a key goal that I think we should focus on. And in particular, this wikieducator site is nearly impenetrable for me and my staff, and this impenetrability has been, without exaggeration, the single biggest issue concerning my institution's involvement in OERu. We are unable to understand what other institutions are doing, it is not easy for me to find the courses that have already been developed, nor to determine what stage of development they are in, and the difficulty of navigation has made our own accountability a serious question--in other words, I don't know when I am supposed to do something or what that something actually is. I cannot use the website to gain buy-in on the part of my colleagues here at the College. Of course, cleaning up our website is not a strategic goal of the magnitude of the four we are considering, but improved communication and transparency is certainly something I would add.

Finally, I would suggest that we consider less emphasis here on the question of cost, which is addressed in three of the four strategic goals. While of course money makes the world go round, I would suggest retitling numbers 2 and 4: in number 2, replace "cost effective" with "efficient" at minimum, and in number 4, "Develop pilots/models to demonstrate viability and strength of OERu network" or something like that.

Marcsinger1 (talk)02:43, 22 May 2014

And I agree wholeheartedly with Marc (and Brian). Identity verification is a big issue, and although Excelsior is looking into online proctoring services such as the one Thomas Edison uses, most online proctoring services do not offer good biometric identity verification (and the ones that do require prohibitively expensive equipment). A Webcam photo of a photo ID is not very reassuring. So yes, it's important. And I also agree that the wikieducator site is really hard to use. I have to go back through old e-mails to find links to click on if I want to find anything. So I do think that a strategic goal of finding effective communication tools and processes among OERu members is something that should be added. --Mika Hoffman

Mikahoffman (talk)09:55, 22 May 2014

Hi Marc & Mika

Clearly the identity verification piece is a priority issue for the OERu and we have this item firmly on the agenda of the Credit transfer and course articulation working group.

Those are valuable suggestions for refining strategic goals #2 and #4


  1. In the absence of alternate suggestions, change strategic Goal 2 as follows: "Improve processes for efficient and scalable OERu operations.",
  2. In the absence of alternate suggestions, change strategic Goal 4 along the lines of: "Develop pilots/models to demonstrate viability and strength of OERu network"

I agree, we need to improve communication and provide support and guidance to staff at OERu partner institutions on how the planning process operates and how to engage. Hopefully, we will be able to introduce improvements through the activities of the Course design and development partners manual working group. We have also introduced a Quicklinks page (visible on the navigation of the OERu planning pages) which provides an entry point to the plethora of planning pages in the wiki.

This is a multi-faceted challenge. Open and transparent planning of a large and complex project spread across 5 continents like the OERu introduces a layer of complexity. The elephant in the room is the lack of experience in open collaborative planning and use of the tried and tested tools used by open communities by many of our partner staff ;-).

Your reference to the challenge of knowing what other partners are doing regarding course development etc is a catch 22 situation. If partners don't share what they're doing publicly -- we are all disadvantaged. I think that knowing what to do and where to find what partners need is a capability related to open collaborative development.

As with most things, we will get better as we move forward!

Mackiwg (talk)11:01, 22 May 2014

Feedback from Mark Nichols (posted with permission)

Apologies for not placing this in the wiki – seems my email account lacks the requisite permission!

I just wanted to comment on the goals, making the point that they are very internal, and almost introverted. An overarching goal, perhaps best made explicit, is for the OERu to be perceived as a recognised, credible, and innovative provider of quality education. This is actually an important part in the second consultation question; not being perceived in this way by potential learners and partners is a significant risk.

It could be that the second goal is misnamed. Objectives 1 and 2 of the second goal would do much to enhance the perception of OERu, so the goal might be better termed “Develop processes for OERu operations that underpin academic quality at scale”, or something like that.

Mackiwg (talk)11:29, 22 May 2014

Hi Mark,

As always - well-founded feedback. Thanks for that.

Yes, you need to create an account in the wiki to have editing permissions. (This is needed for legal attribution reasons for the Creative Commons licenses used on the site.)

Indeed, the strategic goals do have an "internal" focus, and in part reflects the current phase of OERu implementation.

I agree entirely with your overarching goal for the OERu to be "recognised as a credible and innovative provider of quality education". This goal is enshrined in the logic model - quality assurance and institutional accredition are the cornerstones of the OERu. Since the 1st meeting of founding anchor partners - being a quality provider was emphasised as a guiding principle for the network.

A key aim of the strategic planning consultation is to develop an integrated set of documents and I would suggest that we incorporate your overarching goal into the vision and mission statements of the OERu strategic plan.


  1. Suggested refinement of Strategic Goal #2: "Develop processes for OERu operations that underpin academic quality at scale" (See also comment by Marc Singer regarding replacement of "cost-effective" with "efficient".
Mackiwg (talk)11:46, 22 May 2014

Comment from Rassie Louw

Paraphrased from personal email querying whether the point raised is appropriate for the consultation of strategic goals. I deem the points raised to be an important issue for our strategic planning process and have documented them below.

I want to ask a question about the strategic plan that may not fit in the discussion. It would be very helpful to us here in South Africa (I do not know what the case may be in other regions across the globe) if we could promote OERu activities on a national or regional level, particularly with regards to national requirements and associated structures for accreditation etc. Now for the question: May we consider regional collaboration within the OERu network as one of the strategic initiatives in the strategic plan? (I do not know in which one of the four goals it will fit the best).
Mackiwg (talk)12:28, 25 May 2014

Response to Rassie

A key feature of the OERu collaboration is the ability for learners to earn formal academic credit. This requires institutions which are formerly recognised by the appropriate quality assurance and accreditation agencies operating within the structures and requirements of the national agencies and appropriate regulations. The OERu network needs to figure out how national requirements impact on virtual mobility so that we can plan accordingly to maximise reuse of OERu courses within the national context.

Clearly regional collaboration is an important component in the OERu credit transfer and course articulation ecosystem and I agree that this should be incorporated as a strategic objective. Given the growth in membership of the OERu network we already have a number of countries which can (and should imo) establish regional collaborations, for example Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Europe. These national collaborations could extend beyond accreditation issues to include, for example professional development and other areas of mutual interest.

Excellent suggestion Rassie - I think this should be included as a strategic objective under the rephrased Goal 2 of "Improve processes for efficient and scalable OERu operations."


Been thinking a little more about this - given the importance of national and regional OERu collaboration - I think this may warrant its own strategic goal (with corresponding sub goals, eg accreditation and virtual mobility, regional networking, professional development support.)

What do folk think?

Mackiwg (talk)12:54, 25 May 2014

Comments from Jo Smedley (posted with permission).

I've read through the strategic goals and they seem logical and reflect the stated purpose of OERu in terms of curriculum, collaboration and credit bearing awards.

So here's my question (not sure whether it fits in with one of the existing goals?): I wondered how the communication of OERu will be progressed with the various transworld audiences? Maybe this runs as a theme underlying all of them? We need to make sure that the philosophy of OER and the OERu is fully understood in various contexts. A communication strategy could be a crucial part of the developments to make sure that the various audiences are engaged with for maximum impact and also that the most appropriate communication tools, i.e. social media, webpages, wiki as well as more traditional approaches are used at appropriate times to best effect.

Mackiwg (talk)10:38, 26 May 2014

Jo thanks for your input.

Agreed - -developing a communication strategy is a crucial part of the developments.

We have established a Marketing, recruitment and communication working group - but its a little thin on the ground at the moment. However, your point is well made, we need a strategic objective for developing and implementing a communication strategy to feature more prominently in the strategic plan.

The need for communication strategy was also stressed at the OERu 2013 partners meeting and OERu council for CEOs -- clearly a gap in the current draft of the plan.


Include a strategic objective relating to communication strategy.

Mackiwg (talk)10:44, 26 May 2014

Priorities for 2014

  • If OERu is to achieve a meaningful perspective on Goal 4 (...including improved return on partner investment) it seems reasonable to suggest that it could be useful to spend time focussing on attracting students to OERu courses. First: we need to develop and offer a sufficient number of courses to constitute a coherent OERu programme of study (Goal 3), a key priority for 2014. Second: we need to initiate a working group on "Marketing,recruitment and communication" as documented, but not yet implemented. --Jim Taylor
Taylorj (talk)17:06, 24 March 2014

Hi Jim,

I agree. We will need to think carefully about the priority dependencies and their interrelationships. This will help the network to focus energies on those activities which move the project forward:

  • We can't generate students without courses
  • Students are unlikely to choose the OERu as preferred choice in the absence of a clear pathway of study to obtain a degree. (Although in the interim students could still apply OERu credit to local partner credentials)
  • Goal 4 (essentially a prototyping / demonstrator initiative to inform future planning) may generate smart solutions which generate tangible benefits for OERu partners in the short term, while building the longer term programme of study for the OERu. For example, parallel mode delivery will add value to existing online courses for full fee students while contributing to the medium term OERu objective of building the OERu programme of study with multiple streams.

Noted - We desperately need a marketing working group and I'm confident that we will find a group of OERu volunteers to take this one forward.

Mackiwg (talk)18:02, 24 March 2014