Summary of prototype course features, discussion page themes and issues

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Hi all,

I thought I would take a little time, as mentioned earlier, to collate some themes and issues that we should probably all be aware of. These are based on both the initial design blueprints and the associated discussion pages where some good discussions are taking place. By seeing these items summarized in one place, we may be able to cross-pollinate and learn from the collective work that is being undertaken.


Learning management systems: these include BlackBoard, Moodle (“Open LMS” and WikiEducator itself) alongside Moodle. OERu doesn't support non open source technology such as BlackBoard and Collaborate. However, some partners are offering their OERu contribution courses in parallel with a regular paying student group and they may be able to use their commercial tools in the offering. However partners should still take into account what other partners are able to access in terms of technology should they decide to offer such courses as well. Open source tools such as Big Blue Button could be tested by OERu for conference purposes although synchronous conferencing is infeasible due to time issues worldwide.

|Other: Blogs (e.g. WordPress), microblogs (e.g. – a method is needed to aggregate/feed into daily emails (e.g. HTML summaries) with links back to postings to prevent info overload. Mahara noted as possible journaling and group forum tool. (Watch admin overhead re managing groups.)

Delivery Models[edit]


A wide range of learning interactions (learning activities) are contemplated. These include the following:

  • Accessing or finding and analyzing OER content available freely on the web
  • Text written to contextualize and transition between OER contents
  • Self-check resources
  • Asynchronous discussions
  • Respond to others in forums (need to manage numbers and groups – watch administrative overhead)
  • View and respond to videos
  • Collaborative projects
  • Self-directed discovery and gathering of content/OERs
  • Relate to personal interests
  • Derive content to meet lesson objectives
  • Analyze OERs
  • Develop learning plan based on initial assessment (watch AVI requirements and scalability of assessment – clarify what does and doesn't add up as part of the formative assessment)
  • Participate in community in Mahara e-Portfolio
  • Reflective problem-based tasks
  • Case studies
  • Practial assignment relating to workplace (backgrounder required for those without appropriate workplace access)
  • Independent study through sequenced content
  • Reflective journal
  • Free-range learning method


  • Audio, graphics, text, video linked to the web – open resources
  • Video vignettes, podcasts (ensure alternatives for those with little or no Internet access – or include ad optional rather than mandatory)
  • FAQs
  • Open web content
  • Print lessons
  • OERs that are located by the learner
  • Podcasts
  • Own institutional developed resources
  • Proprietary textbook (looking for possible OERs or open text – can Saylor help out?) (commercial textbook shouldn't be mandatory)
  • Synchronized slide shows with audio
  • Recommended reading resources (no mandatory purchases)
  • Ability to print from WikiEducator


  • OpenStudy (watch proprietary software however)
  • P2Pu
  • OER hosted others
  • Facebook etc.
    • Watch for vendor lock on products especially NC license problem
    • Aim for open source alternatives
  • Forums (watch group management issues – hard to control single forum)
  • Promote creative ways for students to self-organize
  • Must be able to scale
  • Moodle with aggregators (students don't always know how to set up email properly to avoid constant emails)
  • “Regional Relations repository” (USQ)
  • Peer support for questions before posting to AVI question forum
  • Microblog aggregation with summary forum posts linking back to original post
  • Mahara groups
  • Skype

Some generic skills/student processes and outcomes[edit]

  • Written and oral communication (how is oral communication practiced?)
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking/problem solving (x many)
  • ICT literacy
  • Quantitative literacy including math and algebra
  • Error-checking strategies
  • Engage as active learner
  • Participate in diverse environments
  • Info literacy
  • Computers and technology
  • Ethical research and enquiry
  • Problem solving
  • Academic, professional and digital literacy
  • Cultural literacy
  • Management, planning and organizational skils
  • Independent thinking
  • Analysis and arguments



  • Automated quizzes(supported by WikiEducator and most LMSs)
  • Automated quiz for initial assessment of competency
  • Peer feedback
  • AVI feedback
  • (This area seems to be a weakness in our model – adequate formative feedback that scales. Summative assessments are much richer.)


  • Journal blog entries
  • Submit top reflective journal items (variety of formats ok)
  • (General question – how much is public/private; pros and cons of each or a balance of both)
  • Essays (narrative, analysis, argument, research)
  • Possible additional badge for general skills
  • Discussion posts (need to manage for scale)
  • Worksheets (can maybe use templates e.g. GoogleDocs)(Moodle dropbox?)
  • Assignments (collaborative and individual)
  • Peer feedback
  • Final essay
  • Challenge exam
  • PLAR
  • CLEP exams


  • Essays 80% - Journal/Blog 20%
  • Wide distribution of points among various assessment tools
  • (Need to remember no institutional assessments are taking place until the student shows up at end of course)
  • Portfolio evidence/select own best work and submit
  • Assignment 1 20%, Assignment 2 30%, Assignment 3 50%
    • 50% minimum pass

Learner authentication[edit]

  • Provide initial writing sample for later comparison (need to authenticate person initially as well)
  • Brief distance interview when assignments received


  • Institutional support as a mentor (can all institutions do this?)
  • AVI participation from occasional involvement to extensive individualized attention in developing learning plans (consider how this can scale)
  • Require variety of tutorials in spreadsheets, digital literacy support, math, stats, accounting etc. (should use open source software/productivity applications) (Simple demos, screencasts can be done in WikiEducator – branching tutorials depending on which tools are used by learners)
  • General support for open source tools:
    • Open Office
    • Ubuntu – LbreOffice
    • Wulfram Alfa (requires tutorial)
  • Provide tutorials in centralized location (WikiEducator?)
  • Individual institutional support
    • Tech support
    • Email link to tutor
    • Mentoring
    • AVI

Delivery questions[edit]

  • Cap for prototypes?Parallel delivery – compatible with other institutions or keep more generic?
  • What can we learn from MOOCs?
  • Collect data on conversion rates to requests for assessments
  • What other analytics do we want/need?
Idevries (talk)01:06, 21 March 2012

Response to technology observations

We've tested the the integration of learning resource hosted on WikiEducator across the range of LMS technologies used by our OER partners including Blackboard, Moodle, Angel and Sakai. The same solution will also work for any website that supports the <iframe> tag inlcuding blogs and content management systems.

Irwin raises a good point about proprietary infrastructure technology which may be used by anchor partners when offering courses in parallel mode. My recommendation in this scenario is to design the OERu course related activities in a way that enables integration of open source alternatives or that these are included as optional delivery strategies so as not to create dependencies on software choices which other OERu partners may not be able to implement. I think this is a good design principle for us to consider when developing courses.

Mackiwg (talk)20:30, 21 March 2012

Response to student support

Two reflections:

  • Implementing a scalable and personalised formative student support service is not a critical path issue. While finding sustainable solutions is desirable, we don't have to wait until we have all the solutions. This is not a reason to stop the OERu network from providing free learning opportunities for learner excluded from the formal education system. As a philanthropic project -- we will do our best with the resources available.
  • This is our greatest opportunity for innovation -- I think that over time, we can develop an amazing system of Academic Volunteers which will change the face of education as we know it :-)
Mackiwg (talk)20:50, 21 March 2012

Response to Delivery Model: Interactions

It's very encouraging to see the diversity of interactions planned in the blueprints. This can form a reusable inventory of interaction forms which we can develop a number of "pedagogical templates" in the wiki to facilitate reuse across OERu courses and to save development time.

This cafeteria approach where developments can select from a variety of approaches at the micro-level does not prescribe any pedagogical approach -- but we will still benefit from the networking approach and re-usability of OER "instructional devices".

Mackiwg (talk)20:36, 21 March 2012

Response to delivery models: Comment on collaboration

For me the message on peer-to-peer collaboration is that there are a variety of technologies and open web services available and that the OERu should encourage freedom of choice to allow learners to use what they want to use.

This has significant advantages for the scalability of the OERu on a global scale because the open Internet becomes the collaboration environment. Far cheaper and easier to "maintain" as new technologies become available.

OERu anchor partners should be careful with vendor lock-in issues when suggesting or prescribing technology alternatives.

Mackiwg (talk)20:42, 21 March 2012