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Open Design and Development: Processes and Potential

Open Courseware Consortium - Bali May 10 2013

About the OERu

Video link

What it is/what it isn't


  • Low-cost learning to all students worldwide using OER learning material
  • Courses and programs based solely on OER
  • Pathways to earn credible post-secondary credentials
  • Models of scalable and low cost learner support
  • Opportunities for new business models providing value added services in a disaggregated model

An OER definition

Open educational resources include:

  • OER are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.
  • Full courses, course materials, modules, learning objects, open textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Source: Hewlett Foundation, 2007

How it works




  • curriculum
  • design and development
  • pedagogy
  • student support
  • assessment and credentialing
  • support infrastructure


  • Contribution of two courses
  1. ART 100 Art Appreciation (from
  2. Course on Sustainability in the works
  • Ensuring course quality
  1. For courses contributed by TRU: Faculty review, standard course approvals
  2. For other courses: based on OERu quality processes and granting institutions' alternative credit policies, OERu peer review
  3. OERu principle is to respect all participant institutions' own standards and processes
  • Giving credit for courses
  1. Options include commercial exams, PLAR (portfolio, assignments, exams, etc.), transfer credit
  2. Put course through standard academic approval processes
  • Other institutional support
  1. Still at early stage

Open design and development

Comparison of models
Aspect Open Traditional
Participants Volunteers Paid
Design team Distributed Centralized
Member community open to public Private
Varied, overlapping roles Clearly defined
Communication Wiki, Google Groups Business communication tools (enterprise, meetings)
Content CC-BY or CC-BY-SA Restrictive
Content versioning Multiple simultaneous One official version
History tracking Automatic Intentional if at all
Authoring environment
Open source social software Proprietary
Delivery environment
Multiple options Dedicated platform


  • Principle of rough consensus for general issues
  • Early course prototyping
  • Multiple instructional designers and graphic artist
  • Stages
    • Design blueprint
    • Complete outline
    • Review existing OERs for remix
    • Develop representative sample of materials
    • Complete development
    • Peer review/quality control
  • Training for wiki skills and open licensing was provided for participants


  • Wiki environment takes time to learn (flat file structure in a hierarchical universe) - easy to get lost
  • Content conversion onerous (some locked up in PDFs)
  • Needed some "neutralization" (context-specific course structure)
  • Instructional designers thrive on clarity
  • Rethinking everything
    • How will this be used by learners?
    • Who/where are our learners?
    • What might be their motivations?
    • How might they configure (solo, groups, community, etc.)
    • What technology do they have access to?
    • How might an instructor or institution use this course?
    • How can we make it as flexible as possible for others to repurpose - and -
    • Can others help to improve it? (e.g. regional bias)
  • At some point have to "let it go" and see what happens
  • Need to resist urge to start from scratch - we have to figure this out
  • It's a long term project


Collaboration is a powerful element

  • Complementary strengths evident
  • Generated creative ideas
  • Looking at things from multiple angles
  • Ongoing process of mentoring and sharing
  • Helps maintain focus and energy (all very busy people!)

Common sense of purpose and caring

  • The larger purpose always back of mind
  • Not just putting in work
  • Focusing on needs of learners is more than a cliche

Thinking about education and learning as a community project - grassroots/ecosystem Catalyst for institutional transformation

  • Gets faculty and staff working hands-on with OER and open educational practices
  • E.g. Working with TRU online M.Ed program to incorporate OERu open educational practices course as Special Studies course
  • Can maintain early comfort level within an open yet known environment
  • Flushes out issues that need to be resolved
  • Policy can emerge from collaborative problem solving rather than by fiat
  • Low-risk - high potential engagement
  • Go to Bali and meet really cool people!