The OER university: from vision to reality


Gabi Witthaus, University of Leicester and SCORE, The Open University, UK

Conference Theme: Collaboration

Summary: Diverse array of models and options under consideration for implementation of OERu: findings from a SCORE fellowship study

Abstract: This presentation is based on research being carried out under the auspices of the SCORE programme with the Open University and the University of Leicester. The research project, TOUCANS (Testing the OER University Concept and Aspirations: a National Study), investigates the OER university concept and its possible future implementation within the UK Higher Education sector. The unique contribution of the OERu is its potential ability to offer low-cost accreditation by institutions on a global scale acting in partnership and employing a diverse range of implementation approaches and business models. In the first phase of the research (Nov 2011 to Feb 2012), information is being gathered from the thirteen OERTen institutions, which have signed up to pilot the OERu concept from September 2012. The aim of this phase of the study is to identify the models, frameworks and options that are being considered by these institutions for implementation of the OERu, and to make this information available in the public domain for other institutions that are interested in the OERu concept. Findings are being organised under four broad headings - curriculum, assessment, accreditation and student support, as follows:

Curriculum: Decisions need to be made around whether to convert existing teaching materials into OERs, whether to use OERs already released by their own academics, or whether to use OERs created elsewhere. These are linked to decisions around the creation of learning pathways that culminate in qualifications for learners. (See accreditation below.) Assessment: some institutions might offer OERu students PLAR (prior learning assessment and recognition) in combination with “challenge exams” (taking an exam without having enrolled in the course). Certain subjects (e.g. nursing) will require practical assessment, and partnerships will need to be set up with local professional agencies to that end. Accreditation: some institutions will use existing frameworks for recognising credits from other institutions in the network; others may need to develop or enhance their accreditation frameworks to facilitate credit transfer (e.g. CoL and SAQA, 2008; others may wish to keep the credit transfer requirements to a minimum. Student support: some institutions might take a “hands-off” approach to student support; others might be more proactive about offering support or monitoring the support provided by third parties. The presentation will share the findings of the research in relation to the four areas outlined above, and will conclude with the key points emerging from the research regarding OERten members’ perceptions of the viability and credibility of the OERu, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Slide contents

  • The OER university: from vision to reality
  • TOUCANS: Testing the OERu Concept
  • How do you teach 100 million people?
  • OERu Anchor Partners
  • What is the OERu?
  • Local assessment and credentialling (1)
  • Local assessment and credentialling (2)
  • Local assessment and credentialling (3)
  • Cost to learner:
  • Curriculum?
  • OERu Curriculum Sources
  • Assessment?
  • Assessment
  • Accreditation and credit transfer?
  • Accreditation and credit transfer
  • But will it work for the learners?
  • Volunteers to the rescue?
  • OERu learner support
  • What’s the business model?
  • What’s the business model
  • WHY?
  • Why join the OERu?
  • Many thanks to the following people for their generous sharing of information:
  • OERu learner support
  • OERu Anchor Partners
  • Please continue the conversation on the blog…