OERu as Game Changer

The Open Education Resource University: a game changer?

One development that could inject new life into the dual-mode model is the Open Education Resource (OER) University that is being explored by a group of public universities from several countries. Open Educational Resources may prove to be the most disruptive element of the impact of eLearning in higher education. How might they help to widen access, cut costs and give dual-mode provision new relevance?

Some institutions are already encouraging the use of OER to avoid each teacher having to re-invent the wheel for each course. For example, once academics at the Asia eUniversity have developed course curricula they do not create any original learning materials, but simply adapt good quality OER from the web to their needs. Similarly, Athabasca University will only approve development of a course once those proposing it have done a thorough search for relevant open material that can be re-purposed.

Some would go much further. In February 2011 New Zealand’s Open Education Resource Foundation convened a meeting to operationalize the concept of the Open Educational Resource University. The idea is that students find their own content as OER; get tutoring from a global network of volunteers; are assessed, for a fee, by a participating institution; and earn a credible credential. The concept has echoes of the University of London External System that innovated radically 150 years ago by declaring that all that mattered was performance in examinations, not how students acquired their knowledge.

Excerpted from Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning’s article  in Open Learning, the journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning: special Issue on dual mode universities (Volume 27 2012, Issue 1 2012)

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