The Open Education Global Conference 2015 (OEGlobal) was hosted by OERu partner, Athabasca University in beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada from 22-24 April, 2015. A number of OERu projects were featured on the conference agenda in addition to the meeting of the UNESCO OER Chairs.

UNESCO-COL Chair LogoThe OEGlobal conference was preceded by a full day meeting of the UNESCO OER Chairs on 20 April 2015 called by Abel Caine, who coordinates the UNESCO OER Programme.  The five OER Chairs including Fred Mulder (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands), Rory McGreal (Athabasca University, Canada and Chairperson for the meeting), Wayne Mackintosh (Otago Polytechnic and OER Foundation, New Zealand), Tel Amiel (Unicamp, Brazil) and Mitja Jermol (Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia) were joined by Jane-Frances Agbu (National Open University of Nigeria) and Sana Harbi (Université de Sousse, Tunisia) to discuss progress on the shared programme of action and opportunities for future collaboration of the OER chair network.

The implementation of the OERu is the designated project of the New Zealand UNESCO OER Chair. The OERu will collaborate with the UNESCO OER Chair network to expand learning opportunities for educators in building capability in open education approaches through the OERu series of free micro Open Online Courses (mOOCs) offered for optional formal credit at Otago Polytechnic including, for example, the Open Content Licensing for Educators and Digital Skills for Collaborative OER Development courses developed with funding support from the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO respectively. The OERu will actively pursue the widening of formal accreditation options for these courses at OERu partner institutions. This action plan is well aligned with the Paris OER Declaration to “support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials”. 

Marc Singer, Vice Provost, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College, and David Porter, member of the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation, applied an activity theory framework to explore the complexities of transnationally accredited courses within the OERu partner network (download a copy of paper).  This research project reported on the process of adopting, adapting, developing assessments and creation of credit-bearing pathways for the Critical Reasoning course submitted by the University of South Africa (Unisa) as their OERu course contribution.

The project has confirmed strong synergies and alignment with the driving vision of the OERu to provide sustainable, low-cost pathways to formal academic credit using OER. Aligned with the activity theory framework, this research project has succeeded in identifying key “contradictions” which will help the network to prioritise activities for refining and improving processes and systems to achieve the collective goals of the OERu. A key recommendation of the study is to build on the unique strengths of each member with reference to building the ecosystem as it expands the development of entire programs of study.

Mike Keppell from the Swinburne University of Technology facilitated an action lab on design options for open learning with formal credentialing developed in collaboration with Xiang Ren from the Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland (presentation available on slideshare).  The action lab focused on the input evaluation component of the CIPP (Context, Input, Process and Product) model being used to inform the implementation of the OERu. The input evaluation focusses on design decisions associated with the resources, tools and methods available for achieving OERu goals across institutional settings. The action lab provided an opportunity for participants to explore the issues and complexities associated with the design of formal credentialing models for OER learning, but more importantly to provide feedback for the implementation of the OERu’s input evaluation.


New leaf by hot-sun from Pixabay

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