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Open Education: does it change everything?: Institutions that offer “OERx” services will be better off than those that don't -- 260 -- Symposium

13:40 - 14:40 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in Main Theatre

Symposium: Institutions that offer “OERx” services will be better off than those that don't (where OERx refers to institutions releasing OERs and providing services around them, such as open course delivery and/or assessment and accreditation)

The open education movement has seen rapid development in the last three years. Creative Commons-licensed resources now cover every discipline and almost every UK HEI has contributed something to this global collection.

The availability of so much free to re-use academic content is facilitating new modes of operation. OERs are being used as the basis for value-added services such as open course delivery, assessment, and certification/ “badging”, and in some cases, full accreditation. Examples include edX (a collaborative initiative by MIT and Harvard), the OER university (a consortium of 15 HEIs globally), Udacity (a free, private online university set up in the wake of the spectacular success of the Stanford University MOOC on Artificial Intelligence) and Coursera (an independent online provider, hosting courses from prestigious universities such as Princeton, Stanford and Berkeley).

The title of this symposium is drawn from the MITx phenomenon, where the “x” has come to stand for support, assessment and certification/ accreditation services provided to informal, non-fee-paying learners who are learning from OERs.

Ideas to be explored

Will established universities see their existing “market” eroded by cut-price accreditation-only competition, or does open education create an opportunity for them to extend their relevance and impact to embrace a much wider community of learners? Will “OERx” initiatives offer quality learning experiences and the outcomes they promise to learners, on the massive scale anticipated?

Structure of session

The session will start with some scene-setting by the chair and a preliminary audience vote on the motion (10 mins). Following a debate in which one presenter argues for the motion and the other argues against it (10 mins) the speakers will be questioned by the chair and the audience (20 mins). The speakers will then each be invited to make final comments (10 minutes). The session will end with a re-vote by the audience, and closing comments from the chair (10 mins).

During the session, the audience will also be polled on key questions such as “Will accreditation of OER-supported informal learning become a significant activity for HEIs within the next 5 years?”

Participants will gain an overview of the key issues that characterise discussions currently taking place within and between institutions that are actively engaging in, considering engaging in, or deliberately not engaging in, “OERx” type initiatives. The debate touches on important issues for the sustainability of HE institutions at this time of increased economic uncertainty, which ironically intersects with a time of unprecedented technological affordances for the sector.