As the first U.S. anchor partner with OER university, SUNY Empire State College, the open university of New York, is challenging traditional assumptions about the development and use of online content. This presentation explores the emergence of open learning through global OERs and the potential for designing education for everyone.
According to the definition of OER university via WikiEducator: "The OER university is a virtual collaboration of like-minded institutions committed to creating flexible pathways for OER learners to gain formal academic credit.." The international anchor partners currently include: Athabasca University, OER Foundation, Otago Polytechnic, University of Southern Queensland, and the first U.S. anchor partner, SUNY Empire State College. This is an important initiative for the partner institutions interested in expanding open and online learning in a world landscape that is faced with global education challenges. OERu provides a framework for colleges and universities to share content and innovative approaches to learning that are easily accessible and recognized as credible. According to WikiEducator: "The OER university aims to provide free learning to all students worldwide using OER learning materials with pathways to gain credible qualifications from recognised education institutions." This is an ambitious set of goals that aims to fully harness the collaborative resources we now have access to through social technologies, wiki environments and OERs. It also offers much potential for service learning, experiential learning, and a possible reinvention of prior learning assessment. At the same time, the ongoing emergence of open learning formats such as open publishing, collaborative wiki environments such as WikiEducator and OERs challenge some of our basic assumptions about content as something that is individually produced and reviewed by academic peers for academic journals and text books. In addition, course content is viewed as something sacred in academic environments and within the primary domain of faculty. How do we broaden this perspective in collaborative open learning environments? How do we provide incentives for faculty to partner with others and share content in OERs? What are the roles of instructional designers and learners in these open contexts? As open learning continues to emerge as a way to advance global education, how do we effectively collaborate and share in open participatory environments? How does content become less of a fixed object locked behind firewalls, expensive library journals, and learning management systems, and more of a means for negotiation, interactivity, dialogue, and learning? Further, how does the wiki platform move forward as an open space for education when most traditional academic environments discourage the use of the most well known wiki environment Wikipedia? We will explore these many questions in dialogue with the audience and describe the goals and objectives of one institution in particular, SUNY Empire State College as we develop open learning and partner with OERu to reimagine our relationship to content to further advance the learning environment of our students. We will discuss our approach to incorporating WikiEducator as a shared space for content development and interaction, and outline our plans for our participation in OERu. This presentation will be of interest to faculty, curriculum and instructional designers, and administrators interested in open and online learning. This interactive discussion will be useful for colleges and universities currently considering open learning initiatives and the intersections between open and online learning.
Assistant to the Provost at SUNY Empire State College. In addition to her responsibilities for the Office of Academic Affairs, Jill is a virtual mentor and instructor for Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning. She presents on the topic of virtual mentoring and virtual communities of practice. She is currently studying for her PhD in Adult Learning at Lesley University. Her research is focused on virtual mentoring environments.