Thursday, October 2, 2008

Open air, sun and OER

It has been a few days since my last posting, but I have been preoccupied with sun , sand and surf at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Not to mention a run and cycle everyday, and two novels under my belt. How do you get paid for this ....... ALL the time!

I mentioned last post that I would write a little more about Otago Polytechnic's Open Education Resource initiative. Well on the way to implementation is the " International Centre for Open Education "- due to "go live" officially in May 2009, although lot's will be happening between now and then. First of all we have to form a charitable entity to house this new not -for -profit Centre, because we will be relying on grants and member fees to ensure the financial sustainability of the venture. We already have approx $70k pa pledged for the first 3 years, so there are certainly people out there who believe this is a timely initiative.

What will the new Centre set out to achieve? We hope that the Centre will be a true catalyst for mainstreaming institutional involvement in the OER movement, which we believe has much to offer the institutions which participate, their staff and our communities. The Centre will:
-provide advice and support to educational practitioners, policy makers, decision makers and institutions to implement OER
-facilitate research, dissemination and sharing of knowledge and experiences regarding the sustainable implementation of OER
-provide financial assistance for collaborative projects working on the design, development and delivery of education materials
-initiate activities that build capacity amongst educators in the design, development and use of open education resources.
I am confident that this initiative will provide real leadership both in New Zealand and internationally for collaborative educational activities. There is so much scope for reduced costs for institutions and reduced workloads for staff if we are willing to give away some of the " noone does it better than us" attitude and to share our expertise. And one of the services that the new Centre will offer is a guarantee of quality assurance around the projects sponsored by the Centre.
One of the things tertiary institutions will have to take on board is that if we embrace OER we have to develop new business models - and especially so if our owners continue to underfund us. I must admit that it took me some effort to get into the headspace that giving things away might be good for business, and not just good for learners. And this comes from someone who has spent over 4 years trying to establish a long term financial sustainability for Otago Polytechnic - a sustainability that does not destroy the essence of who we are. But that is another story!
Well, gotta go and take on some more relaxation.
ps Someone asked in an earlier comment why we were establishing an international centre? My response - why not! It is just as easy to collaborate internationally as it is to do so within an institution. But that does not mean we will not be doing our utmost to encourage OP staff to see the benefits that OER can bring for them. Watch this space! On the other hand, OER will have its application internationally, and an international focus will help with funding - we hope!

6 comments:

David McQuillan said...

Sounds good Phil.

Does it have a web-presence yet?

Sarah Stewart said...

Looking forward to watching this develop.

Meanwhile, any suggestions for how we can work with colleagues who are very wary and resistant to OER at OP?

DaveB said...

There's some wild rumors going around Phil. Can you tell us how much of that 70K is directly from OP? (possibly this isn't the forum for that - the "can you" part is deliberate, maybe you can't for commercial reasons)

Can you also shed some light on the rumor that OP will begin hosting WikiEducator sometime soon.

phil said...

Finally dragged myself away from the pool to check my emails, and this blog. I thought the NZ internet infrastructure was poor, but here on the Gold Coast it is worse - my wireless internet does not work at all, and so far it has worked well in the US, Canada and Europe. And to think Queensland has been touting itself as the "smart" state!!!!
To answer the queries on the OER Centre:
- no web presence yet, but there will be soon
- the $70k does not include anything from OP yet, although we will be a subscriber, along with everyone else. The goal is to have the Centre self funding before we start operating, and so far the signs of that happening are good.
As for getting OP staff on board, my thoughts are that we first of all educate all of our managers, and that will include demonstrating the benefits from not reinventing wheels. We then need to showcase what OP early adopters are doing, and our staff development days timetabled for early next year will be a good forum for that to happen. We could also do a special showcase or two!
Finally, yes, the rumour is true re WikiEducator - it is intended to be part of the new Centre

DaveB said...

That's a nice start to funding at such an early stage. Way cool, and well done!!

If possible - I'd be interested in seeing the plan for the technical implementation of the hosting of Wikieducator - purely as an interested spectator to see how a major site is really put together -high availability, redundancy etc etc (I teach network topics).

I guess ISS are handling that, I should wander over and see if I can take a peek when things get underway.

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