Snapshots on the OER university network
While media reports give the impression that open courseware from the likes of MIT and Stanford is revolutionary, open education is not new for UOW.
In the 1990s, before the internet was around, UOW was broadcasting free postgraduate lectures and documentaries three hours a day on Australian television and satellite to the Asia Pacific, under the banner of PAGE.
So what is happening on the Open Educational Resources (OER) front today?
More than 60 people attending an eLearning Forum on Open UOW held on 28 August (including staff through videoconference from Nowra and Bega) were provided the latest update. Guest speaker was Professor Wayne Macintosh who is the founding director of the OER Foundation and holds the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic. [The OER Foundation is co-ordinating the OERuni international network].
UOW’s Executive Director of Learning and Teaching, Professor Sandra Wills, told participants that the differences between the PAGE days and what’s being addressed at the forum was the international reach of the internet and applying open access to undergraduate level.
“This means that Open UOW is social inclusion strategy, providing potential students with a taster of university level study, raising aspirations for a university education,” she said.
Professor Mackintosh said UOW as a leading research university was returning to the core values of the academy and he was inspired by how the University plans to use open education to foster its agenda for social inclusion.
In his presentation to the forum he explored examples of how legacy understandings of intellectual property are inappropriate in the digital age.
“This is a unique opportunity for the University to protect its intellectual property by using Creative Commons in furthering the education and research mission of the University.”
The OERuni is an international innovation partnership which aims to build a parallel learning universe to provide more affordable learning opportunities for all students worldwide who are currently excluded from the university sector. UOW is a founding anchor partner of OERuni.
The forum also presented snapshot case studies from UOW staff already teaching in the open including Associate Professor Anne Porter, Dr Glenn Mitchell, Sarah Lambert and Dr Caz Sandison.
Follow up meetings will explore ideas with other UOW staff who are keen to integrate open educational practices at the University.