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OERu's delivery model for changing times: An open source NGDLE
Lane, Dave C. and Goode, Claire

PublishedNovember 2019
ConferenceICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2019
CountryIreland, Europe

The OERu (Open Education Resources universitas) is an international consortium of 30 publicly funded institutions, which, with the OER Foundation, form a network across the world. OERu presently offers first-year post-secondary courses assembled from OER as micro-courses with pathways to gain stackable micro-credentials towards academic credit for university qualifications.

OERu, adhering to “open” principles, has created an open source "Next Generation Digital Learning Environment" (NGDLE) to meet the needs of learners, consortium partners, and OERu collaborators. The NGDLE is an example of a global computing infrastructure created to reach learners wherever they are. It is a distributed, loosely coupled component model, consisting entirely of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). All OERu services are hosted on this fully open source technology infrastructure.

This approach has significant advantages and, if emulated by OERu partners and other academic institutions, could both enhance the digital services used in education and substantially reduce costs for their institutions. The NGDLE can also increase the autonomy and resilience of technical solutions, while providing unprecedented technology-related learning opportunities and agency for learners and educators alike.

This paper describes the technology infrastructure and explains some of its advantages, while noting the challenges it presents. We will offer a functionality, scalability, and cost profile of our implementation, currently capable of supporting many thousands of learners, on an IT infrastructure budget of less than $10,000 per year.

Beyond the cost benefits and technical efficiency of the OERu NGDLE, we review some pedagogical opportunities it presents and the solutions we have implemented in response.

The OERu philosophy embraces ‘learning on the Internet’, rather than learning via any particular platform. In this way, learners have more control of their course artefacts, rather than them being locked into an institutional system, or losing access when the course is completed.

Alongside benefits for the learners, educators developing OERu micro courses build new skills in collaborative wiki editing and writing for the web, using open source tools, finding openly licensed content, and adopting pedagogies embodying ‘free-range learning’. Writers are pushed to consider the audience more than ever before, knowing that OERu learners are spread across six global regions: content needs to appeal to, and be clear to a global audience, many of whom are not native English speakers.

The OERu international network also demonstrates its potential by collaborating on content writing, assessment moderation, and idea generation, to ensure a meaningful experience for OERu learners.

Keywords open source · learning environment · OER · equity · ICT

Published atDublin
RightsCC BY-SA
Export optionsBibTex · EndNote · Tagged XML · Google Scholar

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