One Small Step for Athabasca

I participated in an interesting meeting of the Athabasca University Academic Council (our senate equivalent) this morning and the most contentious item concerned our option for ‘challenge for credit” alternative, that is offered in most of our undergraduate programs.
By way of background, Athabasca undergrad programs are offered as continuous enrollment and mostly self study programs that follow the old correspondence model. We offer support from an individual tutor, a study guide (that roughly serves as an interpretation of the study materials), a FEW interactive options (little used) via Moodle and a course pack that typically consists of a reading package and a text or two.  Students are given 6 months (can be extended with $$$ to a year), as much access (phone and email) as they want to an assigned  tutor, tutor marked assignments and an invigilated exam. We have recently been offering ‘optional’ networking and support via our elgg based social networking system (the Athabasca Landing) but the take up by tutors, faculty and students has (to date) been modest.
Credit for challenge (as opposed to seat time or completion of course activities), is an old idea first institutionalized by the University of London in the 19th century. Continue reading

Quality of Open Educational Resources

Tony Bates opened the preverbial can of worms, when he dared to talk about the good, bad and ugly of OER’s in a recent post. We’ve found trying to orchestrate debates on this topic, that anyone willing to say anything against OERs must either be employed by a commercial publisher or someone who hates both Motherhood and orphaned fawns.  But Tony took a good crack at it, and my colleague Rory McGreal couldn’t help responding.  I mostly agree with Rory’s points, probably because as the new UNESCO chair in Open Educational Resources, he has been preaching that gospel at me for a long time. But I wanted to add a few comments of my own. Continue reading