OERu’s Delivery Model for Changing Times: An Open Source NGDLE
The OER Foundation is part of the OERu (Open Education Resources universitas), an international consortium of 30 publicly funded institutions and organisations forming a global higher education network. OERu offers first-year post-secondary courses assembled from OER as micro-courses.
The OERu adheres to “open” principles, and has pioneered a ‘Next Generation Digital Learning Environment’ (NGDLE) to reach learners wherever they are in the world. It is a distributed, loosely-coupled component model, consisting entirely of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).
This NGDLE can both enhance the digital services used in education and substantially reduce costs for institutions who adopt all or part of it. The FOSS approach to building a NGDLE also increases autonomy, agency, and resilience, while providing unprecedented technology- related learning opportunities. Alongside benefits for 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’.
We will describe the technology infrastructure, including our costs, and explain some of our NGDLE’s advantages, while noting its challenges. We review pedagogical opportunities it presents and the solutions we have implemented in response.
Dave Lane is the Open Source Technologist for the OER Foundation. He got this, his dream role, after stints as a research scientist, a role which brought him to NZ from the US in the mid ’90s, and running his own software development firm, which was acquired in ’12. Dave is a champion of “open”, having built his career on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) principles. He gets tremendous satisfaction from building and maintaining FOSS infrastructure that helps people around the globe reach their educational potentials, something never possible prior to a widely accessible Internet, FOSS, and powerful, low-cost mobile computing devices.
Claire Goode is a member of Otago Polytechnic’s ‘Learning and Teaching Development’ team. Her career has spanned 22 years in a variety of education contexts in New Zealand, France, and the UK. She enjoys seeing how educational technology can enhance learning and teaching opportunities, and is particularly interested in teacher development. As part of her role at Otago Polytechnic, she is seconded to work on projects with the OERu, and has been enjoying developing the network’s micro-courses, learning more about open principles, and being part of the wider OERu network.
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Claire Goode and Dave C. Lane