Are you an academic institution interested in becoming an OERu partner? Understandably, you’d like to be fully informed before joining us. Below, are the most common questions asked by prospective partner organisations. Our answers should help your institution take the first step on its philanthropic journey.
Why do institutions join the OERu innovation partnership?
Based on our research, the top three reasons why organisations join the OERu network are:
to participate in an international network of “like-minded” institutions
to participate in the philanthropic mission of widening access to more affordable education, especially for learners excluded from the formal higher education sector
to retain a competitive advantage as open education approaches become more mainstream.
What are the requirements for a university, college or polytechnic to become a contributing partner of the international OERu network?
We are serious about supporting learners excluded from the tertiary sector to achieve credible qualifications, and about helping education institutions achieve their strategic objectives using open education approaches. We welcome all institutions who are committed to creating a parallel learning universe that will augment and add value to their existing provision, while working towards social inclusion.
To join the OERu network, partners must:
be formally recognised institutions (sorry, no degree mill or diploma mill organisations allowed)
subscribe to the core principles of engagement for the OER university initiative
be a gold or platinum contributing member of the OER Foundation
agree to assemble two courses based solely on OER and open access materials linked to academic credit at their institution.
What are the core principles of engagement for OERu partners?
OERu partners are committed to crossing the chasm from early adopters of open content to mainstream organisational implementation in the formal education sector. All recognised institutions are welcome to join our international network and help us in moving from the notion of sharing to learn to learning to share. By joining the OERu network, institutions agree to the following rules of the game:
OERu courses will be based solely on OER and open access materials where to the greatest extent possible, will use Free Cultural Works approved licenses.
Free Cultural Works approved licenses will be required for all new resources developed for the OERu
In accordance with our commitment to open philanthropy, participating organisations should subscribe to the values and practices of open planning and transparent OERu decision-making. Participating teaching institutions will provide assessment services at reduced fees, compared to full course enrolment fees.
Participating teaching institutions will offer credit for their designated OERu courses that are aligned with approved programmes and/or national qualification frameworks and aim to maximise course articulation and credit transfer within the network.
Are OERu partners expected to adopt open policies for all courses?
No - OERu partners are not expected to implement open policies for all courses. Their philanthropic contribution is restricted to assembling two courses of their choice for the benefit of the network. Many partners leverage the benefits of open education by contributing more than the minimum number of courses, and a few of our partners already have open policies in support of open scholarship and open education.
What is the cost of membership?
OERu partners join the OER Foundation as contributing members. The OER Foundation is a values-based, philanthropic organisation committed to nurturing the development of sustainable OER ecosystems. OERu partner contributions constitute the main revenue stream for supporting the WikiEducator website, the OERu technology infrastructure for course development and online delivery of OERu courses.
OERu partners can join as:
Gold members - US$4000 net (US$5000 less U$1000 for 3-year multi-year discount). This is a premier package which includes professional OERu community support and marketing of your institution on the OERu websites. Gold members designate an individual or group to work 1 day per week on their institutional OERu projects (i.e. a designated 0.2 full-time-equivalent OER staff member). Gold membership will ensure the greatest return on your OER investment in building local capability for OER integration. Gold members participate as partners in the OERu and also hold voting rights for commissioned development of OER courses from surplus funds. Prospective partners can sign-up as 3-year partners to qualify for the 20% multi-year discount and fees are payable annually or lump sum if preferred.
Platinum members - greater than US$10,000. Platinum partners contribute more than $10,000 per year in addition to annual membership fees, for example, contributions towards shared positions at the OER Foundation.
What tasks are expected from OERu partners?
OERu partners are expected to:
participate in our transparent decision-making process, which is based on the principles of rough consensus and incremental implementation approaches
assist the network with the assembly of a minimum of two courses using existing OERs.
provide assessment services for their agreed courses contributions.
The OERu uses an open source technology infrastructure. As such, we invite partners with skills and interests in technology innovation to join us in building sustainable technology futures. At the same time, you will be able support your own organisation’s strategic objectives using open education approaches.
What is the estimated time commitment for OERu partners?
Most anchor partners join as gold members and contribute approximately a 0.2 full time equivalent staff member(s) to the project. The more time institutions invest, the greater their likely return will be. Open transparent systems function and prosper under the principles of meritocracy. The more individual institutions contribute, the greater their merit, seniority and influence in the international OER universe. This builds trust among prospective learners when they take decisions about their preferred anchor partner for assessment services.
Who awards academic credit for courses or papers offered through the OERu network?
The participating organisations, as accredited institutions in their local jurisdictions, award credit in accordance with their local policies. OERu partners retain decision-making autonomy over all aspects of assessment and optional credit transfer arrangements within the network. The OERu partners have approved guidelines for credit transfer and credit accumulation schemes.
Why does the OERu use the lowercase "u"?
The OERu is a network of recognised educational institutions. The OERu is not a formal teaching institution and does not confer degrees or qualifications. Instead, it works in partnership with recognised educational institutions who provide credit for OER learning on the pathway to gaining recognised qualifications from our partner institutes.
The OER universitas concept is derived from the original etymology of universitas magistrorum et scholarium, referring to a community of students. Based on the noun universus which means 'all turned into one', the OERu is an innovation partnership of like-minded institutions becoming one through OER. Our network of recognised institutions is committed to creating pathways for OER learners to gain more affordable academic credit through the formal education system.
What is the business model? How will partners fund their assessment services?
In short, the OER Foundation’s central infrastructure costs, for developing and hosting courses, are funded from institutional membership fees. Learners pay assessment fees to OERu partners to cover recurrent operational costs for credentialing services. As a non-profit organisation, any surplus revenue is invested back into charitable activities for the benefit of the network. For example, the commissioned development of new OERu courses.
OERu learning opportunities are provided for free utilising high quality OERs and volunteer student support services provided by ‘Academic Volunteers International’. Students pay for assessment and credential services, or national governments may provide grant support to OERu partners for these services. The business model is based on cost recovery for the assessment and credentialing services provided by the partners on a fee for service basis. OERu partners retain decision-making autonomy and the fees charged will vary for each institution. The OERu network does not determine the costing for these services.
Apart from supporting the ‘social good’ mission of educational institutions, the main benefit from an organisational perspective will be to have a significant presence in the OER space, with students likely to transfer into mainstream programs. The OERu network is also clearly associated with access, equity, affordability and sustainable education practice.
How are planning decisions made for the OERu?
Anyone can contribute to the decision-making process. We welcome all genuine contributions and collaborations for planning the realisation of the vision for free learning opportunities for all students worldwide. Decision-making is based on the principles of rough consensus aimed at reflecting the ‘sense’ of the anchor partners.
The OERu partners will have final authority on all decisions as these organisations are responsible for awarding academic credit and ensuring that OER learners can achieve credible qualifications. The OERu network has established a management committee comprising senior leaders appointed by participating institutions.