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Open education

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There are many different 'flavours' or interpretations of what openness means in education. This free course, Open education, is an example of a massive open online course (MOOC) and spans seven weeks. Like all the free materials on OpenLearn, this course is open to the wider world but, uniquely, it also forms part of the module for students who are studying the Open University course H817, 'Openness and innovation in elearning'.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 60 hours
  • Updated Monday 23rd November 2015
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Education
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3.4 Sustainability

One of the issues that is often raised for OER projects is that of sustainability. Many OER projects have received funding from bodies such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Producing OER and maintaining large projects with associated staff is not a zero cost activity, and so questions arise about maintaining such projects when the original funding ends. This is what sustainability refers to in OER terms.

In a report for OECD in 2007, David Wiley defined sustainability as ‘an open educational resource project’s ongoing ability to meet its goals’ (p. 5). Wiley proposed three models of sustainability, which he labelled:

  • the MIT model
  • the USU model
  • the Rice model.

Activity 10: Applying sustainability models

Timing: 3 hours
  • Read Wiley (2007), On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education.
  • Then look at the following open education initiatives, and for each one determine which of Wiley’s three models of sustainability you think they are operating:
  • Consider the following:
    1. Was the sustainability model for each OER initiative apparent?
    2. Did Wiley’s models cover all approaches or did you think a different model was operating for one or more of them?
  • You can share these reflections in either the forum or in your blog.

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