Open Course Frameworks: Lowering the Barriers to OER Adoption

I’ve been fairly quiet recently about Lumen Learning, the “RedHat for OER” I founded earlier this year with Kim Thanos. Lumen (for short) is where I’m spending my Shuttleworth Fellowship time, with the goal of drastically increasing the use of OER in formal educational settings in order to lower the cost and improve the quality of education.

Today Lumen released its first six Open Course Frameworks. Open Course Frameworks are an idea I am very excited about, because they greatly simplify the process of adopting OER for the average teacher or institution. Open Course Frameworks are:

  • curated collections of OER,
  • mapped to learning outcomes,
  • openly licensed with detailed attribution,
  • organized in a way that looks and feels like an online course,
  • published on open source platforms, and
  • compatible with Lumen’s ImprovOER continuous quality improvement service (which we are publicly showing for the first time at InstructureCon in a few weeks).

In keeping with Lumen’s focus on supporting the most at-risk students, our first set of Open Course Frameworks is a developmental education sequence, comprised of:

The first four courses are published in the open source Canvas platform by Instructure. The math courses are available in the open source MyOpenMath platform. Both platforms make it easy for you to make your own copy of a course that you can extensively customize (or not) and then teach for free. And of course, because the courses are openly licensed you can pull the materials out and teach them elsewhere, too.

Recent surveys have shown that faculty and administration believe that open educational resources can save students money and potentially improve student success. But the same surveys show that the biggest barriers to OER adoption are the time and effort it takes faculty to find resources, vet them for quality, and align them with course outcomes. OCFs solve these problems.

Lumen is adamant that these Open Course Frameworks are now and always will be freely available. We do not – and will not ever – charge for access to these materials. Lumen acts as stewards over the OCFs as a service to the education community, in much the same way an open source software project works. In fact, the OCFs we published today were developed collaboratively with faculty members from the nine different institutions participating in the Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. We will be releasing updated versions of the OCFs over time as additional faculty use and help improve them. And these six are just the beginning – we will release 25 more OCFs over the coming year, with the next five coming in July.

I’d love your feedback on this idea and your help spreading the word….

4 thoughts on “Open Course Frameworks: Lowering the Barriers to OER Adoption”

  1. Will the framework for creating these frameworks also be open and available for others to use?

  2. I feel like I’m missing something – how do I create a copy of these courses or export them to another system. I logged in with the credentials provided on the front page of the courses but it wasn’t obvious to me how I’d do this. I also got a Canvas account but wasn’t clear how that gave me access to do anything on these framework courses. Sorry, am probably being dense (and I’m not really familiar with Canvas)

  3. “…the same surveys show that the biggest barriers to OER adoption are the time and effort it takes faculty to find resources, vet them for quality, and align them with course outcomes. OCFs solve these problems.”

    Perhaps this is one solution, but could another barrier be a lack of an educational culture of risk-taking (daring), sharing successes and challenges, and caring for the success of others? It’s my (idealistic) belief that sustainable OER adoption must first be rooted in such a culture. However, from a pragmatic point of view, maybe the best way to grow such a culture (or change organizational mindframes) is the pursuit of adopting OERs across educational systems (e.g., OCFs) led by a few change agents who exemplify daring, sharing, and caring behavior.

    As long as we get there…

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