This course simulates the OERu open design and development approach. The OERu approach draws on the open source principle of release early, release often. The idea is to break down the design process into incremental steps, which are executed transparently rather than producing a comprehensive design specification behind closed doors. Early and frequent releases of key steps in the design process will facilitate feedback loops and opportunities for peer review among course designers, developers, prospective learners and OERu partner institutions. The open development model aims to maximise future reuse and remix. Encouraging inputs during the initial design phases can highlight potential reuse contexts which can be used to inform the structure and format of learning resources to reduce the remix effort required for future reuse scenarios. In addition, open development of the course outcomes enables partner institutions who may wish to offer assessment services for formal academic credit to initiate local approval processes ahead of the course development schedule, as well as potentially influence the development of the course for the benefit of all.

The learning challenges in this course are designed to replicate the key milestones in the life cycle of an OER course. The figure below depicts the actions, decisions and key milestones associated with the OERu course design and development process. As an open process, these activities and milestones do not always follow a linear sequence. The open planning documentation is a living document which the OERu maintains in an open wiki. As the development of a course matures and more information comes to light, it is a simple process to update earlier drafts of the design documents.

OERu course design, development and delivery workflow indicating key milestones.

The OERu course design and development process

The OERu workflow is divided into five distinct phases:

  1. Select
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Deliver
  5. Revise

Open selection of courses

The first action is the call for nominations followed by a collaborative selection decision.

Call for course nominations

From time to time, the OER Foundation places an open call for course nominations. These are submitted online and displayed publicly in the wiki which enables the open community to see what courses are being nominated (see for example the 2014 call for nominations). The nomination process is intended to be a low-threshold activity and simply lists the course name, level of the course, the corresponding credential and whether the course will be structured into micro-courses. The OERu promotes the principles of open self-organisation but may publish guidelines and requests for submissions in areas of study or levels of study to fill gaps in the emerging programme of study.

Selection decision

Where a collective decision is required to select courses for development from a list of nominations, the criteria are normally determined through open discussion in the wiki (see 2012 example) and the community will be invited to participate in an open poll (see 2012 example). Drawing on the feedback from the community a straw dog decision will be proposed leading to the rough consensus decision of the group (see 2012 example).

For the purposes of this course, we will not simulate the course nomination and selection process. OERu partners joining this course can work on their institutional course nomination(s) and other participants joining our open course may choose any course or subject area for their associated learning challenges.

Open design

The table below provides a summary of the key milestones in the course design and development process. Each design milestone is preceded and followed by discussion and feedback from the community with comments and decisions posted in the wiki as a public record. As the discussions progress, the design documentation becomes more detailed. These resources become living documents as the designs are refined and improved. The wiki provides a detailed edit history of the changes over time.

Milestone Overview
Course description Concise description to assist a prospective learner with their decision to participate in the course. The course description covers the following questions:

  • What is the course about?
  • What will I learn?
  • What’s involved?
  • What prerequisites should I have, if any?
  • How long does the course take to complete, ideally?
  • What credit options are available?
Design Blueprint High level overview of the course and pedagogical approach including:

  • Intended target audience
  • OER integration approach, for example:
    • wrap-around design: building a course around an open textbook
    • repurpose another open course
    • build from scratch integrating a variety of existing OER assets (readings, images, video, etc.)
  • Overall course aims and outcomes
  • Overview of the delivery model
  • Summary of the assessment model
  • Summary of the interaction strategies, including:
    • Student-content interactions
    • Student-student interactions
    • Student-support interactions
  • Suggestions for the types of tools that students may need to use
  • Procedures for students who will be studying for formal academic credit, including for example, approaches to validate student identity.
Course outline The development of the course outline commences with conducting an inventory of existing OERs and open access materials which can be reused for the course. This informs the development of a detailed outline of the topics and sub-sections to be covered including:

  • Learning outcomes for each learning pathway
  • Plan for substantive elearning activities
  • Assignment outline

Developers should keep referring back to the blueprint as early course sections are released to maintain the connection between the blueprint and the content.

Open development

In the OERu model, course designers and developers are encouraged to develop the materials openly in the wiki from the very first draft. This enables anyone in the world to offer assistance with the development. For example, open wiki development is particularly useful when a course author is grappling with wiki mark up for an advanced feature because someone with advanced wiki skills can collaborate directly on the page to demonstrate the feature or correct a syntax error.

It is helpful at this early stage for the developer(s) to assemble an initial team of with an array of expertise in the areas of:

  • expert knowledge of the subject matter/field
  • learning design
  • technical production, such as wiki markup
  • editing
  • graphics and images
  • licensing, such as Creative Commons

Some participants may have several or even all these skills but it’s best to collaborate and share the workload. The other key part is to meet (virtually) early on with the team to develop and commit to standard communication protocols (e.g. use the wiki for meeting notes, make comments directly on talk pages, avoid siloing information in emails).

Once a representative sample of the materials has been completed, the developers can post public request for peer review. Review comments and discussions are normally posted on the corresponding talk page in the wiki which serves as a check list for implementing suggested changes before “publishing” the live course.

Open delivery

The key milestone for this phase is the “go live” version of the online course. Using a wiki model, it is possible to make minor changes during the course. We encourage course developers to incorporate an online course evaluation to provide feedback for improvements and revisions.

The OERu encourages partners to offer a pilot version for a small number of students before recruiting large course cohorts. This provides a valuable opportunity for authentic feedback during the prototype version.

Open revision

True to the OERu’s practice of being distinctively open, evaluation data is openly licensed and shared publicly. This facilitates shared learning across the network and collaboration and peer review associated with the implementation of course revisions for future offerings.