I went to a meeting in DC. It’s always fun to go to the city, just being in Washington makes me feel like I’m doing important work! Richard Bland College is part of a team of schools engaged with the Saylor Foundation, whose mission is to enable a fast-track, on-demand education that is flexible and convenient. They offer tuition-free courses, created by credentialed educators, through partnerships with colleges, universities, and businesses. It’s a great hybrid solution in an increasingly complicated and crowded market.
One of the best things about Saylor for RBC is the clearly defined outcomes of each course and each module within a course. (That and the free textbooks they use!) Outcomes help my team of instructional designers identify supporting digital assets for differentiated learning (wikis, blogs, websites, apps, games, etc.) And, as Richard Bland College grows, content like Saylor’s can fast-track our evolution.
After we sat around the table and identified some of the strengths of OER and unpacked the ways we were using them (there were a variety of schools at the table), we dug in a bit and tried to look at the landscape ahead of us. What are the pitfalls of OER, what’s working well, and where is there room for opportunity (needs not yet met)? What do we need to assure quality? How can we manage the courses in a way that keeps them current? What types of tools will enable seamless integration into (a variety of) Learning Management Systems? Can we tag the content so it can easily be rebundled? Can we create forums like reddit that can crowdsource voting, pushing the best solutions to the top?
Speaking of crowdsourcing – can we create large test, quiz, game banks that can be randomized? We had a brief side discussion – if a student is smart enough to figure out how to access the test bank, even though they cheated, would they deserve some kind of special “smart badge”? Great questions but exponential amounts of work. Can we crowdsource the work? Are there opportunities for internships – students in teaching programs vet the course content and find fresh layers to keep it evolving; CS students or coders help tag subjects and assets for sorting and re-bundling; Gamers develop tools to randomize test and quizzes and turn content into adaptive learning modules.
If masters of content build the initial courses, can apprentices flesh out the future? It worked very well for Peter Paul Rubens, who died a wealthy man, left incredible masterpieces in his wake for the pleasure of millions, and employed a factory of workers to pull it off. It does indeed take a village, but just think of the possibilities.