Open SUNY: A thoughtful integration of OER in systemwide digital strategy

Open Educational Resource (OER) efforts like OpenCourseWare sites are tremendously valuable intellectual philanthropy efforts, and probably worth doing for that reason alone.  But we recognize that most of these efforts come out of the larger context of university communities, and must also play a role in furthering the efforts of those communities to serve their existing students.

We’re always pleased to see efforts to thoughtfully integrate OER into the digital learning strategies of universities or—in the case of Open SUNY—university systems.  The just-released final proposal for Open SUNY shares SUNY’s thinking on the role of OER in a wider digital learning strategy. From the proposal:

A key dimension of the current global open education movement is the development and sharing of open educational resources and courseware.

SUNY, with its combined academic expertise, and its potential, through Open SUNY, to build on existing repositories of digital artifacts, can make vast amounts of high quality, credible material available to faculty and learners, and also become a world leader in creating new resources.

Various campuses are already engaged with national and global initiatives related to OERs, and the SUNY Digital Repository (developed by the SUNY Connects library consortium) is an example of a system wide approach. These can form the nucleus of Open SUNY Resources, which can also link with the major OER networks around the world such as: Open Learn, OCW, OERu, and Connexions.

Taking a cue from MITx, wherein the many open MIT materials can now be used with learner support to receive some level of certification, Open SUNY could develop rich digital materials, and link with a network of tutors who could help those who need some remediation before starting their college studies and it might also provide the plugs for pipeline “leaks.”

Members of the MIT OpenCourseWare staff have had the opportunity over the years to speak with members of the SUNY community about OER, and it’s great to see that substantive discussions have clearly been going on internally as well.  We wish them well in moving the proposal forward.

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