Athabasca University is joining 31 organizations worldwide in launching OERu, a unique new post-secondary opportunity for learners. Coordinated by the Open Education Resource Foundation, headquartered in New Zealand, the OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online university courses for students worldwide using Open Educational Resources (OER). The implementation of the OERu is a designated project of the UNESCO-Commonwealth of Learning OER Chair network.
The OERu will provide more affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognised institutions.
“The OERu makes affordable education accessible to everyone,” says Open Education Resource Foundation Director, Dr Wayne Mackintosh. “All you need is an internet connection and you can study independently from home, with access to world-class courses from recognised institutions around the world. It's about sharing knowledge and the sustainability of education.”
The launch coincides with the second meeting of the OERu anchor partners from around the world, coming together at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada, to formally launch the university to the world and engage in an intensive two-day implementation planning meeting.
OERu's primary point of difference is that students study for free, anywhere in the world using courses based on OER, with pathways to gain credible credentials. Users can pay reduced fees if they want to get academic credit, and only pay for assessment if and when they're ready.
“This is very important to learners worldwide,” says Dr. Rory McGreal, UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chairholder in Open Educational Resources and professor of distance education at AU. “It opens a pathway to learning for students who might otherwise have been unable to afford a degree.”
Designed for independent study, users will get peer-support from fellow learners, while in some OERu courses users will study with full-time registered students at one or more of OERu's anchor partners – a network of academic institutions in five continents.
Athabasca University will offer OERu up to four courses initially. The goal of OERu is to first offer a a Bachelor of General Studies degree, with other degree options to be added later.
The OERu is a consortium of more than thirty universities, polytechnics and community colleges from five continents committed to widening access to educational opportunity.
OERu website go-live:
Canada, British Columbia: Friday, November 1, 10:00amPDT
For more information please contact:
Wayne Mackintosh, OER Foundation Director and UNESCO-COL Chair in OER, Otago Polytechnic. Wayne@oerfoundation.org
Dr. Rory McGreal, UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources