Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OERu, Open Education, and Digital Badges

by James Willis

Open Educational Resources (OERu) is a network of schools dedicated to the goals of educating anyone with internet access and a desire to learn. Bringing together institutions from around the world, OERu offers free educational opportunities and low-cost assessments for potential academic credit. A recent news release by the Open University promotes Badged Open Courses.

In a purposeful re-working of the now well-known MOOC (massive open online course), OERu is offering what they call a mOOC, or micro Open Online Course which can be completed very quickly and can offer a completion certificate.

OERu lists the following values as being vital to their educational mission:

  • "Free learning opportunities for all students worldwide
  • Affordable assessment services toward credible credentials
  • Open source (planning, processes, technology and learning materials)
  • Strategic philanthropy 
  • Sustainable education futures"
These values couple well with the opportunities to recognize learning with open digital badges. Through OERu, Open University is offering several Badged Open Courses including introductions to education, math, and English. These courses are being offered for free, and the assessments for earning a badge can also be taken for free.  Open University is describing these courses as "perpetual, enabling students to return to them at any time to refresh their knowledge, unlike MOOCs which have a set start and finish date." Open University is hopeful that learners will share their badges across social media platforms to show others their learning artifacts. Open University has a robust site to answer questions about their courses with badging opportunities.

The integration of badges in OERu, via Open University, is an exciting opportunity for learners. This is a good example of how badges are increasingly helpful to expand open educational resources.
Here at the Open Badges in Higher Education Project, we are looking forward to seeing how much evidence OERu is able to include in their badges, how earners use and share their badges, and what lessons we can learn from their experience.

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