OEC and OC@KU: Putting the Learner First

I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the National Advisory Board to theMIT OpenCourseware project since its inception in 2001. Through this experience, I learned of the Global Open Courseware Consortium (OCWC), also established by MIT a few years later. OCWC was founded to promote open educational resources and encourage institutions around the world to offer open courses. At last look, OCWC had grown to several hundred participating institutions offering thousands of courses under a variety of Creative Commons licenses, resulting in tens of millions of course downloads annually.

Last year, OCWC changed its name to the Open Education Consortium (OEC) and the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU) has become a proud supporter and participant in this community. As an OEC member institution, we offer our MOOCs on OEC’s website, complete with course assessments for academic credit. We are excited about our ability to link MOOCs with rigorous academic assessments that can go on a college transcript. The potential for learners to benefit from high-quality free content and then convert that learning to academic value seems very significant to us.

In addition to offering our MOOCs and course assessments, we have also developed a portfolio which will act as a repository for OEC learners to collect and store their open course learning. Called the “Open Portfolio,” this tool fills a previously significant gap for OEC learners by allowing them to create a living record of their progress through open courses. The ability to collect and store throughout the open course experience immediately adds value to the learning itself by making the evidence and record tangible and public. It also opens the door to additional value-adds should the learner want them, including the option to use “Learning Plans.” Learning Plans are groups of open courses that help the learner meet specific learning goals. Using Open Portfolio, learners can develop their own Learning Plans, select/edit pre-developed Learning Plans, and share their Learning Plans with other Open Portfolio users if they choose.

We are very excited about our growing relationship with OEC. It combines the freedom and fairness of the open education resource movement with a practical reality: Learning, wherever and however it is achieved and recognized, ties powerfully to the learner’s career aspirations, academic goals, and personal fulfillment. By making the choices elective and learner-driven, our partnership puts the learner first, supporting whatever pathway he/she chooses to take.

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