Initial thoughts on the cascade support framework

In the midst of sorting out administrivia for the OERII cascade project, we are trying to wrap our heads around the concept of the cascade support framework – after all, this is one of the key tasks for the project and hopefully will be one of the project’s lasting achievements. Below are some of our initial thoughts – and as always, feedback would be appreciated!

We started off by engaging with into the most current debates on Open Education and Open Educational Resources, brilliantly summarised in a talk by Brian Lamb who gave the keynote closing speech at the JISC Open Educational Resources International Symposium in July. One of the models that Lamb mentions is EduPunk – a new instructional style that is defiantly student-centred, resourceful, teacher- or community-created rather than corporate-sourced, and underwritten by a progressive political stance, something definitely of interest especially if the OER phase II projects want to keep up their promises of involving students in the process of co-creating and reviewing OERs. Not to mention that one of the elements of our own cascade project involves engaging the students in the processes of curriculum design and reviewing the cascade support framework.

Thus, one of the questions we might want to ask in the context of the C-SAP project is ways in which the students understand and engage with (or don’t engage, if that’s the case) OERs. After all, in the US context open educational resources as a component of “DYI university” are often hailed as a remedy for students living in the age of “the education bubble”, who found themselves burdened by student loans debt or priced out of higher education altogether. When it comes to engaging our own students with OERs, where do we stand with regard to the current debates on employability and the economic value of a degree? Not to mention the thousands of students who are going to miss out on higher education altogether this year? On top of that, what often gets forgotten in the debates on open education/OERs is that Open course material on the Internet may be free, but getting it there definitely isn’t, for instance, Yale has spent $30,000 to $40,000 for each course it puts online (the push towards OERs in the UK context wouldn’t be happening without the funding, either). Moreover, as with virtually all courses relying on OER material, students can get academic credit only if enrolled at an institution that deems to award it. How do we incorporate these concerns into our cascade support framework?

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