Educational Development

First line management

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Opening course materials up for public viewing is a bit like allowing the public to walk into a library and sit down and read. You'd have to be a member to borrow - but you can sit down and learn for free. Unfortunately, online content is increasingly restricted to those who are members, those who have enrolled, those who have a login and password.

In this day and age, were some of the public have had nightmare experiences with online courses - perhaps its important that we let people try before they buy.

But how to do it?

Check it can be done with the systems you already have

Obviously the first step is to see if the courses that are already online can be opened for guest access. As it turns out, guest access can be done with our learning management system at OP, but it would be a special case. Guest access does not give entry to forums and assessment folders however.

Is the system you have ideal for Open learning?
The next thing to do is decide if making the learning management system course open is the best way to promote the course. What we want people to do most of all is decide if the content is for them. The last thing we want is for them to be turned off simply by stree and confusion with the system interface. But on the other hand we do want them to get a genuine feeling of what the course would feel like.

Build a learning community
Opening the course material up is one thing - its not like we'd be original thinkers in doing that - there are more high quality open courses than one can poke a stick at these days - but providing some level of human social interaction and supportive communication around those resources would be something unique. Setting up a tried and true email list, nurturing a community around that email list, and building it to a level of self organisation may be an effective way of establishing a social experience around your resources.

Make yourself the expert
Then you might like to set your academics towards establishing themselves online as prolific experts in the field. People who are a cut above - finding resources and helpful information, and pushing what they find out to the community, for free. For an example of a person who has certainly set them selves up as an international expert in the area of management, see Creating Passionate Users.

If all this increases the knowledge of your staff, currency of their information, extends your network, and promotes awareness of your courses, then it would be a good thing. If it actually generates increased enrollments in flexible learning courses, then that's a bonus. But at the least what you are doing is building an extended learning network, setting up an audience, making your academics experts within that audience, and promoting the courses they lecture in.

Think about RPL
And if the assessment activities in the open courseware were designed in such a way that the self paced learner (where ever they may be) is producing a portfolio of evidence for their learning, then you might like to streamline your recognition of prior learning process for such a person so that they come and see you for recognition and certification before anyone else. For such a person you would offer your assessment and accreditation at reduced rates...

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