OERu authoring and publishing model

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This page provides:

  1. An overview of the OERu course development and publishing model
  2. Summary of the structure of OERu courses
  3. Examples of published OERu courses and supporting planning pages
  4. Links to help resources for course developers
  5. Links to technology services that support communication and planning.

Overview of the OERu course development and publishing model

OERu courses are authored in WikiEducator and published on course sites hosted on a WordPress Multisite installation administered for partner institutions by the OER Foundation. The wiki is used for authoring and keeping a transparent record of related planning activities. We use wiki technology to facilitate collaborative authoring and version control because the wiki provides a detailed history of all edits.

In short, this OERu course site was published from this outline of individual wiki pages.

Summary of planning and course content pages in the wiki

  1. Each OERu course has a planning page which includes information on the course team, planning and development documents and links to the course pages.
  2. Related planning documents are created as sub-pages of the main planning page. These sub-pages include, for example, the design blueprint, agendas and minutes of team meetings, and links to the course content pages in the wiki.
  3. The course outline page is used to generate the course structure and navigation for the published course site and links to the individual pages of the course site.
  4. Examples:
  5. The snapshot script is activated by the inclusion of a widget which inserts a "Request snapshot" button on the respective course outline page. OERu partners who have authorised credentials on the course site (WordPress) can use these login details to publish their courses.

OERu courses and micro-courses

OERu full courses are assembled from individual micro-courses. The course sizes expressed in notional learning hours differ across regions in the partner network. Micro-courses are used as a standard size to facilitate course articulation in the OERu partnership and to provide greater flexibility so that learners can schedule participation and completion of individual micro-courses according to their own schedule of commitments. Micro-course also provide the option for partners to offer micro-credentials.

Micro course requirements

  1. Each micro-course equates to approximately 40 notional hours of learning, including time to: work through the materials, complete activities and prepare assessments.
  2. Learners are required to successfully complete all the micro-courses associated with the listed course from your institution before they can qualify for transcript credit.
  3. Partner institutions have the option to offer summative assessment for each micro-course, or alternatively a single assessment for the collection of micro-courses for the associated course credit

Examples of the number of micro-courses required for full course credit in different regions

Region Full course
Notional learning hours
Number of OERu micro-courses
required for course credit
North America
(3 credit course)
120 hours 3 Micro-courses
Australia 160 hours 4 Micro-courses
New Zealand 150 hours 4 Micro-courses
United Kingdom 200 hours 5 Micro-courses

Structure of an OERu open online micro-course

OERu partners have agreed a standard structure to promote consistency of OERu courses without dictating pedagogical design approaches. All courses are hosted on a common platform. Course summaries are listed on the OERu.org website with links to published course materials when these are available.

See for example this course listing on the oeru.org site for The inspiring challenge of sustainable development which links through to the course materials.

At the OERu, course registration is optional because learners are provided full access to all course materials without the need to register a password. However, learners who wish to receive course announcements, will need to register and provide an email address. Registration is also required to post to any of the course forums as a measure to mitigate spam postings.

Standard components of an OERu open online course

Each micro-course has:

  1. A start-up section, which provides information about the course and how to get started.
  2. A course guide, which provides information about the course aims, syllabus and recommended resources, plus any additional information relevant to the particular course.
  3. An interactions section, which includes copies of the course announcements, and the course feed, which aggregates forum discussions, microblog posts and blog posts.
  4. An assessment or assignment section, which provides the course assignments and corresponding assessment rubrics for learners pursuing academic credit.
  5. Learning pathways, which contain the learning sequences of individual content pages.

Examples of OERu published courses

Course Outline pages
(in the wiki)
Published micro-course sites
(hosted on WordPress)
Creating sustainable futures
(Planning page)
  1. Inspiring challenge of sustainable development (wiki)
  2. Designing the transition to a living future (wiki)
  3. Strategic planning for success (wiki)
  4. Taking action and choosing priorities (wiki)
  1. Inspiring challenge of sustainable development (WordPress)
  2. Designing the transition to a living future (WordPress)
  3. Strategic planning for success (WordPress)
  4. Taking action and choosing priorities (WordPress)
Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
(Planning page)
  1. Introduction to regional relations in Asia and the Pacific (wiki)
  2. Understanding culture in Asia and the Pacific (wiki)
  3. Regional economics in Asia and the Pacific (wiki)
  4. Tourism in Asia and the Pacific (wiki)
  1. Introduction to regional relations in Asia and the Pacific (WordPress)
  2. Understanding culture in Asia and the Pacific (WordPress)
  3. Regional economics in Asia and the Pacific (WordPress)
  4. Tourism in Asia and the Pacific (WordPress)
World history in the early modern and modern eras
  1. World history: Early modern period(wiki)
  2. World history: Imperialism and war (wiki)
  3. World history: World War II to present(wiki)
  1. World history: Early modern period (WordPress)
  2. World history: Imperialism and war (WordPress)
  3. World history: World War II to present (WordPress)

Learner interactions

The OERu model does not provide tutorial support (that is, lecturer-student support). Courses are designed for independent study. However, courses are designed to incorporate peer-to-peer learning support through a number of interactions.

  1. WENotes - this is an OER Foundation hosted micro-blog feature which enables learners to comment on activities embedded in course pages (currently restricted to one WENote comment box per page).
  2. Discussion forums hosted on forums.oeru.org .
  3. Resource bank for learners to share links to useful online resources hosted on bookmarks.oeru.org .
  4. Course blogs hosted by individual learners for sharing outputs and artefacts of learning.

The OERu technology platform provides an aggregated course feed to harvest these distributed interactions.

Course delivery options

Courses are designed for independent study. Three delivery options are provided:

  1. Self-paced, self-study : Learners commence a course at any time and progress at their own pace. OERu learners can request assessment services or a challenge examination when they feel they are ready. Automated email instructions are provided based on the relative number of days since first registration.
  2. Cohort-based, self study : The cohort-based offering specifies a start and finish date and is intended to leverage peer-to-peer learning interactions by having a critical mass of learners who are more or less progressing through the learning materials at the same time[1] Automated email instructions are sent out on the specified dates for each session of the micro-course.
  3. Cohort-based in open boundary format: This option also specifies a start and finish date, but OERu learners study in parallel with full-fee registered students at the partner institution. The groups can interact with each other through a syndicated course feed.

Note: The same course materials prepared for cohort-based courses are used for self-paced courses.

Open technologies used to support OERu course development

The OER Foundation provides a number of tools to support course development teams:

  1. Email lists for course teams hosted on groups.oeru.org. These email lists maintain a public and searchable record of discussions.
  2. WeKan Kanban boards used for agile project management, which are hosted on plan.oeru.org.
  3. Continuous chat hosted on chat.oeru.org - ideal for getting help from the OER Foundation team on technical and course development questions. We monitor the chat forums live during New Zealand daylight hours. Messages posted overnight will be answered when staff login the following day.

Help and support resources

  1. Digital skills for collaborative OER development is an online course available for independent study. The course is based on the OERu design and development model. Useful quicklinks include:
  2. For online support, create an account on chat.oeru.org and post your questions in the #oer-course-dev channel.
  3. High usage templates and boilerplate wiki text:
    • Pedagogical templates (Used for marking up pedagogical activities)
    • Template YouTube (Used for embedding Youtube videos on the target site. Note that due to WikiEducator's commitment to free cultural works approved licensing, YouTube videos will not play on the WikiEducator site.)
    • Boilerplate text (Used to copy and paste wiki text for different layouts and interactions.)


  1. . The OERF has found that offering a micro-course as an open online course using a two-three week block followed by a period of self-study in preparing for the final assessment works well. We have found that posting instructions via email for the sessions' activities during the cohort block improves participation. Instructions for email can be prepared in advance.