OERu/Open business model canvases/Aggregated OERu partner canvas

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Open Business Model Canvas

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Key points
  • The open business model was developed from the perspective of an OERu partner institution.
  • This version of the OERu open business model canvas was generated from discussions and outputs from the 2015 Oceania Regional Meeting hosted by USQ in Toowoomba on 27 August 2015 (see meeting report).
  • Please log in to WikiEducator and post your feedback on the corresponding talk page.

Overall Open Environment Business Context

The OERu is a philanthropic collaboration widening access to affordable education using OER with pathways to achieve formal academic credit from our partners. The OERu is contributing to nurturing the development of sustainable and scalable ecosystems for open education on a global scale.

Key Partners

Existing partners

  • OERu Partner institutions
  • OER Foundation
  • UNESCO/COL and ICDE OER Chair network
  • Donor organisations and corporate citizenship

Potential partners to be engaged

  • Politicians/government officials responsible for funding higher education, who are increasingly aware of the lack of fiscal sustainability of existing systems.

Key suppliers

  • All OERu Partners
  • OER Foundation
  • Open source software projects
  • OER and open textbook projects

Resources acquired from partners

Courseware; Assessment and credentialling services; Open source technology infrastructure and associated expertise.

Motivations for Partnerships

Access to and acquisition of open source expertise; Cost-effective sharing of courseware design, development and delivery activities; Low cost and low risk innovation; Cooperative development of innovative open pedagogies; Development and implementation of new business models.

Key Activities

Core activities

  • Open course design and development
  • Open planning for implementation of the OERu
  • Sharing of technological and pedagogical expertise
  • Open peer review
  • Assessment services

Value added activities

  • Joint delivery of courses
  • Shared professional academic development for open design

Value Proposition

  • More affordable access to high quality courses for learners traditionally excluded from the formal education sector.
  • Low cost, low barrier pathways to formal academic credit for "non-traditional" learners.
  • Pathways to transition to higher education.
  • Low cost, low risk but high impact innovation in open education.
  • Developing learning literacies for a digital age.
  • International and intercultural open online course experience.

Customer Relationships

The OERu develops high-quality open online courses designed for independent study which are mapped to the learning outcomes of courses available for formal academic credit at accredited partner institutions. The courses are:

  • Offered at no-cost to OERu learners
  • Do not require the purchase of any proprietary resources (eg textbooks)
  • Do not require password access to view the materials.

The OERu model does not provide tutorial support services from academic staff, however the following support options are available:

  • Courses are designed to integrate peer-learning support through social media.
  • Communication and interaction technologies accessible on the open web and selected support technologies hosted by the OER Foundation.
  • Self-study help tutorials for core technologies.

Customer Segments

Adult independent learners
(Studying for formal credit)

  • Socio-economic disadvantaged learners
  • 2nd chance learners
  • Reskilling for new career
  • Mature learners studying 1st degree
  • Degree completion learners
  • Foreign students preparing for local national study
  • RPL learners filling skills gaps
  • Refugees and migrants

"Try before you buy" learners
(May convert to formal credit)

  • Trialling higher learning (eg 1st in family or Secondary school learners.)
  • Marginalised populations (can fail anonymously or take extra time before attempting assessment)

Professional development learners
(Micro-credentials / Open badges)

  • Credentialled learners updating / expanding skills

Informal learners
(Self-motivated learners)

  • Learners participating out of self-interest
  • Learning for learning's sake

International brand promotion
Promoting international visibility through collaboration with the OERu international network of partners.

Key Resources

Core resources

  • OER and open access materials used to assemble OERu courses
  • Open source software technology infrastructure provided by the OER Foundation

Human resources

  • Subject matter experts
  • Learning design and multimedia professionals
  • Library professionals
  • Graphic artists
  • Technologists and developers
  • Administrators


Learning channels
Open online courses designed for independent study with peer-learning support offered at no cost to OERu learners.

Assessment channels

  • Challenge examinations (proctored)
  • 3rd party testing centres (automated assessment)
  • Recognition of prior learning
  • Graded assignments
  • Credit transfer

Cost Structure

Direct cost

  • Annual membership fees to support shared central infrastructure (Gold partners contribute $4000 p.a. after multi-year discount)
  • Staff time contribution towards collective planning and assembly of courses (Gold partners contribute 0.2 Full-time equivalent per year).
  • Platinum partners who contribute more than $10,000 p.a eg shared positions for the network.

No "new money" approach
OERu partners nominate to assemble two courses from OER and open access materials. No increase in the marginal cost by applying a open license when developing an OERu course nomination that is part of normal organisational workflow for design and development. (Recurrent cost for assessment is recouped through fee for service.)

Reducing local development cost
Partners can diversify local curriculum offerings and reduce costs by reusing existing OERu courses without incurring local development costs. This is particularly attractive for low enrolment courses which are too expensive to produce locally in a cost effective way.

CC Licenses

Categories for OERu courses
(Free cultural works approved licenses is an OERu core principle of engagement.) Public Domain dedication

External resources
(OERu courses may link to external resources) CC BY-ND
Open access "all rights reserved"

Social Good

  • The OERu provides more affordable access to quality higher education for learners excluded from tertiary education for financial or physical access reasons.
  • Philanthropic contribution to building more sustainable education systems using OER.
  • Modelling open governance and open management approaches in education
  • Leverage network models for "open sourcing" education for all without compromising the fiscal sustainability of the public funded tertiary sector.

Revenue Streams

Cost recovery model (& potential transfer to study benefit)
(Most partners are contributing to OERu as community service on the basis that "no new money" is required)

  • Fees for assessment-only services (to cover administration and staff costs for grading)
  • New students who transfer for full-fee study.

Value added services
(Some OERu partners are planning to better serve the community through value added services which may include new revenue streams.)

  • Optional "pay as you go" tutorial support services
  • Fees for micro-credentialing / professional development certifications.


  1. OERu partners are autonomous and retain decision-making over all aspects of assessment including the price for services.
  2. The OER Foundation as an independent charity does not share in any revenue generated from partners for services arising from the OERu collaboration.

Open Business Model Canvas by Paul Stacey, Creative Commons based on Business Model Canvas Poster designed by Business Model Foundry AG CC BY-SA 3.0