OERu/Planning/Pedagogical specification

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This page documents the minimum pedagogical requirements to inform technology services for the 2016 MVP courses.

Course authoring and site hosting for MVP

  1. Courses will be authored in WikiEducator using a course outline documented in the DS4OER course (see DS4OER example outline.)
  2. OERu course developers will generate a course site snapshot to be hosted on a WordPress Multisite (course.oeru.org) using the OERu theme.
  3. Courses will be linked from the main oeru.org site via the "Register to join button"
  4. OERF may progress alternate exports, for example a static website or Moodle XML export depending on available capacity and partner needs for running courses in parallel mode.

Course delivery options

The OERu model does not provide tutorial support services. Any facilitation or tutorial support that may occur is provided on a volunteer basis.

  1. Self-paced, self-study option: Learners commence course at any time and progress at own pace. OERu learner requests assessment services or challenge examination when they feel they are ready to submit the assessments.
  2. Cohort-based, self study option: 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]
  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: Cohort-based courses can be studied as self-paced courses.

Course registration (optional)

All OERu course materials should be openly accessible without the need for authenticated access.

In the OERu, course registration is optional and intended for the following purposes:

  1. For learners to receive course announcements and instructions via email (broadcast messages, i.e. a no-reply service)
  2. Authenticating to post on forums or chat technologies hosted by the OERF.
  3. To register a personal blog url for harvesting course related blog posts on WENotes course feed.

We envisage a simple self-managed registration process:

  1. Purpose: To assign a confirmed email address with each course the learner is taking and ability to register blog urls and selected social media urls.
  2. Required:
    • Ability to self Register and edit personal information.
    • Ability to share course blog url
    • Optional sharing of additional social networking urls.
    • Self managed de-registration.

Read-only access is provided to the course feed to the general public (i.e. course registration is not required to read course posts or interactions.)

Interaction technologies

The OERu is an open online course environment.

We expect OERu learners to share contributions under open content licenses when using OERF hosted services. The OERF does not intend hosting for "closed" spaces. Learners are free to develop content in closed environments, for example private learning journals using their own preferred technologies, for instance desktop word processors or closed Google docs. Where it is pedagocially advantageous for learners to be working privately - course developers should direct learners to use their own technologies.

Learner-content interactions

Learner content interactions are intended for formative assessment thus we do not envisage tracking of learner responses for MVP at this time.

  • Multiple and multi choice (Immediate feedback for correct and incorrect answers)
  • True-false (Immediate feedback for correct and incorrect answers)
  • End of the line "fill-in-the-blank" - (Immediate feedback for correct and incorrect answers)
  • Quiz option (A number of objective items contained to be taken in one sitting.)
  • Resource bank to share links to open access resources that learners identify with the ability to comment and filter items in the database according to pre-defined parameters; for example specific learning pathways or context filter (eg resources categorised by country or discipline specific typology).
  • FAQ forum for general support on how to learn at OERu

Technical options for the future

  • Ability to "import" / "integrate" objective items[2] authored using the Moodle GIFT format into wiki pages
  • Ability to "export" objective items in GIFT format.


  • Online form-based authoring environment to generate objective items and export in GIFT format.
  • Options for students to author, take and rank items as course activities (i.e. greater engagement of learners in generating resources for future courses and assessment.)

Learner-learner interactions

OERu courses embed the development of digital and learning literacies and promote peer-learning opportunities where possible[3]. Courses may choose to use one or more of the following:

  • OERu chat / comments: Short posts restricted to <300 characters
  • Forum posts: Designated forums for substantive course discussion activities.
  • Self hosted course blogs used for generating and sharing learning artefacts; for example: maintaining a learning journal or e-portfolio; sharing outputs of e-learning activities.
  • Aggregated course feed which will harvest learner contributions from OERF hosted technologies and registered course blogs using pre-designated tags.

Note: A key philosophy of the OERu is the ability for learners to manage and control their own content even after the course is completed.

Technology considerations

Chat / Comments MVP requirements
  1. Option to integrate chat system at the course page level in situ on the published course site
  2. Comments are syndicated for the course feed
  3. Limited threading capability (two-levels i.e. main post and reply to main post)
  4. Ability to "favourite" a post
  5. Ability for learners to follow other learners
  6. Ability to filter chat comments for: all posts; most liked; following;own posts.
Course blogs for MVP
  1. Learners are required to host their own blogs (Currently WordPress.com or Blogger.com - Explore if Tumbler or others provide open API for tags or labels).
  2. Automatically harvest posts if:
    • URL of published version of the site is registered
    • Posts are only harvested:
    • If they contain the designated tags (i.e. if the post is not tagged, it isn't harvested in the feed).
    • Once - that is they don't harvest edits or post comments.

Educator-student interactions

OERu courses are not designed for tutorial support and this form of interaction is limited to:

  1. Broadcast, no-reply instructions emailed to registered course participants with copies of these instructions posted on the course site.
  2. Optional educator and volunteer teacher interactions posted using the learner-learner interaction tools. Presumes that the educator registers as a course participant.

Learner support

Learner support will be provided by:

  1. Peer-based FAQ forum
  2. Independent-study tutorials: for example: How to navigate an OERu course; How to create a blog; How to use the interaction tools. These tutorials can be linked in each OERu course in the site footer area.
  3. Short OERu orientation course: A short self-study course on how to learn at the OERu, which can be referenced as a pre-course activity in the Start-up section of the course site.

OERu MVP course structure

To promote consistency and reuse of support materials for OERu courses, the course website for MVP will be structured as follows:

  • Startup: Succinct summary on how to get started, information about the course and related courses if appropriate.
  • Course guide: Provides course aims, syllabus or schedule, course assignment(s) and recommended resources.
  • Interactions: Course announcements and aggregated course feed.
  • Learning pathways: Course materials for individual learning sequences.

Note: This structure is not intended to constrain individual pedagogical approaches, but will be used for the first MVP offering to facilitate reuse of support resources for learners on how to study OERu courses. If developers choose to deviate from the proposed MVP structure, they should develop corresponding resources to support learners with alternate course formats.

What the OERu model will not provide for MVP

  • Systems for receiving assignments for summative assessment - OERu partners must use their own systems.
  • Tracking of learner answers for partial recognition towards final assessment (we do not have reliable means to validate identity).
  • Sharing of learner registration information to partner institutions - learners need to register for assessment at their respective institutions.


  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.
  2. Objective items is a collective name used to refer to multiple choice, multi-choice, true false where definitive answers are known
  3. The Interaction Equivalency Theorem posits that if any one of student-student, student-teacher or student-content interaction is of a high quality, the other two can be reduced or even eliminated without impairing the learning experience.