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What is the problem we’re trying to solve?

Perhaps the goals of access, equity and quality are too vague – what are we really trying to achieve? If we are trying to address the global need for higher education - the gap of 150 million more college graduates that Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning talks about – then we need to think beyond traditional, formal higher education institutions as the means to closing the gap. We need to focus on the end goal – human development.

One solution is to bridge formal and informal learning. In the U.S., nearly 13% of all adults who use the Internet have taken an online class. The Pew Internet for Life project, estimates that 160 million adults use the internet and that 20.8 million say they have taken an online course for personal enrichment or fun. That total is significantly higher than those participating in higher education. Likewise, OER’s biggest users, according to the MIT data, are self-learners. What can we do to help these self-learners earn a degree? For decades, adult-serving institutions have been enabling learners to maximize their experience for transfer credit. We can look to them for models.

A model in the form of a virtual university is the Western Governor’s University (WGU). Celebrating 10 years and 8,000 students, WGU is one model that did come out of the 90’s heyday of online learning’s promise. It is a competency-based assessment-only university accredited by four of the six accrediting bodies in the U.S. (an innovation in itself). To earn your degree, you work with an advisor and a rigorous assessment process to demonstrate that you’ve achieved the knowledge, skills and behaviors required by the competencies defined for your degree. Following in the footsteps of other adult-serving institutions, it doesn’t matter how you earned the knowledge, but that you can provide evidence of your achievement.

Another model for bridging formal and informal has been proposed by Jim Taylor at the University of Southern Queensland. Taylor describes a concept for an Open Courseware University. In this model, self-learners using OER from Open Courseware Consortium members would be supported by volunteer tutors and gain credit on-demand from providing institutions. Credits earned in this way from various institutions would be aggregated by a new mechanism that would award accredited degrees. This model lowers costs and increases scalability by using innovations in academic support and accreditation to leverage online learning using OER.


Unless a new solution to the world’s higher education gap is created out of the strengths of OER, and online learning, these promising innovations will have limited impact in terms of increasing access. They will certainly be used by faculty and institutions to increase the quality of their offerings and to extend their reach from existing activities. We can go a long way through incremental innovations to existing practices. But, online learning and OER alone will not be enough to make a dent in closing the gap. We need creative ways of bridging informal and formal learning. We need teaching, learning and student support systems enabled by the efficiencies of OER and online learning. We need to expand the frame of the problem, and therefore the solutions, in terms of both the means (institutions) and the ends (human development). By focusing on solutions for human development, we can realize the unique strengths of OER and online learning as significant innovations.

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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