(these are my own views and not those of my employer, or of programmes and projects I am responsible for. This post is available under a CC-BY license)
In working with Sheila MacNeill, Li Yuan and Heather Price (nee Williamson) in preparing our workshop at ALTC2010 (slides) on trends and scenarios in OER, I was challenged to flesh out the following scenario:
“the radical change model in which a global university appears to serve the different needs of the learners through open access to course materials, learner support and assessment”
This was one of four, ranging from a status quo model in which OER was simply an adjunct to an institutionally focused model, on to seeing OER as a means of facilitating institutional credit transfer, and (excitingly) to OER as a spur to widespread institutional collaboration. So clearly my scenario was on the neo-liberal nightmare edge of the spectrum.
Predicting the future is not the kind of thing I generally enjoy. I feel that I understand the present and the recent past so poorly that anything I could come up with is based more a hunch than the result of any proper analysis of trends and patterns. Unlike other future gazers, I admit this,
But I ended up with a business model that was both plausible and terrifying; contemplating “Universality Inc” where OERs are a primary means of learning alongside peer support and automatic formative assessment, with other “optional services” (like tutorials, practicals, examinations and qualification/graduation) available for a fee. Academics, in this nightmarish vision, were mainly paid to produce OERs to draw customers in to pay for other services, and employers had enough input into the curriculum to save on corporate training costs.
I frightened myself. I stared in to the abyss and saw things that cannot be unseen.
The only thing to do seemed to be to make a pretend corporate video, featuring the range of fine acting talent you can find around the JISC offices on a Tuesday lunchtime.
Enjoy (and come along to the session in room ALTCT at 10:30 on Thursday 9th if you want to discuss).
(if anyone wants the raw materials from the video for reuse please leave a comment and I will send you anything you need. Oh, and please don’t build Universality for real. If you do, I waive the attribution part of the license. I want no part in this.)
Update: With thanks to Barbara Dieu, this video is now available with English and Brazillian Portugese subtitles