Friday, August 10, 2012

An OER Model for College-Level Courses: Saylor

With many types of online course models (P2P, Coursera, etc.) flooding the internet, it’s interesting to see one that focuses not only on the courses, but the student learning portfolio.  Saylor’s ePortfolio stands out as a way to bridge the gap between open education and traditional education.

There are a lot of great things about Saylor’s system already.  The “Areas of Study” feature allows students to pick a traditional degree major.  In The English Literature Major, students can take a variety of courses that any face-to-face college student would (ie. English Composition, Shakespeare, and Introduction to Literary Theory) and a few electives they might not (ie. Dante, James Joyce, and The Gothic Novel).  Right now there are thirteen different majors (including a General Education major), but students can take whichever courses they wish in whichever order.  Enrolling in a major, however, assigns a sample degree plan for the area of study.  You don’t have to follow it (and I won’t), but it gives a good representation of which courses a traditional institution would require.  I wish I could choose to take something other than French I & II for the humanities requirement.

Students do not earn college credit, but their learning is displayed on a transcript that students can download, print, or/and email.  

The best part about the ePortfolio is the ability to view the student directory-a list of other students on Saylor that can be sorted by major/area of study.  You can click on a student and see a list of the courses they have taken, their activity, resume, work samples, and anything else they’ve included in their profile.  

The range of students is incredible.  A home-schooled teenager, an economics professor in India, a returning Marine in transition, and on and on.  So far, there aren’t very many students using all the features of the ePortfolio, but it has a lot of potential.  

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