Rory spoke about some of the initiatives which UNESCO are involved with.  These include POERUP which is looking at governmental OER policies around the world.  They are also expanding the UNESCO OER chairs project into new and developing countries.  The OER Knowledge Cloud project now curates more than 600 papers and reports, and Fred Mulder is involved in a PhD/post-doc scheme for encouraging a new generation of OER scholarship.

It was noted that the earliest schools typically brought learners into one location because of the scarcity and value of documents.  Schools, libraries and medieval universities all followed this model, which is based on a scarcity of information that no longer applies in the modern, digital age.  Quality control, Rory asserts, is something that only really entered the discussion when online education began to boom.  (I’m a bit unsure about this.)  Either way, there are apparently many studies to support the notion that learning is consistent across technologies.

Traditionally, universities had no business model.  In recent years we have seen an ‘administrative bloat’ which makes universities unsustainable and we need a new approach.  MOOC are a private approach to this, but the Open Educational Resource Universities is a counterpoint which is public and not linked to any private companies.  All OERu content is openly licensed and allows for flexible certification.  Coursera, by contrast, stipulate that one can only use what is learned in ways that are mandated – McGreal thus calls it a ‘useless credential’.

Rory argued that present systems are neither scalable nor sustainable:  we need cost-effective learning with an emphasis on quality.  If public institutions don’t adapt, then the gap will be filled by filled by private and for-profit entrepreneurs.  Public institutions need to overcome their aversion to ‘cost-effectiveness’.  Similarly, we need to reform assessment with more attention being paid to peer assessment, eportfolios and online quizzes/assignments.  Revenue can come from charging only for assessment/credentials.

Another way (Haggard, 2013) of understanding MOOC is that they are a threat to paid-for e-learning rather than the traditional university model.