Thursday, March 26, 2015

OC@KU Wins 2015 Open Education Award for Excellence!

It is supremely satisfying to see great work recognized by a respected third party. This week, that happened to the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU) when the global Open Education Consortium (OEC) awarded us a 2015 Open Education Award for Excellence and named us as an “Outstanding Site” for open education resources.

By recognizing our website, OEC is calling attention to the “whole” of what we are doing and the integrated nature of our work. OC@KU is a new type of institution, one which wraps its resources around the needs of the learner. We emphasize using free and open resources to maximize breadth and quality while keeping our offerings affordable. To quote the subtitle of Kevin Carey’s recently released book, The End of College, we aim to be “The University of Everywhere,” meeting learners at their point of need and supporting them to reach the destinations they desire.

The OEC’s recognition of this team’s quality work is timely and deeply appreciated. After spending two years developing all aspects of OC@KU, the honors go to our outstanding team, including IT, Marketing, Operations, and the entire Academic Advising team, led by Susan Huggins, Donald Whipple, Carlos Fernandez, and Drew Ross.

For the full list of award recipients, visit

Friday, March 20, 2015

The University of Everywhere

KevinCarey's March 5th NYT article is right on the money. Carey asserts that college as we know it will be seriously challenged when free and affordable learning resources are coupled with excellent and valid assessments of learning that are equally affordable. This adds up to very affordable, well-documented evidence of learning that will trump current transcripts and time spent in college with academic and career-relevant information that can be expanded on throughout life and through multiple careers. (For the complete discussion, see Carey's book, “TheEnd of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University ofEverywhere," Riverhead Books, 2015.)

As Carey says, the “future of learning and the University of Everywhere” is here to stay, and at Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU), our team has been working towards just this future. Led by Drew Ross, Susan Huggins, and myself, OC@KU already has the elements of that university in play.

With OC@KU, learners can

  • Build a portfolio of all prior formal, informal, and experiential learning at no cost and without the commitment of enrolling until they want the portfolio assessed. This reduces time and expense toward earning a degree, respecting the learning already accomplished.
  • Take our free open courses and have access to course assessments for $100, also without enrolling.
  • Access the free Career Journey program, which provides excellent career advice with data drawn from the LinkedIn economic database.
  • Enroll in the accredited Bachelors of Professional Studies (BSPR) degree program for $195/month, which includes the assessment of their prior learning portfolio, design of an Individualized Learning Plan, ongoing academic mentoring, and access to free and open resources to fulfill the requirements of their competency-based degree program.

As members of the higher education community, we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone who wants access to learning, has it. As I reflect on Carey’s article, I am pleased to see that OC@KU is on the right track with adapting to the changing landscape of higher education. At OC@KU, we acknowledge that the future is now and we are proud to provide learners with the opportunity to take advantage of it today.

Friday, March 13, 2015

OEC and OC@KU: Putting the Learner First

I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the National Advisory Board to the MIT OpenCourseware project since its inception in 2001. Through this experience, I learned of the Global Open Courseware Consortium (OCWC), also established by MIT a few years later. OCWC was founded to promote open educational resources and encourage institutions around the world to offer open courses. At last look, OCWC had grown to several hundred participating institutions offering thousands of courses under a variety of Creative Commons licenses, resulting in tens of millions of course downloads annually.

Last year, OCWC changed its name to the Open Education Consortium (OEC) and the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU) has become a proud supporter and participant in this community. As an OEC member institution, we offer our MOOCs on OEC’s website, complete with course assessments for academic credit. We are excited about our ability to link MOOCs with rigorous academic assessments that can go on a college transcript. The potential for learners to benefit from high-quality free content and then convert that learning to academic value seems very significant to us.

In addition to offering our MOOCs and course assessments, we have also developed a portfolio which will act as a repository for OEC learners to collect and store their open course learning. Called the “Open Portfolio,” this tool fills a previously significant gap for OEC learners by allowing them to create a living record of their progress through open courses. The ability to collect and store throughout the open course experience immediately adds value to the learning itself by making the evidence and record tangible and public. It also opens the door to additional value-adds should the learner want them, including the option to use “Learning Plans.” Learning Plans are groups of open courses that help the learner meet specific learning goals. Using Open Portfolio, learners can develop their own Learning Plans, select/edit pre-developed Learning Plans, and share their Learning Plans with other Open Portfolio users if they choose.

We are very excited about our growing relationship with OEC. It combines the freedom and fairness of the open education resource movement with a practical reality: Learning, wherever and however it is achieved and recognized, ties powerfully to the learner’s career aspirations, academic goals, and personal fulfillment. By making the choices elective and learner-driven, our partnership puts the learner first, supporting whatever pathway he/she chooses to take.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Open Education Rocks the World! (#AllAboutOpen)

Open Education Week (OEW) is coming fast upon us; the week of March 9th to be exact. This global, week-long event will touch hundreds of institutions and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of learners and professionals from all stripes of education backgrounds and interests.

It is hard to imagine a world without open resources in the learning space for all to use without accruing personal expense or jumping through admissions hoops. But when I had the honor of serving on the MIT/OCWC Advisory Board over 13 years ago, this reality was only a gleam in the eye of an emerging set of education innovations.

Fast forward to today where millions of learners access open resources in multiple forms, from MOOCs to mobile apps to videos. And they do it to achieve personal, informal learning goals, economic and career goals, or to meet more formal educational goals.

This free and open treasure trove of content has forever changed the relationship between learners, employers, institutions, and content. And in so doing, it is driving the un-bundling and re-bundling of the higher education/lifelong learning value proposition in myriad ways.

It also is giving learners far more control over their lifelong journeys towards increased civic, social, and economic literacy and strength. Some educators love it; some think it’s a passing fancy; and others think it is the educational equivalent of the Barbarians at the Gate.  But open is here to stay and it is rocking the world.

In honor of this growing trend, join me next Wednesday, March 11th as I participate in #AllAboutOpen, a 24-hour Open Education Week Twitter event dedicated to promoting the open movement worldwide. Co-sponsored by the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU) and the Open Education Consortium (OEC), this event will help set the stage for the next generation of innovation and development in open education resources of all kinds.

Starting at 8:00 AM EST, for 24 consecutive hours a global selection of “Guest Tweeters” will lead 30 minute sessions on topics of their choosing related to the open movement. Using the hashtag #AllAboutOpen, add your perspectives on these topics to those of thousands of other Twitter event participants. The objective is to generate a worldwide “town meeting” with global perspectives about the future of open education resources.

Visit our website to see the schedule of “Guest Tweeters” and topics for the March 11th Open Education Week Twitter event. And then rest up and get ready to rock the world!