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OER MOOC: Reviewing COER13 Using Conole’s 12 Dimensions Rubric

Access to open education, open content and open educational resources (OER) is gaining more and more attention worldwide. Many people active in this movement are inspired by Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free . . . .”


Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

As a believer in open content, but lacking deep knowledge of OER, it was natural for me to join the recent OER MOOC COER13, which was organized by with several other partners, including universities and other educational institutions. COER13 stands for Course about Open Educational Resources, and this German-language cMOOC (Connectivist MOOC), which ran April 8 to June 28, featured Downes’ and Siemens’ process of learning in a MOOC — aggregate, remix, repurpose and feed forward.

COER13 was designed to examine all aspects surrounding OER including the creation of an open education resource individually or in cooperation with others. The course was divided in five blocks, plus an additional starting week for orientation and a completion week. The course covered the following topics.

  • What are OERs?
  • Searching for and finding OER
  • Creating an OER
  • Application of OER
  • Financing of OER
  • OER designed by educational institutions

Each topic was introduced with a synchronous online event where experts provided information and answered questions. Corresponding resources, reading material, links to further information, presentations and/or videos were made available on the course website. Participation was possible for students at different levels:

  • As a passive participant, often called a lurker
  • As hOERer (listener), a moderately active participant
  • As wOERker, an active participant

Badges where rewarded to “hOERer” and “wOERker” participants who successfully finished the assigned tasks. A hOERer had to go through the material, follow discussions and attend two online events or watch the recorded events. (I guess reader or viewer would have been more appropriate labels, but they do not include the letters OER.)

A wOERker had to complete all those hOERer requirements and also actively participate in three topics by making their own contributions, completing two tasks and/or writing a summary of one of the topics.

Evaluation rubric – 12 dimensions to evaluate a MOOC

Gráinne Conole recently developed a new classification for MOOCs as part of the EFQUEL MOOC Quality Project, and I am going to begin my review by applying this rubric to COER13. Conole’s evaluation rubric consists of the 12 dimensions listed in the left-hand column of the chart below. These dimensions will vary in their degree of evidence for each MOOC, which I note in the center column. And my comments about COER13 for each of those dimensions is in the right-hand column.

Dimension Degree of evidence
Open High The name of the course already says it. It’s all about Open Educational Resources (OER). The course is built mainly using open source tools, although the virtual classroom used for the online events used commercial software. The content of the course website is also licensed under CC BY SA. Part of the coursework for participants was not only to find OER, but also to build an original OER, license it under Creative Commons and share their learning outputs with others.
Massive Medium With over 800 participants, COER13 could be considered massive. However, as in many MOOCs, the number of so called lurkers, i.e. passive participants, relative to active participants is very high, therefore I rate the COER13 as medium.
Use of multimedia (Low) Medium About 12 videos resulted from the course, including two participant contributions. Video session were recorded and made available on the COER13 website. No other interactive multimedia was applied.
Communication Medium Participants were encouraged to use a variety of communication channels. Contribution was possible via Twitter, discussion forums, Facebook, Google+, Hangouts, etc. Communication also happened via comments on each other’s blog posts.
Degree of collaboration Low Collaboration is central in a MOOC, especially in a cMOOC. Yet, I found the degree of collaboration relative low, compared to others cMOOCs I attended.
Learning pathway High There was a structured route through the whole course with detailed schedules, reading material and tasks for each topic, as well as instructions for badge achievers.
Quality assurance Low The course team assessed whether a participant received a badge or not. Outcomes were not peer-reviewed as happened in MobiMOOC where participants evaluated and commented on other projects and voted on the best project.
Amount of reflection High Participants were asked to reflect continually during the course using their personal blog or other communication channels. Several surveys were conducted before, during and after the course.
Certification Medium Two types of badges (hOERer and wOERker) could be achieved.
Formal learning Low The course was open for people interested in OER. It supported informal and lifelong learning.
Autonomy Medium To achieve a badge, participants are expected to take control of their learning to accomplish the required task. Because of the given learning pathway, autonomy was restricted. Nevertheless, people were relatively free to decide how to solve the required tasks.
Diversity Medium The MOOC specialized on OER and addressed mainly educators, though the MOOC was open to everybody interested in OER. The MOOC was limited to a German speaking audience.


What was my personal experience taking the OER MOOC?

In addition to using Conole’s rubric, I’d also like to share a more personalized evaluation of COER13.

I took the course because I was interested in open education resources and how to license them. I also wanted to find out how common OER are among educators here in Germany and looked forward to networking with other like-minded people.

All started very well. I got quickly oriented within the MOOC environment, thanks to the well-structured COER13 website and the detailed information and instructions provided. I love the videos the course team designed, which reminded me a little bit of the famous Common Craft videos.

I not only met people I know from other MOOCs, showing that the MOOC community is a global village, but I also quickly found people interested in collaborating to design a health-related OER. Some even talked about conducting a Health MOOC, and I started a special health forum to concentrate our efforts. What a great start. It all looked MOOCbright.

But activity in the health forum lasted only two days. So much for collaboration. Down came the rain and washed out the chance to create a shared health-related OER.

What did I learn?

My limited knowledge about OER greatly increased, as did my knowledge about licensing and the different models of licensing. I know many more resources where I can find OER as well as new social bookmarking tools I was not familiar with where you can tag and share resources.

What I liked most

The SchOERzeljagd — a virtual scavenger hunt during an online event — was my absolute favorite activity, showing that virtual classrooms can be used in a creative and innovative way with a fun game-based approach. The participants (about 70) were divided in two groups. The moderator briefly introduced various OER sites and asked question to be solved by the groups. The group who responded first in the chat with the right answer won a point. My team did not win, but ultimately we all won by acquiring new knowledge and getting to know the best search tricks. For more detailed information you may want to review the recorded online event of the SnOERzeljagd, though it is in German, or read more about it on my blog. (All my other blog posts that I wrote in the context of the COER13 can be found here.)

What I missed

I missed the collaboration and communication. I’m not sure why I wasn’t able to connect and to find others for exchange, but I tried really hard at the beginning, and it somehow did not work out. You might want to read my blog post where I pondered whether MOOCs follow all the same pattern, because my past experience differed from this MOOC. But I met people I know from other MOOCs, and though we did not share the same topic of interest in our OER design, it was nice to chat with each other and exchange ideas and impressions.

The last two MOOC topics, financing of OER and OER designed by educational institutions, were of no interest for me, because they did not really apply to my context. When designing OER I do that in my own time, with my own resources, therefore financial issues do not matter. The chance that my school will create OER and share them with others is relatively low, compared to some well-known universities. For example, the Open University UK, where I studied, has a long tradition in OER and recently started offering MOOCs.

Overall impressions

Overall, the COER13 was an interesting MOOC that covered an important subject. After all, OER and MOOCs are closely related, sometimes following the same philosophy. COER13 raised awareness about open educational resources, a topic that is still not well-known enough, at least here in Germany.

Those interested in OER might be interested in the micro Open Online Course (mOOC) on Open Content Licensing for Educators organized by the UNESCO OER Chair Network in collaboration with the OER Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning. OCL4Ed will be held on September 4-18.

Sylvia Moessinger (8 Posts)

I am a vocational teacher for healthcare with a great interest in Education 2.0, i.e. innovative and pedagogically sound application from Web 2.0 technology in teaching and learning. I achieved my Bachelor's in Health (Hons) 2009 and Master's in Online and Distance Education (MAODE) 2011 at the Open University. With my additional studying I wanted to improve my professional knowledge, adjust to the ongoing developments in technology-enhanced learning. After my study I started a part-time job as research assistant at the VCRP to apply my knowledge and learn more about the pedagocial and technical aspects of elearning. I am also a great fan of cMOOCs and particpated in the #OPCO12, MobiMOOC and the #COER13.