On October 16th Alana Harrington, Executive Director of Saylor.org, presented at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Alana’s presentation, titled Making Open Courseware Count, explored how students are using Saylor.org courses to improve their lives.

Here is an excerpt from the presentation summary:

Over the past year, we’ve found that our courseware attracts a diverse student constituency. Students hail from a sprawling array of socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, and geographic locations. Some cannot afford traditional educational opportunities. Others find themselves in war-ridden countries like Afghanistan, where it is too dangerous to venture to a brick-and-mortar institution. Still others have rejected traditional schooling models, or decided to pursue academic interests late in life, or chosen to use Saylor.org for remedial purposes.??

Our free education model – like others in the open education community – has succeeded in increasing access to education around the world and creating an open environment in which students can learn for free. However, students are largely unable to translate their open courseware experiences into credentials that enjoy currency within the workforce, the job market, or the traditional academic community. In response, we are designing partnerships and strategies that will enable students to obtain formal credit for their work here at Saylor. This talk will present these approaches to the Open Educational Community in the hopes of participating in a dialogue about how we can “make open count” or — better yet — spurring the actions and partnerships that will affect this change.

 To illuminate some of our students’ real stories, we produced this short video of students speaking about their Saylor.org experience.  In addition we created this animation, which shows the different portals students can use to get college credit for their coursework.

How has open courseware impacted your life?  Please share your Saylor.org story in the comments section.


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