So while this may be of interest mostly to local readers, I thought I’d post on it because I think there’s a few things we are doing in this round that may be of wider interest.
This is the 5th round of BC’s Online Program Development Fund (OPDF), a province-wide fund that BCcampus (my employers) administer on behalf of the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education.
This year’s $750K call is notable, I think, first off for it’s inclusion of “Co-created Content” as one of the funding categories. This is an effort to acknowledge this phenomenom and support the co-creation of learning resources by students and faculty under a license that seeks to offer these for successive groups of students to build on.
The second thing possibly of more general interest is a new inclusion which asks the proponents to describe their strategy for seeking out existing freely reusable learning resources that could be leveraged in their project. This is an effort to promote one of the values underlying the fund, that good, free content should be reused where appropriate. The call does not dictate that existing content must be reused, but instead simply asks proponents what efforts they have made in this direction. It also does not stipulate where this content might come from – sure, we’d love people to look in SOL*R for suitable reusable content, but we hope they’ll bring in pieces from the thousands of other places you can find free learninng resources online.
Finally, another small innovation in the call is around how to promote interoperability practices. Like it or not, the majority of the content that’s been produced through past funds has been done in one of the course management systems supported in our province (WebCT 4, 6 and Vista, Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Moodle and a few home-grown ones are the current crop). While it is seductive to think one could simply specify a “standard” for content, this is for me problematic because a) it would be a top down approach that would likely not reflect the actual practices in the province and b) almost certainly wouldn’t simply “just work” anyways because of the uneven support across the CMS for even basic specs like Content Packaging. Instead, this call is an attempt to get people to at least factor the issue into their planning and describe how they plan to address it. From my perspective there is not ONE way to get content to work across these systems, nor does it have to even be in any of these systems at all. What it does need to be is as useful as possible to other faculty in the province (and ideally out of it too, but the funds’ mandate is specifically to foster content development in the province) regardless of the choices they make on their own, and the call simply asks people to describe their strategy to achieve this.
Blogging about “official” work stuff always makes me uncomfortable – not only have I been known to cock up before, it’s not an “official” part of my job. As is always the case, the words here represent my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. If you want to know more about the OPDF, then read the call directly, don’t just take my word on it!