The Why and How of Open Education: The Service Perspective.


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The Why and How of Open Education: The Service Perspective.
OKCon – The 6th Annual Open Knowledge Conference 30th June – 1st July 2011, Berlin – Germany (
Online notes of the sessions are available from:

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The Why and How of Open Education: The Service Perspective.

  1. 1. ‘Open Education as a Service‘Session Two: With lessons from the openSE & openED projects By: Dr. Andreas Meiszner, United Nations University UNU-MERIT – The Netherlands Workshop on “The Why and How of Open Education: Concepts and Practices” OKCon 2011, June 31st – Berlin, Germany
  2. 2. ... Not that new…„As the World Trade Organization (WTO) proudly proclaims, the GeneralAgreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first ever set of multilateral, legallyenforceable rules covering international trade in services, including educationservices. It dates from 1994, and is the services counterpart of the GeneralAgreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which has regulated the trade in goodssince 1947. Both these agreements are administered by the WTO. Although it hasbeen in existence for nearly a decade, the GATS went largely unnoticed by theeducation sector in Australia and around the world until quite recently. Sincethe highly publicized anti-WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, however, theAgreements treatment of education has become one of its most controversialaspects, along with health care and media content. Education, like health care, isin most countries a core activity of the nation state and encouraging trade inthese sectors seems to many people to be a fundamental challenge to thesepublic services.“Source:
  3. 3. ... but highly controversial…„With the globalization of communication systems, governments see thepreferential treatment of local media content and other forms of cultural production,including education, as crucial for continued nation building and cultural diversity. Inthis vein, Altbach (2001) has described using the GATS to promote trade ineducation as globalization run amok. Subjecting academe to the rigors of aWTO-enforced marketplace, he warns, would destroy one of the mostvaluable institutions in any society. In the same year, a consortium of Europeanand North American organizations representing more than 500 universities issued awidely publicized declaration on higher education and GATS which warned thatlittle is known about the consequences of including trade in educationservices in the GATS and suggested that countries should make no furthercommitments (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, AmericanCouncil on Education, European University Association, Council for HigherEducation Accreditation, 2001)“)Source:
  4. 4. ... and quite evil…„Over the past several years, the opposition to the GATS from the educationsector has grown ever louder, particularly from student groups and unions in NorthAmerica and Europe, and governments in developing countries who fear beingunable to control the activities of commercially motivated foreign providers if theyare bound by the rules of the WTO. Many of the criticisms of the WTO and GATSare, in fact, criticisms of trade in education or criticisms of the growth ofprivate provision and funding rather than criticisms of the trade agreementper se. The codification of the global trade system in the form of the WTO and theGATS provides a visible and tangible target for groups opposed to the direction ofcommercial development and the underlying dominant ideology of neoliberalglobalism. In response to criticisms of secrecy and back-room dealings, the WTOhas quite rightly adopted a relatively transparent process in recent years, butnevertheless this greater visibility may in fact heighten opposition in some quarterswhile further legitimating the process in others.“press).Source:
  5. 5. ... because we are not talking about the GATS type of education services at which actually the GOOD education is EXPORTED as a PRODUCT and in the SAME WAY then it used to be…
  6. 6. …and because…… any type of education, be it traditional formal closed one or be it open one, costmoney… there will be always “someone” that needs to cover for such cost of education… those ones covering the cost would want to know what they are paying for… and thus we talk about new types or new means of services that could be buildaround an open form of education and allow to modernize current education in asustainable manner!Open Education allows for unbundling the costs associated to education as itprovides the required level of transparency to put a price tag on the differenteducation components… -> Traditional formal closed education is pretty much a BLACKBOX and no one clearly understands the real cost of it…
  7. 7. … such as the following services provided to the learner:•  Formal assessment•  Certification & Degrees•  Local in-class support•  Monitored study groups•  Online tutoring•  …
  8. 8. … or those ones provided to educational provider:• Training, course & programme development,•  Hosting & maintenance•  Online assessment and certification systems•  Online spaces to provide tutoring•  Billing systems•  Physical ID verification & assessment control•  …
  9. 9. … like for example Freemium Business Models"Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported butmaybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently throughword of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc.,then offer premium priced value added services or an enhancedversion of your service to your customer base.“ Fred Wilson in 2006
  10. 10. …let’s put it that way:If we define ‘Open Education as a Service’ (OEaaS) as an ‘on-demand’ concept atwhich services are provided around freely available educational offers, such ascourses and programmes with basic support provision, then we would be able tooffer additional services against a fee.OEaaS is thus close to a ‘Freemium business model’ at which basic products orservices are available free of charge, while charging a premium for advancedfeatures, functionality, or related products and services.
  11. 11. …let’s read it again…If we define ‘Open Education as a Service’ (OEaaS) as an ‘on-demand’ concept atwhich services are provided around freely available educational offers, such ascourses and programmes with basic support provision, then we would be able tooffer additional services against a fee. -> Did anyone say who would be paying the service fee? -> That someone will pay seems to be a given – even if it is the state (through either tax money or debts)
  12. 12. Some concrete examples of Services: the openED CourseService Concepts: Cost Sharing, Revenue generation through In-Class support,Virtual tutoring, Assessment and Recognition of Learning Outcomes
  13. 13. Some concrete examples of Services: the openSE FrameworkService Concept: Cost SharingPotential further services: Assessment and Recognition of Learning Outcomes
  14. 14. Thank you for your attention! Dr. Andreas Meiszner, United Nations University UNU-MERIT