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This was a presentation given at the Dean's Graduate Conference at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, February 6th, 2009. This is a work in progress, where I am trying out different ideas about accreditation in OER. Abstract:
It has always been possible to gain advanced learning outside of the formal academy, through libraries and book-clubs for example, but the open-education movement has radically increased the feasibility of informal learning. Through the proliferation of open-access journals, open-educational resources (such as MIT OpenCourseWare), collaborative authoring such as Connexions and WikiEducator, and peer-to-peer learning systems such as Peer2PeerUniversity and Wikiversity, determined students with internet access can achieve learning outcomes similar to university courses.
How can such knowledge be accredited and proven? Some of the possibilities currently being explored range from the traditional methods of challenge exams and competency-based accreditation institutions, to attempts at applying peer-based accreditation from the open source world, and portfolios. However, these attempts need to be informed by sociological theories of schooling and accreditation, and I will use human capital theory and credentialism to analyze accreditation of open education.