Setting priorities

This week’s task for the Course H817Open by the Open University was this:

Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education.
Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list. Share this in the Week 1 forum and compare with priorities of others.

Here are the topics I found should be prioritised:

RECOGNITION
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Education for all, recognition for none? I think that one main point that should be thought about, besides the quality of the course itself- regarding syllabus and course material- is the recognition we will get for it. Assuming that you commit, take the course seriously, do the activities, follow the lectures and deliver the final assignment without having the tentation to drop out, it is legitimate that you get credit for it. In my personal case, I have to admit that I’m investing in the course way more than I did when I was actually in ‘standard’ college… Why, I do not know. Be it maturity or the lack of other distractions, like going to discos or hitting the town with friends, the fact is: this is the way it’s working for me. Professionally I do not need another degree/certificate. I do it for myself, merely to learn. What if the purpose is different? These courses are aimed at those whose objective is to attend high education courses and for whom there is no alternative. It is comprehensible that renowned (and less renowned) institutions might fear the advance of such possibilities and may either struggle against it or, as some already did, embark in this adventure. I can follow a Stanford course online, watch the lectures given by the best teachers and engage in all activities, but does that make me a Stanford student?
I don’t really know how this issue is going to be dealt but it sure must be given a lot of thought.

ASSESSMENT

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As there is obviously no chance of getting 20,000 students (assuming that the other 20,000 have dropped out in the meantime) being assessed by the teachers the alternative of peers deciding on the grade of our certificate doesn’t seem that appealing. No matter how much it has been written about the advantages of peer-to-peer assessment it is still not convincing. You can be lucky and get someone critical and commited to assess you, or you get the risk of being assessed by someone who doesn’t even get the message. I’ve seen it happen. One way to make this process more serious would be to eliminate anonymity. Hiding behind a screen saying whatever comes to mind with no risk of being found is quite tempting, specially after a rough day at work and a strong will to let it out on someone! A puerile approach? Maybe, but nonetheless true.

DROPOUT RATES

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This should also be a priority as the number of students abandoning the courses before their end is quite surprisingly high. They’re easy to enroll in but there’s no way you can ‘disenroll’ if by any chance you realise that the amount of work required exceeds the time you can dedicate to it. There should be given the possibility of ‘disenrolling’ after the course syllabus is offered, which, in most courses, happens just as the course begins and not before. Then a more accurate number of dropouts would be obtained.
The creation of activities/competitions would possibly be a good way to engage students in a course and keep them motivated.
Finally there’s the retain issue. As I have seen posted before, what is free is dispensable and easy to leave behind so why not apply a fee not too big to hinder signing up but not too small to allow dropping out?

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