Scenario matrix

Scenario matrix

Indeterminate Factors

This post addresses Lesson 4, Scenario Matrix in the OERu #SP4Ed MOOC.

Factor 1: Educational Practices: Proprietary <—> Open

  • Proprietary: Through vertical integration, textbook publishers, content providers and learning management system vendors provide instructors with turnkey courses: proprietary curriculum and other learning resources, complete with instructional design, learner support, delivery support, assessments, invigilation, analytics and other services
  • Open: Educational systems and governments support, incentivize and/or legislate the use of OER and wider open educational practices in higher education. Instructional support and IT departments use cloud-based social networking tools and provide faculty and student support. There is a massive shift from locked-in content, proprietary textbooks and learning management systems to open content development and delivery tools, open textbooks and lifelong personal learning environments.

This factor is important because it determines the extent to which higher education surrenders its own discipline and teaching content and experience to private sector owners, or maintains and promotes these as a public good paid for by tax dollars and meant to be openly shared for all to use. It is uncertain at this point as there are no clear policies nor in-service professional development opportunities addressing these issues, and faculty are left largely to their own devices to determine what publisher tools and content they use.

Factor 2: Disaggregation/Specialization: Managed <—> Free-for-all

  • Managed: proactive governments and institutions take the lead in identifying and coordinating centres of specialization within educational jurisdictions (provinces, districts, states, countries, etc.). Certain institutions are mandated and funded for providing or leading collaboration for system wide credentialing, tutoring services, online learning, OERs,  other learner support for non-traditional learning over and above the specific mandates of individual institutions while all are encouraged to participate.
  • Free-for-all: Institutions fend for themselves and increasingly compete within and outside their jurisdictions for students and provision of related services. Students drop away in preference for content, support and credentials offered by a variety of highly credible institutions worldwide.

This factor is critical in determining whether higher education institutions experience increasing decline as students find convenient, high-quality and low cost education and credentials that meets their needs elsewhere, or strengthen their roles as providers of education and credentials by cooperating among themselves and staying abreast or even ahead of the changes occurring in higher education worldwide. Our jurisdiction is seeing a move toward a managed approach, in that a government-funded open textbook initiative is under way, and our open learning institution is specifically mandated to provide prior learning assessments and open access. However, these concepts have not yet been addressed system-wide in light xMOOCs, badges and other such developments.



  1. professor niki davis

    A nice pair of axes here and well described with an appropriate contrast.
    For postgraduate assessment I would also expect to see relevant quality citations of evidence that informs your view, some of which could be drawn from the readings in this course.

  2. Mark Johnstone

    This is interesting Irwin. Your two “tensions” Closed publicly managed / Open privately managed; and Propriety Content / Open Content seem to be fairly closely aligned. This would create four quadrants as follows:

    Closed Publicly Managed / Propriety Content
    Open Privately Managed / Propriety Content
    Closed Publicly Managed / Open Content
    Open Privately Managed / Open Content

    Is this the correct way to read the quadrant diagram?

    If this is correct, what prevents private Management from being closed and public management from being open?

    Or, perhaps I’ve totally misunderstood these categories.

    • Irwin DeVries

      Mark, thanks for the questions, and I agree there are some overlapping and less-than-clearly defined concepts here. Here’s what I was thinking when I developed these axes:

      The proprietary open axis focuses mainly on curriculum, i.e. either being “outsourced” to large publishers, or open meaning increasing faculty moves toward developing, sharing and reusing open content among institutions

      The managed free-for-all axis focuses mainly on institutional governance and legislation (not the issue of public/private ownership), where either there is a system-wide strategy for collaboration toward openness in a jurisdiction, or institutions remain autonomous and compete with everyone else.

      So then the quadrants would be:

      – Proprietary curriculum, managed institutions.

      – Proprietary curriculum, free-for-all institutions

      – Open curriculum, managed institutions

      – Open curriculum, free-for-all institutions

      I’d like to test out these quadrants out by fleshing them out for the next exercise, and would welcome feedback on this clarification (or obfuscation!). Thanks.

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