Friday, July 08, 2011

OERs and the Next Stage of Open Textbooks

By rubyblossom. via Flickr
There are some exciting things happening in the world of open education resources and open textbooks. I have worked in the recent past on projects that create or find open education resources, participated in presentations on open textbooks, and this latest project feels like the next step in all of this. I am working as a consultant (instructional design) on the Kaleidoscope Project. The purpose of the project is to create collaborative efforts between colleges to create courses using existing OERs with each course being developed by at least two partner institutions. A number of our College of the Redwoods faculty are participating in this grant. The focus on the grant is not the production of open textbooks or course materials (although that is happening anyway) but on design and results:

"Project Kaleidoscope will close the loop on improved course design and student learning. Using OER and a common assessment process will allow faculty teams to improve the course design and learning results based on analysis of embedded assessments and deeper learning results. Actually, the project requires this on-going, iterative review and improvement."

The learning outcomes piece of this is what is going to allow us to track the effectiveness of the materials used. Folks in the OER world have an idea of where this might go, that using open textbooks and learning objects can be just as effective and in many cases, more effective than a commercial textbook. Why? Because learning objectives and outcomes differ from institution to institution based on the needs of the local communities. This is especially true for the community colleges who often have to work on getting students up to speed academically. Faculty already have to adapt and remix commercial texts for the needs of the student populations often in the form of additional, costly supplements or multiple books. What I have been finding in my work with open textbooks is that textbooks are often supplanted (not supplemented) by openly licensed video, audio, images (and yes, open textbooks) making the course even more engaging for the students. When colleges work from the learning objectives and then find openly licensed materials that meet those learning objectives, everyone wins. But we have gone through that phase; it is now time to apply learning analytics to OERs and really show what works, what yet needs to be done, and what is possible.

Partners with the grant include Cerritos College, Chadron State College, College of the Redwoods, Mercy College, Palo Verde College, Santa Ana College, Santiago Canyon College, and Tompkins Cortland College. Advisers to the grant include Norman Bier, the ubiquitous Cable Green, M.S. Vijay Kumar, Terrel Rhodes, and David Wiley.  rSmart is supporting the project by hosting the Sakai sites where the courses will live. And Kim Thanos, CCH*, is managing the whole thing on amazingly tight deadlines!

If you are involved in similar research into OERs and learning analytics, I would love to hear about it via email or leave a comment.
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Thanks Geoff,

    I'm new to the whole OER community (Currently reading "The World is Open" by Curtis Bonk) and am excited about this project to share and coordinate OER objects and course materials.

    I currently teach a course called Evolving Educational Technology that focuses on integrating web 2.0 technologies into the classroom. How would I go about sharing this course as an open resource?

    The course web site is


  2. I visited your course website - great materials. There is a lot of useful information there. I would suggest go to and making an entry about your course. I will do that sometime this weekend. Learning to keep up on the technology is as difficult as learning the technology itself - I am pretty excited by George Siemens' up coming course on Change: Education, Learning, and Technology - http:// which you might find a useful resource as well.