Monday, October 31, 2011

WA Open Course Library saves students millions

The Washington State Capitol Leglislative Buil...Image via Wikipedia

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today during a telephone press conference, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced the launch of the Open Course Library, a collection of expertly developed educational materials for 42 of the state’s highest-enrolled college courses. The materials — including textbooks, syllabi, activities, readings, assessments — cost $30 or less per student and are freely available online under an open license for use by the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and anyone else worldwide. The project is set to expand to 81 courses by 2013.

Nationally recognized as a groundbreaking initiative, the Open Course Library aims to cut down textbook costs and improve course completion rates, helping more students earn the industry-recognized degrees and credentials they need to enter the workforce.

“For employers, it’s about up-skilling the labor force,” said Shaunta Hyde, State Board member and director of Global Aviation Policy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Evidence shows the burden of high college expenses can impact student success and degree completion. By offering high-quality, affordable resources, this initiative will ultimately lead to more college graduates with better job prospects.”
According to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the Open Course Library could save students as much as $41.6 million on textbooks annually if adopted at all of Washington’s community and technical colleges. The study also estimates that the 42 faculty course developers and their departments will save students $1.26 million by using the materials during the 2011-2012 school year, which alone exceeds the $1.18 million cost of creating the courses. “These savings will not only help Washington’s students afford college, but clearly provide a tremendous return on the original investment,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs.

 Each course was developed and peer reviewed by a team of instructors, instructional designers and librarians. Use of the course materials is optional, but many faculty and departments are already moving to adopt them. This fall, the mathematics department at Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash. began using the Calculus I course in place of an expensive, traditional textbook. 

“I supported, and promoted, my division’s adoption of the text by David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen text primarily because it is, in my opinion, the best pre-calculus text available. Even those in the division who might disagree ranked it no lower than second,” said Michael Kenyon, the department’s coordinator. “And there’s no contest on price. Our two main criteria for choosing textbooks are quality and price. The authors have simply written a better book at a much better price.”

Lindsey Cassels, an Esthetics Sciences student at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash. took a class using the Open Course Library’s public speaking course materials. “It was the least expensive and most beneficial course I have taken, since the course materials cost us no more than $30 out of pocket.” Like many students, Cassels spends more than $1,000 on textbooks annually, which she says can deprive our economy of better-educated workers by making it harder to afford college. “It is outrageous to pay $200 or more per textbook. In a four-quarter program, it’s enough to make students drop out.”

Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the growing movement for open educational resources (OER), setting a strong example by requiring that all materials created through the program be openly licensed to the public to freely use, adapt and distribute. Already, other initiatives are lining up to use and improve the materials, including the Saylor Foundation, Project Kaleidoscope and the City of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“It’s not often that government gets this right,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) of Washington State’s 36th District, a champion of the Open Course Library and OER. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost model in both K-12 and higher education.”
The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.                  Image via Wikipedia
“Washington state is a national leader in developing innovative programs that help more students graduate from community and technical colleges,” said Josh Jarrett, deputy director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This Open Course Library will ensure more students can afford to stay enrolled in college and graduate with a degree that will prepare them for the workforce.”

Tom Caswell, Open Education Policy Associate and project lead, mobile (360) 747-7301,
Sherry Nelson, SBCTC Communications, (360) 704-4308,

About the Washington State Board for Community Colleges:
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is responsible for administering the Community and Technical College Act and providing leadership and coordination for Washington's public system of 34 community and technical colleges. SBCTC also provides shared technology resources and manages a number projects, including the Open Course Library. SBCTC has used system-wide shared courses for over two decades to support faculty and students.

Open Course Library
Student Public Interest Research Groups
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Jim Groom: The Wild Man of OER Made My Year

I was at the Open Education 2011 conference this week and David Wiley had the good sense to invite Jim Groom in to rattle cages and shake the chains. I have been reading his stuff for sometime. You can follow him on twitter here and his blog is always worth reading, but it is really a whole other experience to meet him in person. As a distance education director, I almost never say that. He is the favorite exuberant uncle who occasionally breaks the furniture. His mind is clear but his soul is mad. and here he is at his Dionysian best:

We need folks like Jim to remind us that there are political consequences to our choices and that passion matters.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Ed Conf. Keynotes: Cable Green & Philipp Schmidt

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...Image via CrunchBaseThe Obviousness of Open Policy

Speakers: Cable Green
The Internet, increasingly affordable computing, open licensing, open access journals and open educational resources provide the foundation for a world in which a quality education can be a basic human right. Yet before we break the "iron triangle" of access, cost and quality with new models, we need to educate policy makers about the obviousness of open policy: public access to publicly funded resources.

Speaker/Artist(s) Info
Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons

"If we had a food machine that could feed everyone in the world and the marginal cost is zero, and it won't hurt farmers, should we turn it on?"

His dream - everyone in the world can get the education they desire. If there are is a need to educate 263 million students - we could never build enough traditional schools to educate those who need it.

If we are not sharing, we are not teaching. David Wiley

There is a huge community of open source organizations.

Problem: Most of the policy makers do not understand 20th cent. technology and tools (open licensing, mobile tech, the affordances of the internet). They do not understand the tools collectively - they are able to collectively create OERs.

Rivalrous vs. Non- Rivalalrous resources - NR is digital and open licenses.

Publicly funded resources should be available to the public who paid for them.

If the world spent 5% of the GDP on edu that would equal 3 billion dollars.

How do you sustain OERs? If OER is the default of our normal work, then we do not need to invest new money. The policy is simple to explain: if work is in public domain it goes to the public; if it is licensed, the license should be open.

"We should get what we pay for."
Cooperate & share = we all win
Self Interest

If we had open policies what could we do? Billions is given out to ed institutes for research but there are few requirements to share that research with an open license.

English Comp - 55k enrollments x $100 text = 5.5 million dollars a year to the state of Washington. Does this make sense? The open text saves millions. The money comes from fed and state financial aide.
WA will pay 2 mil for an open textbook, spend 100,000 to update it every year and still come out ahead. And then they will openly license it and still offer it for free.

Brazilians have to search for open texts before investing in commercial texts.

Efficient use of public funds to increase student success and access to quality educational materials
Everything else including all existing business models are not sacred.

If we had a food machine, we have a moral obligation to turn them off.

"The opposite of open is not closed; the opposite of open is broken."

The Impossible Open Education Future

Speaker: Philipp Schmidt  (
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Peer 2 Peer University

He is a Shuttleworth Fellow

"The Capetown Declaration twist"

Started Peer-to-Peer University in 2008 - Vijay Kumar said "You are starting from the wrong point - imagine that there was no university - what would it look like?"

They launched the first courses in 2009.

Anyone can join, OER, light interface, badge system. Their site is a light weight connector rather than an LMS. "School of Open" is being cooked up right now.

His frustration: Asking too much and expecting too little at the same time.

  • OER cost savings are a big deal.
  • Open is not a quick fix for all challenges in broken system. 
  • Brihanna needs an affordable student loan (in most places in the world, she would not have to work so hard)
  • Disruption comes from the fringes - make open research institutes 
  • Open education is global - we are not paying attention to what is happening in dev world
  • Open needs to keep the spirit of a lab
  • Open - participation, making, tinkering, experimenting, social, serendipity
Brothers Wright: If we had studied flight we would have never done it because we would have learned that it was impossible. 

Imagine the Impossible Open Education School of the Future
 In P2PU - they tend to use cohorts rather than MOOCs
A strong social bond of cohorts
Great facilitators are hard to scale

Alternatives? A learning expedition - following the markers of others up the side of the mountain. You can hire a guide. There model is "challenges." There is a badge system and a "Request a Mentor" button. There is also a "Become a Mentor" button. 

Learning = making things with others

What makes a good challenge? These can make good portfolio pieces
Goal: enable community to contribute "challenges"
How to: What makes a good challenge?
Testing challenges in other domains

Assessment: Every time you do an assessment apart from the activity you introduce inaccuracies.
Why not use gaming as assessment - assessment needs a "Press R to Try Again."
You fail a test - when you lose a game, you try again.

1st Step - Collect Data
2nd Step -  Showcase and share portfolios
3rd Step -  Listen to the community

"Framework and Design of Social Learning"
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Assessment and Accreditation of an OER Learner

A Wikiversity Logo for Open Educational Resour...Image via WikipediaSpeakers: Rory McGreal, Wayne Macintosh
Learners accessing OER can acquire knowledge formally or informally. This project reports on assessment and accreditation policies worldwide.

A major function of colleges and universities is to validate and credentialise learning by conferring qualifications and degrees. They are well equipped and experienced in the process of assessing the quality of learning for formal academic or professional credit. However, digital media are transforming the ways individuals create, share and learn both formally and informally from content and applications available on the web. There is considerable ambiguity regarding the validity of this type of learning or self-study online and the use of individualized learning paths. The problem is that learners who access OER on the Web and do acquire knowledge and skills either formally or informally, alone or in groups, cannot readily have their learning assessed and subsequently receive appropriate academic recognition for their efforts. So, there is a need for ongoing research in order to understand the different ways that institutions are addressing the needs of this growing learner population.

This paper will report on a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research project. The project is original in that it will research existing and nascent international protocols and practices leading to formal academic credit for non-traditional learners. This provides a framework to evaluate the transferability and applicability of these means for assessing OER learning on the web leading to formal credentials. Existing organisational and policy barriers will be identified and categorized. The project proposes a conceptual framework to overcome these barriers for widening access to post-secondary education through digital learning in ways, which are more accessible cost-effective and responsive to the diverse, changing needs of the knowledge economy and society.

This research is significant because the core mission of any modern university is to contribute to society. Many universities incorporate the mission of community service, as publicly funded institutions, to serve the wider interests of society by sharing expertise and scholarship. An understanding of how different institutions are approaching the recognition of non-formal and informal digital learning can provide change agents with new knowledge on how to expand their community service and learning missions by creating flexible pathways to credentialise learning for non-traditional students.

Recent transformational advances in digital media, the web and mobile devices have changed the learning landscape, ensuring that this research project is different. The exponential increase in accessibility to quality educational as OER provides unprecedented opportunities for learning. Thousands of course modules are presently available online, as OER from respected institutions, along with millions of websites that can be used to support a wide variety of learning objectives. This exponential growth has opened up opportunities for learners leading to potential obligations from our institutions.

The UNESCO/COL Chair has partners on all continents. This project will contribute to the advancement of knowledge of the assessment of learning experience for non-traditional learners. The outputs of this research could potentially have wide social impact in expanding access to learning opportunities for those students currently under-served by the formal sector while enhancing the efficiency of taxpayer funded institutions by refining existing mechanisms for assessment and accreditation or non-traditional learners.

Their work in OERs was driven by digital rights management issues, digital licenses, and the idea that a license is a privilege not ownership. These are not conditions that encourage education.

Going to open education is not a choice - we must get away from proprietary materials.

Research objectives
Map existing projects on assessment/accreditation

They are building an open education resource university - OERU
This is to accredit students who are using open ed resources. Learning is free but you pay for the accreditation. To guarantee the credibility the assessment process must be strictly equivalent to that for mainstream students.

Participating institutions, they must have credible local accreditation. They are working with agencies to ensure quality assessment standards.

Learners access courses based solely on OER. Open students supported via "Academic Volunteers" and possible student mentors. Open assessment from participating institutions. Participating inst. grant credit and degrees.

They want to accredit all forms of learning, informal, formal, non-formal, and previous learning - also will include transfer credit, challenge for credit, and portfolio learning.

Research Questions?
Is a MOOC formal learning?
How does a "badge" system fit in?
How do we assess prior learning?

Breaking the "Iron Triangle" you can increase quality and lower cost.

University of London has been doing this for years.

"The Tragedy of the Commons" - the commons still exists in Britain and Canada. They really didn't take away the commons - private property is what is robbing people.

OER Red Herrings:
Quality issues
No credible credentials
Too rigid/flexible

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Openness and Learning Analytics

Human Graphing - 20Image by nep via FlickrSpeakers: John Rinderle Norman Bier
Revise/Remix can build a 1000 points of OER light. Can these lights converge to fire authentic learning analytics & share-alike data models?

Conventional wisdom in the OER community maintains that one of the more important features of the open education approach is the malleability and customizability of materials, allowing freely available component resources to be remixed, adapted and modified to suit specific institutional directives, student needs or faculty interests. These features are important enough that the ability to revise and remix content is a core part of the commonly accepted 4R framework that defines open content. While the ability to tailor OER to meet changing or specific needs is one compelling part of the open model, the infinity variety that this encourages creates serious obstacles for another expected benefit of openness: using learning analytics to drive adaptive teaching and learning, support iterative improvement, and demonstrate effectiveness.

The ability to deliver meaningful learning analytics has been one promise of the open education approach. A use-driven design process for OER depends on the resources being used by a large number of students with varied background knowledge, relevant skills and future goals—a student population that open and well-used resources should be able to provide. Such a process can use such interaction data to iteratively improve courses in a meaningful and empirical way. Beyond improvement analytics, this same data can be used mid-stream to improve the effectiveness of learners and instructors.

Despite this promise, the OER community has not been able to create or take advantage of widespread, generally applicable learning analytics tools. While some organizations have had success in developing analytics platforms and approaches, such successes have tended to focus on specific resources, often developed with data collection in mind and not always falling at the “most open” end of the open content continuum. One barrier to more widespread analytic tools has been the variety of OER afforded by remixing and revising.

This presentation will explore the benefits and trade-offs to be made between adaptability and analytics. In the course of this exploration, we will argue that the benefits to be had from an approach that places a higher priority on analytics may outweigh those to be gained from endless variety in the OER space. Similarly, we will discuss some approaches to better harness open education’s promised ability to drive learning analytics, with greater and lesser compromises to the adaptability of OER. We will propose open communities of use and evaluation coalesced around individual OERs using learning analytics to improve the resource through coordinated revision and remix. Open education has embraced share alike licenses for materials. The next logical step is the open exchange of learning data and evidence of effectiveness, to “share alike and share data”. We will also suggest approaches to integrating disparate analytics-enabled OER into common platforms and the development of OER to published standards for learning analytic data.

Open Learning Initiative:
Produce and improve scientifically-based courses and course materials which enact instruction and support instructors

Shared understanding of challenges, tensions, and possibilities in learning analytics
Describe community-based analytics plans

Driving feedback loops. We have a huge opportunity to use assessment data around OERs. There are enormous amounts of data available.  "Infinite points of light" around all the OER repositories and initiatives.

Infinite proliferation

The 4 Rs

  1. Reuse
  2. Redistribute
  3. Revising
  4. Remix

Not recreate but to evaluate - recreate is a barrier to reuse.

What drives change in these settings?

  • Data 
  • Intuition
  • Market demand
  • Instructor preferences - change happens because an instructor gets bored with material, but with no real idea if the changes are improving the course.
Effectiveness: An OER is effective when it demonstrably supports students in meeting articulated, measurable learning outcomes in a given set of contexts. 

They are also looking at new forms of assessment for gathering data.

Rory McGreal asked whether or not there was a clearer way to talk about what is demonstrable. There are a lot of variables in the initial statement.

Why have we not been doing this?
  • It's hard
  • Costly
  • Individual faculty need support
  • It can be threatening to educators
  • Disparate systems for collecting data

What do we mean by "learning analytics"?
Proxies vs. authentic assessment and evaluation

Analytics Definition
Data collection > reporting > Decision making > Intervention > Action
Collecting data is not enough. We also need to make sense of it in ways that are actionable.

Types of analytics
Education/classroom management
Learning outcomes

We need common, agreed upon standards, a core collection, and a space for exploration.

Problems include privacy and technical issues.

Tools that already exist:
DataShop, Evidence Hub, Learning registry, and communities of evidence

Community College Open Learning Initiative

And build new things:
We need better mechanisms to share data.
We need a community-based approach.

Learning Intelligence Systems
What would be giving up? This approach forces us to allow our minds to be charged by evidence.

Next Steps?

  • Commitment to assessment and evaluation
  • Community definition of analytics enabled OER
  • Common approach to data
  • Shared and private analytics platforms

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Open Ed Conference - Keynote speakers Josh Jarrett & Jim Groom

Josh Jarrett at discussing "Access is Not Enough."
Challenges from here to 2020

Warning: raw notes ahead!

Three challenges for the OER community

Four Challenges for the Next decade

  1. Completion 
  2. Quality
  3. Funding
  4. Demographics 

Higher ed tuition has gone up over 400%. There is over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. The "new normal" is students who work and go to school. "Education drives social mobility in the U.S."

Gate's Foundation rewards institutions for success, not just access, accelerate early momentum through restructured dev ed and smoother transitions between HS nad college; unlocks the power of technology for education.

First three accolades,
1. Developing frameworks, rules, and regimes to support OER.
2. Establishing a community of sharing
3. Creating access to rapidly expanding stores of OER

The three OER bugaboos: quality/impact, usage/dist., sustainability

Three Challenges:

1. Evidence: translate OER cost savings into student impact on

  • course completion
  • retention
  • enrollment intensity
  • credential completion rates

2. Content development: design for reuse

  • How much of this content is reuseable?
  • Content has to be modular for reuse.
3. Integration, instrumentation, and distribution
  • How do we create common distribution?
  • We need a comparable OER distribution channel like a publisher.
What would it mean to solve these issues?

"You can't fail placement but placement can fail you!"

Analytics tools improved success in a course by 50%.

Jim Groom - Climbed out of a tent. "We are here today to occupy Open Ed."
Are we talking about open ed resources as a store? or as an on going experience. Ten years ago there was more of a community, outside of sustainability.

Why aren't the open repositories open and accessible?

Michael Branson Smith - his course DS 106. DS106 Radio.

Gardner Campbell wrote a book called "Love Analytics" that informs his presentaion. "The bags of gold" talk.

He doesn't care about the institutions or grants - this should be a grass roots movement.

He ran his DS 106 course as a open course. He ran three sections for credit and then opened it up and had 400 sign up online. DS 106 is not an open education resource, it is an open education experience. He started with 8 assignments but then let the students create assignments. There are 200 assignments now that a student can take.

The course has a student created tutorials, examples, and assignments.

Twitter was an important component of the course - students hash tag their messages with #ds106

"A community that transcends any technology."

The Summer of Oblivion: a pedagogy of uncertainty
He taught the course as if he had not talked to someone for 20 years. He called himself "Dr. Oblivion."

Why would we waste out time lecturing when there are new media?

"Looking for Whitman" Michael Branson Smith has a class of 80 students are working on DS 106.

"Education is an experience, not a resource."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

UNESCO Chairs in OER Programme and International Network

Photo of Athabasca UniversityImage via WikipediaSpeakers: Rory McGreal Fred Mulder Susan D\'Antoni
The UNESCO Chairs in OER explain their programme, goals and objectives in supporting an international network of OER users.

In Nov. 2006, ICDE launched its Global Task Force on OER at the UNESCO HQ in Paris with strong support from UNESCO. In March 2009 an OER Seminar was organised by the EADTU OER Task force and UNESCO, again at UNESCO HQ. It seemed a natural step for UNESCO to establish UNESCO OER Chairs, which were granted to Fred Mulder and Rory McGreal, both active in the OER community. The Canadian Chair is focusing on stimulating OER capacity building and awareness raising, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America and specifically with the world's Open Universities. The Dutch Chair embraces research to underpin and give guidance to the exploration, introduction, implementation and exploitation of OER in a variety of societies at the national level.
The aim of this Panel is to discuss the Activity plans of both Chairs and to amend them where necessary. This under explicit consideration of the continental and national differences and of the self-learning mode as a promising perspective in relation to OER.

The goals of UNESCO include universal education. They are creating an international network of OER chairs for action.

There are chairs in Canada and the Netherlands.

They are building a collaborative mapping of OER initiatives world-wide.

Rory McGreal is the UNESCO chair from Athabasca University. They are supporting OER in Africa and they are partners with UNISA, Africa's online university. They are supporting gender equality. They are promoting OERs to educate youth. They are working on getting chairs in Oceania, Brazil and elsewhere for more chairs. They are active in policy research.

AU Press Open Access Book will be announced soon. They are looking for OER-relevant topics. The OER book will be in the Issues in Distance Education edited by Terry Anderson.

Fred Mulder described an global OER graduate school initiative. There is a substantial need for more research in OERs. Very broad research objectives. The key researchers are PhD candidates under joint supervision by three OER experts.

They want them to spend time doing research abroad but they want that virtually.
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Open Ed Conference: From Shared to Open: The evolution of open education in Washington State

P1030513Image by textbookrebellion Speakers: Tom Caswell  & Connie Broughton

Learn how Washington's colleges went from a few system shared courses in 1997 to developing 81 courses as part of the Open Course Library.

Washington's State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is currently developing the Open Course Library, an ambitious 2-year project to design open educational resources for 81 high enrolling courses. In 1997 SBCTC began developing a way to share courses with a "pooled enrollments" model. For over a decade, SBCTC's system shared courses have allowed smaller colleges to provide a variety of "long tail" course offerings through a well-organized system of online course sharing. In this presentation we will explain how our system shared courses paved the way to the Open Course Library, providing a culture of sharing as well as the technical framework to allow Washington State's colleges to engage more fully in the Open Education movement.

Their strategic plan included shared tools, ANGEL, Tegrity, Collaborate, NW eTutoring Consortium, Professional development, and the open course library.

More information at

"We will cultivate the culture and practice of using and contributing to open education resources."

Internet + digital content + open license = lower cost, greater access, and greater quality.

Students were averaging $1000 for textbook costs.

WA legislation in SSHB1025 asks that faculty consider the lowest cost options (all things equal) that faculty will adopt open content where possible.

Saylor Foundation adopted their courses that did not use commercial textbooks. They also fixed the broken links and put much of the material into a consistent form.
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The Open Course Library: Bridging the gap between the LMS and OCW

Speakers: Tom Caswell & Connie Broughton

We will share the Open Course Library project, including technical & professional development challenges faced as we developed phase 1.

The goal of the Open Course Library is for faculty to design digital, openly licensed materials for 81 high enrolling courses in Washington State community and technical colleges. During the development of the first 42 Open Course Library courses, faculty designed, piloted, and then revised their courses using the our system wide ANGEL LMS. We chose to use ANGEL as our primary development platform for because most of our faculty course designers were already familiar with that LMS. Using ANGEL also made sense because all faculty were required to pilot their OCL course, so initial development, piloting, and revisions could all be made with the same system.

In this presentation we will explain the workflow and roles of the Open Course Library staff. We will share some of the challenges we faced developing OER in an LMS. While new systems such as Canvas are removing many of the technical barriers to open sharing from an LMS, other challenges remain. Considerations for open content sharing include professional development for copyright and Creative Commons licensing, instructional design, and web accessibility.

They had to make the case for open education.
Why is "open" important in education?

  • Efficiency: You can build on content that is already created
  • Affordability
  • Quality: We tend to do our best work when we know our peers can see it.
  • Self-Interest: Increased faculty exposure, reputations, and opportunities
They built 80 top courses and created an open course library all built on open education resources and open textbooks. The state of WA has 75% adjunct teachers in the community and technical college system. This is a quick way for faculty to get course materials together quickly. They didn't slam the door on commercial publishers but limited the textbook costs to $30. This approach is different from an "open courseware site." The open course library workflow is more of a straightline workflow - teachers who built the courses are also the ones who have taught them. 

The courses will be available on Connexioins.

Master & open course materials are linked 
  • Faculty update both together
  • Older versions still available
  • Proprietary content is flagged and hidden from open course
They have a new RFP for an LMS that is requiring an open publishing feature. 

  • Design and share 81 high enrollment gatekeeper courses
  • Improve course completion rates
  • Lower textbook costs
  • Provide new resources
  • Fully engage our colleges in the global open educational resources discussion
Phase 1: 42 courses released this Monday
Phase 2: 39 courses available in Spring 2013

"Every faculty member works with an instructional designer and a librarian."

Q1= design, Q2= more design, Q3 Teach pilot course, Q4 review

Process: 81 courses built by our own faculty:
  1. Define learning objectives
  2. Go to OER library for materials
  3. Fill in missing content with created content
How does OER help teach more students and teach them better?
  • No-rivalrous, scalable, searchable
  • Allow for preview
  • 81 courses with 411,133 enrollments
  • Textbook savings of 41 million a year
  • Completion rates may also increase if students can afford to actually buy the text
Phase 1 Faculty Concerns
  • Many were unfamiliar with the particular LMS
  • No way to compare work between course teams
  • Too many websites to keep in track of
Phase 2
  • Using Google Docs to collaborate and share as we go
  • All project management information in one Google Site
They are also using Tegrity.

More information on

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Open Ed Conference: Are commercial publishers friend or foe of open education?

OPENImage by matthileo via FlickrSpeakers: Eric Frank and Nicole Allen

Are commercial publishers friend or foe of open education? This session will challenge five common assumptions about the role of commercial publishers in the open education movement. The presenter will share lessons learned from the frontlines of the $8 billion college textbook industry, and demonstrate why profit motives and financial incentives can be critical elements in fostering a healthy open education ecosystem that helps increase the mainstream popularity, usage and long-term financial sustainability of OER.

This session will begin with a brief overview of the disruptive business model of Flat World Knowledge, a commercial publisher of free and open textbooks. The presenter will then challenge five common assumptions about the private sector and open textbooks.


1. Commercial activity is counter to the goals of the open education movement. Widespread use of high-quality OER is a shared goal within the open community. The presenter will discuss how a commercial publisher can play a central role in the creation, distribution and usage of OER that helps move it from the fringes to the center of the national conversation on higher education.

2. If you build open content they will come. While a few open content sites attract thousands of users, most do not. For many faculty, open educational content is regarded as ancillary to their primary textbook. The presenter will walk through the adoption process to illustrate why it takes a publisher with a demonstrated track record in developing and marketing textbooks, along with a significant investment, to compete with the vast commercial catalogs and sales and marketing operations of large academic publishers,

3. The non-commercial clause is not in the spirit of true openness.Copyright holders have different objectives for their creations. While the non-commercial clause isn't suitable for all, for a professional publisher to reach scale and build a sustainable model around open, the non-commercial clause may be not only appropriate, but necessary for long-term survival.

4. There's already more than enough open content out there. Supply, not demand, remains a hurdle for the mainstream adoption of OER. There is a distinction between open content and adoptable open content. The presenter will provide examples of the kind of support and supplemental teaching materials faculty expect from a textbook publisher, and the resources required to change the perception, among many faculty, that free comes at the expense of quality.

5. Authors shouldn't profit from writing openly-licensed textbooks. There are many motivations for writing open textbooks. For academic authors seeking to do the right thing for students and be fairly compensated for their work, the commercial open textbook model makes sense. The presenter will share examples of both first-time and market-leading authors who have embraced the commercial open textbook model as a way to improve textbook affordability and enjoy a more sustainable income stream for years to come.

Eric Frank is a founder of Flat World Knowledge and begins with a discussion of what FWK is all about - commercial publication of open texts. They want to create great textbooks, give faculty and students control, give students choices, and ultimately to dramatically lower the cost. They choose authors, the books are professionally developed, and developed a platform for distributing texts. They give electronic access to students for free and charge for POD versions of the book and for learning supplements. He is solving the issues around maintaining the "original" in a sea of derivatives and formats. 44% of the students take advantage of the free versions. The students, according to Frank, are saving about $80 using FWK. Large media companies like Random House are investing in FWK. He is saying that users of Flatworld textbooks are showing increases in course completion and grades. He says that they are not just a repository but that they do a lot of marketing around their books including conferences, direct mail, and review copies. They also provide support for students and teachers. They are 3% of the market share. He talked about the "stages of grief" that publishers and some institutions go through with open software or textbooks.

It is 2:30, where is Nicole Allen!?

Okay, Nicole Allen did not speak here today, quel dommage. I would have liked to see this as a debate.

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Open Ed Conference: Cognitive and Cultural Barriers to Openness

Speaker: Steve Hargadon

Steve HargadonImage by jdlasica via FlickrWhat are the cognitive and cultural barriers to openness, and how does understanding them help to promote broader openness?

A conversation with the desire to identify the core ways in which people are naturally or culturally conditioned to be suspicious of or opposed to openness; then to use that information to think about ways to build bridges to individuals or institutions locked into closed mindsets.

He open talking about all the open projects that he has participated have folded up due to lack of interest, funding, and institutional support. His favorite quote is Jefferson's "My sharing my light does not diminish my own." Why do we close off when we feel that there is no trust? He feels that on some level that he failed with open source software.

He used the example of an online Facebook study group in Chemistry who was busted by the instructor for starting an online study group.

What are the cognitive biases around how people feel about open eductation?

  • Competition compensation
  • Cowboy culture
  • Cultural influences (vs. Rationhality)
  • Narrative driven

Possible Examples of Solutions

  • What has OCW done

Conclusions/Ideas to Encourage Understanding and Adoption

  • Acknowledge and address proprietary concerns (OCW)

More at

There are also selfless acts, cooperation, and sharing as motivations. There are also those who use seemingly altruistic acts as self-promotion.
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Open Ed Conference: Towards an aggregated profile of the Global OER and OCW audience

Speakers Mary Lou Forward, Meena Hwang and Una Daly

Developing a profile of our global audience through aggregated surveys of OER and OCW users worldwide.

What are the demographics of those looking of open education resources and open courses? based on their surveys, most of the people visiting are mostly over 40. They are getting mostly life-long learners. Only a third of the visitors are there to support their studies. The most popular answer to their survey was "to update my job skills."

People were visiting from 57 different countries.

All of this points out the importance of translations.,

Survey data is up at

There was then examples of a wide variety of users who provided comments about how folks are using OCW.  There are huge communities being built around open content around the world. One site in China that hosts ed videos and a microblogging has 1.4 million followers. One study group has 3000 members.

Una Daly got up to talk about who is using the open repositories.  She discussed the OER advocate training programs, online communities of practice, and adopter communities. She mentioned the grant around adoption of OERs and the Hoopa Tribe Reader.
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Open Ed Conference: A Case Study of OER from within the LMS

Steam locomotive 6233 Duchess of Sutherland tenderImage via WikipediaSpeakers: John Rinderle, Bill Jerome
Can we increase OER uptake with seamless LMS integration?: Realizing opportunities for OER discoverability and data exchange in the LMS.

A key factor in OER uptake is the ability of resources to be easily accessed, combined with other course materials, and presented in an appropriate context for learning. For many instructors, the learning management system (LMS) is the information hub of their course. To extend the reach of OER we feel it is critical for resources to be made easily accessible from within the LMS. This need is greater than providing a simple link. From the LMS, OERs should be discoverable to students and instructors who want to use, support a single sign on interface, provide coherent navigation between LMS and OER, and seamlessly exchange key data (e.g. roster, grades, learning analytics).
In this presentation, we will share the Open Learning Initiative's approach to learning management system integration. We will survey current open standards for learning tools with the LMS and discuss our decision to implement Basic LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability). We will share our usability research on the user interface affordances required to drive a productive experience. We will also discuss the technical, user support, process and policy challenges we encountered while bringing OLI to the LMS.

Looking beyond OLI, we will make the case for improved methods and standards for integrating OER with LMS. While today's standards allow learning environment to report simple score outcomes to the LMS, the more robust measures of learning required to drive learning analytics remain locked up in individual tools. The result is that it is difficult to mix resources and achieve a unified view of how learning is progressing and the overall effectiveness of the learning design. We feel this is a missed opportunity. The next generation of standards and LMS systems will need to simplify the discovery and adoption of OER and facilitate finer grained data exchange.

They are part of the Open Learning Initiative. They feel that the LMS is all about ease of access. Increasing access to education is part of their core mission. The LMS can make things easier to find. Without standards there are too many platforms to target otherwise. They did a survey and found that the LMS use is more complicated than they thought.  Basic LTI is available in all LMSs. They have a two-click to course content design. They are using Blackboard.

Technology issues
  • Some LMSs need extensions
  • Some implementations are buggy
  • Basic LTI has few required fields
Processes a Policy
  • Security 
  • Audit and control - knowing what tools faculty are using
  • Support - helping instructors
User Experience
  • Using complex systems is difficult for faculty and students
  • Bad experience = unhappy students
  • Roster management - there are two grade books
  • Single sign-on
  • Bookmarking  - basic LTI does not allow it
  • Desktop support
  • Where do users have accounts in OLI or in Blackboard?

Feedback Loops for Learning
Student learning data is at the heart of their solutions - an outcomes centered approach to teaching. They are creating tools for learning analytics. LMS interoperability and learning analytics should be automatic, not an afterthought.

How do we build a better user expereince?
An OER app store?

Pearson is moving in this direction using commercial and open content. 

The use experience needs to be focused on the educators and learners consuming OER.

How does OER make greater in-roads to the LMS?
Do you agree with the app store approach?
What should an OER app store offer?
Does the app model extend or replace the content package?
Open and "closed," free and commercial. side by side?

The speaker is wondering why OERs are not moving like Web 2.0 projects - skunk works a project, release the API, then everyone uses it.

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Open Ed Conference: "Which License for OER?"

OpenImage by kool_skatkat via FlickrSpeakers: Ahrash Bissell, Gary Lopez, Philipp Schmidt

Tired of the never-ending debate about "Which license for OER?" We agree! Perhaps we should talk about "Which assets" instead.

For too many projects, and for too long, the OER community has grappled with the proper interpretation of open-content licenses, their use, and possible sustainability strategies built around them. The Creative Commons licensing suite has emerged as the global standard for OER licensing, yet it has not lessened, let alone solved, this debate. The problem can be distilled to three key issues: 1) there is more than one CC license, 2) interpretation of some licensing terms (such as the non-commercial term) is subjective, and 3) the license chosen is widely perceived to be a key factor in determining workable sustainability models for OER use and production.

In this session, we will examine each of these issues, paying particular attention to their effects on people's perceptions of OER, the different ways in which licenses are justified and used, and the overall impact on the progress (or lack thereof) of the field.

We will also discuss whether it could be helpful to shift the frame of the debate, from "Which license?" to "Which assets?" In brief, the contention here is that the persistent focus on licensing has stifled the emergence of creative new production, use, and delivery models and reduced the impact of OER accordingly. One option is to embrace hybrid production models, where all "OER" are released with as few restrictions possible (e.g., under CC BY), but not all resources (from a given producer) need be released as OER. We are hoping that the discussion will reveal other options as well.

We are anticipating that we will be able to integrate the insights gained from this discussion into helpful resources for both existing practitioners and newcomers to the OER field.

Notes: There was no presentation here but this was a question and answer session. How do we produce OERs in a way that schools can use them. The speaker claims that copyright issues are not really an issue in the classroom. He is a proponent of the "CC by" license. He discussed the OER decision tree for organizations seeking to be involved in OER production. He thinks that a dual publication model might be a good idea. If you have some materials that are aligned by standards or that they were put together with scaffolded learning in mind. Can we publish a restricted version for the purposes of standards AND then break that up into open modules.

What do you do with faculty who want to release their materials for free but then they get picked up by someone who wants to put a license on it that will allow them to make money?

Two reasons licenses are important is that they can protect the author and to foster more reuse. There is now no "blessed sources" for texts in the open environment. We do not know enough about the sustainability issues around the licenses to know what the effects will be - we need more research.

Jaroslav made the point that BSD used to be an open source operating system that was made commercial. We e need more consensus on licenses.
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Open Education Conf. Keynote Speakers Martha Kanter & Jim Shelton

Seal of the United States Department of EducationImage via WikipediaMartha Kanter, Under Secretary of Education, U.S. Dept. of Ed, started off the conference with a keynote address. She is the former chancellor of the De Anza Community College where she was a strong advocate for open education. Kanter and Jim Shelton drafted the educational technology plan. She was appointed by Obama to the dept  of education. She says that we are getting out competed by other countries (we are 16th in the world). She sees open education as a way to make us more competitive. The goal is to get knowledge in the hands of everyone. She discussed some of the research around OERs in k-12. She described some projects in k-12 where the students had access to the learning content 24/7 and not just 40 minutes per class. She hopes that we can become champions for the dept. of ed's research into what is working and why. We will have 10 million students graduating from high school in 2020. We lose a kid every 22 seconds though. If they have open textbooks, we have an opportunity to change the culture of education. China and India are also embracing open universities. She emphasized that there is a role here for businesses as well. She discussed the 440 requirements for someone to become a teacher and she asked us to let her know what kinds of things we can get rid of: regulations and other things that get in the way.  She talked about ENTER, a free online platform for online teaching and learning. She quoted Obama who said he wants to build more online open resources instead of brick & mortar classrooms.

Jim Shelton is the Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Dept. of Education. He spoke on "Enabling Better 'Teaching and Learning': A Status Check." He says that he role is to create an ecosystem that will let talented people make the changes that need to happen. We are also interested in growing opportunities internationally. He said that this is about teaching and learning, not just "free" - if we do the same thing that we have been doing but just cheaper - then sham on use.

Step 1: Shift the dialog
Make the OER value proposition "better" not just "free."

Step 2: More and Better OER about Creating Effective ER
How people learn
How to
  • Identify and describe what is to be learned
  • Demonstrate what is to be learned
  • Design and implement experiences
  • Optimize and select deliver methods 
  • Maximize motivation and engagement
Best -in-Class Examples

Step 3: Provide better Tools to Reduce Barriers to Quaility

Step 4: Create a Better Context / Align Incentives
Reduce regulatory barriers
make performance matter
Until then make "the science" matter
Ease and inform access

Moving Forward
  • What's missing?
  • What's in the way?
  • Who's steping up?
What is inhibiting the progress?

NB: These are merely my raw notes and impressions for the benefit of our team at College of the Redwoods. Your results may vary and contents may have settled during shipping. 
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Connectivism and Agile Software Development

networkImage by sjcockell via FlickrAs a director of distance education, I often have multiple projects going on: some with the in-house team or with others at a distance in grant projects. I have been researching how projects get done for a while now. I read about "agile" software development. I in no way would like to imply that our team is at that level of efficiency - but we are also in a place where my tiny dept. needs to look at our mission and values and the "Agile Manifesto" or at least items from it will make it in there. The Agile Manifesto was written in 2001 but typical education work environments focus on the work week, the semester, and very broad time lines. Education institutions often work in terms of specializations. Outside of pure academic research, IT departments are driven by job descriptions, not inspiration, passion, or vision. What I am finding is that just as we need a new theory of learning for the networked era, the digital age (i.e. Connectivism), we need a new theory of project management for the digital age. The idea that we are going to make significant progress on projects with folks who only meet once a week or month, have little stake in the outcome (besides a paycheck) is just wrong. I don't think that model ever worked. Maybe not all of the principles are applicable to an education environment. It goes like this:

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:
  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
    This first principle implies not just delivery, but communication with the customer. "Early and continuous" in my mind speaks to customer expectations and continuously checking in to understand the possible changing needs.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
    This principle is important because one problem with project management is that half way through a project, a team can find out that the deliverable will not meet the customer's needs. One has to be committed to those needs and not just focused on finishing a deliverable. 
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.Again, in an education environment, this is about expectations and communication. Faculty we have worked with expect us to take their requests for learning objects and take them to the next level, even after we have moved a "final" version forward. 
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
    When I worked at Tacoma Community College as an instructional designer, our Fearless Leader, Andy Duckworth, hooked up the whole elearning dept. with instant messaging. At first, it was just for us in the dept. but as faculty found out that we could be instantly available, some of them joined in too. There were fears of "over-connectedness" but that never happened. What did happen was that small problems could be quickly solved in a timely fashion before they developed into big problems. Small problems become big problems when they are not solved in a timely way, 
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    How do you know you have motivated people working on education projects? The right people for my teams are those that not only have proficiency in their skill area (like graphic design or coding) but have a driving curiosity about how we learn, education, and communication. 
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
    This flies in the face with how we often have to work. This is especially true, I find, with workers who are not used to communicating efficiently and effectively online. I value face-to-face conversations - I know why they work, but this was more true in 2001 than it is today because of the advances in networks and the software used to negotiate them (e.g. Elluminate Live).
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
    This is often completely alien to the education workplace - deliverables and outcomes often take a back seat to process or politics. 
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
    Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers should be required reading for any design team. 
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.This is something that I learned from George Siemens and Stephen Downes. I was in one of their MOOCs (massively open online classes) where the students were encouraged to self-organize into groups using the tools they were most interested in or comfortable with for communicating and working together. We learned as much or more from those teams than from any "sage on the stage" and that is how the class was designed. 
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjustsits behavior accordingly.
    I would like to see more of this in instructional design. Those paradigms can be a starting point for some designers, but we need to knock instructional designers out of their comfortable paradigms (e.g. ADDIE) and listen to the needs of the students, faculty, and the production team.  
A good summary of this process could come out of "Emergent Design" which Wikipedia says "emerges in the creative design process, rather than being a blueprint that exists eternally in the ether like the Platonic source Forms and also that the artifact that is designed has emergent properties that are more than the sum of its parts."

This just in: The Electric Educator posted an interesting take on this in September:
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