SI521 "Open Educational Resources at the University of Michigan" Open Textbook/Class Materials/January22Assignment

Link back to Class MaterialsEdit

Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education - JISC Briefing PaperEdit

Different OER Models in Higher Education

Open educational resource projects in universities have so far followed one of three models identified by David Wiley. The MIT model, in which all courses are posted by paid employees with the full support of the institution, requires a high monetary investment and is unlikely to be followed by many. The USU (Utah State University) model encourages faculty members to post as part of their teaching or advising responsibilities, while some paid staff provide support. This model takes less monetary support, so is more likely to be followed. The Rice model, based on Connexions, is almost entirely volunteer based, and allows content from those outside the university. Rice provides guidance and support, but hopes that others will build the community and add content. (Josh O.)

The extensive consideration given in this piece to matching specific models (or combinations of models) of OER to specific program goals provides a helpful framework for considering other kinds of semi-economic issues. I am hoping to work on the Copyright (and copyleft?) chapter of the textbook and a typology of approaches to IP issues and a decision matrix listing potential benefits of each would enhance the chapter, in my view. A noticeable omission in the briefing paper framework was a comparison of the costs of each approach, as in some cases the deciding factor may be removing crippling disadvantages instead of maximizing advantages. Typologies and decision matrices have their own inherent flaws, since they often fail to capture the true range of variation and privilege quantitative over qualitative factors in decision-making, but if our textbook is to address the needs of true newcomers, who may have to plunge headlong into OER when they suddenly acquire responsibility for a project, then they serve as a good starting point from which to build a case. (Kim Hoff)

The authors of this paper conclude by arguing that there is a need for institutions with common interest to promote OER and thereby achieve "economic efficiency". This raises an interesting economic question; what the relation between OER and efficiency? Additionally, within the context of education, how do you measure economic efficiency? For a system to economically efficient, it optimizes the output given a fixed amount of input. Much of the OER documentation focuses on the pedagogical goals of OER but does not cover the cost per unit of output. In other words, for a given amount of funding is the institution better served by hiring more faculty or developing an OER? I can't say that I'm convinced either way; OER certainly has its place in academia. However, before we argue for opening taxpayer pockets to invest in OER there need to be more empirical cost-benefit studies conducted.--Tom Hayden 21:50, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Wikieducator: Open Educational Resource HandbookEdit

OER Lifecycle and Peter Woolf's Open Textbook

The Wikieducator Open Educational Handbook reading summarized a lifecycle for OER projects. I was struck by it's relation to the evolution of Peter Woolf's Open Textbook that we discussed last week (view his slides here). The life cycle describes 5 steps:
1. "Find: start by looking for suitable resources which contribute to meeting the need or satisfying the desire." As Peter discussed, the current textbooks were both out-of-date and expensive, so the desire to create was there (as they did not find what they were looking for).
2. "Compose: with a collection of resources at your disposal, start piecing them together to form a learning resource for yourself, your fellow educators and/or learners." Peter had some nice calculations of how much time / effort he could gain to create these resources from an average class of 100 students. He equated all of this work to be roughly equal to ~1 year of a faculty member working on a text.
3. "Adapt: while composing OER, it will nearly always be necessary to adapt components to your local context." Peter described fairly different courses in each of the 3 years they have worked on this project. It has continually adapted, and now includes video lectures in response to student feedback.
4. "Use: the actual use of OER in the classroom, online, during informal learning activities, etc." This is a core part of each class, although it has evolved over time.
5. "Share: once an OER is finished, make it available for the open education community to re-use and begin the life cycle again." I wouldn't exactly call the open textbook finished, but it is certainly being used outside of the university. Peter's last slides show the exponential growth of page views. The sentiment of creating 'finished' or version 1.0, 2.0 etc. OER texts also may be a bit of a throwback to earlier publishing models. It seems to me that as long as there is an active community improving the wikitexts, that there would be no need to created a "closed" version.--berkleys 02:22, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

OER Briefing Paper: Discussion of Short/Long term Drivers/Inhibitors to OEREdit

In section 2.4 of the JISC report on OER, the authors listed some drivers/enablers and inhibitors that could effect the outcome of OER in the short-medium term (to 2009) and long term (to 2012). This section stood out to me since it is already 2009 and we are in the unique position to be able to review some of the bullet points. For example:
Short-medium term (to 2009) -Drivers/enablers:

  1. International organisations’ promotion and funding available
  2. Competition among leading institutions in providing free access to educational resources as a way to attract new students


  1. Copyright
  2. Fear of low recognition of OA publications, particularly among young researchers

(; pg 5,6)

This section touches on a few chapters within the online text such as, behavioral economics, peer production, and copyright. Personally, I was thinking about the peer production aspects of OER while going through the list of bullet points, but then I thought about how intertwined it was with other sections of the book. For example, a young researcher might not want to contribute to an OER if they believe the funding will disappear and the site will then collapse. That would be a very plausible scenario in our current economic conditions. Or, there is the immense task of ensuring all material is properly cited to avoid plagiarism, and that fear of OA publications not being perceived as “worthy” as a trade publication. These are all behavioral economic, copyright, and OA issues that, I believe, effect the peer production process. Looking at the list now, I feel the authors may have misjudged what events were actually inhibitors and drivers, but this section does provide a framework that can be improved upon when setting future goals. --Mflesz 03:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)Mark Fleszar]

General IdeasEdit

Whys and Wherefores and Patience

My limited exposure to the world of OER comes from the SI 521 class readings. As I’ve read, I’ve continued to hit a mental block. How will one efficiently and successfully find material of quality? If one needs assistance, will there be an OER librarian available? (Will the word open continue to expand in definition until it loses all meaning?) That being said, the ideas which struck me this week center on OER’s potential for good. The JISC briefing paper purports an OER goal to “enhance life-long learners and personalized learning.” (Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education, p 19) EDUCAUSE champions “commitment to the free flow of information and ideas . . . essential to . . . discovery and innovation.” (EDUCAUSE Values: Openness, p 1) I recognize these goals; I believe in the unrestricted access to information, to knowledge. Finally, the idea that chiseled some measure of daylight through my mental block was this: “[The] significance lies in what [the OER movement] is trying to achieve and the way in which it attempts to achieve it.” (Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education, p 23) What I have failed to understand fully is that OER is a work in progress. It is a concept in flux. If I can find a goal or two of OER which I support, can I not be patient, recognize that OER is in a primary stage, allow it space to breathe, to process, to grow, and to improve? I can. I might even enjoy participating in its journey.

As for how this (new-to-me) insight relates to a class chapter I might author, I am unsure. For me, some of the topics seem to overlap while others do not seem to relate specifically to my understanding of OER. Might it be beneficial to review the chapter topics in class in order to delineate some of the topics more clearly? (Beth Z.)



Though I was definitely partial to the WikiEducator site, in part because of its level of detail and completion, it was not because of anything in particular in the Introduction or Conclusion. While completing the assigned reading on the site, I was particularly intrigued by the idea of sustainability for OER programs, specifically the ideas of adaptation. I decided to extend my reading slightly to include the WikiEducator site section on Adapting an existing OER program to meet new needs and maintain those traits that function well. Some of the ideas for adaptation covered in the section include adding new and original content, as well as shifting content to accommodate a different demographic of users. Unfortunately, most of the information on adaptation is targeted at shifting the focus of a given OER item. I am much more interested in both refining the function and form of an OER project, and increasing the breadth and diversity of users. However, there are still some interesting points brought up in the article on WikiEducator. Among these is the idea of internationalization, or adapting content for use by very large and diverse groups of people. I was hoping to use some of these ideas, and others gathered from different sources to, possibly, write a chapter on sustainability of OER websites. If others have general ideas of sources I might begin from, any advice would be appreciated. (Bryan Birchmeier)

Readings as related to Peer ProductionEdit

The term “peer production” was not mentioned specifically in our readings this week, but was definitely alluded to in many ways. Most articles stressed the importance of community-based approaches to produce content, promote sharing and use of resources. The biggest key to successful OERs, is getting users involved. If OER initiatives can get a solid group of active and engaged users, the possibilities are endless. Volunteers help with all kinds of initiatives – translating, coding, improving quality of resources, etc. Users can contribute by peer review, rating and/or commenting. Users can also help establish the social norms of the community – what is acceptable and appropriate to post, and what is not. Also by transferring editing power to the people, users can decide what is most relevant and useful for them. Users can make a name for themselves by writing and commenting, and feel as they have contributed to a worthwhile purpose. Social software tools are becoming easier to use, and provide a low-cost, easy way to contribute, which enable users to feel like they can make a difference. In result, they are more likely to contribute and together they can do some amazing things. The presence (or absence) of passionate, involved, excited users pretty much can make or break an OER. (Elaine Engstrom)

Taxypayer Dollars Funding Educational ResourcesEdit

Openness of Resources K-12

The idea that educational materials funded by taxpayer dollars should be open to the public was mentioned repeatedly in the JISC texts. This idea seems quite applicable to K-12 education in that many times educational efforts and initiatives are not funded because of lack of taxpayer support. Many educational authors and researchers (such as DuFour & DuFour) have promoted the idea of opening up the classroom and making teaching practices more transparent through collaborative practices in a Professional Learning Community [1] environment. If you consider the question of whose job is it to make teaching and learning practices open and available for the public to consider, evaluate, and discuss, it seems clear that educators could play a key role in publicizing what goes on inside classrooms. Would this transparency and openness promote better public relations and therefore more support for public education? Or would it even lead to the collaboration of the community with educators to improve the quality of education for all? --Jess thudium 16:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

What is "open"?Edit

I think that the Educause values statement on openness was a good example about how difficult it is to explain what "open" and how it often overused in the education/free culture/copyleft/etc. fields. Since groups and institutions interpret "openness" differently it's difficult to compare initiatives across institutions. I question whether "open" is in fact the most appropriate term to use but I have not yet come up with a good one word substitute. Some key words that stood out to me from the educause values statement were "free flow", "creation, transmission, and preservation of knowledge", "sharing and collaboration," and "open derivative use of content." If I had read this statement a couple years ago before I knew about OER, this would not provide me with a clear explanation. While this was a good start, I am curious as to why didn't mention transparency as one of the key characteristics in openness. It would be useful to be create an open tag cloud similar to the Web 2.0 tag cloud (which actually includes some terms that would apply to openness).

The JISC briefing paper did a slightly better job of acknowledging the complexity in defining open. I especially liked the sentence "'open' means 'without cost' but it does not mean 'without conditions.'" (2) That acknowledges the intellectual property (e.g. Creative Commons) and regulations (e.g. NIH Open Access) that are part of many open movements -> and what distinguishes them from the public domain. --kludewig

As a follow-up response, I created this chart: Types of Open -- kludewig, 02-03-2009

Communities of Practice and Open Access Buy-inEdit

The EduCause Value Statement on "Openness" argues that this open sharing of knowledge is essential for “scholarly discovery and innovation,” and that it constitutes foundation of the scholarly research process and network of institutions as it exists today. A key aspect of these networks is the practice of scholarly communication among researchers in a given discipline rather than only between members of the same institution. As McGill, et al., observe, discipline-based sharing is most likely occur in “communities of practice,” where the constituents already have established relationships “around a shared object.” ("Good Intentions,” p. 15) Because members of a community of practice are already accustomed to sharing ideas and communicating openly with each other in order to further their discipline, these existing communities could be used as an advantage when establishing practices that lead to open access to knowledge. (The importance of involving communities of practice as communities is stressed by Li, MacNeill, and Kraan in "Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education." (p. 20)) In particular, open access journals and other forms of open publishing could thrive within these discipline-based communities by taking advantage of an existing network of professionals with established practices of peer review and open sharing. Li, MacNeill, and Kraan point out that successfully managing communities of practice in their early stages of development will be a key challenge in working toward open access. (p. 23) Despite the challenge of establishing these communities, they are essential for promoting open access to journals and other publications that will fulfill the needs of communities based in discipline or curriculum, rather than based in a single institution. Taking advantage of existing desire to share knowledge openly within a discipline and across institutional boundaries, as well as desire to contribute to the generation and spread of knowledge in a discipline, will help make the case for open access, peer-reviewed publications and thus increase buy-in among scholars who may otherwise not be interested in issues of open access. --Mdesjardin

From "EduCause Value Statement on 'Openness'"Edit

At this point in the semester, and during my interim between teaching jobs, I am most the questions posed by Educause’s statement of values: “Do the technologies, applications, or approaches catalyze sharing and collaboration—and thus discovery and innovation?” and “Do all participants—for-profit and non-profit, individual and institutional—know and respect openness as being essential to discovery and innovation?”
I am concerned with these because as an educator I need to become familiar with the various efforts to reduce the opposition to Open Content development. As recently as last semester (Fall 2008) I experienced the difficulties with a “Closed” content, including:
~Struggling with ways to help first-in-family community college students learn in courses while waiting for student loan disbursements that would allow them to buy books (and, too often, pay rent). This is definitely an issue of Egalitarian- and Elite ideas about higher education finding conflict,
~Struggling with textbooks, the majority of which were useless, because they were pedantic in the extreme, aimed at so many different sub-categories of students that a large part of the content does not apply to a single group, or textbooks that were aimed at upperclassmen because no appropriate text exists for Freshmen,
~Struggling with bookstores that do not stock the needed textbooks for a course, particularly when the instructor who ordered the content comes from a small department that is perceived as less than pivotal to the school’s mission. For example: when I taught at an art college, sometimes my writing texts would not arrive until weeks into the term. During all but one year the bookstore was managed by a different person every year. I could continue, but I think that I would save some of my examples for the chapter that I write.
So, each of these may enter my chapter to aid the discussion of practical exigencies in the classroom, and some of the more moralistic concerns that educators consider related to “Openness” as a way to resolve problematic class dynamics, and how “Openness” relates to a personal teaching aesthetic and teaching goals. (Eric Hansen)