OER

Open Education and Open Science in Poland

Jane Park, May 14th, 2009

Two very important conferences were held in Warsaw earlier this month (and late last month): “Open Educational Resources in Poland” (23 April) and “Open Science in Poland” (5 May). Alek Tarkowski, Public Lead of Creative Commons Poland, elaborates on the open education workshops held at each conference, one of which was led by ccLearn’s Ahrash Bissell:

“Two practical workshops on open education were organized by the Coalition for Open Education (KOED) in coincidence with two conferences taking place in Warsaw in April and May 2009: the conference on open education on 23rd of April 2009 and the conference on open science on 6th of May 2009. The first workshop, conducted by Susan d’Antoni from UNESCO and Richard Baraniuk from the Connexions project at Rice University, provided an overview of practical issues tied to open education, such as community building, IT tools and development strategies. The second workshop, led by Ahrash Bissell from ccLearn, focused on open licensing issues.

The two workshops were attended by a dozen representatives of NGOs active in the field of education and culture, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Education. Most important, they provided an opportunity for people working with open educational projects or considering starting such a project to meet and network.

As a result of the project, the Coalition for Open Education hopes to increase its number of member institutions, as well as enable the growth of open educational projects in Poland.”

For information on the conferences themselves, check out Alek’s detailed reports for both.

Read More…

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Open Translation Tools 2009

Jane Park, May 12th, 2009

One of the social barriers to wide adoption of educational resources is the availability of them in various countries’ native languages. When educational resources are licensed openly, sans the ND term, this barrier is easily overcome via translation practices. However, a lot of issues still remain even with OER at hand to be freely translated, such as stream-lining translation processes, exploring tools that aid in translation, and seeking the best ways to distribute such translations.

To address these issues and more, FLOSSManuals.net and Translate.org.za, with generous support by the Open Society Institute, are putting on Open Translation Tools 2009, a conference that,

“…will convene stakeholders in the field of open content translation to assess the state of software tools that support translation of content that is licensed under free or open content licenses such as Creative Commons or Free Document License. The event will serve to map out what’s available, what’s missing, who’s doing what, and to recommend strategic next steps to address those needs, with a particular focus on delivering value to open education, open knowledge, and human rights blogging communities.

… “Open content” will encompass a range of resource types, from educational materials to books to manuals to documents to blog content to video and multimedia.”

One of the agenda items is “Addressing the Translation Challenges Faced by the Open Education, Open Content, and human rights blogging communities, and mapping requirements to available open solutions.” ccLearn’s Ahrash Bissell will be in attendance, having helped to shape the vision for the event.

Open Translation Tools 2009 will take place in lovely Amsterdam from June 22-24. They are currently calling for participants and do not require a registration fee (though donations are requested). Limited scholarships are also available.

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Open educational resources and implementation of the U.S. Recovery Act

Jane Park, April 29th, 2009

The U.S. Department of Education’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Using ARRA Funds to Drive School Reform and Improvement (warning: Microsoft Word .doc) mentions Open Educational Resources (emphasis added):

Use technology to improve teaching and learning. Purchase and train teachers to use instructional software, technology-enabled white boards, and other interactive technologies that have been shown to be effective aids for instruction, particularly for English language learners, students with disabilities, and both struggling and advanced learners. Use open education resources or purchase high-quality online courseware in core high school content areas.

This may seem like a very weak mention, but in context is a very important step forward for the legitimacy of the OER movement.

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H.R. 1464 — The “OER Bill”

Jane Park, March 27th, 2009

The open educational resources movement has been picking up steam lately, even attracting the attention of legislators. What’s hot in the new Persian year (aka the start of spring) is the recently introduced “OER Bill“. What’s that, you say?

Well in its own words, it’s a bill “To require Federal agencies to collaborate in the development of freely-available open source educational materials in college-level physics, chemistry, and math, and for other purposes.”

Like David Wiley, we also don’t quite trust our eyes. (Italics don’t really do it justice either.)

Read further, and you’ll see that the bill requires all federal agencies expending more than $10,000,000 a year on scientific education and outreach to “use at least 2 percent of such funds for the collaboration on the development and implementation of open source materials as an educational outreach effort in accordance with subsection.”

The bill also complains a great deal about the cost of closed (versus open) textbooks. This is an undeniable fact that might finally get recognized by Congress. Read the full bill now.

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Open Ed Conference 2009 – Call for Proposals

Jane Park, March 23rd, 2009

It’s that time of year again! That is, time for planning the line-up for Open Ed 2009, the annual, international Open Education Conference, hosted this year by the University of British Columbia in breathtaking Vancouver, Canada. From the conference website (OpenEd 2009: Crossing the Chasm):

“The field of “open education” is in its second decade. There is ever more interest from new participants, with all the questions and challenges that such involvement brings. Existing projects must now address long-term issues of sustainability and accountability. And early adopters, who once made colleagues gape dumbfounded when they talked of freely sharing their content are asking a new generation of questions that induce unbelieving stares.

In recognition of the different needs of participants in these various stages of innovation in Open Ed, this year’s Call for Proposals is organized around these three broad “strands.” ”

The three strands are
1. Open Ed – Startup Camp
2. Open Ed – Sustaining Steps
3. Open Ed – The Future

For more information on the strands, see the Call for Papers. The deadline for your proposal is May 1, 2009, so you’ve got a month to brainstorm and submit your topic, project, or research. Thankfully, abstracts must be tweet-sized (150 characters or less) and all submissions (500 words or less) and presentations will be licensed CC BY.

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Health OER Student Team at UMich

Jane Park, March 19th, 2009

When it comes to the open educational resources world, we all know that the University of Michigan is a pretty hopping place to be, what with Molly Kleinman as their copyright specialist and their Attribution-only (CC BY) licensed OER repository. Since they pop up pretty regularly in our blogosphere, I didn’t want March to pass without a shout-out to the four Health OER advocates (students) that presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University, which Open.Michigan wrote about in substantive detail last week.

The students, Nejay Ananaba and Stephanie Munz (School of Dentistry), Matt Simpson (Medical School), and Kathleen Ludewig (School of Information and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy), are part of a Health OER team committed “to [making] comprehensive health curricula available as open educational resources (OER) to healthcare educators and students.”

The scope of the team’s strategy spans projects in several countries, including Ghana, South Africa, and Liberia. One significant component is their plan to open up the university’s first and second year medical school curriculum in their OER Repository by the year’s end. This would allow virtually any country to adapt, redistribute, and teach top notch health OER sans the copyright hassles.

Other projects include establishing the first dental school in Liberia using OER for its curriculum, and developing an OER program and institutional policies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. To find out more, visit Open.Michigan.

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Mozilla and CC to teach online seminar on open education

Jane Park, March 17th, 2009

ccLearn is collaborating with the Peer 2 Peer University and Mozilla to teach practical open education skills to educators and anyone else who is interested. From the announcement on the course wiki:

“This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment practices. Participants will share project ideas with a community of peers, work on individual projects, and get feedback from experienced mentors. We will also take a close look at some of the most innovative examples of open education projects, and speak to the people who designed them, including:

  • The Open Source Software courses at Seneca College;
  • David Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education;
  • The open blog infrastructure at Mary Washington University; etc.
  • The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all three), but don’t need to be experts.

    Interested in participating? Head over to the course wiki, and submit your project idea!

    Course outline: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse

    Sign-up page: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse/SignUp

    For questions about the course or the sign-up process, contact:

    Philipp Schmidt
    Peer 2 Peer University
    philipp AT peer2peeruniversity.org”

    Spaces will fill up fast, but that doesn’t prevent non-registered learners from having open and complete access to the course as it plays out. And since all Mozilla Education materials are available for reuse, redistribution, and remixing under CC BY, nothing stops users from creating a mirror wiki and developing their own projects!

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    Flexbooks in beta

    Jane Park, March 16th, 2009

    Today marks the beginning of the second half of the month, and with it, the Ides of March are safely behind us. What else is behind us: the beta launches of several Flexbooks, aka the CK-12 Foundation‘s version of open source textbooks.

    The most notable Flexbook is the one we mentioned last fall—notable because of its integral tie to state standards via a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia. The textbook now has a title, 21st Century Physics FlexBook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies. According to Government Computer News, the effort was statewide, “a collaborative effort by the state departments of Technology and Education and volunteer educators, engineers and scientists using Web-based tools to quickly up-date educational resources” to “provide students with timely information about nanoscience, dark matter, quarks and leptons.” This only makes sense as Physics (and science in general) is a rapidly changing field that the traditional textbook review process cannot keep up with. Open textbooks, on the other hand, are instantly editable and constantly changing; you could even say that they are perpetually in beta.

    Don’t hesitate to check it out, along with the myriad other Flexbooks up for review. All Flexbooks are licensed CC BY-SA.

    What’s ahead of CK-12: the progression of existing Flexbooks and the partnerships they have with other states, where some are working on companion teacher editions.

    Also, spring!

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    Open Learning: Open Educational Resources Issue

    Jane Park, March 11th, 2009

    Open Educational Resources are good for the economy (or at least, economizing). They are also good for students, teachers, and the environment. And they currently theme the most recent issue of Open Learning, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Volume 24, Issue 1).

    ccLearn’s own Executive Director, Ahrash Bissell, submitted a paper last fall entitled, “Permission granted: open licensing for educational resources.” In it, he argues that “open licenses are critical for defining Open Educational Resources” and “explain[s] the logic of open licensing” in terms familiar “to teachers, funders, and educational policy-makers.”

    Ahrash’s isn’t the only interesting read in the mix; there is also David Wiley and Seth Gurrell’s paper spanning “A decade of development…” which presents a “history of the idea of Open Educational Resources, overview[s] the current state of the Open Educational Resources movement, report[s] on critical issues facing the field in the immediate future, and present[s] two new projects to watch in 2009.”

    Actually, all of them sound pretty fascinating, especially one “personal and institutional journey” at the University of the Western Cape (this one involves the struggle for political freedom) by Derek Keats. All papers illuminate different aspects of the open educational resources movement, a movement that has grown steadily since inception. You can view them online, or download the PDFs. We will also be hosting Ahrash’s paper on ccLearn’s resources page shortly.

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    Access to OER Discussion Launched

    Jane Park, February 9th, 2009

    by the UNESCO Open Educational Resources Community today. For those of you who don’t know, the UNESCO OER Community is an international online community “[connecting] over 700 individuals in 105 countries to share information and discuss issues surrounding the production and use of Open Educational Resources – web-based materials offered freely and openly for use and reuse in teaching, learning and research.” (We blogged about them last October.) The new discussion will run for three weeks and is open to all. From their community’s wiki:

    OER is seen as having the potential to extend access to knowledge worldwide, but there exist certain barriers to its achieving this objective. Access is one potential barrier – and a crucial challenge.

    Although our initial interaction on the issue started with the consideration of limited or no connectivity, lack of electricity was identified as an even more basic barrier to access to OER. However, there are many other potential barriers or constraints and it will be useful to identify the range of them, for there are emerging solutions or approaches that would mitigate the problems. Developers of OER will benefit from having these in mind – donors and other agencies may be able to contribute to addressing them.

    This week the discussion will focus on “Identification and description of the main problems associated with access, and an initial development of a classification scheme.” The discussion is already underway, moderated by Bjoern Hassler, a senior research associate at the University of Cambridge, so if you have something to say, go join it now!

    All content on the UNESCO OER Community wiki is licensed CC BY-SA. Like ccLearn, UNESCO’s work on open educational resources is generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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