OER

ccLearn at the Whipple Hill User Conference 09

Jane Park, July 2nd, 2009

ccLearn presented on CC and Open Educational Resources at the WhippleHill User Conference yesterday in Boston. WhippleHill Communications is a company that started off more or less building websites for schools. As the Internet evolved, so did WhippleHill’s business model into a service one meeting schools’ online communication needs. WhippleHill targets independent high schools and is a for-profit. However, like a lot of companies who offer services around next generation web technologies, they promote open content and tools for their clients. They also host an annual user conference where they invite cutting edge initiatives to lead sessions on new media and technologies pertinent to the changing world. ccLearn had the opportunity to lead one of these sessions entitled, “Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources: How the world is changing and what you need to know to keep up” targeted mainly at education around CC and copyright for high school students.

The slide show is up under CC BY (except otherwise noted). We would like to acknowledge Jessica Coates’ slide show “Creative Commons in the Classroom” from which we co-opted some great slides!

Thanks again to WhippleHill and its President, Travis Warren, for the strong support!

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UNESCO publishes “OER: Conversations in Cyberspace”

Jane Park, June 30th, 2009

In case you missed it, last Friday UNESCO published “Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace”, three years worth of documentation surrounding the UNESCO OER Community. From their announcement,

“Since 2005, UNESCO has been at the forefront of building awareness about this movement by facilitating an extended conversation in cyberspace. A large and diverse international community has come together to discuss the concept and potential of OER in a series of online forums.

The background papers and reports from the first three years of discussions are now available in print. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace provides an overview of the first steps of this exciting new development: it captures the conversations between leaders of some of the first OER projects,and documents early debates on the issues that continue to challenge the movement. The publication will provide food for thought for all those intrigued by OER – its promise and its progress.”

You can access the online edition at their wiki, licensed CC BY-NC-SA. You can also buy a print edition.

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The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Jane Park, June 26th, 2009

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) announced a new report called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age,” now available at MIT Press. The report is in response to our changing times, and addresses what traditional educational institutions must know to keep up. From the announcement,

“Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg in an abridged version of their book-in-progress, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges. This report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.”

A central finding was that “Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

Not coincidentally, one of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education: “Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The report is available in PDF via CC BY-NC-ND.

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Teaching About Copyright and Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Jane Park, May 26th, 2009

Last November, the Center for Social Media at AU released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which followed on the heels of a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. These guides were aimed at clearing up many of the urban myths surrounding copyright, especially when it came to classroom use of copyrighted materials.

Now, the Media Education Lab at Temple University has produced excellent resources based on the original guide to help teachers teach about copyright and fair use in their classrooms. Resources include lesson plans, Powerpoint slides, videos, case studies, podcasts, and FAQs. The lesson plans iterate on topics from the code such as “Understanding Copyright”, “The Cost of Copyright Confusion”, and “Defining and Applying Fair Use”.

What tickles me: that in order to find out just what you can do with these resources, you get to view and use them first—Learning fair use via fair using! To use these resources in your classroom or study group (or for simply personal edification), check them all out here.

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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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