The following is a guest post by Jessica Smith, National Copyright Officer for the National Copyright Unit of Australia. She ran the Copyright 4 Educators (AUS) course with Delia Browne as part of the School of Open’s second round of facilitated courses in 2013.
The School of Open is a community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works.
The National Copyright Unit (NCU) of Australia ran its second cycle of the School of Open’s Copyright 4 Educators (AUS) course in August. The course ran for seven weeks, with a two-week introduction period and five weeks of substantive group work. We took on 60 learners, with enrollments filling up in less than two days, plus a wait list of around 15 people. At the end of the course, we only had 3 drop-outs, a 95% retention rate!
On top of those stellar results, we also had very happy learners as well as great results in terms of the uptake and understanding of the information. We have an ongoing wait list for the course as well as teachers and librarians continuously enquiring about the course. We’re also in the process of obtaining accreditation for the course through larger teacher organizations so that it can be used to fulfill specific professional learning requirements of Australian educators.
We believe our course has succeeded for three reasons:
- We made it easy for the students to participate.
- The course was associated with the NCU, an official government division.
- We assigned small groups based on commonalities, such as profession and field.
1. Make it easy for the students to participate
Making it easy for students is of utmost importance in an online environment, especially if the course is targeted to people who may not be familiar with online learning. We know this may sound obvious, but it’s so important that it’s definitely worth mentioning and expounding on. If you don’t nail this, you’re not going to retain your students.
So how do you make it easy for the students? Have everything (eg, communication tools and assignment submission entrypoints) set up for them and support them to the nth degree. What this means: you have to put the time in before the course starts and you, as the course facilitator/organizer, must be very comfortable with the course layout and tools in order to be able to give ample support as well as troubleshoot when issues arise.
Tutorials for Tools
For our course, we had heaps of information on our P2PU course site (outlining essentially everything they’d need to get through the course), but we also created tutorials and sent out additional information through email on all the essential parts of the course (ie. using the discussion tool Disqus, submitting group assignments, leaving peer review, etc). We really wanted the students to feel supported and to answer questions and issues BEFORE they arose. It’s too easy to drop out of an online course, so we wanted to preemptively take care of as many issues as possible. We had one student state they were “very nervous and uncomfortable” to take an online course who later reported how great the course was set up and how easy it was in terms of knowing what to do and how to do it. It’s key students feel like this from the start of the course, or they won’t stick with it.
Tools we used
We used Google docs for our course. We had every group’s Google doc set up for every single week, and we linked to the docs from both the course on P2PU as well as in emails that we sent out every week. The weekly emails make it very clear what was expected of our learners as well as where to go to complete their tasks. See an example below:
We also sent out individual group chase-ups the Monday following a Sunday due date as well as a chase-up Wednesday following the peer review due date. See below for an example of this:
Its also very important to understand that the first two to three weeks are a bit rough for learners – they’re confused and they have lots of questions and issues. We received anywhere from 15 to 30 emails a week and at least five calls, asking general questions about the course, the platform, google docs, etc. We nearly always responded to these on the same day and offered as much support as needed. A quick response to a simple question can be the deciding factor between a learner getting frustrated and dropping out or being satisfied and feeling supported and staying in the course.
This initial confusion is also why we went with a two-week introduction period, and we think this really helps with the retention rate. It gave the learners a chance to ask questions, sort out their issues and concerns and get comfortable with the course, the platform, the collaboration tools, and their groups.
2. Associate a course with a known, respected entity
Our course was associated with the NCU of Australia, which is very well known and respected. We deal with teachers on a daily basis, and most of our NCU affiliated teachers/librarians were the first to sign up for the course and have been our biggest supporters and promoters.
In addition to past participants spreading the word, we promoted the course through our school connections in Australia – through teachers whom we’ve given advice, the Copyright Advisory Group (each State/Territory in Australia as well as each sector has a representative), teacher organizations, and our website (http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/) which is the official guide to copyright issues for Australian Schools and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions. Once we did our initial promotional blitz, the promotion largely took off on its own, making its way onto numerous listservs and teacher associations that we didn’t previously know existed.
So the association helped with the initial promotion of the course, but we also believe the reputation of the NCU encouraged teachers to sign up for the course: it made teachers feel more comfortable asking questions/contacting us, it decreased the numbers of dropouts, and we also found that many employers, such as school deans, required their teaching staff to take the course.
Incorporating the course into NCU’s daily workload also allowed us to quickly and effectively respond to questions/issues with the course.
3. Arrange groups to encourage conversation and cohesiveness
In the first week of the course, we only asked our learners to fill out a questionnaire and have a look around the course. With the information from the questionnaire, we created 15 groups of four. We also took group requests, which frequently came from teachers at the same school. If groups were not requested, we arranged groups based on school location, level and sector to encourage conversation and commonality between group members. In the second week of the course, we only asked our students to meet their group and to decide on how their group would collaborate. Group members got to know each other and supported each other over the course of the seven weeks, and we think this group cohesiveness really encouraged group members to stay committed to the group and the course (as well as have more fun!).
As an example, we had one student who was going to drop out because she needed to have surgery in the third week of the course, and she would be unable to type for a week or two. She consulted us, and we told her to first discuss the problem with her group to see if they could work something out. She did this, and they became somewhat of a support group for her and they worked out that she would lead discussion in the weeks leading up to her surgery (which they mainly did via email) and then the weeks she couldn’t type she participated via a weekly Skype session with her group.
We’ve also been told by a number of groups that they all plan to keep in touch with each other to discuss any copyright questions and what’s going on in their classrooms/schools.
Overall, we believe the course was very successful. Not only because of the retention rate but also because people enjoyed it! They’re telling others about the course, they learnt the information, and if they ever have any questions or issues they now know where to find the information.No Comments »
This is a guest post by Pete Forsyth, organizer of the School of Open’s “Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics & Beyond” course and member of WikiProject Open.
The University of Mississippi’s Spring 2014 course “Open Educational Resources and Practices” will include the module “Writing Wikipedia Articles” (aka WIKISOO), which I developed and taught through the School of Open; as well as “Open Content Licensing for Educators,” developed and taught by Wayne Mackintosh as part of the OER university consortium. The new graduate level course (Edhe 670), taught by Dr. Robert Cummings, will invite learners from around the world to take these two course modules alongside graduate students, free of charge. This is the first time a university has adopted a School of Open course as part of a formal university course.
In the new course, both online learners and University of Mississippi students will actively participate in open educational practices, even as they learn the theory and history of open education and related concepts. Online learners will enjoy university-level instruction free of charge and without the need to enroll in a degree program.
Noting the advantages of this first-of-its-kind course, Associate Professor Robert Cummings said,
“University of Mississippi graduate students in the School of Education will prepare for their careers with this unique opportunity to engage the emerging global field of Open Educational Resources. UM students will not only learn about OER, its origins, and its role in the classrooms of the future, but they will have the opportunity to work with developers and theorists—both as fellow students and emerging practitioners—in a synchronous, global classroom of enrolled students and un-enrolled learners.”
The course’s subject matter should be of particular benefit to those interested in the future of education. Educators are embracing openness in education by using the increasingly interactive and ubiquitous Internet. In doing so, they aim to lower financial costs, reduce legal complexities, and otherwise eliminate barriers for learners worldwide.
“Open education signals a return to the core values of the academy, namely, to share knowledge freely,” said OERu founder Wayne Mackintosh, who teaches the “Open Content Licensing for Educators” module. “Working together we achieve far more than working alone. This course is an exemplar of open collaboration widening learning opportunities for all.”
The ability to engage and collaborate online and in real time, across geographical borders, presents opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Wikipedia in particular has enabled hundreds of thousands of people around the world to connect in meaningful ways, united by a shared passion for freely sharing knowledge. As part of the team that created the Wikipedia Education Program, Dr. Cummings, Dr. Mackintosh, and I have long worked to bring Wikipedia’s community and the world of formal education closer, so that each may learn from the experience of the other.
Wikipedia is important not only as a publication, but also as a vibrant learning community, and as a collection of highly effective collaborative processes. Wikipedia offers many valuable case studies in effective online collaboration, both in connection with and independent of formal academic study. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with UM students alongside learners around the world.
If you would like to take one or both of the open modules, sign up to receive updates today!
- Open Content Licensing for Educators (OER university; 2 weeks in February)
- Writing Wikipedia Articles (WIKISOO) (School of Open, 6 weeks, starting in February)
On the first weekend of March, Wikimedia Germany and CC Germany hosted a workshop around the School of Open’s official launch. Attending were professionals and enthusiasts from various fields, some lawyers but mostly teachers and education managers as well as activists of the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Internet & Society Co:llaboratory in Berlin.
School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA
After a quick introduction, we checked out the existing School of Open course program and all features of the P2PU user interface. The mission then was to get a first set of courses in German off the ground by either translating existing courses and/or developing new ones — and that’s what we did:
Work on three courses began, partly translating the content, partly enhancing it. One course was envisioned from scratch, aiming at giving educators an idea of how OER work, why they matter and how. Here are the courses that are in development:
- Bilder auf Wikimedia Commons hochladen – In diesem Kurs kannst du lernen, wie einfach es ist, Inhalte auf Wikimedia Commons hochzuladen und damit die große Datenbank freier Bilder weiter zu ergänzen.
English translation: Upload images to Wikimedia Commons – In this course you will learn how easy it is to upload content on Wikimedia Commons, and thus complement the large database of free images.
- Wie erstelle ich einen Kurs auf P2PU?- Du möchtest einen Kurs anlegen und mit anderen dein Wissen teilen? Hier findest du in wenigen Schritten eine Anleitung.
English translation: How to create a course on P2PU – You want to create a course and share your knowledge? Here you can find a tutorial in a few steps.
- Freie Lernmaterialien in der Schule – OER für Lehrkräfte – Mit diesem Kurs lernen Sie die Bedeutung von Open Educational Resources, kurz OER, den freien Lehr- und Lernmaterialien, kennen.
English translation: Free learning materials in schools – OER for teachers – This course will teach you the importance of open educational resources (OER) and the freedom of teaching and learning materials.
At the end of the day, a start had been made and the participants collected a lot of ideas about how to improve and develop the School of Open program. A network began to emerge of interested experts and enthusiasts, many of whom will join the School of Open discussion list (Google Group) in order to get involved.
If you would like to help us develop the courses above, or create new ones in German, please email email@example.com or join the School of Open discussion list and introduce yourself and your interest!
For the German summary of the event, see the Wikimedia Germany blog.No Comments »
Celebrating Open Data
Open Data Day 2013 can be described as a success. Why? Because hundreds of people participated in more than 100 events distributed across six continents all over the world, celebrating open data and all that we can do with it. Here at CC, we planned and executed a community-supported event to build open learning resources around the topic of Open Science, done in a hackathon-style sprint event that gathered people with diverse backgrounds and experience levels. An undergraduate student and a post-doc researcher, both from Stanford. An instructional designer from Los Angeles and an associate professor from Auburn University, plus a handful more of very talented people. Oh, and a mother and high school-aged daughter duo that simply wanted to see what “open” is about. We all connected to help build an open course to teach others about Open Science. Here’s how we did it.
Open Content for Learning
It’s worth mentioning that the course materials that were produced during the sprint will be openly licensed CC BY and shared so that their benefit to Open Education and Open Science are not restricted by legal boundaries. The material is being curated and will undergo a review process over the next couple weeks before being ported to the School of Open, a collaborative project by Creative Commons, P2PU, and a strong volunteer community of “open” experts and organizations. Though fitting the content to P2PU’s online course platform was in the back of our minds, time and consideration were largely placed on identifying important ideas that explain what Open Access, Open Research, and Open Data mean for Open Science, and how we can engage more “young scientists” (this is an ever-broadening term) in the ways of Open.
The Net Works Effect*
Adding a layer on top of open content itself, which is elastic in nature, our approach to this hackathon-style event focused on being very lean, the type of event that can be run by anyone, anywhere, and requiring very few resources. We created a Google Drive folder and a set of publicly-editable documents to collect openly-licensed resources, map out a tentative module/lesson plan, coordinate communications between participants, and generally provide a single place to collaborate on Open Science learning materials. Connecting with other event organizers at the OKFN and PLOS, mailing lists, Twitter hashtags, and other forms of communication were established so that there was a support network for those who were organizing events and those who were interested in participating in Open Data Day events on some level. David Eaves, Rufus Pollock, Ross Mounce, and many others were loud and clear on the Open Data Day mailing list, making sure news about each event was passed around.
— creativecommons (@creativecommons) February 22, 2013
Before the event, a registration page was created for the course sprint. We offered a handful of in-person tickets for folks to come down to our office in Mountain View, as well as a number of remote participant tickets for those who were in different geographical locations. Google Hangout “rooms” were set up on laptop computers placed in physical conference rooms at the CC HQ, allowing remote participants to work in real-time with persons on the ground. To see a more detailed description of the day’s event, see the schedule document here.
So what did we make? The sprinters involved in the project collected and organized resources that explain common aspects of Open Science. The main sections (access, methods, data) were helpful in searching for content, but there was a great deal of overlap between sections, which highlighted the relationhips between them. Beyond the collection of resources, sets of tasks were built that are meant to guide learners out beyond the course and into the communities of Open Science, interacting with the ideas, technical systems, and people who are opening up science. The Introduction to Open Science course on P2PU is still in a lightly-framed state, but the plan is to include the course in the launch of the School of Open during Open Education Week, March 11-15. If you’re interested in helping make this transition or to help build or review other courses that we call “open,” come introduce yourself in the School of Open Google Group. Or check out what else is happening on P2PU.
Beyond the course itself, we’re going to take a look at the sprint process we used, and work out some of the kinks. This rapid open-content creation technique is manageable, low-cost, and builds the Commons. There’s enough openly-licensed content existing on the web to produce a range of learning experiences, so now it seems that it’s a matter of developing open technology tools to the point where we can build education on the web together, easily. For more information about this and other Open Education projects being worked on by Creative Commons, see this page.
We Got Together for Open
Thanks to those who were able to participate in the Open Science course, as well as those who contributed the planning documents leading up to the event. We’ve done well.
PLOS Sci-Ed Blog, Guest Post: Open Data Day, Course Sprints, and Hackathons!
David Eaves’ Blog, International #OpenDataDay: Now at 90 Cities (and… the White House)
Debbie Morrison’s Blog, A Course Design ‘Sprint’: My Experience in an Education Hackathon
Also: The Flickr album from the event can be found here.
*This phrase coined by P. Kishor here, describing the interconnectedness of Open Data Day events.2 Comments »
If you are serious about a Creative Commons project idea, you may be interested in the free, online course, “Getting your CC project funded,” set to run in April. The course consists of a series of workshops and seminars that will take you through the steps from an initial idea to having a finished project proposal for submission, including assistance in identifying and finding funding bodies and collaborations relevant for your project. You provide the idea; the course provides the guidance to turn it into a proposal that can’t be refused.
The course will be run by Jonas Öberg from the Nordic CC network, a lecturer at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden with extensive grant writing and reviewing experience with the European Commission and several Nordic cultural foundations. “Getting your CC project funded” will run on the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) in April, and we especially invite CC Affiliates and friends to participate!
As with all P2PU courses, the course is free to take. Though only 15 active participants will be accepted into the course, the entire course, material, and other information, including the proposals which you write in the course, will be open for anyone to follow on the P2PU platform under the CC BY-SA license.
You can read more at http://p2pu.org/general/getting-your-cc-project-funded. You may start brainstorming at anytime, but official sign-up opens March 31.
If you already have experience writing and reviewing funding proposals… you may be interested in joining the team of expert external reviewers. More info on the current team is available on our wiki. If interested, please contact Jonas directly or janepark [at] creativecommons [dot] org. Though the course itself will be run in English, project proposals may be written and reviewed in English, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian and Bulgarian. More languages may be added depending on the final team of reviewers.1 Comment »
The Peer 2 Peer University, more commonly known now as P2PU by a growing community of self-learners, educators, journalists, and web developers, launches its third round of courses today, opening sign-ups for “courses dealing in subject areas ranging from Collaborative Lesson Planning to Manifestations of Human Trafficking.”
P2PU is simultaneously launching its School of Webcraft, which is a collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation and “is a powerful new way to learn open, standards based web development in a collaborative environment. School of Webcraft courses include Beginning Python Webservices and HTML5.”
In addition, Creative Commons Counsel Lila Bailey is co-facilitating the Copyright for Educators course this round, which will focus on United States law. The course is “for educators who want to learn about copyright, open content material and licensing” and “is taught around practical case studies faced by teachers when using copyright material in their day to day teaching and educational instruction.” For more information, see the course page.
Sign-ups for all other courses are available at http://p2pu.org/course/list. The deadline to sign up is September 8, and courses will run until October 27th. All courses are free to take and openly licensed under CC BY-SA. For more information, see the full announcement, but stay tuned for more courses!No Comments »
Joi Ito is teaching his Digital Journalism course again at Keio University this summer, but this time with a twist. In addition to the traditional semester, where Joi will be teaching within the university, the course will also have an open and online component where anyone may apply to join via the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). Digital Journalism 2010 will run for seven weeks with seven physical meetings which will be webcast and allow for online participation. Additionally, asynchronous communications will continue between classes on mailing lists, the class blog, wiki, and the P2PU platform.
Digital Journalism 2010 is “an introduction to online journalism, citizen media and the use of social networks for journalism and collective action. Participants will work on self defined projects either as individuals or in groups using any combination of media types including video, photographs, illustrations and text as well as online tools such as blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and any other reasonable tool the participant or team would like to use.” In addition to learning about how the journalism landscape is rapidly changing, participants will learn to research and create news online by publishing stories of their own in teams. These stories will be presented to the class (and the world).
The course is a work in progress, so the community can contribute by suggesting readings, activities, and more. P2PU is looking for course organizers to facilitate the P2PU end of things. If interested, please contact thepeople [at] p2pu.org. To participate in the course remotely via P2PU, you can sign up to apply at www.p2pu.org/journalism. Sign-up is open now and the course will begin on Friday, 4 June.
Joi teaches Digital Journalism annually as part of the Keio Graduate School of Media Design. He has contributed pieces to the New York Times, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and Wired. He is also a prolific photographer and if you didn’t already know, the CEO of Creative Commons.
The Peer 2 Peer University is “a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls.” In addition to leveraging existing OER, P2PU licenses all of its own courses under CC BY-SA. For more on why P2PU chose this license, visit http://p2pu.org/license.4 Comments »
Artists have been using Creative Commons licenses in interesting ways for a while, whether it’s to encourage interesting adaptations of their work or to help boost album sales. But it’s not only the visual artists and musicians diversifying the use of CC licenses—open education initiatives like Flat World Knowledge are experimenting with innovative business models by giving away digital content while charging for services added around it. WikiPremed is another one.
WikiPremed is the result of fifteen years of hard work, founded by John Wetzel, a graduate of Stanford University who has been helping “premedical students prepare for the MCAT in small group teaching through over fifty course cycles.” The site is comprehensive in scope, basically a course “in the undergraduate level general sciences,” consisting of textbooks, flash cards, test questions, images, and more that a premed student would need to prepare for the MCAT. All materials are available for free under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which means you can translate, improve, and republish it as long as you share alike.
What’s more interesting is that the site is sustaining itself by giving away digital content for free and charging for print materials, such as its Physics flashcards and print versions of its books. There is also an ask for a one-time $25 donation that then gives students an Organic Mechanisms Pocketbook and Advanced Physiology Crosssword Puzzle Book in return as a thank you. From Glyn Moody’s short interview of John Wetzel (which got picked up by techdirt),
“Students need printed study materials, and they get sick of the computer, so I definitely think there is room for creative commons educational content supported by print publications. I think there is an ethic to not holding content hostage to purchases, but I think there are commercial advantages to the open model as well. I don’t doubt that the average customer at WikiPremed has 1000 page views before purchasing anything.
I am sure that if there were registration walls and missing chapters I would have fewer customers.
I’m not getting rich or anything, at this point, but it is working.”
If you’re interested, you can help contribute to the WikiPremed case study.No Comments »
“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 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:
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!1 Comment »