Open Course Library
I recently interviewed Dr. Phil Venditti, professor of communication studies at Clover Park Technical College in Washington State (USA). Phil teaches public speaking and other oral and written communication courses. In 2010 Phil learned about the Open Course Library project and became an enthusiastic adherent. Phil developed two courses in the Open Course Library, wrote a textbook which he licensed CC BY, and has since saved his students roughly $60,000 by using open educational resources (OER).
The Open Course Library was Phil’s first exposure to OER, but it wasn’t his last. He testified to the State Legislature in favor of a bill which would have mandated that all educational materials created by state postsecondary education employees be openly licensed. As President of FACTC — the Washington Faculty Association of Community and Technical Colleges, Phil has promoted adoption of OER by college faculty members throughout his state. FACTC passed a resolution in 2012 endorsing the ideal of OER on economic, educational, and moral grounds.
Phil recently went on sabbatical and decided to interview 50 prominent speakers to gather tips on effective public speaking for his students — and for the world because all of Phil’s work and videos are openly licensed under CC BY 4.0 license. Nearly 30 hours of his videos can be browsed at Phil’s YouTube channel. Speakers included in the project are 29-time Emmy winner and “Almost Live” alum Bill Stainton, Tacoma News Tribune Executive Editor Karen Peterson, former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and wildlife artist and conservationist Becci Crowe. To complete the project, 40 of Phil’s public speaking students and a team of editors from Clover Park’s Media Design and Production program spent more than 700 hours reviewing and editing the interviews. When it is launched online in May of this year, the project will offer a database of free, CC BY-licensed materials at cptc.edu/fifty-wise on subjects ranging from how to conquer stage fright to how to organize a presentation.
On March 20, the “50 Wise Speakers” project will be presented in a red-carpet gala at Clover Park Technical College.
Phil says OER has changed the way he thinks about teaching and learning.
“I believe that the essence of education should be sharing. Every day I ask myself, ‘How can I help connect more people to more information that might change their lives?'”
Following Phil’s lead, what will you share today?1 Comment »
A year and a half ago, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of Washington state’s 81 high-enrollment courses under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). Now they have released the remaining 39 under the same terms, which means that anyone, anywhere, including the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges and four-year colleges and universities, can use, customize, and distribute the course materials.
The Open Course Library project is funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt, and distribute under CC BY.
For further background on the project, read our 2010 feature about the project when it was just beginning. All 81 courses are available at the recently redesigned Open Course Library website where each individual course is marked with the CC BY license to enable discovery through Google and other search services on the web.
The SBCTC held a press call today bringing to light a new Cost Analysis report on savings for students where Open Course Library courses have been used in lieu of traditional course materials. For more info, please see:
- Affordable Textbooks For Washington Students: An Updated Cost Analysis of the Open Course Library – Among other findings, “The Open Course Library has saved students $5.5 million in textbook costs to date, including $2.9 million during the 2012-2013 academic year alone.”
- Official SBCTC press release announcing Phase 2 courses (pdf)
- Audio of the Open Course Library media conference call with Q&A (mp3)
There was exciting open policy news from U.S. Washington State (WA) last evening.
HB 2337 “Regarding open educational resources in K-12 education” passed the Senate (47 to 1) and is on its way back to the House for final concurrence. It already passed the House 88 to 7 before moving to the Senate.
The bill directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to support the 295 WA K-12 school districts in learning about and adopting existing open educational resources (OER) aligned with WA and common core curricular standards (e.g., CK-12 textbooks & Curriki). The bill also directs OSPI to “provide professional development programs that offer support, guidance, and instruction regarding the creation, use, and continuous improvement of open courseware.”
The opening section of the bill reads:
- “The legislature finds the state’s recent adoption of common core K-12 standards provides an opportunity to develop high-quality, openly licensed K-12 courseware that is aligned with these standards. By developing this library of openly licensed courseware and making it available to school districts free of charge, the state and school districts will be able to provide students with curricula and texts while substantially reducing the expenses that districts would otherwise incur in purchasing these materials. In addition, this library of openly licensed courseware will provide districts and students with a broader selection of materials, and materials that are more up-to-date.”
While focus of this bill is to help school districts identify existing high-quality, free, openly licensed, common core state standards aligned resources available for local adoption; any content built with public funds, must be licensed under “an attribution license.”
Representative Carlyle introduces HB2337 in the House, followed by Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning, Cable Green, testifying about the impact of the bill on elementary education in the Senate:
This legislature has declared that the status quo — $130M / year for expensive, paper-only textbooks that are, on average, 7-11 years out of date — is unacceptable. WA policy makers instead decided their 1 million+ elementary students deserve better and they have acted.
Congratulations Washington State!4 Comments »
On Monday, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of the state’s high-enrollment 81 Open Course Library courses. The remaining 39 courses will be finished by 2013. Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the global open educational resources (OER) movement, and adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt and distribute.
All courses are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license (CC-BY).
The first 42 courses are available in multiple technical formats including:
- Common Course Cartridges and ANGEL course exports hosted on Connexions.
- Guest login to preview and copy parts of the courses:
- HTML via a partnership with the Saylor Foundation (most translations are still under development).
Michael Kenyon’s students at Green River Community College used to pay nearly $200 for a new pre-calculus textbook. Now they pay only $20 for a book – or use it online for free. Kenyon’s pre-calculus textbook (CC BY SA) was written by community college faculty David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen, who teach at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “We looked at a lot of textbooks,” Kenyon said. “There are some people who think this is the best book out there.”
“The courses were created with the needs of Washington’s college students in mind,” said Tom Caswell, SBCTC Open Education Policy Associate. “And with the idea we would share the courses with the world.”
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.
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 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 42 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.
Justin Hamilton, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said the Washington state effort was groundbreaking for the nation. “Lowering college costs increases a student’s ability to take more courses, finish their degree on time, and enter the workforce prepared for success in a global economy. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for the country.”
“It really is the beginning of the end of closed, expensive, proprietary commercial textbooks that are completely disconnected from today’s reality,” 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 models in both K-12 and higher education.”4 Comments »
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0
Late last year, I caught wind of an initiative that was being funded by the Gates Foundation—it had to do with redesigning the top 80 courses of Washington State’s community college system and releasing them all under CC BY (Attribution Only). The initiative was called the Washington State Student Completion Initiative and the specific project that was dealing with redesign and CC licensing was the Open Course Library Project. I decided to find out more, so I set up a Skype date with Cable Green, the head of the project. Below is the transcribed interview, edited for clarity and cut as much as possible for 21st century attention spans.
Tell me a little bit about who you are, where you come from, and what your role is in open education.
Sure, my name is Cable Green. I’m the eLearning Director for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Our system consists of 34 community and technical colleges and those colleges teach roughly 470,000 students each year. Our enrollments are growing fast in this recessionary period as people are looking to enhance their work skills and go back to college to get degrees and certificates.