open courses

Open Course Library releases 39 more high-enrollment courses

Jane Park, April 30th, 2013

OCLHowto1
OCL How-to Guide / SBCTC / CC BY

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.

Update

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:

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Peer 2 Peer University Launches Second Pilot

Jane Park, February 18th, 2010

The Peer 2 Peer University, “a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls” by leveraging social software and existing open educational resources, launched its second pilot and a new website today. The first pilot launched last September with seven courses, ranging from Creative Nonfiction Writing to Behavioral Economics. Due to high demand, P2PU has doubled its course offerings for the second round. From the press release,

“Some of the courses were offered in the first phase of the pilot which launched last September, but seven are brand new, including “Urban Disaster Risk Management,” “Mashing Up the Open Web,” and “Solve Anything! Building Ideas through Design.” P2PU is also excited to announce its first Portuguese language courses organized by Brasil’s Casa de Cultura Digital, one of which is an introduction to the thinking of Paulo Freire (educational theorist who is author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed). The P2PU community has grown and is excited to have these new courses and their organizers on board.”

Since last November’s workshop in Berlin, a few changes have taken place at P2PU. P2PU is still run and governed by volunteers, but the P2PU Council, with the support of the community, has elected Philipp Schmidt as its representing Director. Philipp is one of the co-founders of the project, as well as a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, which enables him to devote himself full time to P2PU. On becoming Director, Philipp says, “We have proven that the model works and are seeing tremendous interest from people all over the world to learn together. I am very excited to help guide the project through the next phase of growth and for the opportunity to work with the inspiring and talented volunteers that make P2PU so special.”

When asked how P2PU will affect the education landscape, Council member Delia Browne says, “P2PU will revolutionize how people learn. It will help create a global open culture of learning for the 21st century.”

The P2PU community consists of a diverse group of people. They are writers, teachers, designers, doctoral and alternative grad students, artists, copyright specialists, scientists, and blues guitar players. Above all, they are learners–peers working together to learn from each other.”

If you want to learn more about the Peer 2 Peer University, see my past post on them. All P2PU produced content is licensed under CC BY-SA, which means you are free to share, distribute and derive for your own mirror initiative as long as you share alike. “P2PU is teaching and learning by peers for peers and it is run and governed by volunteers. It builds on educational content that is free from copyright restrictions or licensed under Creative Commons licenses.” The deadline to sign up for courses is February 28. Courses will run for at least six weeks starting March 12. Each course may require different information and prerequisites to apply.

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The Future of Peer 2 Peer University

Jane Park, December 8th, 2009

wall of organized ideas
Photo by John Britton CC BY-SA

The pilot phase of P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) ended in October, after having run for six weeks with seven courses and approximately 90 participants. Last month, the pilot phase volunteers, including the course organizers, met in person for the first time at the first ever P2PU Workshop in Berlin. The goal of the workshop was to integrate pilot phase experiences into a working plan for the future of P2PU. Judging from the outcomes, the workshop achieved its goal. Check out CC Learn’s video download of the workshop at Blip.tv, Vimeo, or YouTube. (It’s CC BY, so feel free to share and remix!)

Background

“The mission of P2PU is to leverage the power of the Internet and social software to enable communities of people to support learning for each other. P2PU combines open educational resources, structured courses, and recognition of knowledge/learning in order to offer high-quality low-cost education opportunities. It is run and governed by volunteers.”

Why is CC Learn interested in P2PU?

“P2PU is the social wrapper around open educational resources.”

The open education movement started by focusing on the legal and technical aspects of educational resources, and how they could be opened up for use by anyone, anywhere. Creative Commons licenses provide the legal, technical, and social infrastructure for OER, enabling the easy use and reuse of OER while improving discoverability and adaptability around the world. This movement towards opening education has resulted in an abundant and still growing commons of open educational resources (OER).

However, P2PU recognizes that content isn’t enough. Accessing OER does not automatically result in learning. There are reasons why traditional education institutions exist, one of these being the social interaction between peers that enables, facilitates, and motivates learning. But what about those that want to learn outside of brick and ivy walls? P2PU is an initiative outside of the traditional institution that aims to provide the social learning structures, the “social wrapper”, around existing open educational resources.

Because P2PU is a true OER project, testing the bounds of what can work when you empower a community of volunteers and peers to learn for free from each other, CC Learn is interested in where it’s going.

Where is P2PU going?

In the short term, P2PU is aiming to double its courses for its second pilot, which launches towards the end of January next year. P2PU has also established a strong community of core volunteers in tech, outreach, sustainability, research, and course organizing. These volunteers run P2PU, and they are all very busy getting P2PU ready for its next phase which will feature, among other things:

  • a new website and social platform
  • an orientation process for new course organizers
  • a CC BY-SA licensing policy (and a compendium on how to choose a license for your open education project)
  • a set of core values that the community subscribes to

P2PU is also preparing a research workshop on alternative accreditations in early 2010, and building relationships with other organizations (such as CC Learn) to explore avenues in research, assessment, and sustainability.

What is the role of P2PU in education?

Good question, and good answers—here. Like the education landscape, P2PU is still evolving. For more reflections on the workshop, check out the video, Nadeem Shabir’s post on Talis Education, and my post on OnOpen.net.

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The American Graduation Initiative

Jane Park, July 15th, 2009

President Obama announced yesterday the American Graduation Initiative, a twelve billion dollar plan to reform U.S. community colleges. The initiative calls for five million additional community college graduates by 2020, and plans that “increase the effectiveness and impact of community colleges, raise graduation rates, modernize facilities, and create new online learning opportunities” to aid this goal.

A significant component of the initiative is the plan to “create a new online skills laboratory.” From the fact sheet,

“Online educational software has the potential to help students learn more in less time than they would with traditional classroom instruction alone. Interactive software can tailor instruction to individual students like human tutors do, while simulations and multimedia software offer experiential learning. Online instruction can also be a powerful tool for extending learning opportunities to rural areas or working adults who need to fit their coursework around families and jobs. New open online courses will create new routes for students to gain knowledge, skills and credentials. They will be developed by teams of experts in content knowledge, pedagogy, and technology and made available for modification, adaptation and sharing. The Departments of Defense, Education, and Labor will work together to make the courses freely available through one or more community colleges and the Defense Department’s distributed learning network, explore ways to award academic credit based upon achievement rather than class hours, and rigorously evaluate the results.”

It is important to note here the difference between “open” and simply accessible “online”. Truly open resources for education are clearly designated as such with a standard license that allows not only access, but the freedoms to share, adapt, remix, or redistribute those resources. The educational materials that make up the new open online courses for this initiative should be open in this manner, especially since they will result from a government plan. We are excited about this initiative and hope the license for its educational materials will allow all of these freedoms. Catherine Casserly, formerly in charge of open educational resources at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (now at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), writes,

“Today at Macomb College, President Barack Obama announced a proposal to commit $50 million for the development of open online courses for community colleges as part of the American Graduation Initiative: Stronger American Skills through Community Colleges. As proposed, the courses will be freely available for use as is and for adaption as appropriate for targeted student populations. The materials will carry a Creative Commons license.”

You can read the official announcement at the White House site on their blog and visit the briefing room for the full fact sheet.

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