Orientation week here at U-M

Yesterday we attended the School of Information‘s Research Orientation fair at the newly opened North Quad. There were a great number of interesting people who stopped by our poster to share stories about how they’ve used Open.Michigan’s resources as prospective students to check out classes and make decisions about programs to attend. We also heard about how students are using our resources to decide on what classes to take. One student even told us that an out-of-town friend of hers would be “taking” SI 502 with her this semester!

It was a great opportunity to connect with some of the incoming students at U-M, share with them a little bit of what we’re about and hear some great stories about how our resources are being used.  This is something we hope to do a lot more of in the upcoming semesters. Each day we strive to continue to make connections with our community of scholars, researchers and content creators and we welcome opportunities for collaboration. We’re here to help educate, train and positively contribute to the growing culture of Openness at the University of Michigan and across educational institutions across the world.

If you’re reading this and you think we should attend an orientation session, a meeting, or facilitate a workshop, please let us know. We’d be happy to show up in person, give you some presentation materials, or point you to some great resources that will encourage people to think about Open in new ways. Write a comment or send us an email!

And to leave you with a conversation starter, here’s a great robot remix we liked so much we put on our most recent poster:

Remixed by: Jim Younkin < www.flickr.com/photos/jimyounkin/2383652 >

Creative Commons license < creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0>

Consider Your Course ‘Open’ This Semester

Ethan Watrall, a writer for the ProfHacker project at The Chronicle of Higher Education, recently published an article outlining a checklist for ways faculty can begin to consider building an Open CourseWare (OCW) strategy for their classroom use. As increasingly agile and stable technology changes the processes for teaching and learning in the classroom–from using powerpoint presentations and online resources to student reporting on blogs–how faculty approach creating this easily shared learning content can be reconsidered.

Institutionalized support and creation of OCW has been established for nearly a decade now and many faculty have traded in the traditional lecture style for one that requires an internet connection and a power cord. As we change the way we disseminate learning materials and share knowledge, we have the opportunity to think about teaching for the global classroom and in what ways our learning materials can be shared beyond tangible walls to reach new populations of learners.

The process of making teaching materials and learning resources open and widely accessible can be started at any stage of content development, even at post production. Open.Michigan facilitates this management of open materials with dedicated staff and expertise tailored to making U-M learning materials open. We do this through close consultation with faculty members and by using some pretty cool tools we’ve created to ease this process.

However, if faculty consider the facets of creating open resources at the beginning of the planning process, the impact of their hard work can be broadened immediately upon publication. If you’re already a fan of creating open content but haven’t yet started the process, Watrall’s article is a helpful nudge in the right direction. Outlined in the article are several considerations to take into account when building OCW including:

  • What to put online and make accessible
  • How to approach student submitted work
  • What platform to use
  • Using Open Source Licenses

Open.Michigan has dedicated staff and affiliates that help U-M faculty make their learning resources, including lectures, slides and other learning media, open and accessible. You can review our services and also learn how to create open content from our handy website.  As faculty gear up for the fall 2010 semester, Watrall’s article is a great reminder of how faculty and learning institutions can leverage the technology we use in the classroom to increase the breadth of our education strategies. Open.Michigan is here to help that process, making it that much easier for our community to produce open content and share it with the world.

Fostering Open Biological Sciences: One Petri Dish at a Time

If you recently attended Michigan’s first ever Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, you may have come across a scientific experiment taking place that is usually reserved for a university lab. James Peyer, entrepreneur and PhD student from the University of Michigan, provided a fun and innovative learning opportunity to visitors of all ages with a demonstration of a PCR machine (thermal cycler), part of his Open Bio Tool Kit. Participants created genetic art by actually cloning a gene and painting it on a petri dish. This open tool kit, and Peyer’s innovative strategy combining education and tools, promises to provide access avenues for public school students and hobbyists alike to gain skills and knowledge in the biological sciences.

For high school students, who may take classes with limited resources, a cheap (by comparison) thermal cycler will enable them to gain direct knowledge and skills in the biological sciences. Peyer writes, “it’s hard to get students excited about biology without letting them get their hands dirty actually doing things themselves.” By building a thermal cycler that is affordable for high school science programs to acquire, and by providing an educational program to support the use of this machine and engage students with hands-on opportunities, Peyer is opening a door to the world of biological sciences for many students across the country.

But Peyer doesn’t stop at public demonstrations. One of his goals is to foster experimentation and creativity by encouraging open access to the biological sciences. He wants to enable people who may be outside higher education and research institutions a chance to learn, participate and grow the field. His strategy consists of a two-pronged approach: providing open educational platforms and learning modules for students and teachers to use and providing the tools for them to apply their new found knowledge. His tools can be found on otyp and his educational programs can be found on gen.otyp.

The results of this approach, as demonstrated at Maker Faire, are quite fun and interesting, illustrating the enthusiasm and creativity of folks everywhere. We here at Open.Michigan were pretty excited to learn about Peyer’s activities and we think you’ll find them very interesting as well.These kinds of strategies are similar to what we at Open.Michigan are engaged in every day. We applaud the kinds of work that Peyer and others at the Maker Faire are involved in, as these activities put knowledge directly in the hands of those who want or need it. In fact, all this activity is pretty close to our overall goals: “Open.Michigan encourages researchers, learners, and instructors to maximize the impact and reach of their scholarly work through open sharing.”

Maybe you know someone who will benefit from Peyer’s efforts? If  you do, feel free to share this post with others or read the following articles for more information about James Peyer’s work and the Maker Faire:

Hey there, Emily, welcome to the Open.Michigan team!

We put out the call and Emily Petty Puckett Rodgers gave us an emphatic “Yes!” Please welcome our new Open Education Coordinator: Emily!

We’re incredibly excited about what Emily has to offer Open.Michigan and U-M, including massive persuasion skills, assessment skills, organizational and teamwork skills, and even cool-Etsy-bike-accessory-finding skills. Emily comes to us via Fayetteville, Arkansas and the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She’s been studying community informatics and library information services for the last two years, while polishing her research credentials in performance outcomes metrics and information use in communities.

Emily starts working with Open.Michigan this week, so expect to see her person, name, and ideas all around the Open.Michigan sphere!

For a look at how Emily and Open.Michigan can help you, check out our team.