Introducing OERbit: a Drupal-based OER/OCW publishing platform

OERbit logo and wordmark

The Open.Michigan team is super-excited to introduce OERbit to the OER/OCW community. In October 2010, Open.Michigan upgraded its website to a Drupal-based system. After some bug-fixing, optimizing, and generalizing, we are now releasing the code to the public under an open-source license. That’s right — you can download it, install it, change it, build on it, even contribute code or suggestions back to us! This is going to be fun.

  1. Read about OERbit.
  2. Get the code.

Cheesy tagline: Launch your content into OERbit!

Open.Michigan Upcoming Events

Open.Michigan is partnering with several organizations in the next few weeks to host some exciting opportunities to learn some skills, get involved in your community and do good. We’d also like to promote an awesome April event that is hosted by the Copyright Office. Feel free to RSVP and attend any or all of these events.

Thursday, March 24 6-8 pm

Develop a Participant Tracking System for Nonprofits and Community Organizations

University of Michigan, North Quad room 1255

Community organizations often host events that bring people together in a safe, productive environment. But these organizations need a way to track their participants and to ensure they’re providing the best possible experience to their community.

Join the Community Information Corps and Open.Michigan as we brainstorm how to develop a participant tracking system based on the needs of two area organizations: the Neutral Zone and the Ruth Ellis Center. During this event, participants will

  • Identify opportunities for how this system can be developed and begin the design process.
  • Brainstorm and design prototypes for the system.
  • Pitch your design to representatives from the Neutral Zone and the Ruth Ellis Center!

Dinner will be served. Please RSVP:

Learn More: | |

Saturday, March 26 10 am-1 pm

Learn Arduino!

All Hands Active, 525 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Learn Arduino! Open.Michigan, All Hands Active, Ingenuitas and MLibrary’s Copyright Office are teaming up to provide students and community members a free hands-on introduction to the open hardware phenomenon Ardunio. This tool has been growing in popularity over the years. It’s a cheap, easy to learn tool you can use to make your own smart interactive devices. Want to check it out?

What to Expect

10 am: Learn about the folks behind the Open.Michigan initiative, All Hands Active (AHA), Ingenuitas and the MLibrary Copyright Office and why we care about open activities.

11 am: Introduction to Arduino and then get hands-on experience with Arduino kits donated by AHA and Ingenuitas. Be prepared to learn together and share kits.

Coffee and breakfast goodies will be served. Please RSVP:

Learn More: | |

Friday April 8th, 7 PM

Copyright Criminals: Can You Own a Sound?

With Special Guests: Peter DeCola and Amer Ahmed

University of Michigan North Quad, room 2435

See the acclaimed film Copyright Criminals ( that takes a hard look at the debate over musical sampling, artistic expression, copyright law, and money. Following the movie there will be a discussion with Peter DiCola and Amer Ahmed.

Peter is the co-author of Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling. DiCola received his JD and PhD in economics at the University of Michigan and is Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern Law. Amer is the Associate Director of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and Trotter Multicultural Center and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for Hip Hop Congress.

This show is part of a year-long series from MPublishing on the use of Creative Commons licenses. This event is made possible with support from the Kresge Business Library.

Learn More:

Introducing, OERca Screencasts!

However, before we introduce those, let us first get acquainted with OERca. OERca, the Open Educational Resources clearing application, is a content and decision management system, designed by Open.Michigan to assist content creators in transforming educational material into OER. For Open.Michigan, OERca plays a key-supporting role in the dScribe process. dScribes use it to track and manage their work, and Open.Michigan uses it to manage all of the copyright decisions that are required to create an open educational resource. So, for anyone looking to adopt the dScribe process, and for anyone who has a need to show that their OER initiative is an accountable, trustworthy venture – OERca is a tool for you.

If you are interested in OERca, please check out our new screencasts. We have just over 30 minutes of instructional training footage (split into 10 bit size videos that are about 3 minutes each) that will walk you through different features of OERca.The videos can be streamed online or downloaded and viewed from your desktop. They show you how to do everything from logging in and uploading your content, to adding citation information and making final edits to your newly created open educational resources.

You are also welcome to sign up for an OERca test account, so that you can get some hands on experience with the software. To date, OERca has been incorporated into local OER efforts in California, Peru, South Africa and Ghana. There are currently 105 folks from U-M and seven external institutions who have requested an account and used OERca to publish OER.

Did we mention that OERca is also available as a free download under a Apache License V2.0? So when you are ready to pull the trigger, you can download and install your own instance of OERca by following these instructions. OERca source code is also available on SourceForge for those who would like to support the development of this tool. You can also find a ton of OERca documentation on our wiki!

How Can We Help You? Tools and Tips from Open.Michigan

The Open.Michigan team recently attended the Students for Free Culture conference, held over a chilly but bright February weekend at New York University.  We were invited to speak on a panel about Open Educational Resources (OER). But this being a student-driven, grassroots organization, we were asked to specifically discuss our dScribe process, a collaboratory model for OER production that is designed specifically with students in mind.

As you may know, Open.Michigan is an initiative that was envisioned and implemented by a group of passionate and dedicated students collaborating with likeminded faculty and administrative support from the Medical School.  The Open.Michigan team has diligently documented our workflows, processes and attempted to develop resources and tools that are not simply useful for us at U-M, but are also useful for other individuals, schools and institutions. One recent example is our blog post about the Department of Labor grant announcement that mandates OER creation, which provided links to resources and tools created by Open.Michigan and used by other institutions to start local instances of OER.

Participating in a discussion with open education professionals and passionate students is inspirational to the Open.Michigan team. We’re continually trying to refine our processes and organize our resources in meaningful ways, but we left the Students for Free Culture conference even more inspired to publish not just OER but resources to support the growth of OER creation and use in other settings. Taking a cue from Parker Phinney, we’re trying to create some bite-sized tools, resources and tips for you to use for your own work and to improve how we work at Open.Michigan.

Right now we’re generating a few lists on our wiki  and our website, and publishing more DIY-focused instructional videos, infosheets, and presentations. We’re also planning on packaging these to be even more useful in the near future. Here are a few links to give you a taste of what we’re doing to help people create OER and build a community around sharing:

As we create these resources, we want your feedback. Let us know what you want to see. What is useful to you? Do you want to see more videos? Do you like infosheets that are short and to the point? Do you want more lists of external resources? Do you want videos?

Shoot us a comment. Send us an email. Get in touch through Twitter. We’re listening.