Get Involved with Open.Michigan this Fall (We’re Expecting You!)

The Open.Michigan team has been busy this summer, conducting research on badging, setting up our very own instance of civiCRM (score one for databases!) and continuing to promote OER in new ways. We’ve also been getting ready to support the U-M community as a new cycle of teaching and learning begins on campus. As you make your fall plans, why not schedule some time to get involved with the Open.Michigan community? We have a new events calendar where you can see upcoming Open.Michigan activities and other activities that foster openness in our community. We’ll be announcing our fall Catalyst series soon and we have a few special events planned this semester that we will be adding to our calendar so check our blog, calendar or email list for upcoming events.

Open House

Our first event of the term will be an Open House, providing an opportunity for people to be introduced to what we do and how we do it. We’ll discuss what open educational resources are, how they are created, why copyright matters and how to apply open licenses to your work. You’ll get some hands on experience analyzing content to understand how copyright works and applying licenses to your own material. You’ll also get a chance to meet like-minded people and get involved with some of the fun things we have planned for the term. Everyone’s invited, whether you’ve worked with us before or you’re just now hearing about us.

Open.Michigan Open House

September 9, 2011

11:30 am-1:00 pm

Creative Commons Atelier (2435) North Quad

Refreshments provided.


Open Office Hours

This semester we are also offering Open Office Hours. Our Open Education Coordinator (that’s me!) will be hanging out and available to answer questions, give you training, or help you make your projects open. Office hours will be held every other week (alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays) starting on Tuesday, September 13. On Tuesdays from noon-1:30pm I’ll be in the lobby of the Learning Resource Center in the Taubman Health Sciences Library. On Thursdays from 11:30am-1:00pm I’ll be at the Media Gateway in North Quad. Feel free to set up an appointment in advance or stop by these locations. All the Open Office Hours are in our new events calendar so you can double check the dates and times. As always, you can still set up a meeting with me at another time.


Open.Michigan on SlideShare

Open.Michigan currently has over 190 openly licensed slideshows available on SlideShare. The majority of the slideshows come from the University of Michigan Medical School OER collection. We’re always interested in increasing the visibility and use of U-M’s OER content and this summer we started experimenting with SlideShare by going, as they say, “where the people are.” And so far it appears to be paying off. We’ve been uploading Medical School content at various rates since the end of May, and the content is already fast approaching 8,000 total upload views, with an additional 286 downloads! Best of all, the slideshows are being viewed by people from all over the world.

As we learn more about SlideShare we are also beginning to see how it creates opportunities to deliver openly licensed content in more dynamic ways. For example, embedding slideshows is a slick way to provide access to this content within the context of a blog or webpage. You may one day see slideshows embedded into course sessions on

The ability to add live links to individual slides within a slideshow is an added bonus, and it may one day foster the growth of a dynamic network of OER content across many different websites. What does this mean exactly? I’m not sure – but wouldn’t it be cool if an openly licensed image within a slideshow was linked to a hi-res version on Flickr (or wherever else), where it could then be annotated and commented on by users? Linking to relevant OER content on our YouTube and Blip channels from a slideshow is another idea. Basically, the goal is to connect the dots between popular content sharing platforms. This way, users can take advantage of open educational resources by utilizing the cool features these platforms have already developed. Fitting all of this into a tidy package will be a challenge though.

Since we are just beginning to play around with all of this stuff, we would really appreciate your feedback. For example, what kind of experiences have you had with SlideShare, or other slideshow sharing sites? How do you feel about embedded slideshows, or for that matter, how do you feel about iframes in general? What is the best way to mash up content from multiple sites? Please share your Internet wisdom!

Why open matters

As a dual degree student in the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health, I have decided to focus my career on human health. Since the summer after my first year of medical school, I have also been involved with Open.Michigan, the University’s initiative to publish learning materials as open educational resources (OER). I find myself explaining the latter much more often than the former, and the majority of the time my reasoning focuses on the integration and overlap of these two areas of my life. What follows is a non-exhaustive list of some of the reasons why open educational resources matter to me, as a student in the health professions:

  • From health disparities to health equity. Disparities in disease distribution, health outcomes, and access to care are well-described phenomena in our world currently. While the root causes are often multi-factorial and complex, inequality is a significant contributor. OER means increasing public access to health education materials – that means students, faculty, clinicians, patients, and the general public all have access to more health information, for free. This is one step in promoting equality, namely promoting equal access to information.
  • Learning from other students. The U-M medical school has a wonderful sense of collaboration among its students, from which a significant amount of learning occurs. With OER, the pool of students with which to share information and learn together increases dramatically with lots of diversity added. I personally enjoy hearing about other students’ experiences in other countries, as the type of patients they care for can often be quite different. For example, learning about malaria or measles from an African medical student who has seen numerous cases would benefit my education greatly, while I may contribute knowledge on disease processes that are more common in the United States.
  • Working in the global health setting. A lot of students from U-M decide to pursue some form of medical school experience abroad. Prior to traveling, the availability of medical education resources from that particular country can be beneficial in order to prepare for the common medical cases seen in that setting. This situation applies to any health care worker going abroad, and is a particularly strong benefit of OER.
  • Improving health. Ultimately, I decided to go into medicine and public health because I wanted to improve people’s quality of life. The distribution of disease and health worldwide is a complex problem that will likely require a complex solution. However, I view open educational resources as part of the solution, as it would allow for health professionals to collaborate, share, and learn from each other, thus improving the quality of care provided. Additionally, having quality learning resources can increase the amount of health professionals that can be trained, because it reduces the time demands on faculty to create new resources from scratch.