WIDE-EMU Proposal on Open Learning: Make Your Content Open and Adaptable

I’m really excited to attend WIDE-EMU on October 15. There’s a lot of activity, passion and innovation happening in SE Michigan and we sometimes don’t see enough of this from our offices on the U-M campus. In the same spirit of Copyright Camp, WIDE-EMU aims to bring together folks who are interested in digital humanities, sharing, and employing new ways to teach and learn. It’s a free unconference so show up and attend what interests you. The agenda will be determined soon, so check back with the site to find out when folks will be hosting their sessions.

I’ve signed up to organize a DO session about making the stuff you create open. There are lots of ways to foster openness and Nathan Kelber is hosting another session about building a better LMS that looks quite useful. I’ll be on the other end of this conversation, talking with y’all about how you can apply intellectual property licenses (Creative Commons licenses usually) to share your work more efficiently and encourage collaboration. A lot of folks in this conversation space will undoubtedly be familiar with open access practices and policies and we’ll be examining the next step, adaptability, in this session.

Since this is a DO session, I’m hoping to spend less time talking and more time discussing and engaging about applications of licenses, uses of licenses, and examining your work and how you want to share it to foster institutional practices that support open learning. It’ll be similar to workshops we’ve done in the past, with a little bit of copyright and license basics thrown in and some examples of how folks have been using open platforms, open practices and open licenses to support a global learning community.

Feel free to bring examples (on a laptop, tablet or print) of your own work that you’d like to discuss with the group (maybe make open on the spot?). I’ll have some examples on hand to show off as well.

Have specific questions about using open licenses, how to make things adaptable, how all this applies to a specific situation? Add a comment here or get in touch: epuckett[at]umich.edu and I’ll try to come prepared to answer your questions!

U-M Clarifies Copyright for Faculty, Students and Staff

Copyright can be confusing, especially in an academic setting. If you’re a faculty member, do you own your copyright? What if you’re a student? What about if you’re a staff member at U-M?

Recently, the University of Michigan updated and clarified its Standard Practice Guide on “Who Holds Copyright at or in Affiliation with the University of Michigan” to address this confusing terrain. You can read more about it in the Record. It clarifies that University of Michigan faculty own the copyright to most of their scholarly work (make sure you read the fine print of this SPG, and funding or project requirements).

We encourage our U-M community to read through this Standard Practice Guide and get in touch with us (comment below or contact us) or the Copyright Office if you need clarification or want to ask a few more specific questions about your work.

Much of the work that is created by U-M faculty for teaching and learning qualifies as candidates to be published as open educational resources. For example, in the standard practice guide, scholarly works are defined as:

works authored by FACULTY within the scope of their employment as part of or in connection with their teaching, research, or scholarship.  Common examples of SCHOLARLYWORKS include: lecture notes, case examples, course materials, textbooks, works of nonfiction, novels, lyrics, musical compositions/arrangements and recordings, journal articles, scholarly papers, poems, architectural drawings, software, visual works of art, sculpture, and other artistic creations, among others, regardless of the medium in which those works are fixed or disseminated

Many U-M faculty also choose to share their copyrighted work with the world it by applying an open license to it and publishing it with Open.Michigan. We’ve had over 340 faculty, staff and students contribute content to our collection: http://open.umich.edu/education

Students, unless you are creating something as an employee of the University of Michigan (or another employing body), you own the copyright to your works. You can also contribute it to our OER collection. Students have contributed notes, posters, assignments, papers and guides to Open.Michigan. Here are a few examples: Student Handbook for Global Engagement, Pharmacy 476 posters and presentations, Reading Notes for SI 657.

Open.Michigan’s collection grows because of your contributions. We rely on volunteers and contributors to support our efforts and contribute their work and time to fostering a community of sharing at the University of Michigan. If you don’t see something from your field, let us know. Better yet, contribute your own work to the collection. To contribute, get in touch.

Notes from the Open Video Conference 2011

In case you missed it, the Open Video Conference (OVC) took place on September 10-12 at New York Law School. OVC is a technology event that focuses on access to and creation of open online videos.

We were especially interested in participating in this conference because the Open.Michigan team has spent a lot of time thinking about, researching and developing guidelines for sharing video. While we publish OER on our site, we also try to facilitate open sharing practices more broadly. The University of Michigan has recently been evaluating video capture systems and considering what to do with its digitization projects for archival purposes and the Open.Michigan team wants to help our community and others make informed decisions about creating and using educational video content. We shopped around a draft of the guidelines for sharing recordings at the OVC and got some awesome feedback about making this resource useful. Kudos to an awesome community of open advocates for their feedback and suggestions!

What follows are a few of my notes from the conference. Enjoy!

Tech to be aware of
Popcorn.js: “An event framework for HTML 5 media.”

Here is an example of what can be done with HTML5 video and the popcorn.js framework. This video was created by Jonathan McIntosh and it is a very OER relevant example, because it shows how HTML5 video and popcorn.js can be used to dynamically sync all kinds of contextual information along with the recording. For a remixed OER video, syncing source information with the video is a great feature. Furthermore, having the ability to link to relevant resources as the video is playing has a ton of potential in a teaching and learning environment. More examples of HTML5 video with popcorn.js can be viewed on popcornjs.org.

Popcorn Maker: “Popcorn Maker allows non-technical authors to add popcorn.js to any web page.”

The Gendered Advertising Remixer: This is a super simple 1 function audio and video remixing tool. It is designed to teach children how they are marketed to by mixing audio from a male-targeted ad with the video from a female-targeted ad, or vice versa. It will be interesting to see what other simple audio and video editing tools are developed. Having more openly licensed videos available online will certainly further enable these kinds of tools.

The Internet Archive also demoed the “Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive” collection. The layout of this collection is particularly interesting, because it provides access to over 3,000 hours of footage in an easy to understand visual interface. Allowing users to compare and contrast all of the videos in new and meaningful ways.

What does all this mean for Open Educational Resources?

Will we one day have large collections of OER videos on a particular topic, like say Neoplasia, from multiple institutions in a collection similar to the “Understanding 9/11” collection? If the videos in these collections are developed with sharing in mind, will there then be simple tools like the Gendered Advertising Remixer in place to quickly and easily remix the videos within the collection? What does this mean for independent learners, or for more traditional teaching and learning environments? Additionally, HTML5 video, popcorn.js and popcornmaker allow semi non-technical people to remix videos and to build unique environments around those videos. Will openly licensed audio and video recordings increase the use and impact of these technologies? I think so, and as OER collections grow and as audio and video remixing tools become more accessible and easy to use, new opportunities for utilizing openly licensed audio and video recordings will appear. I’m excited to see how all of this will evolve.

Discussions on Innovation, Risk and Opportunity in Open Learning

Recently a New York Times article, “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores,” was circulated and discussed on the School of Information’s open listserv. The email list is a conversation space for current faculty, staff and students as well as alumni (like me! and most of the other Open.Michigan team) and community members. It’s a space for smart and thoughtful folks to discuss and debate the trends, perspectives, opportunities and challenges we face as thoughtful information professionals.

In the course of the conversations about the article (that explores issues of technology use in the classroom and its potential impact, or not, on learning outcomes) some great questions were posed that brought up learning issues and opportunities we consider every day at Open.Michigan. The conversations in this thread represent the “fundamental tension between [the School of Information’s] love of new innovation and its parallel, long-standing belief that patrons deserve diverse perspectives” (Kristen Fontichiaro) and this thread specifically touched on issues of open learning and OER.

What follows are the highlights of the conversation (with permission from the authors) that provide some insight into the culture of openness at the University of Michigan and the perspectives and challenges of Open.Michigan.  I received a few requests to capture this conversation because of its salient points and what follows are full transcripts from some of the major contributors. I think this conversation is particularly significant considering recent conversations about the disruptive opportunity open learning can leverage in today’s networked and resource-constrained education system. Dr. Cable Green recently discussed some of these same issues in an ELI webinar.

Clinical Assistant Professor Kristen Fontichiaro initiated the larger open learning-themed conversation with some provoking questions specifically addressing the recent press and mainstream support Khan Academy has received:

  1. Can one person teach anything to everybody? Do we want a single instructional voice in public education? Is that the intent of public education in a democracy? And does it matter if that voice is for good or ill (I am thinking, on the extreme, of “single voice” curricula during Soviet times or in dictatorships)
  2. Should one foundation have the power to leverage national curriculum?My hunch is that both Gates and Khan are acting in goodwill with this funding.
  3. Do we feel differently if someone were crafting national curriculum materials who, perhaps, has a subjective political or social bias? or is just plain weak at fact-finding (Obama’s birth certificate)?
  4. How do we determine authority beyond popularity?

Dr. Charles Severance (Dr. Chuck) followed up with a great response and the rest of this post is the full transcript of the conversation Dr. Chuck and I shared on the SI open listserv.

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Interview with Paul Conway, Assoc. Professor of Information, School of Information

Opening up course content does not undermine the essence of teaching, which for me is the dynamic environment of the classroom. By releasing a syllabus and PowerPoint presentations, I still retain the creativity that comes from the engagement with the students in the classroom.

Over the past two years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with an outstanding faculty member from the School of Information. Dr. Paul Conway is an Associate Professor of Information who specializes in digitization of cultural heritage resources and digital libraries. Dr. Conway recently won the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for his undergraduate course, SI 410: Ethics and Information Technology. He is the first faculty member from the University of Michigan to publish all of his courses with Open.Michigan. His courses can be found (and adapted!) on his course page.

Dr. Conway recently sat down to chat with us about why he thinks publishing OER is important and how other faculty can do it.

Could you briefly describe your academic research and teaching responsibilities?

My research centers on quality in digitization processes and the role that quality plays in the use of digitized cultural heritage resources, particularly visual resources. I focus on the transformation of photographic images into digital formats. I am interested in how technical processes and representational processes influence the ways that end users find meaning in digital surrogates. One research focus is on the connection between building and using collections of digital photographs.  My other focus is on the implications of large-scale digitization of books and serials. My current research is exploring how to measure and validate the quality of digitization and HathiTrust digitized books.

I teach courses in the Archives and Records Management and the Preservation of Information specializations. My two courses in Open.Michigan on Digitization for Preservation and Preserving Sound and Motion focus on preservation. I teach a course on digital libraries and a course for undergraduates, Ethics and Information Technology, which is part of the new Informatics concentration. I’m very excited about teaching undergraduate students.

Why did you decide to make your courses available for sharing through Open Michigan?

I really respect the fundamental concept of Open.Michigan. Opening up the educational enterprise at a great university like the University of Michigan demonstrates to the world that we are proud of our teaching, that we know who we are and what we do. Making course content widely available also helps demystify learning in a university for those who may be confused about what we teach.

Opening up course content does not undermine the essence of teaching, which for me is the dynamic environment of the classroom. By releasing a syllabus and PowerPoint presentations, I still retain the creativity that comes from the engagement with the students in the classroom.

My other motivation stems from my experience over a decade ago on a research project that involved soliciting syllabi from faculty at six research universities so that we could assess the use of new and emerging digital resources in humanities courses. It turned out to be a very challenging research problem because of how protective many faculty are of their syllabi.  I thought if I had a chance to teach, I was not going to be as proprietary about my syllabi as many of the faculty I encountered when I was doing that research project in 1998. Open.Michigan provides an easy way to follow through on that commitment.

Why do you think it’s important to share your education resources, or for faculty to share their resources on something like Open Michigan?

Making course content available online helps students who are looking for classes decide whether the course is right for them.  And it makes my job easier in explaining the focus of a course to prospective students. There are fewer surprises on the first day of class. Releasing course content in the systematic way that Open.Michigan supports is a form of publication amenable to review and commentary. The license that goes with the content encourages reuse and adaptation, along with sharing the results of that adaptation openly.  If enough faculty release a critical mass of course content, then it becomes possible to learn from each other about how to structure a course on a given topic. I have had enough positive feedback from opening my courses that I am convinced about this potential benefit. I think the courses that I teach are, if not unique, at least uniquely crafted. I’d like to let others know.

What tips could you provide for faculty members interested in working with Open Michigan?

My first suggestion is that if you anticipate that you will be putting your course in Open.Michigan, factor the editorial process required to open your course into the design and construction of your presentations. I find I now do a better job of documenting the quotations and images I use in my presentations. I also think more about how my presentations will be read by people who are not in the classroom.

In terms of the use of images, specifically, I recommend using image content either that you own or that already carries a Creative Commons license.  The most time consuming part of opening my courses in Open.Michigan is swapping copyrighted images for similar content that is already open for re-use.

My final piece of advice is to do it; it won’t hurt you. Especially given the support that Open.Michigan provides through its dScribes, the process is painless. I found it very enjoyable to work with Open.Michigan staff and to see the final results, which are far more professionally presented than anything I would be able to do myself.

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Editorial Assistant Needed for MELO 3D project

The Open.Michigan team is participating in a great grant-funded project this term called MELO3D (Michigan Education through Learning Objects). We’re doing some very exciting things with teaching and learning content in the classroom and we need some help! Do you want a challenging opportunity to learn about copyright and to contribute to the growing collection of U-M OER? If so, read on and apply today!

Interested applicants, please send a cover letter and resume to Emily Puckett Rodgers, Open Education Coordinator at epuckett[at]umich.edu

dScribe EDITORIAL ASSISTANT 055600 (Office – Grade 04)

The MELO3D (Michigan Education through Learning Objects) project team is looking for a temporary employee to serve as a dScribe Editorial Assistant. The MELO3D project is funded by the LSA-Instructional Technology Committee under the title “Enhancing Undergraduate Education Through the Deployment of Good Learning Objects” and is a cross-disciplinary project comprised of members from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, the USE Lab, the University Library, CRLT and the Office of Enabling Technologies in the Medical School. Through the MELO3D grant, LSA and its partners are facilitating the integration of curriculum-based sequences of online Learning Objects (LOs) that complement classroom pedagogy in large enrollment gateway courses to enhance student learning, engagement, and persistence in college. LOs are interactive web resources designed to support a learning objective and include such things as animations, simulations, tutorials, case studies and games. Because of the nature of this project, U-M faculty members are able to provide associated course materials to educators, students, and self-learners throughout the world, free of charge. The Editorial Assistant will take course materials from participating MELO3D faculty members — such as lecture slides, syllabi, assignments, reading lists, etc. — and prepare them for publication as Open Educational Resources (OER) on the OER website: open.umich.edu/education.

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