It’s Good to have Friends: OER Publishing in the U-M School of Dentistry

Since our start in 2007, Open.Michigan has been fortunate to have the support of the U-M School of Dentistry. The School has published several of their courses and resources in Open Michigan’s OER collection. All their YouTube videos are openly-licensed and their channel is one of the most popular in all of higher education, with 6.5 million upload views. Because they are openly-licensed, these videos have a global reach and are making an impact in many areas, including one project initiated by the U.S. Navy that is raising the level of dental care for the Afghani people.

One of our OER allies in the School of Dentistry is Emily Springfield, instructional designer, who helps faculty and researchers design and develop educational modules and tools. When she receives such a request, she asks right at the start if the faculty member or researcher would be willing to share their work openly on the Internet for others to use and build on. If they agree, she discusses options for licensing and sharing their materials.

Once faculty and researchers select an open license, Springfield advises them on various OER publication options. Springfield explains, “MedEdPORTAL is a ‘carrot’ for faculty because it is peer-reviewed and therefore counts as a publication.” To assist faculty with their submissions, Springfield prints out the MedEdPORTAL requirements and helps faculty complete the fields (outlining the goals for the module, describing the educational content, etc.). The faculty ultimately do the online submission themselves (a third party cannot do it for them). The MedEdPORTAL peer review process takes a month or two, which is faster than many other repositories.

In addition to completing the MedEdPORTAL submission, Springfield encourages faculty to share their work in other OER repositories, including Open.Michigan.  Examples of School of Dentistry resources that were published in MedEdPORTAL, and are now available on Open.Michigan, include HEALth—Health Education through Active Learning and Hanau Articulator Training.

Open.Michigan has other strong allies in the School of Dentistry, with the Dean, Peter Polverini, and the Director of Dental Informatics, Lynn Johnson, also serving as OER advocates. Johnson explains, “I feel that the most important thing faculty can do is to discover and share knowledge. OER removes the barriers of knowledge sharing and in so doing furthers the ability of people around the world to improve society through discovery and sharing of further knowledge. In short OER can accelerate societal transformation.”

Springfield concludes, “Teaching is an important part of our faculty members’ review process. So publishing about the scholarship of teaching counts as a publication toward promotion.” Nice to know that the School of Dentistry values these faculty publications and assesses their merit along with research and clinical publications. Even nicer when these resources can be openly shared with others.

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