People's Choice Award: Most Open Resource

mitten territory
Mitten Territory by Pieter Kleymeer CC BY, adapted from Marty Hogan on Flickr

We are honored to announce that Open.Michigan is the Education-Portal’s People’s Choice Award Winner for Most Open Resource. Hurrah! Thank you so much for voting for us and sharing the link with your friends and family. We really appreciate the feedback, and it energizes us to do more. Thanks, Education-Portal, for including Open.Michigan in this competition and for giving our community the opportunity to show their support.

Since the University of Michigan Medical School officially launched its Open Education activities in April 2008, it’s been rewarding to see the collection of openly licensed content at the University of Michigan grow exponentially. But even more rewarding is the growth of a culture of sharing and open practices at the university.

Throughout the past four and half years, we’ve had a lot of discussions about open – what it is and why it matters. During a recent fellowship at P2PU, Open.Michigan team members Piet and Molly helped to author a philosophy statement for the School of Open which concisely captures our approach to open as a process, not just a deliverable: “Open practices include using the content, tools and processes shared with us, enabling others to use, share and adapt what we create, and supporting transparency in our content, tools and processes.”

We’ve also been inspired by the qualities of open (transparent, participatory, collaborative) used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Transparent Participatory Collaborative

Image CC BY Regents of the University of Michigan

Beyond an ethos of open, we think a number of our projects embody open practices through these core values of participation, transparency, and collaboration:


We’ve worked with faculty and graduate student instructors to create adaptable and effective course resources that can be used across different learning settings. These efforts enabled participants to envision how existing digital resources can be reused to create a model focused on student engagement in the classroom. The History discipline identified and collected digitized primary source documents (much of them in the public domain) to create an Interactive Syllabus to teach the History of the American West. This approach was flexible enough to allow student input and students reviewed content before the class. Using this time for discussion rather than lecture ensured that students stayed engaged and interested in the content.

Other examples of efforts to encourage participation:  


We captured all sorts of the activities that happened over one weekend where ‘science met service.’ This included documenting the data, education, process and outcomes from the 2012 A2DataDive.

More examples of our transparent practices:

  • Our infokit that includes our training materials, documents, infosheets, and more!
  • Our wiki that includes our research on legal and policy issues, evaluation and metrics, and badging.
  • Our processes that enable others to develop the same skills we use to promote open education.
  • Our tools to create and share open content.
  • Our dashboard, that shows off real time and just in time Open.Michigan analytics.


We’ve had some wonderful partners along the way – within University of Michigan and with institutions around the world. One of our longest-running international projects is the African Health OER Network, where we’ve partnered with multiple colleges of health sciences in Africa to create, adapt, and distribute their own Health Open Educational Resources, and in several instances start their own institutional initiatives for open. We even have a dozen or so learning modules that were jointly authored by University of Michigan, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Ghana faculty (e.g. Laboratory Methods for Clinical Microbiology).

We not only create open content, we try to build on other’s open content too. We’ve re-purposed promotional material from Creative Commons, adapted videos about copyright and open culture for trainings, and we’re incorporating School of Open courses into our own training opportunities. We even collaborated to jointly write this post to thank you for your support.

More fun with friends:

  • Co-developing new models of self-publication with on-demand printing
  • Workshops with the CalState system about affordable learning solutions

And we won’t stop here. We can’t. This is too much fun.

Cheers from the mitten,
The Open.Michigan team

Instructor's Cafe and Digital Rhetoric Collaborative

One of the most interesting things about my job is connecting with all the folks across campus who are already sharing their work and the content they are producing at U-M with the rest of the world. As you know, MLibrary has a commitment to open access and they continue to develop new collections of accessible, useful content that focuses on collaboration across universities. What better way to collaborate than to make your work visible (i.e. not password protected) and to let other people know how they can use your work (i.e. add a Creative Commons license to it)? Over the summer I discovered two new efforts on campus to do just this: bring folks together around resources they can share. They’re both supported by Library efforts but focus on different dimensions of professional practice.

Instructor College Cafe

The first resource is the Instructor College Cafe. This is the outgrowth of the library’s continual effort to provide opportunities for librarian instructors across the campus and institutions develop their teaching skills and share best practices across academic settings. This summer marked the first Michigan Instruction Exchange event, hosted in Ann Arbor, for area librarians to connect and share experiences, models and anecdotes with each other. The Instructor College Cafe is intended to serve as a collective hub that librarian instructors can use to find and contribute content like lesson plans, evaluation tools, conferences to attend, and content to adapt. It has everything from “Tips for Conference Presenters” to “LinkedIn Discussion Board.”

Since it just kicked off this summer there’s a lot of room for growth in the collection. What I like about this collection is its focus on being lightweight and easy to use. Contributors upload content and are prompted to choose their license immediately. There are lots of Google docs represented so in some respects this serves as both repository and referatory, making it simple for contributors to format existing resources. These are the types of documents that provide a clear window into what it’s like to perform library instruction from the presenter’s perspective. Many of these documents are ephemeral but very valuable to other practitioners. I’ve already found useful resources in what has been uploaded so far for my own work. This is a community-centered effort and you don’t have to be part of U-M to contribute or use these materials.

Digital Rhetoric Collaborative

The second new resource is a new collaborative for digital humanists and those in the writing and communications disciplines, called the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. This is a multifaceted space, centered around providing support for the digital writing community. It’s closely associated with the Computers and Writing conference and the professional networks that extend from these activities. The Collaborative provides a diversity of resources and offers participants an opportunity to sit at the table by submitting their own work to the wiki, to the resources section, and to the publishing series. Like the Instructor’s Cafe, folks can contribute all sorts of content to the “Resources” section that support teaching in the field. One great resource in the collection already is the Language, Technology, and Culture course materials from Lisa Ede (Oregon State University). The licensing information for the resources is not as clearly laid out as in the Instructor’s Cafe, but the site’s content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

We’re excited to see how each of these resources develop on campus and across institutions. They’re both examples of how institutions and professionals can easily and effectively share resources and how U-M continues to position itself as a leader in making knowledge accessible and useful for the wider learning community.