Generation Open: Open Access Week 2014

Open.Michigan welcomes guest blogger Jacob Glenn, a science librarian at the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Science Library. Jacob is blogging on behalf of the library’s Open Access Committee, which is responsible for organizing Open Access Week activities here on campus. For more information about the committee and about Open Access Week, please contact the committee’s chair, Jean Song.

International Open Access Week (OA Week, October 20-26) is an opportunity for the academic community to promote broader access to the products of research and scholarship. This year’s theme is Generation Open, highlighting the generation of students, citizen scientists and early-career researchers who have grown up learning and publishing on the open Web. Next week the University of Michigan Library will host a number of events aimed at connecting the academic community with Generation Open.

On Monday the library will host Journal Editors’ Tea, inaugurating a quarterly series of panel discussions devoted to new models of scholarly publishing. Four scholars from a variety of academic disciplines will share their experiences managing successful, sustainable open access journals. In the evening the American Library Association University of Michigan Student Chapter will host Attribution: Why it Matters to You, a conversation about the role of attribution in fostering the creation of Open Access publications and Open Educational Resources.

On Tuesday, join us in Rackham Amphitheater to hear this year’s OA Week keynote speaker, Jack Andraka. Jack is a Maryland high school student and winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Gordon Moore Award and the 2012 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, both for his work on early detection of pancreatic cancer (which he continues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine). Jack has been outspoken in his support of open access to scientific research. He will talk about the information barriers he faced as an independent researcher and the role of Open Access publications in supporting his work. In past talks Jack has argued that by turning knowledge into an artificially scarce commodity, publishers have effectively denied most people the opportunity to innovate. Not only is this a form of discrimination, it is also a huge waste of human potential. “Citizen science” and the open sharing of knowledge are essential if humanity is to meet the challenges we currently face, but that will never happen on a larger scale unless we decide that the artificial restriction of knowledge is a serious problem that needs to be solved.

There are more events sprinkled throughout the week, including a brown bag discussion on Open Access and social justice and the perennially popular Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. For this year’s full calendar of OA Week events, including times, locations, and links to registration, see

Open Education Week Video Mashup – Ups and Downs of the YouTube Video Editor

I’ve always been curious about the YouTube Video Editor and the “Remix this video!” button, but I never really had a reason, or the motivation to give it a try. That is, until I was inspired by all of the great videos created by fellow Open Education Week advocates.

So in the spirit of Open Education Week (connecting, collecting, creating, and sharing) I’ll highlight some of the ups and downs of the editor that I encountered while creating this YouTube Video Editor mashup:


  • It’s really nice to have so much content to remix in one place. Access to large quantities of openly licensed content in one location and from all over the world appears (to me at least) to be an important piece of the “getting people to use it” OER puzzle.
  • The user-interface is straightforward and easy to interact with. You can quickly scan through your own collection of videos, search for openly licensed content, find music to add to your video, and add effects and titles. I didn’t use any effects or titles though, so I can’t speak to those features, but it looked easy enough to get started with them.
  • Dragging clips into the editing timeline is easy, and so is trimming selected videos. You simply click and drag the ends of clips to adjust their timing.
  • After several hours of clicking and dragging video clips, you hit the publish button and then you get your own customized YouTube video creation.


  • I wasn’t able to select a Creative Commons license for the remix. Maybe this is related to the song I used, or perhaps it’s related to YouTube automatically placing advertisements on videos created with this tool. I’m not sure, but it would have been nice if others could remix this remix.
  • You can’t do a whole lot to adjust the volume of individual clips, or the music. Unless I missed something, (I really looked around though) you can’t tweak the audio of individual clips. This is really frustrating because the volume of each video varies greatly across all of the clips. You can’t really adjust the volume of the music either, and you are only given 4 sound adjustment options: Only music, favor music, equal, and favor original audio. Keeping it simple like this is nice, but a few more options would go a long way.
  • Generally speaking, video editing is a time-consuming task. So I was surprised to notice that there isn’t a way to save different versions of the video. Having an easy way to undo or revert changes is a huge time saver; its unfortunate the editor does not provide this functionality.
  • Lastly, once you’ve hit the publish button, your project is removed from the editor. I suppose you can edit your videos in various different locations in the YouTube interface, but I grew attached to my timeline, and wanted to show it off.

All of the downers aside – having access to a large library of openly licensed videos, coupled with the ability to quickly and easily edit videos on the web, is fantastic. A video editing tool that is more in tune with the open educational resources movement, has a better understanding of open licenses, and a few more functions (especially audio options!) would be an extremely useful tool for educators with an interest in remixing videos for educational purposes.