2014: A Year in Review

Open.Michigan covered the launch of a new open access journal, and expanded services for publishing open and print-on-demand textbooks and books. It was a good year for MOOCs as well with three Coursera courses offered by U-M faculty that increased their use of Creative Commons licensing for their materials. Our staff traveled quite a bit too, giving presentations locally, nationally, and internationally. One of our most successful collaborations with the U-M Department of Family Medicine wrapped up a multi-year platform conversion and OER project. We celebrated our sixth anniversary, and there are other highlights from the Open.Michigan office, not to mention from around the University and the country!



Open Access Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal

Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology cover imageThrough a unique publishing collaboration, the University of Michigan and BioMed Central have launched a new open access journal, Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology, which is now seeking submissions and set to begin publishing in the first quarter of 2015. The journal is led by Editor-in-Chief Meng H. Tan, Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes at the University of Michigan. All articles published in this journal will be CC 4.0 or CC 1.0. Read more on the Open.Michigan blog and learn more about Open Access Journals from Wikipedia.


Open.Michigan Contributors Publish Open Access Article

Open.Michigan is pleased to share a win for Open Access, thanks to the Journal of Academic Medicine. Kathleen Ludewig Omollo and Airong Luo co-authored an article “Lessons Learned About Coordinating Academic Partnerships From an International Network for Health Education” for the journal’s November 2013 issue. According to the official copyright agreement the journal held a 12-month embargo on the article before it could be shared as Open Access. Omollo wrote to Journal of Academic Medicine to request their permission to add an earlier version to the University of Michigan institutional repository, Deep Blue. According to Omollo, “The journal gave us a happy surprise when they permitted the official version to be immediately available as free, public access.”


Statistics 250 Workbooks

Two new statistics open workbooks by Brenda Gunderson (@bkgundy) are available on the Open.Michigan website with a BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. Interested in a hard copy? They are also offered print-on-demand via Amazon: Interactive Lecture Notes and Lab Workbook.


Children and Teens with Cancer Tell Their Story

Chronicling Childhood Cancer book coverChronicling Childhood Cancer: A Collection of Personal Stories by Children & Teens with Cancer. Trisha Paul (Open.Michigan alum), kids and teens use their own words and drawings to share their cancer experiences. You can purchase the book on Amazon, and excerpts from the book are freely available on the Open.Michigan website. Proceeds will be split between Block Out Cancer, and the Child and Family Life Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Follow Trisha on Twitter @trishakpaul2.



Three U-M MOOCs Shared with Creative Commons Licenses

Three U-M Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education,” “Teaching and Assessing Clinical Skills,” and “Programming for Everybody” have applied Creative Commons licenses to their downloadable course materials. Two of the course’s authors, Dr. Caren Stalburg and Dr. Chuck Severance, sat down with Open.Michigan to discuss their MOOCs and to share their motivations for publishing Open Educational Resources (OER).

Check out the discussions on the open.umich.edu blog:



Sharing Med Ed Materials, Limited Internet & Electricity

Medical Schools in sub-Saharan Africa commonly struggle with limited availability, high subscription costs, and unpredictable transmission rates of Internet and electricity. Many institutions also lack sufficient staffing to maintain and support networking or other technology services on campus. These barriers make it difficult for students and instructors to access, create, and integrate digital learning materials into their education and research activities.

To address this, Open.Michigan has been exploring, evaluating, and deploying models for sharing digital learning materials at institutions with no or limited bandwidth, no or limited electricity, and limited on-site support for technology. We experimented with two models for a portable, easily customizable wireless area network that can broadcast digital learning materials to anyone in range, regardless of whether Internet and electricity is available. The two devices selected for wireless access points are TP-Link MR3020 and a Raspberry Pi model B. Both devices are small in size (approximately 7 cm x 7 cm x 3 cm), cost under US$50, and can be configured to create a wifi hotspot that broadcasts the contents of a connected USB storage device. From a web browser, people can browse and search the learning resources, as well as other advanced services such as tracking usage over time.

To date, 20 of these devices are currently deployed in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Liberia. For more information about this initiative, please refer to our poster and our wiki.


Celebrating Open Access Week + Why Attribution Matters

Why Attribution Matters presentation slideInternational Open Access Week (OA Week, 20-26 October 2014) was an opportunity for the academic community to promote broader access to the products of research and scholarship. This year’s theme was Generation Open, highlighting the generation of students, citizen scientists and early-career researchers who have grown up learning and publishing on the open Web. Read more about the events on our blog, and see the slides from the MLibrary & Open.Michigan sponsored talk: Why Attribution Matters.


Bob Riddle travels to Texas for Open Ed Jam

Raspberry PiMSIS Technologist and Open.Michigan collaborator Bob Riddle presented at Open Ed Jam on Low-cost technology for distribution of OER using Raspberry Pi. Good thing Bob is resourceful. He had to overcome several last-minute setbacks on his way to Open Ed Jam 2014 with a malfunctioning Raspberry Pi. Learn more about the Raspberry Pi project on SlideShare.



William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Grantees Meeting

Open.Michigan team member Trisha Paul was invited to present at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s OER Grantees Meeting, 22-24 April 2014. The meeting theme was “OER Value Proposition and Evidence of Impact in 2014” and it was hosted by ISKME (Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education). Paul served as a student representative on a panel discussion entitled “OER Users & Makers,” which was moderated by Vic Vuchic. Paul, who received her Honors English degree from the University of Michigan (U-M) in May and will attend U-M’s Medical School starting this fall, shared her experience working at Open.Michigan and described her experiences with OER as an undergraduate.

At U-M Paul co-founded a student organization called “STEM Society,” where undergrads develop science curriculum for high school students. She introduced the STEM Society undergrads to OER, and by incorporating it into their learning materials, they discovered how to make them more exciting for the high school students. With a passion for literature and science, Paul enjoys exploring the intersection of narrative and medicine, and has CC licensed her blog Illnessnarratives.com. Because of the CC license, educators have reached out to her and were able to reuse her blog materials. Paul also designed and taught a class for freshman at U-M called “Grand Rounds,” which focused on literary narratives around medicine. Paul feels it’s especially important to share resources and experiences in this area, as this field does not have a lot of resources available.

The “OER Users & Makers” panel discussion can be viewed here, with Paul’s remarks starting at around 25:30.


OCWC Global Conference and Published Open Praxis Journal

Open.Michigan data analyst, Jaclyn Cohen, travelled to Ljubljana, Slovenia in April 2014 to present at the OCWC Global Conference. Cohen presented on Open.Michigan’s Dynamic Metrics project and how the Drupal framework that supports the Open.Michigan website can be used to publicly share OER course and resources usage metrics, including total views, downloads, and the top nations visiting a course. The OCWC Global Conference organizers also collaborated with Open Praxis (a peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal focusing on research and innovation in open, distance and flexible education) to publish selected papers from the conference. Cohen’s paper outlining the Dynamic Metrics project, co-authored with fellow Open.Michigan team members Kathleen Omollo and Dave Malicke, was selected and published in this special issue of the journal: Open Praxis, volume 6 issue 2. Slides from the presentation can be viewed at: http://www.slideshare.net/openmichigan/ocwc-global-framework-dynamic-metrics-presenation/1



A Collaborative OER Success Story

15 authors. 38 modules. 5 languages. 1,400  pages. 111,888+ YouTube views.

The Department of Family Medicine Education Module Transition is complete! What started as an assignment to find a new platform to host the Department of Family Medicine Education Modules, has evolved into a truly unique partnership between an academic unit, Open.Michigan, and a clinical unit, the Department of Family Medicine (DFM). Both are part of the University of Michigan Medical School. Learn more on our blog.


Spotlight on Our Collections

Risk Bites!

Risk Bites feeds your hunger for the science of risk with bite-sized videos. Learn about dioxane in drinking water, nanoparticles, and even alien blood! Have you ever wondered how safe electronic cigarettes are? Or whether HPV vaccines are a smart idea? Check out the Risk Bites YouTube Channel for answers to these interesting questions and more!


Open Health Collections

Our Open Health Collections  contain representative samples of available open health educational resources. Topics include textbooks, courses, audio and video, journals, images (including anatomic plates, illustrations, photos, and diagrams), datasets, and software. Find other health sciences tools on Twitter using the hashtag #openhealthcollections.


Highlights from the Open.Michigan Office

Happy Anniversary to Us!6th Anniversary Cake

We celebrated our sixth anniversary at the University of Michigan on April 29! It has been our pleasure supporting faculty, students, and staff in sharing their open educational materials. A big thank you to all of our collaborators!


International Program Manager Makes a Move

Kathleen Ludewig OmolloKathleen Ludewig Omollo is now the Strategy Officer with the U-M Department of Learning Health Sciences. During her time as Open.Michigan staff, Kathleen led a range of projects, most notably growing and supporting international partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa, refining dScribe training, coordinating crowdsourcing translation activities, and developing offline approaches to sharing OER. Learn more about her contributions on our Alumni page.


Notable at the University of Michigan

Digital Education & Innovation Website

U-M Digital Education and Innovation websiteU-M Digital Education & Innovation launched a new site! Digital Education (DEI) enables engaged, personalized, lifelong learning for the Michigan community.DEI redefines elite public education with the creative use of technology and more!Check out DEI on Twitter @umichDEI, and using the hashtag #umdigitaled. Also see coursera.org/umich for the latest U-M MOOC offerings.


UMHS Applies CC License to Image Bank

The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) has a newly-redesigned media bank site! Thanks for sharing this valuable collection with a Creative Commons (CC) BY-NC license.


Global REACH Report

Global REACH Activities Report (FY2013-14): Research, Education & Collaboration for Health (REACH) connects 100s of global health faculty working across 29 departments. Open.Michigan staff and contributions, including the collaboration with St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (@SPHMMCAddis) and an openly licensed book entitled “Building Academic Partnerships to Reduce Maternal Morbidity & Mortality “ are featured on pages 28, 33, & 80.


Other News & Events

President Obama Highlights Open Education

“An educated population is a global asset.”

On 24 September 2014 at the United Nations, President Barack Obama marked the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) third anniversary by announcing that in addition to the commitments outlined in the current U.S. OGP National Action Plan, “The United States will take additional steps to make our government more open, transparent, and accessible for all Americans.” Read more on the Creative Commons blog. For more information, see the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog post, “Promoting Open Education to Help Teachers and Students Around the World.”


Nature Communications Is Fully Open Access

Nature Communications became the first Nature-branded open access only journal. The number one open access journal in multidisciplinary sciences, Nature Communications is Nature Publishing Group’s flagship open access title. The journal ranks as the number three multidisciplinary journal in the world.


Wikimedia Commons Turned 10

Wikimedia Commons recently turned ten years old! Sharing on Wikimedia Commons helps to improve Wikipedia articles, and maximizes educational use of images. Watch this video to learn how to upload images to Wikimedia Commons.


New CEO for Creative Commons

The Creative Commons has named Ryan Merkley as their new Chief Executive Officer. According to Merkley, “A public commons, enabled by the open web, is the most powerful force to foster creativity, inspire innovation, and enhance human knowledge around the world. Those who believe in its potential need to join together in a global movement to ensure its success.”


OpenCourseWare Consortium Gets a Facelift

In May 2014 at their annual conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the OpenCourseWare Consortium announced its new name: the Open Education Consortium. According to the consortium “The new name embraces trends in higher education globally towards open sharing and scaling access to education through technology, tools and open content.”


Access to OER Expands in the Middle East and North Africa

US State Department announced it is expanding access to Open Educational Resources in the Middle East and North Africa and is sponsoring a special exchange program on OER for education leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. These OER will include course syllabi and materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, and software.


Open Policy Network Launched by Creative Commons

The Creative Commons has announced the launch of the Open Policy Network, a coalition of organizations and individuals working to support the creation, adoption, and implementation of policies that require that publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources.

As textbook costs continue to rise, this CNN story describes how some colleges are offering free open source textbooks as course material.

The goal of the Open Textbook Project is to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in British Columbia, Canada by making openly-licensed textbooks available. The Open Textbook is supported by BC Ministry of Advanced Education.

U.S. Copyright Office Releases Copyright Compendium

Monkey SelfieThis release is the first major revision in more than 20 years, and documents best practices for what is, and is not, copyright protected.

Highlight: Who Owns A Monkey’s Selfie? The U.S. Copyright Office says a monkey’s photo, that is, a photo taken by the monkey itself, cannot be copyrighted because it was not taken by a human being.


Open.Michigan and the Department of Family Medicine Education Modules, a unique OER Success Story

This is the final blog post in a three-part series about the partnership with our collaborators in the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine and their Education Modules: Open.Michigan and the Department of Family Medicine team up to publish Open Education Modules! and Open.Michigan and Family Medicine: Update on a Thriving Partnership.

 15 authors.
38 modules.
5 languages.
1,400 pages.
111,888+ YouTube Views.


The Department of Family Medicine Education Module Transition is complete! What started as an assignment to find a new platform to host the Department of Family Medicine Education Modules, has evolved into a truly unique partnership between an academic unit, Open.Michigan, and a clinical unit, the Department of Family Medicine (DFM). Both are part of the University of Michigan Medical School.

Through this collaboration, the Department of Family Medicine successfully migrated their content from a closed (soon to be unsupported) platform to public-facing Google Sites.

Project Details

Fifteen authors had a hand in sharing their materials as open educational resources (OER). Facilitated by Open.Michigan, each faculty member chose the type of license that best suited their desired effect of how the materials were to be used. Learn how you can share your materials, too.

The project was completed ahead of schedule.  There are more than 1,400 pages of content, and the platform conversion was completed ahead of schedule. This was due in large part to the proven successful process, documentation, training, and marketing promotion procedures that Open.Michigan had in place. The most time consuming part of the undertaking came from educating the authors about the licenses and helping them select the license that met their needs.

The Modules are still being used for their original purposes (DFM Residency Program training).

This is the first series of materials in the Open.Michigan collection to have translations of both video captions and textual content. The Family Medicine videos have captions in (three languages) along side other Open.Michigan videos with multilingual captions on the Open.Michigan YouTube channel. Additionally, the Integrative Medicine Asthma module has the distinction of being the first complete module, including all the text on the Google Sites, to be translated by a volunteer and is now available in Romanian. The Japanese translation of the Musculoskeletal Knee Examination Module (膝の検査) and all the Musculoskeletal Examination video caption translations were made as part of the Shizuoka-University of Michigan Advanced Residency Training, Education and Research in Family Medicine (SMARTER FM) Project led by Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., professor of family medicine, and supported by Shizuoka Prefecture and funded by the Community Healthcare Revival Fund.


Here are the highlights with a historical and present-day contrast:


  • Then: Closed, 32 separate modules, hosted on SiteMaker

  • Now: 38 openly-licensed, publicly available modules, united on one platform using Google Sites, as well as a presence on the Open.Michigan site


  • Then: Small audience, primarily DFM faculty and residents, occasional guests

  • Now: People from all over the world, including Japan and Africa


  • Then: Supplemental, self-guided learning for DFM residents, sometimes used as reference material by faculty members

  • Now: Remains supplemental, self-guided educational materials for DFM residents, but is more accessible as a reference to anyone, and the materials can be customized to suit individual needs



  • Then: 1 (English)

  • Now: 5 (American Sign Language, English, Japanese, Romanian, and Spanish)


To further the educational impact of the bilingual Sign With Your Baby illustrations developed by Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.A., M.P.H., professor of family medicine, the images have been separately authorized under a CC BY-SA license and posted to both Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia (on both sites, search for “baby sign” to find the bilingual collection or go to the “Baby Sign” article on Wikimedia Commons). The Romanian and Spanish translations were achieved through crowdsourcing efforts led by Open.Michigan and the U-M College of LS&AScreen Shot 2014-08-01 at 9.42.07 AM.png

This education modules project has been successful for many reasons: faculty champions and support from leadership in the Department of Family Medicine; a University of Michigan Medical School initiative that enables faculty, students, and others to share their educational resources and research with the global learning community; and dedicated staff members who take advantage of University Resources including the technology tools and branding.

View the entire U-M Department of Family Medicine collection on the Open.Michigan site →

Author’s note: Ms. Dascola was invited to give two presentations about this project. Her talk is available on SlideShare with a CC BY license. She also had a poster presentation accepted for the inaugural Michigan IT Symposium. The poster is available for download in PDF and PPT formats on the Open.Michigan site.

Photo attributions:
1. Image by Bill Branson is in the Public Domain.
2. Grey’s Anatomy Slide 348, Public Domain.
3. Image courtesy of the University of Michigan Health System Japanese Family Health Program, CC-BY-SA.
4. Image courtesy of the University of Michigan Health System Japanese Family Health ProgramCC-BY-SA.

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 http://www.lib.umich.edu/events/all/all/34799.

U-M and BioMed Central Collaborate to Publish Open Access Journal on Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology

Through a unique publishing collaboration, the University of Michigan and BioMed Central have launched a new open access journal, Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology, which is now seeking submissions and set to begin publishing in the first quarter of 2015. The journal is led by Editor-in-Chief Meng H. Tan, Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes at the University of Michigan.

Visit the Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology website

Dr. Tan states, “Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology aims to promote better care for people with diabetes and endocrine diseases by sharing with their health professionals new research and clinical knowledge on various aspects of their diseases. This collaborative academic-private initiative will make the new knowledge readily, freely, and immediately accessible to these health professionals worldwide so it can have a global impact.”

Jasna Markovac, Senior Director, Learning Design and Publishing for Medical School Information Services (MSIS), explains, “The University of Michigan has a history of emphasizing the importance of open scholarship, open access, and open publishing. We encourage faculty to publish in open access journals, but there are very few high quality, reputable ones in the medical field. So the Medical School decided to explore launching a series of open journals in an effort to provide for our faculty, staff and students more alternatives to the traditional subscription-based journals.”

Around the same time, BioMed Central approached Peter Arvan, Division Chief for Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes, and Director of the Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center, about starting a journal. Dr.Markovac, who consults Medical School faculty on alternative publishing models, and Dr. Arvan decided the Biomed Central partnership offered the best of both worlds, combining the model of a traditional peer-reviewed journal with a world-renowned open access publisher.

According to the BioMed Central license agreement, all articles published in the journal will be made available under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (or under a Creative Commons 1.0 Public Domain Dedication waiver, if required by law). This allows anyone to freely copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and also to remix, transform, and build upon the material.

Dr. Arvan, emphasizes, “The University of Michigan is proud to partner with BioMed Central for the launch of Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology. We hope that this journal will have direct influence on the research and practice within the endocrine subspecialty. The diversity and remarkable credentials of this outstanding editorial board sends a signal that the journal stands for quality in publication to match the quality that we aspire to in our clinical practice.”

Ted Hanss, Chief Information Officer, University of Michigan Medical School, adds, “We are delighted to be partnering with BioMed Central to launch this exciting new open access publication which will allow for critical medical knowledge to be disseminated worldwide without boundaries or restrictions.”

Dr. Markovac concludes, “Everything aligned between our internal Medical School plans and what BioMed Central envisioned. If this goes well, we hope to launch more open access journals for other clinical departments at the Medical School.”

For more information about the journal, open access, or MSIS Health Sciences Publishing Services, please contact Jasna Markovac at jasnam@umich.edu.

From Michigan to Mauritius: U-M Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for Health Professions Education Engages Faculty Worldwide

Dr. Sushil Dawka is a Professor of Surgery at SSR Medical College in Mauritius, an island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Dr. Dawka completed “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” in August 2013, a University of Michigan Medical School MOOC taught by Dr. Caren Stalburg. Dr. Dawka recently reached out to us to share his experience and take-aways from the course and why, as SSR’s Academic Program Director & Quality Assurance Officer, he’s recommending it to his colleagues.

How did you originally hear about the course in August 2013?

Over the last year, I have completed a number of MOOCs, mostly on Coursera and edX. I was delighted to come across U-M’s Coursera MOOC on “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” as this is a subject in which I have both a professional interest and an amateur’s passion.

What did you enjoy the most about the course?

Dr. Stalburg’s course on “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” combines a basic but solid grounding in modern andragogical theory with real-world illustrations of what constitutes good teaching for health professionals. Overall, the enduring strength of this course is that it teaches teachers to learn by reflecting upon their own teaching.

The academic content was of great value, and the modalities of content delivery (including such intangibles as lecturing style and ‘atmosphere’) were exemplary. I think the most enjoyable part of the course was the way in which the often dry principles of good teaching were brought to life, not only by Dr. Stalburg’s friendly yet riveting lecturing style, but also by brilliant planning, pacing, and presentation of the curricular material.

Indeed, this is a course about good teaching that is, in itself, a model of good teaching.

Is this your first experience with an online course? If not, was it different from your previous online course experiences?

I have taken over 30 MOOCs and I have no hesitation in saying that this course stands out as an exemplar of how online teaching should be run. My previous MOOCs have been on subjects peripheral to, or far removed from, my professional interests, and I have therefore looked upon them as a purely ‘academic’ as opposed to ‘applicable’. This course touched directly upon my professional activities and I am glad that I grabbed this opportunity to improve upon my skills as a medical teacher. Even at this hard-boiled stage in my career, as I plan lectures, frame MCQs or conduct simulations, I find myself reflecting profitably on what I learned in the various modules on this course.

Was there anything challenging about the format?

Based on my experience with other MOOCs, I was less than enthusiastic about the peer assessment exercises, as most courses fail badly here. However, I found that not only were the exercises educational in both the submission and the evaluation phases, but also the standard of submissions was higher than in most other courses, high enough to make time spent reading and assessing the work of fellow learners worthwhile.

Discussions and interaction on the forums were a class above the average course; Dr. Stalburg seems to have attracted a subset of highly motivated MOOC learners, judging by the academic quality of their contributions to the discussion forums and peer-reviewed exercises.

Have you had an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned from the course? Can you share an example?

Yes, in many small yet startling ways I find that the ideas and principles put forward in the course are helping shape my thoughts and tweak my practice of teaching. Moreover, I have collected a lot of good ideas regarding remediation of poor performance and encouraging student interaction from the discussion threads.

Do you have plans for using this course in the future?

I am happy that the course material–lectures, peer-reviewed exercises and discussion threads–remain archived, and therefore accessible, on my Coursera dashboard. In addition, I intend to audit the course again, as I find the forum discussions engrossing. I shall actively recommend every iteration of this course to both existing and newly inducted faculty at my medical college. Meanwhile, I eagerly look forward to Dr. Stalburg’s team’s next tour de force.

Register Today!

Click on “Learn for Free” and then register today to join Dr. Stalburg, Dr. Dawka’s cohort, and a new group of students on Coursera for the next iteration of “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education.” You can also access the course materials at anytime on Open.Michigan.

An Interview with Prof. Garikipati: How a Flipped Classroom in Ann Arbor Can Reach a Global Audience

Krishna Garikipati is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics at the University of Michigan. His work draws from nonlinear mechanics, materials physics, applied mathematics, and numerical methods. He is particularly interested in problems of mathematical biology, biophysics, and materials physics.

Professor Garikipati has recorded over 250 video lectures related to two of his on campus courses: Introduction to Finite Element Methods and Continuum Physics. Professor Garikipati has used the videos in the Intro Finite Element Methods class to bring a flipped learning experience to his students. In addition to their use as course material, both series of lectures are being viewed by students, post-docs, faculty colleagues, and researchers within and outside U-M to enter new research areas. Each video focuses on a single topic, such as the “Pythagorean Theorem” for Intro to Finite Element Methods or the “Lagrangian description of motion” for the Continuum Physics lecture series. The videos are generally between 5 – 20 minutes long and are presented in a style similar to U-M MOOC and Khan Academy lecture videos. The videos were created with the support of the Office of the Provost’s Digital Education and Innovation initiative, and the Division of Integrative Systems Design in the College of Engineering.

Professor Garikipati has graciously agreed to share some of his flipped learning insights with us and his motivations for sharing the lectures as open education resources.

Screen capture from Boundary Conditions (01.03) video by Krishna Garikipati. CC BY NC

Why did you decide to flip these classes?

Even with advanced classes, I would hazard that upward of 90% of the lecture time is used to cover the same material each time the class is taught. This prevents us from delving deeply into the most interesting and challenging questions, and also from embarking on new subject matter over the years. With the flipped classroom, students can get to this foundational, and repetitive, material on their own time, while we use actual class time for the really deep/novel ideas.

How has the flipped learning approach changed your time with students in the classroom, and how have your students responded?

I still use nearly all the time available to me in the classroom. However, it is used to quickly summarize and integrate the lectures that the students have watched most recently, or to take some ideas and work them out in much greater detail than I could do before. I have found, while lecturing, that the students’ preparation is significantly better. The classroom lecture turns out to be much more sophisticated. By and large the students appreciate the ability to watch the foundational material at their own pace. For some this is faster, for others slower than the pace that I would previously set in class. Most notably, they like being able to replay very short segments as many times as necessary to grasp a particularly nettlesome idea. This is the sort of thing that one cannot do in class: How many times will you ask the instructor to explain the notion of mathematical consistency under the glare of your fellow students?

Screen capture from Consistency of the Finite Element Method (05.03) video by Krishna Garikipati. CC BY NC

What advice do you have for faculty members who are interested in flipping their classrooms?

It is a lot of work. Recording lectures takes about 1 ½ times the length of the actual lectures–when all goes well. The format requires you to leave behind your classroom persona and make the camera “your friend.” Until that happened, I felt really quite at sea. In my case, it helped that some of my graduate students, post-docs, and others who worked in closely allied groups had an interest in watching the recordings as a live audience. Google Hangouts allowed us to do that. They would flag me down (literally) when they had a question, and that created an alternate environment to replace the classroom feel. Finally, it now takes me more preparation to enter a live classroom in which the students have just watched some of my recorded lectures. I need to remind myself of what they saw, what notation I used for certain quantities, and what remarks I made. Previously, I could think through the mathematical treatment and physical arguments just before class, and allow the mathematics and physics to guide me through the actual lecture. Now I watch the entire lecture material that they have watched. Speeding up the video by a factor of two helps, but not much more. The payback, however, is tremendous. In my case it allowed the class to rise to a level of sophistication that I had not expected. I would do it again, and intend to!

Why did you decide to select a Creative Commons license for the videos?

Both my series of lectures are now available via Open.Michigan and YouTube. The Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial license allows anybody to use it for instruction or to gain entry to a new area of research. The reach that this provides to one’s scholarly work is actually unparalleled by any other means that we would have employed previously. This is what academics is about.

What excites you the most about sharing the videos openly on Open.Michigan, YouTube, and beyond?

These are advanced topics–especially Continuum Physics. It is very fulfilling to be able to reach advanced graduate students, post-docs, established researchers, and even professors the world over in these topics. I know of some who have used these lectures as preparation as they have entered new areas of research. This is the most exciting aspect to sharing the lectures via these forums. I would not have been able to reach this wide of an audience otherwise.

Screen capture of YouTube playlist for Lectures on Continuum Physics

From Flipped Learning to Open Sharing

Open.Michigan is thrilled to share Professor Garikipati’s recordings because of their high quality, comprehensiveness, and because this emerging pedagogical approach has been shown to improve student learning. If faculty members and staff involved in the production of flipped learning experiences address copyright issues and licensing in their pre-production processes, then they will have the opportunity to maximize the educational impact of their flipped learning resources by publishing those resources on platforms like Open.Michigan, YouTube, and iTunes U. It’s really exciting to have Professor Garikipati’s courses illustrate this idea, and it will be very interesting to see how the growing demand and infrastructure for flipped learning at U-M influences the University’s culture of sharing.

View Professor Garikipati’s courses on Open.Michigan:

An Interview with Prof. Severance: MOOC & OER Proponent on "Sharing the Value that we Produce at U-M"

Professor Charles Severance (“Dr. Chuck”) is a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI). Dr. Chuck has already made legendary contributions to the OER and MOOC movements. He’s held “office hours” with small groups of MOOC students from all over the world, was the first U-M faculty member to apply CC licenses to materials offered within Coursera, authored two openly-licensed textbooks (Python for Informatics, and High Performance Computing), was a leading developer of and evangelist for the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, and has reached thousands of learners through Dr. Chuck Online, P2PU, Open.Michigan, and the iBooks store.

So what’s next for Dr. Chuck?

Programming for Everybody, a new U-M MOOC scheduled to start on Coursera on April 10, 2014. This free course will focus on teaching the basics of Python programming (with no complex math) to beginners from all backgrounds. Participants can expect to learn both how to program and where these skills can be applied. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

Programming for Everybody is also a completely remixable MOOC that’s taking the “open” in massive online open courses to the next level. All of the materials within the course, from the syllabus and textbook, to the videos and the auto grading software, are being shared with Creative Commons licenses, thereby encouraging everyone in the world to reuse and remix the materials for their own teaching and learning purposes. The remixability of the materials will be further enabled by pre-packaged “remixer kits” that can be loaded into learning management systems such as Blackboard and Moodle. This unique delivery of the course’s materials aims it at two primary audiences: students interested in learning Python and programming fundamentals, and teachers interested in using the materials in their own classrooms.

I caught up with Dr. Chuck to discuss Programming for Everybody, MOOCs, and OER in more detail.

What excites you the most about teaching “Programming for Everybody” as a MOOC?

I have long felt that the world needed a “Programming Literacy” course to help give people an “on ramp” to a better understanding of and increasingly technical world. I have been greatly enjoying teaching SI502 – Networked Computing at the U-M School of Information to incoming MSI students with no technical background. SI502 has been a great proving ground for my materials and approaches. I felt that the “on ramp to technology” class I wanted to teach fell somewhere between a junior year in high school and first year freshman level course. Teaching Programming for Everybody (PR4E) as a MOOC lets me interact with students in high school, college, and adults who want to come back to school and learn technology. I could never create an on-campus class in a physical location that would allow me to engage the highly diverse group of students I hope to see in PR4E.

Image courtesy of Dr. Chuck Severance under a CC BY license.

How do you see MOOC platforms and Open Educational Resources (OER) working together to form learning communities?

MOOC platforms are a wonderful way to promote an idea. By combining the strength of the Michigan brand with so many other wonderful schools – Coursera attracts a lot of students attention and gets students to the point where they will take a bit of a “leap” and sign up for a class. One of my concerns with OER materials is that potential faculty adopters around the world often think of them as somehow “not as good.”  I want to use the MOOC to show just how great my open materials are and give teachers who experience the MOOC a reason to make use of the open materials in their own classes.

Have your experiences teaching MOOCs and publishing OER impacted your approaches to teaching and sharing with on-campus students?

I have been publishing my course materials as OERs from the beginning. I long ago realized that it was far more important to insure a broad reach of the materials rather than to waste time trying to find avenues of commercial gain from my lecture materials. Also people will help you improve your materials if you show that you are not trying to be selfish about your work. If I have another faculty member cover one of my classes, they take my slides, improve them and then give them back to me under CC-BY. So having guest lectures improves my course materials.

Image courtesy of Dr. Chuck Severance under a CC BY-NC license

Why is it important for U-M faculty members to participate in MOOCs and to publish OER?

Leading public universities like U-M need to set the tone for higher education worldwide. We operate in the public trust for the citizens of the State of Michigan and indirectly for the world. We have a responsibility to give back value to the citizens of Michigan and any other stakeholders that invest in U-M. I think that OERs are a great example of sharing the value that we produce at the U-M.

As someone with so much experience with both MOOCs and OER, what advice do you have for faculty members who are interested in exploring these concepts?

Working with Open.Michigan in 2009 to publish OER from my MSI courses absolutely laid the ground work for the success of IHTS and the success of PR4E. Without that clearance and the associated education of me as a faculty member on how to do OER slides – it would have been far more difficult to do PR4E. So I like to make sure to put a Creative Commons License on my PowerPoints as soon as I start building them. When I record a video or audio of one of my lectures, my second slide is always an Open.Michigan / Creative Commons license image. In the lecture audio I specifically read the license within the first 10 seconds of the audio.  Remember that if you say nothing about the copyright it defaults to “All Rights Reserved,” so you must be explicit. One way or another, be mindful of the copyright decisions you are making. And remember that Open.Michigan is a guide and helper to faculty all along their path to open materials.

Programming for Everybody starts on April 10, Register Today!

Programming for Everybody starts on April 10, 2014. Click on “Learn for Free” and register to join Dr. Chuck and a cohort of beginning programmers on Coursera. Download OER materials from Programming for Everybody on Open.Michigan and start remixing!