Interning with Open.Michigan at MSIS

Marissa Rivas-Taylor is a second-year MSI student at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. She began interning at Open.Michigan in January 2015 because of her interest in OER and publishing. Her personal research surrounds diversity within education and the social benefits of educating women, first-generation students, and multicultural students in America and in the Global South. 

A brighter world will surface once education is available to all who seek it. My undergraduate education embedded itself into this ideology, from our class discussions to influential conference speakers to global service projects. However, the how was often left to one’s own imagination, passions and determination. As I deciphered my next steps for after graduation, others around me joined organizations to move to North Korea, India, Cambodia and many other places to teach English, Music and other skills for a few years. Others joined organizations that advocate female rights to education, such as Girl Rising. As a Gates Millennium Scholar and a first-generation college graduate, I started working on various writing projects that advised first-generation students on getting into college. But getting published seemed like a daunting task, full of rejection letters and uninterested editors. Young and disoriented, I decided to go to graduate school to delay my venture into the professional world.

(2011_Education_for_All_Global_Monitoring_Report)_-Government_primary_school_in_Amman,_Jordan_-_Young_girls_readingThe University of Michigan’s School of Information Master of Information Science program interested me during my final year of college, mostly due to its reputation of producing highly trained professionals for varying successful jobs as well as its emphasis on practical and engaging internships. By my second month into the program, the power of education ideology introduced itself to me once again, but in the form of Open Access. The University of Michigan’s libraries partnered with the School of Information to host a week-long conference about open access and the effort to make globally available educational materials. By the end of the week, the concept of open access intrigued me, and I sought for ways to get involved.

Within a few months, Open.Michigan, who supported the Open Access Week, opened a few positions within their publishing office and soon I joined the Open.Michigan team. My position as an OER operations assistant is also my MSI internship for my Master’s Degree, which opened up a mentoring relationship with the Open.Michigan OER Publisher and UMSI alumnus Dave Malicke.

I remember during my interview with Dave struggling with two thoughts: Will I be able to do everything this role requires? & I REALLY want this job! I finally found a position where my personal interests, liberal arts educational background, and helping the global education mission all aligned beautifully.

By working with Open.Michigan, my knowledge in the areas of publishing platforms, digital formats, medical education, copyright laws, social media promotion, website management, and accessibility needs exponentially increases every week. Some of my past projects include:

  1. Creating iBook and EPUB versions of Open.Michigan books
  2. Working with Michigan Publishing to create effective tweets for their open access materials to be published with the Open Michigan Twitter
  3. Privacy rights & copyright clearance with the photo materials of the An Atlas of Orthopaedic Pathology
  4. Learning about the Creative Commons & Apache open licenses, and helping with different consultations appointments, copyright clearance for educational materials, and a permission form.
  5. Formatting and publishing these courses on the Open.Michigan website:
  6. Researching different publishing formats (.epub, .mobi, .iba, .azw3, .mobi, etc.) in an effort to expand the potential of Open.Michigan OERs through eBook reader devices.
  7. Researching different Subtitle/Caption processes & softwares and helping to subtitle all of video OER materials.
  8. General copy-editing support for our upcoming books as well as some biographical writing on our authors.

As I enter my final year at UMSI, I will continue my internship with Open.Michigan. I will graduate next May 2016 as a strong and confident woman, knowledgeable about various ways to promote global education as well as be equipped by UMSI and my Open.Michigan internship with the skills to effectively help this mission. Sometimes, I dream about bringing the Open.Michigan model to my undergraduate college as well as other educational institutions.

To sum up my internship experience with Open.Michigan in one idea: Colleges and Universities with the desire to promote global education and open access materials should adopt an Open.Michigan-like model to support their faculty, staff and students in publishing their educational resources for free of use.

Photo by Tanya Habjouqa (UNESCO) [CC BY-SA 3.0-igo (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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 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 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:



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 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.


2013 Was a Good Year

Last year proved to be a productive one for Open.Michigan. The first-ever, fully openly-licensed massive online open course (MOOC) from the Medical School and Coursera launched in August; our repository grew, including a significant addition from the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine; a mention in the New England Journal of Medicine; three books and a manuscript were published; and a highly-successful crowdsourcing effort that resulted in a significant number of translated video captions on our YouTube channel.

Number of visits to the Open.Michigan website in 2013 shown by city.
This map shows the number of visits by city to the Open.Michigan site in 2013.

 Our success can also be measured in visits to our website:

  • 188,807 unique visitors (78% were new visits!)

  • 682,804 total views

  • November 13, 2013, was our busiest day on record with 1,296 visits.

  • People from 174 different nations visited Open.Michigan in 2013.

MOOCs have been gaining popularity in the last couple of years, and the University of Michigan has teamed up with Coursera to make freely available online courses. Read an interview with Dr. Caren Stalburg, author of the first-ever, fully-licensed course from the U-M Medical School, “MOOC Creator Reflects on Lessons Learned and OER.” The second iteration of the course, “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education,” starts February 3.

Made available to the public earlier this year, the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine has 20 high-quality education modules written by experts (with more to come) on a broad range of clinical topics. The modules support the use of, redistribution, and remixing of the materials, and are in accordance with U.S. Copyright Law so as to maximize the ability to use, share, and adapt it. Learn more about the partnership.

The New England Journal of Medicine article, “Creative Commons and the Openness of Open Access,” by Michael W. Carroll, J.D., specifically mentions our work and its importance:

“The various creators of the online educational materials in the University of Michigan Medical School’s Open.Michigan database have adopted nearly the full suite of Creative Commons licenses. The broad adoption of these licenses reflects a belief that a work is not ‘open’ until it’s freely accessible on the Internet and under a public license offering more liberal terms of use than copyright law provides. Though options offered by Creative Commons licenses address the needs of copyright owners in various contexts, in the open-access context, the Attribution license in my opinion remains the gold standard.”

We continued exploring unique publishing models with three new openly licensed books.
  • ICD Connection contains a collection of stories from patients and their families who are living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.

  • Shapes of Memory Loss  is a collection of poetry, fiction, and narrative written by and about people with cognitive impairment or dementia.  The authors, all affiliated with the University of Michigan Health System, come forward to share their personal experience as they “navigate this unknown territory”.

And a manuscript of conference proceedings.

Since we launched the crowdsourcing translation campaign in January 2013, more than 50 people have volunteered, with 139 non-English video captions that have been translated into 18 different languages:

  • 53 in Spanish

  • 28 in Portuguese

  • 22 in Japanese

  • 14 in French

  • 7 in Russian

  • 5 in Romanian

  • 3 in Gandan

  • 2 each in Swahili and Arabic

  • 1 each in Danish, Chinese (Simplified), and Chinese (Traditional).

  • That is amazing!

Read about the impact volunteer contributions have made in increasing access to and visibility of these videos around the world, “An Interview with Eve Nabulya: Luganda Translations For My Community” on our blog.

We are so proud of the work we do here, and are grateful for all your support. We look forward to working with you this year!

Interview with Dr. Stalburg: MOOC Creator Reflects on Lessons Learned and OER

Dr. Stalburg is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medical Education at the University of Michigan Medical School. She is actively involved in medical education, having attained a Master of Arts in higher education and post-secondary education from the School of Education at the University of Michigan.

In August 2013, Dr. Caren Stalburg and her course “Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” joined the University of Michigan massive online open course (MOOC) collection on Coursera. At Open.Michigan, we’re extremely excited about this course because it’s the first U-M MOOC to apply Creative Commons licenses to all of its downloadable materials. Meaning that the materials are both freely accessible via Coursera and Open.Michigan, and the materials are licensed for remixing and reuse by students and educators for their own teaching and learning purposes.

The legal remix and reuse options made available by the Creative Commons licenses are not yet commonly found on the Coursera platform, so we’re delighted that Dr. Stalburg has chosen to blaze this trail in the MOOC landscape. In light of the course starting back up on Feb. 3rd, it’s a great time to sit down with Dr. Stalburg to discuss her first MOOC experience and her decision to publish the course’s materials as open educational resources.

Screen capture from Skill Assessment (03.02) video by Dr. Caren Stalburg. CC BY NC

What interested you the most about teaching this class as a MOOC?

The novelty, scope, and accessibility of the pedagogical concept. I mean the opportunity to reach thousands of health professions educators around the globe and help them learn how to educate healthcare providers in their own locale was both a thrilling idea and a scary one! Most individuals who train others to provide health care don’t have a formal background in educational theory nor do they necessarily have a cadre of local colleagues who focus on creating and assessing instructional interventions. I saw this as a way to ground a discussion, share best practices, and hopefully create a space where individuals could share and learn from one another. The open educational platform was also very appealing to me from the perspective of access and reach. There is a need for teaching and training healthcare providers in a variety of locales around the globe and the open educational resource opportunity just seemed like a fantastic way to facilitate access to information and ideas in areas of limited resources–whether those resources be time, availability, or funds to go get an additional degree.

What has surprised you the most about this experience?

I would say the response from individuals who have participated in the course. The sheer number of individuals engaged was more than I could have imagined. In addition, to see their very thoughtful and informed discussion in the forums has been an eye-opening experience as well as a humbling one. The power of the distributed platform is more than I anticipated. I have learned from others’ expertise and gotten validation that no matter the locale, there are shared interests, successes and struggles that come from teaching others to provide health care. People have utilized a variety of techniques and creativity to develop educational interventions and their willingness to share those ideas, discuss options, and support others in that space is just special. The idea of ‘crowd-sourcing’ is in some ways transformed, and while really grandiose, if you follow the chain then this course helps someone teach someone else how to be a successful nurse, therapist, pharmacist, health care advocate, physician, dentist etc etc. who then has the potential to improve the health of another person in the future. At first I thought that that was a crazy claim or even just hubris, but looking at the number, variety, and locale of individuals who have participated in the first offering of the course I can only wonder about the downstream effects. People laugh because I get a bit romantic about the whole thing, but there really is a ‘butterfly effect’ I think. As we develop more experience with the course, I hope to look for tangible outcomes that can support my hypothesis that you can use this space for professional development and see improvement in people’s skills as educators.

Why share the class materials with Creative Commons licenses?

Why not? While I understand that my interpretation, distillation, and restructuring of the material is my ‘intellectual property’, I also recognize that my organized understanding is based on the work of other scholars. Scholars who have previously shared and published their work too. Just as I have in some ways ‘remixed’ the ideas of those before me into my own unique perspective, I would hope that others could use this course as a base for their own ‘mash-ups’ and movement forward. Hopefully academia will recognize that just like we calculate a citation index score for one’s published material in traditional spaces, we can also generate scholarly rubrics and ‘value’ for numbers such as CC license attributions of your work, or number of downloads, or even the variety and scope of domains where your work is incorporated.

Metacognition, Slide 1 by Caren Stalburg. CC BY SA

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

First, it takes twice to three times the amount of time to create the MOOC than you even can guess. However, once it is produced, it is easy to manage. And easily adaptable. I would also recommend engaging with someone who is very very familiar with copyright laws, attribution rules, and the like. I have been fortunate to have a fantastic amount of support, particularly from Open.Michigan and Dave Malicke particularly! Once I learned the principles involved, and the places where shared resources reside, it was very straightforward. I also have to say that reaching out to the publishers of the textbooks that I recommend for my course has been an easy process. The folks at the publishing houses have been supportive and have quickly given their permissions and preferred formats for attribution. The publishing companies understand and support this new space and are also starting to participate in it, so for me it has been a win-win.

Preparing for the unique pedagogy of the environment takes time to prepare and refine. It is much different than the way we traditionally teach and so you have to be intentional about it before launch. You need to limit videos to short, purposeful topics, provide resources that are available around the globe, and be cognizant of language and normative cultural differences. In some ways things we should be doing in ‘real-time’ anyway!

Assessments within the MOOC are also novel, so those take time to prepare and refine.

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

Absolutely. Creating a MOOC requires a different skill set than standing up in a lecture hall. There are principles of on-line instruction, brevity, clarity and sequencing that can be transferred to my ‘real-time’ teaching. I have learned a lot about ‘editing’ myself!


Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education” starts again on February 3. Click on “Learn for Free” and register today to join Dr. Stalburg and a new group of students on Coursera. You can also find additional OERs, either authored or co-authored by Dr. Stalburg, within our M2 Reproduction and MedEd Portal collections.

A familiar model in Coursera: e-Learning and Digital Cultures

This is a reposting of my original reflection on the first week of the University of Edinburgh’s E-learning and Digital Cultures.

I’m already a week behind in my readings/engagement for the University of Edinburgh’s E-learning and Digital Cultures Coursera course but who’s counting weeks? My study group is. Since I moved into the Library, I’ve been pleased as punch to be involved in lots of really interesting conversations about education, instruction, pedagogy, engagement, and user feedback. One such group of motivated learner-teachers is the study group of librarians that have formed in response to taking this course (see: Michigan Study Group in the class Discussions section if you’re taking the course).

Sheila MacNeil nicely sums up my overall thoughts on the MOOC itself. I’ve not actually ‘taken’ any Coursera courses, but I am pleased to see that the faculty at Edinburgh using an xMOOC platform to create a cMOOC experience (see Martin’s post on the differences). I’m definitely a fan of this type of learning over what Coursera ‘traditionally’ provides because I think it captures the affordances of a connected, open, and transparent web more effectively than the login, platform-based, push driven, assessment-led Coursera experience. I noticed there were a few in our study group who were expecting the xMOOC experience, however, and others on the Facebook study groups expected the same thing. The challenge of cMOOCs, and this one too, is that it makes us take an active role in the process of learning. We can’t just sit back, listen to some lectures, and take a quiz over and over until we get it right.

This is also where I fell into a pitfall with my study groups. Yeah, I signed that plaigarism/cheating clause, really only halfway paying attention to it. I’m enrolled in this course for the experience, to be reminded of what it’s like to really be a student with deadlines, and to engage more deeply in a subject I care about with peers (locally and digitally) who care about the same things. I’m not in it for a certification at the end. So during our study group, I suggested we split up the readings (because we’re already watching the videos as a group and discussing). To some this is considered cheating. To others this is considered jigsaw teaching. I guess I’m a big fan of working together. Others might not take me up on the offer, but it will be interesting to meet with my colleagues in the next few weeks to discuss these topics (even if we don’t do all the work, look at the conversations we’re having).

I’ll write about my experiences as a student in the next round, but in the meantime here are links to other MOOCs we should all keep our eye on and some resources others have curated to allow those not enrolled in this Coursera course to access the readings and materials:

  • Sheila’s curation of edcmooc’s resources and recommended readings.
  • The edcmooc Google Plus page.
  • ETMOOC about Ed Tech and Media, organized by practitioners across the world.
  • P2PU’s collaboration with MIT Media Lab, Learning Creative Learning.

Interview with August Evrard, Professor of Physics, Astronomy

 I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help educate and empower people in developing nations by simply handing over material sitting idle on my hard drive.

The University of Michigan is known for its leaders and we have worked with leaders across our university who were the first to publish OER in their departments. Dr. August (Gus) Evrard happened to be the first professor in his entire College (of Literature, Science, and the Arts) to publish with Open.Michigan (he’s also a recipient of a 2012 Teaching Innovation Prize). Way back in January 2009, we published Prof. Gus’s General Physics course and for awhile this was the only LSA course we had in our collection. Today we’re proud to have ten courses and three resources from LSA to represent the College alongside Prof. Gus’s courses (he has also published Cyberscience: Computational Science and the Rise of the Fourth Paradigm with us). Prof. Gus has been an outstanding advocate of Open.Michigan as we have steadily gained momentum for our initiative across campus. He recently shared his experiences working with Open.Michigan and his vision for our work in the future.

Could you briefly describe your academic research and teaching responsibilities?

Like most faculty members in the natural sciences, I’m expected to manage a leading-edge research program and to teach at the level of one course per term.  My research in computational cosmology is recorded in  >100 published papers with nearly 10,000 citations.  I’ve also lectured introductory physics to roughly 4,000 students here at Michigan, and the lecture slides for the Fall 2007 instance of Physics 140 were the first open content from the College of LSA.

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

A variety of factors made me think that this is the right thing to do.  There’s a basic altruistic motive (share what you’ve got with others who might find it useful), the competition motive (if MIT is doing it, then we need to keep up), and then the simple desire to try something new and different.  Back in 2007, the pitch that was presented to me involved exposing the course content to sister universities in Africa.  I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help educate and empower people in developing nations by simply handing over material sitting idle on my hard drive.

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

Widely sharing course content is consistent with the universities mission to educate the citizens of Michigan and the world.  Whether this mode of sharing is genuinely valuable to the community, or whether the practice is aligned with the business model of a modern university, are issues that are not yet entirely clear.

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

Be prepared to budget a much longer time for the dScribe process than you might think.  The process is slow, but you’ll end up learning a lot about copyright (maybe more than you wanted to know…) by the end of it.

Have you experienced instances where your open courses have brought you recognition for your teaching outside of the classroom?

I did receive a kind e-mail asking me where a financial contribution could be sent for the Physics 140 material (and I directed the person to the LSA donor site).  I was flattered to learn that my 140 materials have been downloaded roughly 500 times, and in cities that span all continents (see this map), including Kabul, Afghanistan!  To me, that simple fact is a better affirmation than some type of award; it’s a real, non-political, collective statement from a global  population.

Interestingly, I also met a current Phys 140 student last term who told me that he used the open material as an additional study aid.  I frankly had not thought about on-campus use as a potential outcome.

What would you like to see Open.Michigan doing in the next couple of years? 

I think Open.Michigan should continue to sow seeds on campus, but ultimately its activities need to be reconciled with the other university endeavors like Coursera.  These activities need to be done in a way that enhances, rather than threatens, the future of on-site teaching and learning at U-M.  I’m optimistic that Michigan will work alongside other higher education institutions to find a way to do this over the next decade. [Note: we have linked to the free, online Coursera courses taught by University of Michigan faculty.]