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.

Open Access Week 2013, October 21-27: Redefining Impact

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.

October 21-27 will see a number of opportunities for University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students to get involved during Open Access (OA) Week. Now in its sixth year, OA Week is an international effort organized by SPARC and programmed by libraries and research institutions worldwide. With events taking place both online and in many locations around the globe, OA Week is a time for the U-M community to find out about the benefits of Open Access and to share what they’ve learned with colleagues. This year the University of Michigan Library has put together an exciting lineup of events for OA Week in collaboration with other campus units.

The week will open with a keynote by Brandon Weiner, co-founder and Executive Director of Creative Rights, a local non-profit organization that provides free legal representation, educational opportunities and project coordination services for Michigan artists and creators. Creative Rights helps artists by pairing them up with attorneys who have a strong background in the arts, a model inspired by its founders’ particular combination of legal expertise and artistic interests. Brandon’s talk will examine the practical and existential obstacles encountered when implementing projects with strong Open Access principles.

This year’s OA Week theme is “Redefining Impact,” a reminder of changing approaches to the evaluation of scholarly work driven by the possibilities of publishing on the open Web. On that theme, capping the week will be a closing keynote by Mike Buschman, co-founder of Plum Analytics, a company building the next generation of metrics for scholarly research. Plum’s metrics cover a wide variety of artifacts — much more than just books or journal articles. Source code, figures, online videos and many other research products are tracked and author level metrics are aggregated into a researcher graph. In his talk Mike will reflect on two years of experience collecting, analyzing, and visualizing alternative metrics for academic research, showing how those metrics are being used today by research institutions as diverse as the University of Pittsburgh and the Smithsonian, scholarly publishers, and individual researchers.

Naturally there will be plenty of exciting events in between, including lightning talks, a publishing workshop for Medical School faculty and a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. See the complete schedule of events for times, locations, and links to registration.

Attending the Digital Media & Learning Conference leads to more badging ideas

Exit strategy image of Chicago skyline as approached by Amtrak train (from south)
Exit strategy by bagaball on Flickr. CC BY license.

It was inevitable, taking the train to Chicago and spending 3 days with a super-diverse crowd of learners, educators, hackers, makers, academics, and civil servants was going to lead to a badge-fest of some sort. Open.Michigan has spent some time working in the badge-o-sphere, helping with advisory on the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure, piloting badges for our open community at the University of Michigan, and proposing some research on making badge systems more tuned to differences in cultural capital. Day One of the conference, Mozilla’s entire Open Badges team showed up and launched Open Badges 1.0, after a couple of years of hard work pulling together specs and building an incredible backpack display service. No matter what people actually do with badging, this system is slick, simple to use, and has loads of potential for peer and professional recognition of identity, skills, and engagement. Given the passion, organization, and money behind badging, I’d say it’s going somewhere and its our job to make it useful.

And that’s when I learned the newest high school in my area is gearing up for badging. Led by a forward-thinking group of students, educators, and academics, the Skyline High School is exploring how badges can be used to recognize learning and skill development both inside and outside the classroom. One of the content areas they’re interested in is Health and Medicine (warning: auto-audio on this page!). As I looked closer, I noticed that Skyline students can participate in a summer camp focusing on health and biomedical engineering. As an official employee of the University of Michigan Medical School my jaw dropped. Badges! For medicine! For everyone!

I’ve since reined in my excitement slightly, but I’ll be talking with the Skyline badging group in the coming weeks to see what’s going on there. Here’s where I think Open.Michigan and the Office of Enabling Technologies (within Medical School Information Services) can help:

  • provide infrastructure for awarding and displaying badges (through Mozilla’s Open Badges Backpack and through Open.Michigan’s platform: OERbit)
  • connect Med School faculty with Skyline teachers
  • develop mentorship opportunities through the badging system or in conjunction with it
  • provide guidance on identity-based learning development in health and medical education
  • bring awareness of badging to Med School admissions and faculty
  • provide infrastructure for Skyline students to develop and share artifacts of learning (evidence behind earning associated badges)

The list could go on, but these seem like immediately possible avenues of congruency. Honestly, there’s nothing more exciting than traveling long distances only to come upon something cool happening in your own backyard. A win for the DML Conference. A win for community.

Open Education Week 2013: Celebrate Globally and Locally March 11-15

Open Education Week 2013

Open Education Week is taking place from 11-15 March 2013 online and in locally hosted events around the world. Open Education Week raises awareness of the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide, participation is free and open to anyone.

Local Open Education Week activities are being hosted by MLibrary, refer to the Open.Michigan events page for information. One U-M event will be a talk “The (not really) Secret Life of Wikipedia” by Cliff Lampe, Assistant Professor of Information. Prof. Lampe will discuss how evolving social processes and tools can help both consumers of and contributors to Wikipedia make the most of the site.

In conjunction with Open Education Week, the School of Open is launching its first set of courses. The School of Open is a community of volunteers developing and running online courses on the meaning and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and beyond. Among the offerings you’ll see Open.Michigan’s course dScribe: Peer-produced Open Educational Resources.

DML Research Competition on Badging proposal: "Opening" Open Education

The skinny

Digital Media and Learning Research Competition on Badging and Badge Systems

Now for some background

The Digital Media and Learning initiative was launched in 2006 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to help understand how digital media and technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. This initiative has spawned a large number of research and learning projects, including the Open Badges work I’ve participated in over the last couple of years.

Over the last 4 years, the DML group has been running various competitions to encourage research and collaborative projects in this area, and last fall I decided to take a stab at one. Through some round-about networking at P2PU, I got linked up with Luka Carfagna, a sociology PhD student at Boston College, to submit a proposal to the DML research competition on badging.

A seemingly unlikely match, Luka brought her chops in the Bourdieusian framework for social inequality in education and I had been deeply interested in identity formation through learning (scroll to: sunflower experiment). Our shared love/hate relationship with open learning systems was the catalyzer for the whole project and while our initial proposal made it to the finalists stage of the competition, it went no further.

So, with that said, we’d like to share the proposal with the open community, because we’re interested in continuing our conversation about learners’ cultural capital (education, intellect, style of speech, dress)[1] and how it impacts the way they curate their own open learning experiences. We feel this is an underdeveloped area of inquiry, and would like to hear some other people’s thoughts on it.


The proposal

“Opening” Open Education: Understanding the Effect of Cultural Capital on Open Learning Trajectories

Luka B. Carfagna, Boston College

Pieter Kleymeer, University of Michigan

Executive Summary and Research Questions

From DIY U (Kamenetz, 2010) to eduX, the education world is abuzz with innovative experiments to address class inequalities in post-secondary education. Proponents of open education cite its potential to “open up” education by providing learning experiences that are typically free or low cost, peer generated or maintained, and shared worldwide through Creative Commons licensing. With so much energy, creativity, and so many education evangelists behind the movement towards open education there seems to be very little room to ask the critical but necessary question “Is open education open to everyone?”

There are obvious barriers to “opening up” open education, like access to the internet and language. However, an underdeveloped area of inquiry in this field is how user capital, specifically cultural capital, serves as a barrier to learning in the open education space. Bourdieu (1986) argues that cultural capital consists of non-financial assets that contribute to a person’s status and social mobility in society. From studies like Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods (2003), we know that low cultural capital (LCC) students experience a sense of constraint in the classroom while high cultural capital (HCC) students experience a sense of entitlement. In exploratory research, we have noted that cultural capital is affecting how learners choose their learning opportunities, how they curate their experiences, and how they make connections between their learning and economic lives. These curated learning opportunities and experiences are examples of learner trajectories – learning paths of individuals or groups of people. Open education systems have the potential to tailor learning trajectories to individual dispositions (Thomas and Brown, 2011), but if these trajectories are reproducing inequality through cultural capital then they may be no better than traditional education. Therefore, we first propose to ask: How does cultural capital influence learner trajectories in open education?

Digital badging has emerged as a method for expressing these trajectories on platforms such as Khan Academy and Codeacademy. Currently, many implementations of badges have focused on demarcating milestones or expected achievements in a prescriptive learning path. How prescriptive these achievements (and represented competencies) are is dependent on the community standards of whatever group or organization is issuing or awarding the badges. Other badge implementations, such as P2PU’s badge pilot project, have swung the opposite direction, letting individuals identify and describe their identity through badges. This type of learner trajectory focuses more on growth process than goal attainment. Because it is not tied to a preconceived path, it allows for more flexibility in how it is defined and how communities might value that growth. There is great potential for this type of badging to sidestep traditionally replicated inequalities and raises our second research question: How can learning platforms use badges that are sensitive to variance in capital to reconceptualize learner trajectories?

Background and Significance

In addition to cultural capital theory, we incorporate work on the new economy and identity theory into our framework for learners. New Economy scholars have criticized the American economic model as unsustainable and argue that to build a new economy, we must also build the education system that complements it. The 2008 financial downturn left countless Americans jobless and youth have suffered some of the highest unemployment levels since the downturn, despite having high levels of education, and subsequently high levels of student loan debt (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010; US Department of Education, 2011). Open and connected learning have been heralded as ideal models for teaching and learning 21st century skills in a volatile economy. However, unless open education is truly “open”, it will do no more than replicate existing inequality. Sociologists have long described ways that cultural capital in education can reproduce inequality (ex: Bourdieu, 1984; Lareau, 2003; DiMaggio, 1982; Dumais, 2002). Yet, new economists like Schor et al (forthcoming) and Johnston and Baumann (2009) argue that cultural capital has changed since theorists like Bourdieu first articulated the concept. As cultural capital shifts in the new economy, pathways to distinction could either adapt to preserve existing inequality or open up and democratize. In education, badging is akin to the abstract process of distinction Bourdieu describes. Badging operates as a marker of growth for individuals on open learning platforms and has the potential to provide a democratic pathway to identity distinction for open learners. Identity theory suggests that individuals are constantly sensing their environments, interpreting feedback on how their identity is perceived, and then comparing that perception to social and cultural standards the individual has adopted (Burke and Stets, 2009). While identity theory does not draw explicit connections to inequality, as part of the learning and self-identification process, we can see a point at which badging can be used to embrace and reflect variations and shifts in cultural capital (in both the user and the environment).

P2PU is using badging to promote 21st century skills like collaboration and project-based problem solving as well as content-specific competencies like Java programming. P2PU also offers the learner the unique opportunity to create her own learning and identity trajectory from passive observer to participant to mentor and teacher. With its large user base, collaborative organizational environment, and pilot badge program, P2PU is an ideal open education community in which to explore how cultural capital is influencing learner trajectory and how badging that is sensitive to capital can be used to reconceptualize learner trajectory. Through creative and rigorous social scientific research we have the opportunity to better understand learner trajectory as a feedback loop between self and environment. Open and connected learning is just as susceptible to the mechanisms of inequity as any other learning model, if such mechanisms are left taken-for-granted and uninterrupted. Our proposal aims to interrupt one potential corruptor of open education: cultural capital insensitivity. This research could provide groundbreaking steps towards designing a 21st century learning model that not only fits our vision for a new economy, but does so with intentional awareness and intolerance for 20th century inequality.


Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. The President and Fellows of Harvard College and Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “Forms of Captial.” From Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed: J.G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2010. College Enrollment and Work Activity of High School Graduates 2009. Retrieved (

Burke, Peter J. and Jan E. Stets. 2009. Identity Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

DiMaggio, Paul. 1982. “Cultural Capital and School Success: The Impact of Status Culture Participation on the Grades of U.S. High School Students.” American Sociological Review 47:189-201.

Dumais, Susan. 2002. “Cultural Capital, Gender, and School Success: The Role of Habitus.” Sociology of Education. 75.1: 44-68.

Johnston, Josee and Shyon Baumann. 2009. Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Kamenetz, Anya. 2010. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Chelsea Green Publishing

Lareau, Annette. 2003. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press.

Schor, Juliet et al. forthcoming. “An Emergeing Eco-habitus: The Reconfiguration of Cultural Capital Practices among Ethical Consumers.” Journal of Consumer Culture.

Thomas, Douglas and John Seely Brown. 2011. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Createspace.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2011. 2008–09 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates (NCES 2011-236).


© 2012 Carfagna and Regents of the University of Michigan


It's Open Education Week!

Open Education Week

It’s Open Education Week (5-10 March 2012)! We’re joining our colleagues around the world to increase understanding about open education, and promote awareness and use of academic materials that can be reused by teachers and learners globally.

Here in Ann Arbor, we are hosting a free lunchtime showing of Truth in Numbers? Everything According to Wikipedia, along with our co-sponsors MLibrary and the Michigan Wikipedians. The film showing will be followed by discussion with U-M Wikipedians, where you can learn more about how to use Wikipedia in the classroom or to increase the reach of your collections or research.  Pizza will be provided!

Date: Thursday, March 8 at noon
Location: Shapiro Library room 2160

Please tell your friends and colleagues.  We hope to see you there!

Introducing our Catalyst series

The Open.Michigan initiative facilitates opportunities to exchange knowledge, innovate and connect with likeminded people through projects and ideas that are shared across the world.  Are you working on a project you would like to share with others? Could you use some extra hands or expertise to make your ideas become reality? Are you interested in brainstorming your ideas with others?

In thinking about ways we can connect to the learning and teaching communities around campus, we’ve decided this term to focus on supporting existing projects and activities through our Catalyst series. By supporting the interests and activities of our community, we not only promote the success of initiatives, ideas and projects at U-M but we also help to educate our community about the benefits of openness and transparency.

This event series is built upon your interests, ideas and initiatives. We would like to help you make these become reality.

Once a month we will host a student or a community group that needs some extra space, expertise or people power to bring an idea to fruition. Basically, you provide the idea and we provide the logistics. We will provide you with the space, food and publicity you need to help you complete your ideas or projects. We’ll invite members of the community to come out and help you complete these ideas, allowing you to promote your group, your idea or get your work published quickly and easily. Our only requirement is that you make your project open. By applying an open license to your work others may share and adapt your ideas to create new ones. We will either host your work on our website or link to it, promoting it and archiving for future use.

If you’re interested in working with Open.Michigan, please fill out the online form.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact open.michigan[at]