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.

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!

Open.Michigan & Family Medicine: Update on a Thriving Partnership

Open.Michigan and the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine have been working together for over a year to publish a series of modules and videos on topics such as musculoskeletal exams, integrative medicine, and women’s health. Several subjects are still under development, including clinical procedures, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), joint injection, pain management, osteoporosis prevention, among others.

An image from the Complete Musculoskeletal Exam of the Knee YouTube video.

The education initiative has since expanded to include translations for captions that are available in English, Japanese, and Spanish (with more to come) for such videos as the Complete Musculoskeletal Knee Exam. Click on the closed captions (CC) icon to select the language.

Additionally, Philip Zazove, M.D., the George A. Dean, M.D. Chair of Family Medicine, professor, recently spoke about the significant impact of these efforts to a wide audience that includes chairs of family medicine from around the country, residency program alumni, and donors about the impact the units have on high-quality physician training.

The collaboration has been extended to include presentations. The Department of Family Medicine has a pilot project to make available select Grand Rounds lectures via webcast. Since the goal is to eventually share these with the public, lead faculty member, Elizabeth A. Jones, M.D., lecturer, worked with experts from Open.Michigan to learn about the proper use of images. In turn, Dr. Jones presented to the Department of Family Medicine faculty about how to license their own work, find Creative Commons licensed images, and how to correctly attribute those images.

Future enterprises are also being discussed; check back to see the progress. This has most certainly been an exciting relationship, and one that has flourished.

Learn more:

  • Open.Michigan is part of the Office of Enabling Technologies, a unit within the University of Michigan Medical School Information Services organization, that encourages researchers, learners, and instructors to maximize the impact and reach of their scholarly work through open sharing.
  • The Department of Family Medicine is also part of the U-M Medical School, and is celebrating their 35th year of working to meet the needs of patients, and serving as a model for primary care education and research.