Tom's Two Cents

OER Access and Accessibility Session Live and on Twitter!

OER Access and Accessibility Session Live and on Twitter!

I will be conducting a panel session on OER access and accessibility in about an hour. It will run from 11:15am to 12:45pm CDT (UTC/GMT -5 hours). If you are not present at the OCWC Conference in Monterrey, you can connect via Elluminate web conference here: To join the room, click on the “WiderNet eGranary Partnerships” (first link) and enter your name (no password required). This will start a java download that may take a few minutes, so please allow some time before the session.

You can also join in via twitter: #OCWC09wsaccess and #OCWCglobal2009

Here is the page that is pulling feeds together for the session:

Panel members joining via Elluminate web conference are encouraged to sign on 15 minutes early (at 11:00am CDT). Others attending the webcast of the session are welcome to participate or listen in, but please save questions for the end. Comments may be submitted via chat during the session, but please be respectful of the speakers. In case you miss the session we are also recording it, and I will send out the link when it is available. Here are the details:

Session Focus: In this exploratory session we will discuss assistive technology efforts as well as projects to improve access to OER in developing countries. What projects are under way to improve accessibility and access to OER? How are accessibility and access challenges similar and what strategies might offer solutions to both problems?

Format: 90 minute session
Brief welcome and introduction by Tom Caswell

Panel Speakers, in speaking order (8-10 minutes each)
1. Tom Abelas (Sagacity) :: What is the future of OER within the context of the future of education?
2. Tom Caswell (OCWC/eduCommons) :: Overview of accessibility efforts within eduCommons project
3. Cliff Missen ( :: Overview of eGranery, with a focus on providing access to OER
4. Ahrash Bissell (ccLearn) :: Thoughts on content licensing considerations and their impact on global access goals
5. Jonathan Whiting ( :: Introduce WebAIM efforts for web accessibility. What resources exit for those new to accessibility?
6. Dean Jansen (Participatory Culture Foundation/Miro video project) :: How does access and accessibility impact the future of  video? What is being done in these areas? Future directions for Miro
7. Bjoern Hassler (Cambridge University) :: Additional comments on video and access. Introduce Access2OER group (email list) to OCWC members. Where do we go from here?

Questions for panel members (using chat and audio)
Wrap up

Panel Member Biographies:

Tom Abelas has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, former tenured professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the area of renewable energy, environmental science and liberal studies. Using distance education delivery systems for over 40 years and international consultant on dist-education and e-learning. Edit the international academic journal, On the Horizon, which is a foresight journal focusing on education preK->gray with an emphasis on post secondary education. On the editorial boards of other academic journals from sustainable agriculture to world peace. President/Chairman of Sagacity, Inc an international consulting firm in renewable energy and the environment.

Tom Caswell is eduCommons Project Manager for the OpenCourseWare Consortium. eduCommons is an open source content management system designed specificaly for OpenCourseWare. Tom has also worked on the eduCommons project at the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University. He is a fourth year doctoral student studying open content and instructional games at the secondary level.

Cliff Missen is the director of the WiderNet Project and an instructor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa.  The WiderNet Project works to improve digital communication in developing countries through the development of human capacity and program planning.  With over 24 years professional experience in computers, networking, multimedia design, teaching, and applications development, Missen oversees the development of the eGranary Digital Library, an innovative way to deliver the world’s knowledge to people and institutions with inadequate Internet access.

Ahrash Bissell is the Executive Director of ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, which focuses on removing the legal, technical, and cultural barriers to open education, digital scholarship, and the growth of the global commons. Prior to his current position, Ahrash was at Duke University, where he was Assistant Director of the Academic Resource Center and a Research Associate in Biology. He has a Ph.D. in Biology (Evolutionary Genetics) from the University of Oregon and a BS in Biology from the University of California, San Diego.

Jonathan Whiting, M.S., is the director of training and evaluation at WebAIM. WebAIM is a non-profit organization based at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. It is one of the most influential Web accessibility groups in the nation. As an instructional designer, Jonathan has published dozens of articles, tutorials, and other instructional resources. He has also traveled extensively to train hundreds of higher education Web developers, content creators, and other professionals who develop or maintain Web content. In addition to training, Jonathan has also provided Web accessibility evaluations and reports for several higher education institutions.

Dean Jansen is Outreach Director for the Participatory Culture Foundation. Dean is currently focused on co-organizing the Open Video Conference, which is slated to take place in New York on June 19-20. The conference will be asking big questions about the future of video; for instance, how do we effectively preserve our right to free expression in a world of consolidated commercial video gateways? Additionally, Dean helped draft the Open U proposal, which would be part of a fully open, end-to-end distribution system for educational resources. The Participatory Culture Foundation is a non-profit organization with a media reform mission. They foster bottom up economies and promote openness and decentralization in the online media ecosystem. Miro, the free and open source HD video player and distribution system, is their flagship project—you can check it out at:

Dr Björn Haßler (University of Cambridge) has been working on educational issues for the last 8 years, including research on diagnostic testing for undergraduate mathematics education, widening participation and access through ICT, as well as volunteer engagement in media production. Since 2006 Björn holds a senior research associate position at CARET, working on educational aspects of new media. He has extensive experience in teaching multimedia, both within Cambridge and internationally, and has contributed to a number of best practice guidelines, including UNESCO National Commission reports. Further information at

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