Tom's Two Cents

Open Content: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Open Content: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The positive, often serendipitous news about the Open Course Library continues to appear. Shortly after our launch, the Saylor Foundation adapted 11 Open Course Library courses for use by self-learners. In the process they made the courses easier to access. You see, our first batch of courses were released as Common Cartridge .zip files which ended up being a barrier for those who don’t have access to a LMS. Saylor put our courses directly online and made them look pretty. They even caught a couple typos for us! (Note: We have since shifted to developing our course materials in Google Docs. All OCL course materials are available here:

Recently the Saylor Foundation began uploading some of their open courses to iTunes U, including several from the Open Course Library. Everyone benefits all over again, simply because a group of educators was willing to share their less-than-perfect course materials freely with the world. Open Course Library materials are now being used in 8 states through Project Kaleidoscope, an NGLC grant whose research is now informing our open sharing efforts in Washington State.

Last week I received a Google alert signaling that the North Carolina Community College System has added the Open Course Library courses to their NCLOR learning object repository. I look forward to reporting more good news as other educators decide to build on the OCL and Saylor materials and share back their improvements. While it’s impossible to control or even keep track all the outcomes of sharing one’s work openly on the web, I have only seen positive results for all involved. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but in most cases nothing is lost by giving it away. As more talented instructors are recognized for their OER efforts I hope more educators will be willing to share their lessons openly.

I’ll end with a great 2-min spotlight on Pierce College Precalculus Open Textbook co-author Melonie Rasmussen:

Thank you to Melonie and to all the instructors who have been willing to take a chance by sharing their course materials openly through the Open Course Library. Truly this is a gift that keeps on giving.


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