It’s been 9 months since the release of the first 42 OCL courses and the positive, often serendipitous outcomes to continue to appear. Shortly after our October 31, 2011 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, and we will move the first 42 courses to Google Docs before our final release in Spring 2013).
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.
My daughter hates when her brothers copy her. Apparently, so do three major publishers. They are suing Boundless Learning, a company that allows students to access online content that is the page-by-page equivalent to their assigned textbooks. Except Boundless uses all open content, including open educational resources (OER) from top schools. Plus they’ve added videos, instant search, highlighting, notes, etc.
Oh, and it’s free.
Here are the TechCrunch,Chronicle, and Hack Education articles about the suit. Not only are the publishers going after Boundless Learning, they’re going after the funders as well. (I usually give my kids a time-out before it gets to this point.)
While it might be cheaper to buy Boundless rather than sue them at this point, publishers are understandably nervous and looking to make a statement about reverse engineered textbooks. The irony here is that publishers routinely copy each other. Compare the table of contents of the top 3 Biology textbooks and you’ll see what I mean.
OER is not on trial here, but there are implications for those who seek to leverage OER to solve real problems. I can’t help rooting for a group that is willing to take a creative risk to help students, and I hope Boundless can continue providing a legal alternative to $200+ textbooks. I want my kids to use their site someday. Long live the copycats!
Now to copy someone else. This past weekend the first 42 Open Course Library courses made their way to Haiti on a DVD — a little over 1GB of course content. Here’s the presentation given by Brandon Muramatsu. It’s worth watching. So maybe you don’t get to travel as much as I want to these days, but at least your openly shared content can.
Today was a big day for open policy, with important hearings in the Washington State House and Senate on measures requiring open licensing of courseware developed with state funds. State Representative Reuven Carlyle sponsored the House bill (along with a number of other representatives), and testified at both hearings. The Senate companion bill was sponsored by Senators Tom, Hill, and Frockt.
It is notable that even though there was significant opposition to the bills from the universities, everyone supported using and sharing open resources. The concerns centered around *how* to go about implementing an open policy. Today’s conversations are well worth watching for anyone interested in these arguments or considering similar legislation. A quick summary:
Broad support for quality open textbooks in higher ed. (several universities said they are “all in” for open textbooks)
Everyone supports the spirit and intention of sharing open educational resources
Concerns raised at hearings:
Mandatory nature of policy (and how to track compliance)
Impact on faculty’s ability to publish in peer reviewed articles (and further impact on faculty P&T and retention)
Copyright vetting and copyright liability burdens on faculty
Tonight I’m thinking of the Ghandi quote David Wiley used almost a year ago: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’ve been through the first three stages. The final stage we are in, the winning part requires a lot of listening, especially to faculty who are interested in OER but have different ideas about implementation.
Regardless of what happens to these two bills, one thing is clear: Open Educational Resources are moving into the mainstream. It’s time to expand educational opportunities for all. No more waiting. It’s time to share.
Scott Dennis and I presented at NorthWest eLearn in Vancouver, WA last Thursday and Friday. As usual, I threw my slides on SlideShare before the presentation. On Sunday I got an email telling me my prezi was “hot” on SlideShare. 5300 views later I am wishing I spent a little more time on those slides, but glad so many people have been exposed to the great work being done by the faculty of the Washington State colleges. The first 42 shareable courses of Open Course Library will be available on October 31, 2011. These course materials have already saved WA students hundreds of thousands of dollars. And we’re just getting started. Can’t wait to share it at the 2011 Open Education conference next week.