It is with great pleasure that I announce the 8 winners of our Adopter Communities’ Small Grant program. Each community proposed an outstanding project that uses open textbooks or open educational resources to improve teaching and learning for their students. Disciplines ranged from the highly enrolled general education subjects of Chemistry, Physics, and Math to American Government and Developmental Reading & Composition. Professional and career disciplines were also represented with Business Communications, Advanced Water Mathematics, and pre-teacher Educational Psychology. Overall 27 faculty members are participating from 17 colleges and 4 universities with approximately 3200 students anticipated to be positively impacted during the grant period alone.
For the purpose of this program, an adopter community had to contain at least two college or university instructors who have adopted or commit to adopting an open textbook(s) or open educational resources as the primary text for a course they teach or plan to teach in the 2011-2012 timeframe. Collaboration between multiple colleges and inclusion of peer reviewers, staff, and students as community members was highly encouraged. In addition, all enhancements, new materials, and ancillaries produced by the community in the grant period (2011-2012) must be made available to other educators using a Creative Commons license that allows further modifications such as CC-BY.
A huge thanks goes to our panel of judges who read all 17 grant application and finalized their results with conference call on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Using a rubric to help ensure inter-rater reliability, the panel included a community college dean, a higher education program manager, and the technology director for a large OER project.
Finally, I want to commend all the adopter communities who applied for their thoughtful projects that used open textbooks and open educational resources to improve teaching and student learning at their colleges. In the end, we were limited by our overall budget and not the inspiring visions of all of the applicants.
Please check out our College Open Textbooks community site for more details on these amazing Adopter Communities and to watch their progress over the next year. Webinar with grantees scheduled for November 17 at 1:00 PM (Pacific).
Image:Some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC) by EpicFireworks
Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO will be officiating the launch of “Global Open Access Platform” (usually called the Global Open Access Portal) along with the launch of the UNESCO OER Platform, the re-designed Open Training Platform, and the OER policy Guidelines. The Launch is scheduled for November 1, 2011 at 6:30pm Paris time (GMT-1) and 10:30 am PDT and will be live-streamed in:
English – mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_en.wmv
Français – mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_fr.wmv
Education-Portal.com just announced the winners of their first annual OCW People’s Choice Awards, which honor the best of the Open Education Movement. Over 4000 people voted for their best educational resources in this inaugural contest.
College Open Textbooks was recognized as the OCW People’s Choice Winner for Most Open. According to Education-Portal.com, “Openness is a key part of any OCW – after all, it’s in the name. But what providers excel at giving their users a wealth of material to access and lots of different ways to do it? The nominees in this category all understand that to make courseware truly open, variety and depth are key.” The finalists included Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and UC Irvine OCW.
Other winners included Open Course Library, FGV Online, African Virtual University OER, Open Study, MIT Physics and more. For more information on the complete list of winners, go to http://education-portal.com/articles/OCW_Peoples_Choice_Award_Winners_Final_List.html
Writing about the rising costs of textbooks here would be a classic case of preaching to the choir. So I will not waste time rehashing what you all know and will instead jump right to what we hope will be a valuable contribution to the efforts of this site and the OER community to provide cost-free textbook alternatives to students: the Saylor Open Textbook Challenge.
The challenge aims to license open texts for over 200 courses currently residing on Saylor.org used in twelve of the most popular college majors enrolled in by U.S. students. Before we delve into some details of the Challenge, let me give you some background on our Foundation.
The Saylor Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization working to drive the cost of higher education to zero. Working with over 150+ credentialed professors and peer-reviewers from higher-education institutions, we are compiling open-licensed course content styled after a traditional academic program.
In deciding which courses to offer, Saylor first devoted resources to develop courses that would fit under traditional college majors in popular, high-enrollment areas of study. We then engaged professor consultants to build course blueprints to fill out the majors. These courses are designed to route a student through the material he or she would need to know in order to earn credit from an accredited institution in the U.S.
The Saylor OER Approach:
We decided that we could best make a unique contribution to the OER movement by developing a structured content aggregation and curation process, by which our professor consultants seek, vet, frame, and—where appropriate—add to existing resources in order to yield complete courses, hosted on a central site and tied to user outcomes, assessments, and predefined learning taxonomies. Each course is also peer reviewed for further fine tuning.
Importantly, in addition to utilizing OER materials, we decided to include and link to copyrighted materials in our content aggregation process. Through our Permissions Initiative, many copyright holders are allowing us to host their materials on the site within the relevant course context. When permission to host is NOT granted (and when OERs do not exist), we work to paper over the gaps in each course and/or replace the linked resources by stimulating the development of original content and the Creative Commons re-licensing of complete and newly open texts.
Back to the Open Text Book Challenge:
To spur authors to openly license their work, the Saylor Foundation will offer a $20,000 award for submitted textbooks accepted for use in our course materials after a round of peer reviews. To be eligible for the award, the author(s) must agree to license the text under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY) license. We plan to formally launch the Challenge just after Labor Day so please visit our site at that time and keep your eyes out for more information. If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below – we would love to hear your thoughts!
The Open Course Library is an initiative of the Washington state community and technical colleges to leverage a variety of existing Open Educational Resources as well as original content by our faculty course designers. I will also discuss the advantages of open educational content that prompted our state agency to invest in the development of education content and to require the resulting digital course materials be shared under a Creative Commons open license. To give context to the Open Course Library I will start by providing some background on our college system, our Strategic Technology Plan, and the formal adoption of an open licensing policy.
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is an organization that provides leadership and coordination for Washington’s public system of 34 community and technical colleges. Based on the current Annual Enrollment Report, the number of students attending our colleges is 470,000 and climbing. This is the highest enrollment level in SBCTC history, with much of the recent increase due to growth in eLearning. One reason for this growth is that more students are able to fit school into their busy schedules by attending hybrid and online classes.
In 2008, SBCTC released its Strategic Technology Plan to provide clear policy direction around a single goal: mobilizing technology to increase student success. One of the guiding principles of the plan is to “cultivate the culture and practice of using and contributing to open educational resources” (p. 17). With a clear plan in place the next step was to provide opportunities, incentives, and policies to promote OER in our system. On June 17, 2010 the nine-member State Board for Community and Technical Colleges unanimously approved the first state-level open licensing policy. It requires that all digital works created from competitive grants administered through SBCTC carry a Creative Commons Attribution-only (CC-BY) license. This license allows educational materials created by one college to be used or updated by another college in our system as well as by other education partners globally. Allowing the free flow of all educational content produced by State Board competitive grant funds is an efficient way to engage in the OER movement while maintaining a focus on the specific needs of Washington’s community and technical college students.
Building on the Strategic Technology Plan, the SBCTC eLearning team launched the Open Course Library in 2010, an initiative to design and openly share 81 high enrollment, gatekeeper and pre-college courses. The goals of the OCL project include (1) lowering textbook costs for students, (2) providing new resources for faculty to use in their courses, and (3) fully engaging in the global open educational resources discussion. OCL participants are selected through a competitive grant proposal process. Each winning faculty member or team of faculty designs one course. Each of the 81 course teams is directly supported by a librarian, two instructional designers, and an eLearning director. All teams receive additional support from two institutional researchers, 2 accessibility specialists, and a multicultural expert.
Another important consideration is how we will share the 81 OCL courses at the end of each phase. Internal sharing is easy because of our existing WAOL system-shared courses framework. We will include a copy of the full course in our share course system so it can be viewed and copied by faculty in any of our 34 colleges. For external sharing we have partnered withthe Saylor Foundation. Saylor.org will make the OCL course content modular and easy to search and view online.
Open Course Library development will occur in two phases. The first 42 courses (phase 1) will be released at the end of October 2011. The remaining courses (phase 2) will be completed by summer 2013. Each phase is spread over four college quarters. In phase 1, the first two quarters (summer/fall 2010) were spent designing course objectives, finding appropriate OER content, and creating assessments that aligned with the content. Faculty course designers worked closely with their assigned instructional designers (IDs) during this time to ensure that assignments and assessments are tied to course objectives. Faculty then pilot taught their newly designed curriculum at their college during the third quarter (winter 2011). They used feedback from two peer reviews and the course pilot to make updates to the course during the fourth quarter (spring 2011). Phase 2 will follow the same, four-quarter timeline and will benefit from lessons learned in phase 1.
SBCTC will not mandate the use of Open Course Library materials within our system. But we are already getting positive feedback from students who are grateful they don’t have to pay $200 for a textbook. Because these resources are openly licensed, digital resources anyone will be able to access, modify, adapt, translate, and improve them. The cost of making a million digital copies of digital materials is not much more than the cost of the first copy, and print-on-demand solutions are making print copies very affordable as well.
As we look beyond the content development process, the next major challenge is to increase the adoption of these OCL courses. We will start by making it as easy as possible for our faculty to find, browse, and copy OCL course content. We will train newly hired faculty so they are aware of the Open Course Library content available to them as they are developing their lesson materials. As we look for ways to encourage a culture of OER use and sharing in Washington’s community and technical colleges we will create opportunities for Open Course Library content to be adopted, updated, maintained, and shared back with our system and with the world.