Difference between revisions of "Free to Learn Guide/Different Types of OER Meet Different Needs"

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===OER Courses===
 
===OER Courses===
  
Dozens of high-quality, fully-structure,d subject-specific courses are currently available as OER. They encompass a wide range of academic levels and disciplines, including advanced placement, community college and undergraduate college level courses in subjects such as biology, statistics and computer programming. Like traditional bricks and mortar education, most OER courses produced to date have been created by a single instructor.  
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Dozens of high-quality, fully-structured, subject-specific courses are currently available as OER. They encompass a wide range of academic levels and disciplines, including advanced placement, community college and undergraduate college level courses in subjects such as biology, statistics and computer programming. Like traditional bricks and mortar education, many OER courses produced to date have been created by a single instructor.  
  
 
The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE) is a leading player in the OER movement. MITE provides more than 35 Advanced Placement, pre-collegiate and collegiate level courses in its  growing, media-rich National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) and also offers Hippocampus, a free learning resource designed to augment traditional textbooks.  
 
The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE) is a leading player in the OER movement. MITE provides more than 35 Advanced Placement, pre-collegiate and collegiate level courses in its  growing, media-rich National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) and also offers Hippocampus, a free learning resource designed to augment traditional textbooks.  

Revision as of 23:47, 11 November 2010

The wide array of Open Educational Resources is creating an entirely new eco-system for higher education. The free, online digital components of this new eco-system that are already available and in growing use range from individual items such as an annotated diagram of an isosceles triangle to entire courses complete with streaming audio/videos of in-class lectures. There are even entirely new types of courses that rely on advances in the cognitive sciences to create individualized learning paths that can better ensure and measure student comprehension.

Individual OER with little or no interlocking pedagogical structure are often called "learning objects." Learning objects can be used individually, or combined in a variety of ways including creating readers and textbooks. Semi-structured OER learning materials, such as encyclopedia and digitized library collections, are often most useful as reference materials.

Highly structured OER, which include textbooks and even complete courses can be used "as-is", modified to fit particular needs or styles of learning, or serve as a model for course updates or new course creation. Because these resources are free and open, they can be combined, adapted, modified and reconfigured as needed and allowed by Creative Commons licenses. The following examples illustrate the complementary nature and utility of different types of OER, all of which are now readily available on the Internet. The examples are presented in the following order:

  • unstructured OER that focuses on a single topic or idea;
  • OER with more structure, such as materials grouped by subject area; and
  • fully structured OER, such as complete courses.

As emerging technologies create new tools and ways of organizing and sharing data, the variety of OER and platforms for delivering them will change as well. Similarly, as students adopt new technologies such as texting, social networking and portable devices, new opportunities for providing OER in familiar formats will develop.

The following representative but not exhaustive list of OER examples provide a snapshot of the increasing depth, quality and versatility of the free, high-quality OER that are now available.

OER Learning Objects

Learning objects are "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning."[1] Examples of learning objects include a definition of a word or concept, an illustration, an interactive diagram, a simulation of a chemistry experiment and a wide array of other online tools and exercises that help students understand a particular point or principle.

Learning objects can be thought of as a set of educational raw materials that can be used in different ways. Instructors can integrate learning objects into curriculum, bundle them into courses or use them in combination with other learning objects to create more complete or comprehensive sets of learning materials. Learning objects also help instructors discover different ways to convey information and teach specific concepts or ideas. Students and self-learners can use learning objects to brush up on a topic, find information in formats that fit their individual learning styles or to verify their comprehension of material.

One of the earliest and best-known examples of a learning object repository is Rice University's Connexions, an online "content commons" which currently contains thousands of small chunks of knowledge. Hundreds of more complete sets of learning materials, ranging from textbooks to complete courses, have been built using these materials.

By creating, building and collaboratively using learning objects, Connexions "conveys the interconnected nature of knowledge across different disciplines, courses and curricula, moving away from a centralized, solitary, publishing and learning process to one based on connecting people into global learning communities that share knowledge," says the site's founder, Rice University Professor of Engineering Richard Baraniuk. As of July 2010, Connexions receives between 1 million and 1.6 million visitors per month from most of the world's countries to its site at cnx.org. The variation depends on the academic month of the year. The majority of visitors are students who find the site through Google and other search engines. Connexions recently announced that all of its content is now available in the EPUB format used by most smart phones and e-readers worldwide.

Other examples of learning object repositories include the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management's (ISKME) OER Commons, MERLOT, the Maricopa Learning Exchange and the SMETE Digital Library Collection, which is supported by the National Science Foundation.

OER Digitized Library Collections

Digitized Library Collections are another fast-growing form of OER. These collections feature reference and source materials that would typically be found in a library, including books, consumer and trade catalogs, magazines, professional journals and other periodicals, posters, photographs and manuscripts. Instructors can integrate these materials into their courses. Students and instructors alike can also use them for research.

Khan Academy represents a unique type of OER collection, educational tutoring videos. Khan Academy founder, Salman Khan began videotaping math tutoring sessions to help younger relatives with their homework. That effort has grown into a library of more than 1,600 individual videos covering the majority of K-12th grade math. CNN reported in August of 2010 that videos from the Khan Academy library are watched on average 70,000 times per day. Bill Gates has spoken publicly about using Khan's videos to tutor his own children. Khan intends to create what he calls, "the world's first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything--for free."

Similar undertakings include the Public Library of Science (PLoS), which publishes cutting-edge professional journals in the fields of biology and medicine, and the Library of Congress' Serial and Government Publications Division program, which is digitizing 30 million pages from newspapers covering the period from 1836 to 1922. All of these materials are available for free use and repurposing for educational and other purposes.

OER Encyclopedia

Encyclopedias are reference materials that contain authoritative definitions and/or descriptions of a variety of topics, which are usually presented in alphabetical order. Educators, students and self-learners use encyclopedias to conduct research and verify information. The best known and most widely used open encyclopedia, Wikipedia, currently features more than 16 million articles in more than 270 languages (3.4 million in English). The entries in Wikipedia, which are generally but not universally reliable, are created and maintained by teams of volunteer experts who police entries on the site and remove erroneous material in a consensus-driven process. By contrast, the open and free Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy relies on invited subject area experts to create entries, which are then peer-reviewed before being placed online.

OER Online Archives

Online archives are collections of material available in a digital format. In most cases, these searchable archives provide no services other than storing and enabling the retrieval of the digitized material, including snapshots of the content on different websites at different times. Online archives are an example of a useful supplement to OER even in cases where they may be owned or controlled by proprietary vendors. Online archives can also include copies of materials that were published by websites that are no longer in operation, as well as digital versions of audio and video recordings. Instructors, students and self-learners use these materials for research purposes and can integrate them into formal or informal educational programs.

The Internet Archive (www.archive.org) presently offers the most complete set of free online archives available. It contains thousands of study guides, course lectures and other academic resources, more than one million texts, audio recordings, live music recordings and tens of thousands of images, including movies, videos and animations as well as a "wayback machine" that displays the contents of websites which have been changed, deleted or which are no longer in operation, many of which carry intellectual property licenses that allow the free use of their content by others. The Alexandria Archive, which focuses primarily on archeology, is an example of a more subject specific OER archive.

Open Textbooks

Open textbooks can be traditional textbooks that have been made available online or new works created by talented faculty who wish to share their knowledge. One of the most successful open textbooks is "Collaborative Statistics" written by Barbara Illowsky, a faculty member at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California and Susan Dean. In use for more than 15 years, the authors worked with partners to buy the rights from the publisher to make it openly accessible.

The Community College Open Textbook Collaborative, a leading force in the field, describes the requirements of an open text book as: free, or very nearly free; easy to use, get and pass around; editable so instructors can customize content; printable; and accessible so it works with adaptive technologies that serve the needs of disabled students, including those with learning disabilities.. The Collaborative website now links to more than 545 open textbooks, as well as peer reviews of nearly 100 of these books, and has obtained accessibility assessments on many.

OER Courseware

Courseware are instructional materials used to teach a specific course. Examples include lecture notes, texts, reading lists, course assignments, syllabi, study materials, problem sets, exams, illustrations and, in some cases, streaming videos of in-class lectures. The free distribution of courseware enables instructors to see how colleagues in the same discipline structure and teach similar courses.

Instructors exposed to courseware can improve their teaching and learning outcomes by examining the sequence in which material is presented, the resources and techniques used to convey information and the tools used to assess learning outcomes. Courseware gives new teachers a set of educational blueprints they can use to build their own courses and to improve their pedagogy. Students can use courseware to augment their education. Other learners, including workers seeking to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date, can use courseware to guide their studies.

MIT's pioneering OpenCourseWare (OCW) project was the first major effort by an American academic institution to release courseware as OER. The effort now involves all 32 of the school's academic departments. "Through MITOCW, educators and students everywhere can benefit from the academic activities of our faculty and join a global learning community in which knowledge and ideas are shared openly and freely for the benefit of all," MIT's current President, Susan Hockfield, said in 1996. The site had generated more than 103 million visits by October 2010 with visitors evenly split between students and educators.

More than 250 universities around the world have joined MIT in releasing the courseware used at their schools for free use by others. Participants include Tufts University, Utah State University, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, the Universities of Tokyo and Osaka, France's École Polytechnique, and the Beijing Jiaotong, and Nanjing Universities. Most of these participating undergraduate and graduate schools are also members of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, a U.S.-based non-profit corporation that helps member institutions collaborate to maintain, improve and extend the reach of OER.


Interview with Mary Lou Forward, OpenCourseWare Consortium


The OpenCourseWare Consortium was created in 2005 by MIT and several other open courseware organizations hoping to create a large body of open educational content that would advance education and empower people around the globe. The Consortium now has 250 members worldwide, with 13,000 courses available. MIT is the largest provider, having put all of its courseware online. The majority of open courseware (OCW) comes from other Consortium members who have offered from 10 to 150 courses each, depending on the size of their institution.

Consortium Executive Director Mary Lou Forward explains that the impetus for offering OCW usually comes from one or two educators at an institution who see knowledge sharing as the basis for education. At first, most institutions resist because providing content for free feels like giving away the farm. "Eventually," Forward says, "school leaders begin to see the marketing value and then produce more and more courses, creating a proof of concept within their institution. Once they start, leaders begin to see the benefits."

Forward believes that transparency, as exhibited by sharing coursework, drives trust, which appeals to students who are increasingly attracted to openness. Specialty courses in particular can attract students to institutions with advanced knowledge of a subject.

There are reservations among smaller, non first-tier universities who worry that their materials might look inferior. "These schools have to remember," says Forward, "that review produces better course materials. They need to release their expectation that a course has to be polished and perfect. Perfect is the enemy of sharing, and openness leads to improvement."

The most explosive growth in OCW adoption has been outside of the United States. In Africa, for instance, most countries have only a few large universities and some technical colleges. OCW allows higher education systems to offer educational outreach opportunities designed to credential knowledge gained, rather than successful completion of a series of courses and processes. Free and widely available OCW materials make it possible to give a much larger group of citizens access to learning without the need to expand facilities. Universities can offer targeted tutoring and a system of assessment to demonstrate that off campus students meet university standards.

OCW allows universities in Africa to assemble knowledge inexpensively and efficiently and allow great numbers of citizens to access it. The community college mandate is very similar. Community colleges often serve those students without a tradition of higher education, older students, or those interested in professions not offered at 4-year institution. Forward believes that the same concepts apply. "You don't have to expand actual physical facilities to expand your enrollment and reach."

"Similarly, the community college focus on teaching and not research means that a lot of cool stuff comes out of them," says Forward. "OER can enable more innovation in teaching by creating a cost effective way for faculty to tap into other people's design and thinking about courses. Faculty do not have to take a sabbatical just to write curriculum. They can design a course in a month and then offer it. OER is a very good way for a community college to expand its offerings."

Forward sees an important role for community colleges as innovators, if a few issues can be addressed. "Faculty need to even more fully embrace OER as a vehicle for improving their teaching, and not think of it as cheating or slacking," she says. "We also need to get to the place where teachers actually get extra credit for developing and improving curriculum."

The other big issue is keeping up with students. "Social networking fads may come and go, but students are not going to stop hacking and pulling information they want from wherever they can find it," says Forward. "Institutions who recognize this and respond will become the most attractive to the best students because they are in tune and represent the future. OCW is one clear signal to students that a school is moving ahead and not trapped in old textbooks and old ways of teaching."

OpenCourseWare Consortium - http://www.ocwconsortium.org/


OER Courses

Dozens of high-quality, fully-structured, subject-specific courses are currently available as OER. They encompass a wide range of academic levels and disciplines, including advanced placement, community college and undergraduate college level courses in subjects such as biology, statistics and computer programming. Like traditional bricks and mortar education, many OER courses produced to date have been created by a single instructor.

The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE) is a leading player in the OER movement. MITE provides more than 35 Advanced Placement, pre-collegiate and collegiate level courses in its growing, media-rich National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) and also offers Hippocampus, a free learning resource designed to augment traditional textbooks.

Now working with dozens of high schools and community colleges, MITE offers member institutions access to their cost-saving NROC courses, with membership fees waived for institutions unable to pay. The NROC currently features free, high-quality courses in math, history, physics, geology and environmental science.

OER Courses with Embedded Cognitive Science Techniques

At Carnegie Mellon University, OER are developed by teams composed of learning scientists, faculty content experts and software engineers in order to make best use of multidisciplinary knowledge for designing effective open learning environments. Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative (OLI) courses use intelligent tutoring systems, virtual labs, simulations, and frequent opportunities for assessment and feedback to produce the kind of dynamic, flexible, and responsive OER that fosters robust learning. As learners work through the OLI courses, the OLI system collects data about what students are doing and learning. The system uses that data to give immediate feedback and support to the learners. Instructors using the OLI courses can access timely information on where their students are struggling and what their students are learning so that they can use that information in planning their class time. The OLI development teams use the system-generated student performance data to continuously improve the courses.

Together with community colleges, OLI has launched a new collaborative model of evidence-based OER development and evaluation. The Community College Open Learning Initiative (CC-OLI) brings together teams of faculty subject matter experts from multiple community colleges across the country with OLI to develop, adapt and evaluate four key gatekeeper courses. The target is to increase successful completion rates in the classes using the CC-OLI courses by 25%.   Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative courses cannot be used in all situations, particularly in public schools where the original version may not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The OLI team is currently focused on updating the learning environments to comply with ADA requirements. Nevertheless, they do provide an outstanding model of the way OER could positively transform and improve teaching and learning.

In most cases, full courses released as OER are complete, standalone products with a specific set of pre-defined learning outcomes. Many institutions of higher education can make better use of these courses today as a way to augment or replace the most common large-lecture format classes. Likewise, students and self-learners can use these courses to deepen or reinforce their knowledge of specific subjects.


Nature Publishing Group's Science OER


An important, though rarely discussed, barrier to uptake of OER by colleges is the perception by potential adopters of the unclear provenance of many openly available learning objects. Administrators and faculty who trust the track record of well-known textbook publishing brands can be hesitant to build curriculum around collections of material that are not directly vetted by a clearly designated presiding organization or institution.

Nature Publishing Group, publishers of the highly regarded Nature magazine, decided in 2009 to make a sustained effort to overcome this barrier in life and physical science disciplines by publishing its own OER, called Scitable (www.nature.com/scitable). Scitable, which launched with courseware in genetics and is at present expanding across other life and physical sciences, was developed by staff editors at Nature Publishing Group, working in concert with Editorial Boards drawn from teaching and research faculty from a range of U.S. colleges and universities and a carefully vetted team of peer reviewers, scientific writers, illustrators, and media specialists.

Scitable's content, though not currently available under a Creative Commons license, is distributed at no cost to all end users. Costs of development and distribution of the content through the robust Scitable website are partially covered by Nature Publishing Group, as an organizational commitment to the mission of democratizing access to science education, and partially by a number of corporate underwriters, including prominent U.S-based biopharma and technology companies.

As a result of the structured design approach and rigorous peer-review process used in development of the content, as well as the immediate credibility that the association with Nature brought to the initiative, Scitable's teaching and learning materials have been highly regarded by science faculty since its launch. More than 15,000 faculty members are currently registered as steady users of the genetics library, with as many as 1,000 using the resources in their courses largely or wholly in place of traditional textbooks. More than 150,000 students download the learning materials in any given month.

The early success of this program highlights the potentially transformative impact that could result from the involvement of major commercial publishers in the OER movement. Although per unit margins for printed versions may decline under this model, volume could explode in a much larger global market.


Online Tools Support and Empower the OER Community

In addition to the different types of OER content listed above, there is also a growing set of online tools that are making it easier than ever to find, use, create and distribute OER. These tools can be divided into three categories: Intellectual Property Management, Open Learning Management Systems, and Distribution and Dissemination Services, which include tools that support the development of OER communities.

Intellectual Property Management. Concerns about intellectual property (IP) issues related to copyright were and remain one of the most significant obstacles facing the OER community. Many potential users of OER are reluctant to do so because they fear they may be making unauthorized uses of material that may be copyrighted owned or controlled by others. The mere fact that materials can be found on the Internet does not ensure that they can be used legally or at no cost.

Fortunately, those problems are being very effectively addressed thanks to increasingly popular online tools that streamline the management of IP issues in an OER-friendly way. The most important such tool is developed by Creative Commons, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California, which has also created a global network of affiliate organizations to ensure tool validity and adoption worldwide. The Creative Commons website offers a menu of IP licenses that can be electronically appended to intellectual properties free of charge. Creators of intellectual properties such as learning objects, courses, courseware, or lectures can select the IP licensing terms they want to apply to their works from a list on the Creative Commons website, which then generates the requested machine-readable IP license.

At present, the most commonly used Creative Commons licenses grant permission in advance to enable others to use their materials free of charge for at least non-commercial purposes, to adapt the materials as desired, and to provide written credit to the original creators of the materials. Creative Commons licenses have been affixed to hundreds of millions of web pages and other documents. As use of Creative Commons licenses grows, doubts about which learning materials can be legally used and under what terms are rapidly subsiding.

Open Learning Management Systems. Open Learning Management Systems (OLMSs) are a derivative of what are sometimes called Course Management Systems (CMSs) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). These software products typically include systems for publishing, organizing and displaying learning materials online. These systems standardize the presentation of digital or electronic educational materials and streamline the process of creating online or distance learning courses. They provide a ready structure to organize and continually improve OER that is independent of any commercial software vendor.

There are several commercial course management systems currently available. None of these systems has proven to be an ideal match for the requirements of the OER community, which benefits from the maximum degree of flexibility and customizability at the lowest possible cost.

Higher education governance officials who are responsible for approving financial contracts with commercial course management vendors are well advised to seek administrative guidance on possible non-commercial alternatives. Both the community source SAKAI project, the open source Moodle project, and ETUDES, which stands for "Easy to Use Distance Education Software," are providing increasing numbers of higher education institutions with more useful course management systems without the added costs of commercial software.

Distribution and Dissemination. Recently, there has been dramatic progress in developing new online tools that help potential users locate the specific OER that best meets their individual needs. These efforts are still in their formative stages. Nonetheless, some of these "OER-finding" tools are already more useful than general interest search tools. OER-specific search tools have been designed to reduce or eliminate extraneous or irrelevant material, allowing quicker access to learning materials.

Two efforts deserve special mention when it comes to locating OER appropriate for undergraduate work, and particularly community college students: OERcommons.org and Connexions.

OERcommons enables users to find high quality, prescreened OER based on individual search criteria. OERcommons.org has created a single stop location on the Internet where users can search for OER, share evaluations and recommendations about what they find and monitor the availability and use of OER within their specific grade level or subject discipline. The site uses techniques associated with "social networking" to form and nurture peer groups whose shared experiences increase the utility of the site and accelerate learning.

Connexions has an extensive and easily searchable database of small chunks of knowledge, called "modules," and hundreds of complete sets of learning materials including open textbooks and complete courses built using these and other open materials.

Other related efforts include online repositories and portals that contain OER include MERLOT, the Open Content Alliance, DiscoverEd, the Development Gateway Foundation's OER Topic Page and the eGranary Digital Library Project, which brings digital resources to remote communities that lack Internet connections.


Interview with OER Pioneer Catherine Casserly


Cathy Casserly has supported and helped to guide the field of Open Educational Resources since its inception. As director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, she guided more than $100 million in support to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge sharing worldwide. She has been instrumental in encouraging many fledgling organizations in the sector, and sits on the boards of Startl and Creative Commons. Casserly is currently Vice President, Innovation and Open Networks and Senior Partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching where she is working on a new developmental mathematics pathway for community colleges and leading Carnegie's involvement in OER.

Q: How would you describe the current state of the Open Educational Resources field?
A: It is amazing how the OER field has grown from an experiment to a worldwide movement in just over a decade. What once seemed like an absurd idea to many—freely sharing knowledge so that others can reuse, repurpose and redistribute it—is beginning to seem intuitive to larger numbers of people and institutions. We are in a transitional stage between the point when early adopters made their commitment to OER and when we accomplish acceptance by what Everett Rogers referred to as the "early majority." In the next several years, it is easy to imagine OER making that full transition from a movement on the fringe to a sector fully embraced by the educational mainstream.

There is good evidence that this transition is well underway. While initially seeded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the field is now supported by many, including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Society Institute, Shuttleworth Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, UNESCO and the U.S. Department of Education. Education Secretary Duncan and President Obama are now speaking about the value of OER in relation to their initiatives on increasing college graduation rates. The field of OER is clearly going to be a significant component of the educational future.

Q: What challenges does the OER movement face in completing that transition and becoming more widespread and mainstream?
A: There are several significant challenges ahead. First, the field must learn how to balance the rapidly growing organic system that encourages the free flow of information with the norms of accountability and quality required for widespread adoption and institutional acceptance. There are issues related to supplying content to meet increasing demand. For now, increasing access to existing mainstream content is a short-term solution, but in the long term, the capacity to create new OER content must increase.

Policy can accelerate or impede the adoption, and creation, of OER. We have seen recent success by OER advocates in encouraging the use of open licenses for all publicly funded material. There must also be some policy shift to create incentives for faculty and teachers to contribute openly–licensed courses and materials. With respect to research, a better understanding and demonstration of how OER improves the efficacy of teaching and learning is needed to advance adoption and use.

Lastly, the field needs greater understanding of the revenue generating models that can be built around OER while ensuring the widest distribution without impeding quality. Moving to scale will require collaboration with commercial educational content providers and college bookstore managers, as well as with public and private funding sources that can support maintenance and updating of these resources and supporting technologies.

Q: What are some of the promising developments on the horizon?
A: While there are too many to mention, it is hard to ignore the attention that the Federal government is beginning to pay to OER and its role in advancing college graduation rates. Several states have also made huge moves that point toward the future. One example is the recent policy decision by the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges requiring open licensing on all publicly funded materials. There is also significant work going on in California to provide K-12 open source textbooks that is exciting because of the level of support from the Governor.

The most encouraging news is not related to any single initiative, but the way thousands of smaller initiatives like NextGen Learning, 20 Million Minds, Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) and Khan Academy are springing up to organize, reuse, repurpose and develop new content. In the true nature of OER, the spirit of innovation and desire to share knowledge is distributed across the country and throughout the world.



Open Course Library


The community college general education curriculum is remarkably similar across institutions, states and even countries. There also appears to be a high degree of correlation as to which are the most highly enrolled courses. These similarities beg the question of why there is not a shared and constantly improving curriculum openly available to all community colleges.

The organizers of the Open Course Library believe that there should be and are actively working across state and international lines to build one.

According to Cable Green, Director of eLearning & Open Education for the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, "We were trying to figure out how our system could join the global open education movement with a substantive project. We ended up partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Washington State Legislature to build a modular and openly licensed (Creative Commons CC BY license) general education curriculum. We are starting with an initial 44 courses which we plan to have ready fall 2011, and then to add an additional 37 for a total of 81 courses in the library," added Green. "If our primary goal as a public higher education community is to provide a quality education for the largest number of learners, then we are going to have to take advantage of OER and move away from a 'not invented here' mindset to a 'proudly borrowed from' point of view."

The open course library project caught the attention of multiple states and countries who offer the same highest enrolled general curriculum. A consortium of international post-secondary institutions is currently collecting enrollments from systems, states, and countries to determine its top common, highest enrolled 50 courses. They will be mapping that list against all existing open textbooks and open courseware to identify gaps in coverage.

Green explains, "We are building a matrix that shows, for example, the millions of global enrollments in Psychology 101, and links to all of the Psychology 101 open textbooks and open courseware. Where there are gaps in the open courseware / textbook matrix (e.g., we collectively can't find a high quality "Psychology 101" textbook), we will collectively submit a grant for private and/or public funding to create and maintain the needed content and openly license it so anyone can use and modify it freely."

"There is a big incentive for state legislatures, who regularly spend millions on student financial aid that is used to purchase expensive textbooks, to invest in creating openly licensed textbooks and curriculum that students can use for free and that other colleges will constantly add to and improve," continues Green.

"The most important thing about OER isn't that it is less costly, though it is, but that it encourages and gives educators legal permission to take content and make it better," says Green. "That is how we can actually achieve continuous improvement in the quality and currency of instructional materials, student achievement, and meet the increasing global demand for a post-secondary education."

Open Course Library Wiki: http://opencourselibrary.wikispaces.com

Open Course Library Social Networking: http://opencourselibrary.ning.com


  1. David A. Wiley and Erin K. Edwards, "Online Self-Organizing Social Systems: The Decentralized Future of Online Learning," Quarterly Review of Distance Education, vol. 3, no. 1 (2002): 33–46.


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