SI521 "Open Educational Resources at the University of Michigan" Open Textbook/Foundations
Introduction and Foundations to Open Educational Resources
“Education is for improving lives and leaving your community and world better than you found it”
-Marian Wright Edelman
Education has been a mainstay of all communities throughout the history of the world. Education occurs through the passing of knowledge such as practical skills, cultural and social values, dominant social beliefs, traditions, morality, and religion from one generation to the next. Education has always played a primary function within a community, even if it did not occur in the traditional and structured pedagogical manner that dominates the world today. It could be argued that the primary goal of education is to create an entirely literate world society.
In the beginning, education was strictly transferred in a non-structured pedagogical manner. Through the studies of traditional, native tribes such as the Aboriginal people of Australia  and Gikuyu people of Kenya, education was passed on to the next generation either orally or through imitation and observation. A child was taught by an elder found either from within the child’s home and/or from within the entire community. These cultures were known as Pre-Literate Societies. These societies were mostly known for their use of basic technology and tools, no written language, and simple division of labor.
As modernization occurred, customs and skill-sets became more complex and a more structured form of education developed. Instead of younger generations being taught everything from one or two sources, the younger generations would learn these more complex skills from experienced people on the job. Also, the development of written languages helped make it possible to better record and transfer these complicated skills and customs more accurately and with greater reach. These societies were known as Literate Societies with the earliest form of formal education beginning in ancient Greece and Rome with philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. From ancient Greece and Rome to the time of the beginning of the Middle Ages, typically only elite members of society received this formal education. Then within the elite members of a society, it was predominantly only the males that received this education. But as the Middle Ages progressed, education began to spread throughout societies.
During the Middle Ages, other members of a society, not just the elite, began to receive a structured form of education. Some learned specific and complex skills from an apprenticeship through merchant or crafts guilds. Also at this time, the first colleges and universities set up through the support of the church and formal curriculum were developed. However, education did not focus on the importance of developing an educated populace until the Renaissance. During the Renaissance the first free, public schools were developed to help educate a nation’s population. But it was not until the Industrial Revolution and growth of capitalism did it become imperative for workers to have basic abilities in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Contemporary education, in terms of its basic pedagogical structure, has not changed dramatically from the time of the Renaissance or Industrial Revolution. Present day, formal education is still taught in a pedagogical manner in colleges, universities, elementary schools, and all other levels of education. Also, there are still Trade Schools and apprenticeships that teach specific skills that are not typically learned through formal educations. This contemporary education consists of systematic instruction and teaching through pedagogy by certified and trained professional teachers. There are also specific curriculums that have been developed by either a private school’s administration or a government’s school board in terms of free, public schools. Naturally, this will create discrepancies within curriculums and across nation states. These discrepancies can come from cultural, religious, political or any other belief, value, or custom that has affected or affects a specific populace. However, the ultimate goal and trend of our contemporary education is to produce an entirely literate, world society the world is still moving towards that ultimate destination. Albeit, education is developing a completely literate society slowly, it is still progressing.
It is future advancements in education systems that will help create that entirely literate, world society. Potentially, there may be some heated discussions and differing opinions on what educational materials should be used, how the materials should be taught, and how to raise the level of academic achievement. However, once education has reached all corners of the world, and literacy is common place, everyone will have the ability to learn for themselves. This wide spread distribution will primarily made possible through the use of new information technologies. IT has had, and will continue to have, an integral role in the spread of education. Information technology makes it possible for academic facts and knowledge to be available to everyone.
Currently, there is still one area of the world where education has yet to make a big impact. This area is the continent of Africa. Although many schools have been constructed, and even some of the nation states are well-educated and literate, the majority of the continent is not. But, this presents academia with an extraordinary opportunity that could allow education to take the next evolutionary step into Open Educational Resources. Since Africa essentially represents a blank canvas, supporters, donors, and educators will easily be able to determine the effectiveness of Open Educational Resources’ contributions and teachings to the advancement of a world education. But again, without the amazing growth and reach of the internet and new technologies, concepts such as Open Educational Resources would not even be possible.
This online textbook is considered an Open Educational Resource, and creating a textbook is one way to be a part of and help progress the Open Educational Resource movement. The first goal of this textbook is to help interested parties answer the questions: What are Open Educational Resources? What is the history behind the movement? What makes up an Open Educational Resource? What are the guidelines for developing a well-formed Open Educational Resource? And, what kind of topics can Open Educational Resources encompass? Our second goal is to provide interested parties with the proper tools they need in order to effectively contribute to existing open resources or begin to develop their own.
The topics discussed here represent a good overview of Open Educational Resources but by no means exhaust the topic. The introduction to the textbook discusses some of the ideas behind Open Educational Resources, their generation and use, and their role among institutions of higher education (particularly in communities of scholars like the University of Michigan). The remainder of the textbook examines topics of Openness, Commons, Copyrights, Peer Production, Scholarship, Open Learning, Open Content – Courseware, Open Textbook, Open Data, Open Health, Open Access, Open Publishing, Open ICT4D, Economics of Open Educational Resources, and Genre and Open Educational Resources. Also, since this textbook itself is an open educational resource, it has the potential to be updated, corrected, and expanded at any time. It is the hope of the original developers that this textbook may one day be a premier online resource educating others about Open Educational Resources.
What is OER (General Definition)
The term “Open Educational Resources” (OER) comes from a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries” that took place in Paris in July of 2002. It refers to educational materials, such as lectures, syllabi, quizzes, textbooks, etc., that are freely available for use under a creative commons (CC) license that also allows re-use and re-mixing of the materials to enhance the effectiveness of the materials.
This definition can be expanded by looking more in depth at the two parts of the phrase Open Educational Resources. First, what is meant by Educational Resources? Sally Johnstone  names three different categories of materials that assist in education:
- Learning resources include things such as courseware, content modules, individual learning objects, tools for assessing the learners, and communities of learners.
- Teacher support resources are those that enable the teachers to create, adapt, and use OER, such as training material and structured software.
- Quality assurance resources for both the objects and practices using them.
Now that we have some resources, what does it mean that they are open? The linchpin of open is that it is available for use to all who desire to use it at no cost, at least for the educational resource content. There may be a small cost in the physical means of access, but the intellectual work is not locked up in any way. Also key is the definition of “use”. To say that a resource is open indicates that there are five possible uses that are all free:
- accessing the material
- copying the material
- redistributing the material
- modifying the material
- redistributing modified versions of the material
However, these materials did not always carry the OER name. In fact, OER has its foundations in other open education and open content endeavors. The OER term is a culmination of the combination of previous endeavors, and it is currently the accepted umbrella reference to any open educational resource initiative.
Foundations to OER
While it is probably impossible to pinpoint the exact time of inception of open educational resources, it would not be a stretch to state that the idea dates as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, if not further. Public libraries or information repositories could be considered initial attempts at open educational resources. The new twist that the internet brought to the OER initiative was its economic efficiencies in terms of digital reproduction and content sharing. The internet turned content into a “nonrivalrous” good. Since content became a “nonrivalrous” good, there was not just one initial OER initiative. In fact, there were several, simultaneously developing OER initiatives during the early growth stages of the internet.
There also appears to be a general consensus that believes many of the current OER concepts were born out of the advancements in the free software movement. Even though this is a somewhat debatable idea, it is where this text will begin the discussion of the foundations of open educational resources until a more definitive timeline is available.
Free Software to Open Content
The idea of free software, and the free software movement itself, is said to have been started by Richard Stallman in 1983. Stallman is the founder of the Free Software Foundation and leader of the GNU Project. Stallman was originally an employee at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory until he broke off to start his foundation and the GNU Project. His philosophy and goal was to have “free software” available to all computer users. Stallman describes this as:
“Free software does not mean ‘gratis’; it means that users are free to run the program, study the source code, change it, and redistribute it either with or without changes, either gratis or for a fee…My hope was that a free operating system would open a path to escape forever from the system of subjugation which is proprietary software. I had experienced the ugliness of the way of life that non-free software imposes on its users, and I was determined to escape and give others a way to escape.”
Unfortunately, in the beginning, Stallman and his followers were not able to express their ideas in this eloquent fashion. Instead, the social aspect to the free software movement, which essentially stated everything must be free or you are against all that is “freedom,” scared away many potential business investors and supporters of the practical concepts behind the movement. At this time, Eric S. Raymond (famous author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”), with Bruce Perens, determined that there were practical concepts behind the free software movement that needed to be promoted. Therefore, in February of 1998 Raymond, along with Perens and others, founded the Open Source Initiative and brought the term “open source” into the main stream. Raymond and his group focused on the technology aspect of the movement and not on the ethical issues.
But what Stallman did give to the world, and other open movements, which was born from the free software movement was the GNU General Public License (also known as GNU GPL or GPL). Stallman states that the GNU GPL “is written the way it is—as a copyleft. All code added to a GPL-covered program must be free software, even if it is put in a separate file.” Essentially this means “the GPL grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the free software definition and uses copyleft to ensure the freedoms are preserved, even when the work is changed or added to.”
With this very basic knowledge about the development of the free software movement, it is possible to understand why many believe OER has its roots in these endeavors. From Stallman’s quotes and GPL, along with our general definition of OER, the similarities between the two philosophies are quite clear. Both philosophies are concerned with the ability to view proprietary content (whether it is a computer program’s source code or educational materials) and then manipulate it, rework it, and redistribute it, either in its manipulated or non-manipulated format, all under the provisions of a commons license to ensure the integrity of proprietary content. Another similarity between free software and OER is the direct correlation to the internet that the two concepts share in their expansion and growth in popularity. With the economics of the internet, the popularity of the internet, and the reach of the internet, many people were now able to fathom the feasibility of the free software movement and OER concept.
But, by no means is the evolution of the free software movement the end of the beginning. Stallman, Raymond, and others like them merely planted seeds in the minds of others about how this concept of “open” could be applied to many other industries, sciences, and fields of study. However, these ideas of “openness” did not evolve without problems. As these movements progressed, and many informational resources became publicly available on the internet, copyright holders and consumers began to clash about the acceptability of posting certain content online. Many online users just knowingly published copyrighted materials online, outside of the law. Even to this day the “battle” continues between copyright holders and consumers, albeit the type of content being shared may have changed. It could be argued that blatantly breaking copyright law is taking the concept of “open” to the extreme, but that is a discussion that is beyond the scope of this text. So, regardless of the social and ethical aspects to the argument, some there was a possible compromise in regards to the practical concepts of the argument.
Also at this time, as the debates continued about the meanings of “free” and “open,” a PhD student at Brigham Young University had an epiphany while mowing his lawn. While pushing a lawn mover under a tree, Professor David A. Wiley (currently an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University) thought to himself, “This open source thing is really interesting. We should do this for education.” But Professor Wiley understood that other forms of content, just like software, could not just be given away for free. He understood that it had to be distributed under a common licensing agreement that allowed for the remix, reuse, and redistribution similar to the commons license (the GNU GPL) that was being used in the free software movement. Professor Wiley even contacted Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond to tell them about his plans for applying their philosophies to other forms content (mainly educational materials) and to get their opinions and advice. Both Stallman and Raymond were very particular on how Wiley should name the concept, and told Wiley to make sure he had a clear focus on what the concept was about. In June of 1998, Professor Wiley launched OpenContent.org and he has become accredited with the creation of the term “open content.” Wiley initially launched with a preliminary version of the first content specific (not software) license known as the OpenContent Principles/License (OP/L). The OP/L was merely an adaptation of the GPL. (The largest and possibly most well-known example of an open content project is Wikipedia)
However, OP/L did not have the effect on education as Professor Wiley had hoped. There was little use of it in academia. Therefore, Wiley contacted Eric Raymond and sat down with a publisher to understand a publisher’s needs. Wiley discovered that three criteria must be met for academia to accept a commons license. The license must ensure that price undercutting of materials does not occur, authors must receive recognition for their work, and the license must protect the integrity of the original work if it is passed around openly. Professor Wiley then developed the Open Publication License (OPL). The OPL was still not the commons licensing answer. OPL was almost as confusing at OP/L, and was still surrounded by much vagary even when put to use online. However, it was a next step in the evolution of commons license. But to Wiley’s relief, Larry Lessig created and launched the Creative Commons License in 2002 which has become the dominant commons license in the open content arena. (Licensing will be discussed further in other sections of this text).
In the late 1990s, along with the formation of the Open Source Institute, there were other simultaneously developing initiatives in the educational resource sector. Again, even though Raymond and his group may not have formed the Open Source Institute until February 1998, Stallman had been preaching about the philosophies behind free software since the 1980s. Another open resource that had its inception in the late 1990s was MERLOT, a learning content repository that was founded at the California State University Center for Distributed Learning. According to the web site:
“In 1997…MERLOT was modeled after the NSF [National Science Foundation] funded project, ‘Authoring Tools and An Educational Object Economy (EOE)’. Led by Dr. James Spohre and hosted by Apple Computer, and other industry, university, and government collaborators, the EOE developed and distributed tools to enable the formation of communities engaged in building shared knowledge bases of learning materials.”
Some materials the system contains are online teaching materials, student learning assignments, and digital learning materials. MERLOT is maintained through partnership institutions, and these institutions provided faculty members the ability to conduct peer-reviews of materials to improve quality standards. But, in the end, MERLOT is essentially just a repository for educational collections and materials from institutions all over the nation and the world. MERLOT did not reach its current level of status until the year 2000. But, none-the-less, MERLOT was an initial experiment in, and an initial step towards, the development of open educational resources. It also still remains a viable entity in the OER movement.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare Initiative
Another project which saw its inception during these early open content years is the MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative. MIT’s OpenCourseWare Initiative is arguably the most notable and most successful development of an open educational resource (even though MIT does not consider it a strict OER) prior to the UNESCO Forum in 2002. The initiative started in 1999 when MIT faculty met to discuss how the internet could be harnessed in pursuit of MIT’s mission “to advance knowledge and educate students.” The goal of the project was to:
“include material such as lecture notes, course outlines, reading lists and assignments for virtually all MIT courses across the Institute's entire curriculum -- in architecture and planning, engineering, humanities, arts, social sciences, management, and science.”
However, there was some initial hesitation from other faculty members as well as some outrage from students. The idea of posting nearly all of MIT’s course materials online for the entire world for free was not initially understood by many people. The project did not seem to really gain momentum until The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation both committed to funding the first phase of the project.
Each of the Foundations agreed to provided $11 million in grants ($5.5 million each) for the 27-month, $12 million pilot phase of the initiative. It was the hope that the experiences gained from the first phase would help better determine costs of the 6-year second phase. So, in 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare pilot site went live with 50 published courses and with Spanish and Portuguese translations to be added later. Currently (April 2009), the MIT OCW has approximately 1,890 published courses with audio, video, and images being published daily, as well as uploaded to YouTube, iTunesU, and flickr. But, to make sure there is no confusion about the intention of making the materials available, MIT clearly states that:
“MIT OpenCourseWare is a free publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.
• OCW is not an MIT education.
• OCW does not grant degrees or certificates.
• OCW does not provide access to MIT faculty.
• Materials may not reflect entire content of the course.”
MIT has also provided the open content movement with a distinct differentiation between an Open Education and an Open Educational Resource. MIT argues that its courses and materials do not make an MIT education. It is the highly intelligent and exceptionally skilled individuals, students, and faculty that come to MIT to meet, discuss, and exchange ideas freely within the classroom, in conjunction with the materials, which makes up a MIT education. MIT has also stressed that “The goals of the program are to provide access to the material and to create an efficient standards-based model that can be used by other universities.”
Rice University Connexions
Connexions is yet another OER project that was launched in October of 1999. However, it was created within the Rice University community with grants and support from the university’s Dean, Provost, President, faculty, students, and friends of the university and of the program. Connexions did not go live until 2001, and did not receive its first William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant until 2002. But where Connexions differs from just a repository of collections like MERLOT or a database of course materials like MIT OCW is that Connexions’ content:
“contains educational materials for everyone — from children to college students to professionals — organized in small modules that are easily connected into larger collections or courses... This lets students see the relationships both within and between topics and helps demonstrate that knowledge is naturally interconnected, not isolated into separate classes or books.”
Therefore, what Connexions provides, is another example of how an OER can be arranged and implemented. Again, there was not one single initiative in the open content/educational movement. The movement grew out of many similar and simultaneously developed and implemented open content and educational resource initiatives.
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries
In July of 2002, all the initial open content, education, and courseware initiatives seemed to “come-to-a-head.” UNESCO held a conference in Paris, France on open courseware and its impact on developing countries. It is at this time that Open Educational Resources were finally recognized as its own viable social movement and initiative. Members of the OER community could potentially refer to this conference as the “official” inception of Open Educational Resources.
The forum welcomed representatives from universities, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations from around the world. Those that participated in the forum were invited based on “their involvement in the development and practice of higher education in their respective countries.” The forum was supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation along with the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET).
It would be easy to argue that the participating members began the conference with a view on open courseware that aligned with Prof. V.S. Prasad of B.R. Ambedkar Open University, India. Prof V.S. Prasad stated that, “"The Open Courseware concept is based on the philosophical view of knowledge as a collective social product and so it is also desirable to make it a social property." They also started with an official meaning of the term Open Courseware:
1. Provides educational resources for college and university faculties to adapt in accordance with their curricular and pedagogical requirements.
2. Includes the technology to support open, meaningful access and use of the courseware.
3. Includes at a minimum the course description, syllabus, calendar, and at least one of the following:
- lecture notes
- demonstrations, simulations, illustrations, learning objects
- reading materials
4. Does not normally provide direct open learning support for students.”
With this definition in hand, the members then went on to examine:
“intellectual property issues; the importance of concerns for culture and language; the value of learning objects as well as complete courses; and the continuing issues of technology, access, quality, costs, and the readiness of faculty members and their institutions to accept and make effective use of such a resource.”
They also considered the questions:
“- What infrastructure requirements must be met in order to make open courseware globally viable?
- What policies - institutional, national, or regulatory - are necessary to remove barriers to the success of open courseware? What practical, feasible initial steps should be considered?
- What recommendations are needed to promote international cooperation in open courseware?”
And, lastly, the conference members discussed:
“- The appropriate name and definition for open courseware
- A program to provide evaluation and usability improvement responses to open courseware programs
- Development of an index or database to provide information about open courseware programs”
But, the forum did seem to be dominated by references to and discussions of MIT OCW and how that program could be transformed into an OER. However, that may have been due to the fact that MIT OCW was the most prominent (potentially due in part to MIT’s own global fame as an exceptional institution of higher learning) and successful open content initiative related to educational resources at that time. This dominance was not necessarily detrimental to the conference, but it should be noted that influence was present, whether or not MIT OCW wanted their program to be a focal point.
The resolutions of the conference can be found here: UNESCO Final Report
To simply “cut-and-paste” the results of these discussions held in Paris, would be an injustice to the participating members, to the conference supporters, and to all of those who tangentially contributed to this forum. It would also diminish the importance of this conference and the impact it had on the open content and Open Educational Resource communities. The final report is not just a highly recommend read. The final report is a required reading for any person, group, or entity that is either just learning about the OER community, or learning about the OER community and wishes to get involved either through contributions, resource development, resource maintenance, etc.
That being said, it should be noted that this conference did provide the open content community with an official definition for Open Educational Resources (and its first use) that would, thereafter, pertain to any educational resource initiative, project, or development that began after the UNESCO conference. The participating members also left this forum with the final declaration that it is “their wish to develop together a universal educational resource available for the whole of humanity, to be referred to henceforth as Open Educational Resources.”
Official definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) per UNESCO
“The open provision of educational, resources enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes.”
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
An astute reader may have noticed that The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has provided funding for many of these OER initiatives. Whether the funds were used as start-up capital or for on-going operations, the Hewlett Foundation has provided charitable grants to help ensure the success of these initiatives. The Foundation “has been making grants since 1967 to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world… The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts, and population.” It has over $6 billion in assets, making it one of the largest foundations in the nation, and has awarded more than $700 million in gifts and grants to acceptable social and environmental programs.
From just the Foundation’s mission statement, it may not be easily understood why the Foundation has been so heavily involved in expanding educational resources through the use of technology, and, more specifically, in partnering with the M.I.T. OCW. Therefore, it is important to note that William Hewlett is the named co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company and is a graduate of Stanford University and MIT. Hewlett was a lifelong philanthropist whose,
“philanthropy reflected his lifelong interests in other cultures and societies, in strengthening and improving the quality of life for disadvantaged people… in the health of the environment… in the well-being and vibrancy of the communities and region in which he lived and in which Hewlett-Packard was located, and in music, which he loved.”
However, this grant money would seem to be contrary to earlier statements that the economics of the internet had made content and OERs viable and “nonrivalrous” goods. But, again, the content became a “nonrivalrous” good in terms of distribution and sharing. Once content was released on the internet, it became available to everyone. However, it is the initial development and maintenance of an OER that makes it function properly may have been more expensive than originally thought. The topic of the economics of OERs will be discussed more thoroughly later in the text; but, after several references to the Foundation, it was important to offer a brief description.
OER and Open Initiatives at the University of Michigan
Open.Michigan is the umbrella open project that acts as a portal to many of the other currently developing, on-going, and soon to be starting open initiatives at the University of Michigan. By providing learning, teaching, and research materials openly to the global community, Open.Michigan believes that these resources will be enhanced during their use thus making these resources more valuable to the University of Michigan and the world. It is also the hope of Open.Michigan that this effort will help highlight to world some of the ways that the University of Michigan contributes to global knowledge and education. U-Mich has several developing, and on-going, open projects that range from education to enabling technologies.
U-Mich also has many collaborators helping with the Open.Michigan project in an effort to make it a premier OER. U-Mich collaborates with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Institute (OSI), Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), Open CourseWare Consortium, Creative Commons / ccLearn, and the Center for Internet and Society, and Stanford Law School / Fair Use Project.
Participating members of Open.Michigan within the University of Michigan school system include the Medical School, School of Public Health, School of Dentistry, School of Information, University Library, University of Michigan Press, and Digital Media Commons.
Each of these groups helps strengthen the Open.Michigan initiative by adding resources, giving input, offering assistance and support, and participating in efforts to promote the initiative.
This is Open.Michigan Initiative’s primary OER component. It is a repository of U-Mich course materials, student work, and software tools. All the materials are offered openly and freely under a Creative Commons license that allow for use, reuse, distribution, and allows users to build and expand upon the materials. It has:
“a vision of a next generation learning environment: an environment that fosters collaboration around curricula, course materials, and content; generates connections between disciplines, teachers, and learners; and inspires use of educational materials in a more personalized and effective way.”
And it hopes to:
“build a space where the interplay and visualization of curricular paths, learning modules, and discrete pieces of educational content expand a user’s ability to comprehend material, adapt it to their individual needs, and contribute it back to the global community.”
This is a student-based, open publishing project for assembling, vetting, and publishing quality course content for open courseware use. Many other open courseware projects use the proven method of hiring a dedicated staff to perform these publishing and quality control tasks. However, the “industry norm” does not scale up successfully and can become extremely expensive for a large institution like U-Mich. U-Mich has over 3,000 courses a semester, so a new model for generating the open courseware material had to be developed. Using a student centric approach, “[i]f successful, such a distributed approach may also reduce OER publishing costs, scale-up throughout the university, allow for departmental customization, and increase the refresh rate of published material.” Also, by involving students, the dScribe process provides an active teaching and learning process as the course material is developed. The process is even being developed to be portable and adaptable so that the tool sets can be available worldwide to offer institutions the ability to maintain their own grassroots OER efforts.
This is a brand new, competency-based medical student education program scheduled to enroll its first group of U-Mich medical students in August 2009. The reason for the project is to create new ways in which students encounter the basic science and clinical material. Currently, the majority of the undergraduate medical education is taught in the same fashion as it had been in the early 20th century. However, with the advancements in medical science and medical education content, the increased expectations, and the improved practice environments; the fundamentals of the basic medical education needed to be improved as well. This pilot program
“will combine continuous, formative and summative assessment of higher order educational outcomes with flexible learning paths for achievement in nine defined competency domains. Competency standards will be set explicitly, and a comprehensive and valid set of existing and new assessment tools will measure learner achievement of these outcomes.”
The project will publish its materials as an OER; however, the pilot program will most likely be restricted to U-Mich medical students until the program’s effectiveness can be determined.
This is another project in its infancy at U-Mich and it involves all of the health sciences schools at the University of Michigan. The goal is to develop a health education OER to make the materials available to, and useful in, developing countries and partner African universities. The project plans to release “the entire pre-clinical curriculum for the M.D. degree at Michigan, including course materials, learning objectives, outcomes, competencies, and assessment standards” under a Creative Commons license so that it can all be freely available to other students, faculty, and self-learners. The Creative Commons release and partnering African universities will help the administrators of Global ACCESS to identify, edit, and co-produce new materials that will enable Global ACCESS to be a more effective resource for its users.
Fair Use Project
The Fair Use Project is not exactly an OER per say; however, it is a major part of OERs when developing the educational content and materials. Therefore, U-Mich decided that it would maintain a fair use initiative within its OER projects in an effort to make more copyrighted materials available. Open.Michigan cites one of their main reasons for supporting fair use is that, “[t]here are often places where educators comment on, critique, or transform materials that are copyrighted under restrictive license for reuse. These copyrighted materials are sometimes essential to the educational context and the goals of learning.” Since retaining all the course materials is essential to the learning experience, it is a constant investigation into how to make all copyrighted materials fair use. Whatever is learned within this project will then be translated into practical use within the dScribe vetting process.
Open CourseWare Speaker Series
This is a series developed by U-Mich with the goal of promoting the development of other OERs around the globe and to explain the importance and value of open courseware. The series also provides an introduction to OER for those institutions that have yet to discover the movement, and lists some specific reasons of the type of value that open courseware can bring the institution, its faculty, and its students:
• recognition to faculty;
• ease of access to materials for students, of past, present and future courses;
• availability of materials to alumni;
• unlocking the resources of universities to the populations of the states in which they reside;
• a way to enhance traditional learning paradigms;
• contribution to global education.
Controls Engineering Wikibook (open textbook)
The Controls Engineering open textbook is one of U-Mich’s first. It was developed in conjunction with the faculty and senior-level, undergraduate students in U-Mich’s engineering department. The inspiration behind this project was the desire to have an up-to-date and evolving textbook discussing chemical process dynamics and control. Another reason was that the cost of the conventional textbooks was becoming more expensive even though a lot the material within the conventional textbook was out-dated.
The wikibook development began in the Fall of 2006 and took 3 years to reach its “final” form. It was created as part of a regular chemical engineering class by teams of undergraduate, senior-level engineering students and peer-reviewed. The graduate-student instructors to the course acted as managing editors, and the professor still made sure all the students covered every topic within the course. The wikibook does allow for outside re-use, distribution, and suggestions or additions, and it is assumed the textbook will be updated regularly as the field progresses. Also, the development of this wikibook will be able to provide guidelines to other faculty members and students who wish to create their own open textbooks for their classes.
Deep Blue is a repository for U-Mich created materials. These materials can range from research to educational to creative works, and they are created by faculty, staff, and students. The program is on an open database and provides easy access to U-Mich materials. Deep Blue also offers visibility, permanence, comprehensiveness, safe storage, control over access, and context to those in the U-Mich community that input materials. The University Library provides this service for free to those affiliated with U-Mich, and Deep Blue is constantly evolving to meet the demands of the future.
dcb is the first publishing project of the Michigan Digital Publishing Initiative which is a collaboration of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library. dcb is dedicated to “publishing innovative work about the social and cultural impact of new media.” The project offers authors a whole new set of publishing options. By combining the resources of the Press office and Library, dcb is able to simultaneously make works available in online and print editions. Since dcb is an experimental form of publishing, they do conduct research as well and by making the works available both in print and online dcb hopes to:
• develop an open and participatory publishing model that adheres to the highest scholarly standards of review and documentation;
• study the economics of Open Access publishing;
• collect data about how reading habits and preferences vary across communities and genres;
• build community around our content by fostering new modes of collaboration in which the traditional relationship between reader and writer breaks down in creative and productive ways. 
This is the U-Mich and Google, Inc. joint initiative to digitize the entire University of Michigan Library print collection. It will be a searchable digital library but only texts that are out of copyright and in the public domain will be available in their entirety. The project is also a means of preservation of the entire collection as well as opening it up to the rest of the world.
“OAIster is a union catalog of digital resources.” Digital resources are essentially anything digitized on the internet from old-time posters to books to songs to databases, and all of these resources have descriptive metadata that is searchable. However, sometimes this metadata is lost in “deep web” and other times it is behind web scripts. OAIster provides easy-to-use access to these digital resources by collecting and publishing the descriptive metadata using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Harvesting Metadata (OAI-PMH).
PubMed Central Deposit Service
This is a service developed by the University Library and offered to NIH-funded scientists. It was created to assist these scientists in ensuring they are compliant with NIH Public Access Policy standards for those who wrote journal manuscripts that are based on NIH-funded research. Compliance basically states that the scientists must submit their manuscripts for final peer-review to the digital archive PubMed Central within twelve months of publication.
This is a U-Mich developed online environment that generates and synchronizes time-coded metadata for digital media such as video, audio, images, and documents to meet the needs of those in higher education. BlueStream “combines media savvy tools, a managed digital repository, and a publishing architecture to streamline the use of digital media in academic discourse across secured and open venues alike.” It is one of the enabling technologies that allow members of the U-Mich community to upload their open resources easily. It automatically handles media format conversions, data storage, access control, and publishing, and allows users to “synchronize your own analysis in the form of transcripts, annotations, and research markup.”
With the use of Apple’s iTunes, institutions of higher learning can make many of their audio and video course materials easily available. U-Mich has their own iTunes U portal in which lectures, campus performances, and other U-Mich community highlights are posted to share with the rest of the global community. The U-Mich School of Dentistry has really led the way with iTunes U and has been working with the application since its inception. But, not all course material is on iTunes U. Most of the content from U-Mich is public lecture series, news reports, speeches, public videos, and special podcasts. An example of some materials that U-Mich makes available is “[p]ublic health news (MiHealth), children's health information (CHEAR-cast), exercise programs (MiFitness), dental implants, and health research.”
The Sakai project is an open source courseware management system. It began in 2004 when U-Mich, Stanford, Indiana University, MIT, and Berkley combined their resources to develop the common management system instead of concentrating on their own internal projects or relying on licensed, commercial products. The project was initially funded by The Mellon Foundation, but now has its own foundation with over 100 member institutions using the software. The Sakai system can be designed to service anywhere from 200 to 200,000 users, and its open source is available freely to anyone. The Sakai management system is in use everyday by members of the U-Mich community and is more commonly known as CTools.
SiteMaker is a U-Mich developed, Java-based open source web application. It is an authoring tool with the abilities to allow programmer savvy or non-programmer savvy individuals create public and private web sites or databases. Currently, over 8,000 web sites have been published using SiteMaker and it is used by members of K-12 programs and universities within and outside of the U-Mich community.
Notes & References
- Nelson Education: Sociology In Our Times, Third Canadian Edition 
- Hailman, W.N., Twelve Lectures on the History of Pedagogy 
- Hughes, Paul and More, Arthur J. Aboriginal Ways of Learning and Learning Styles 
- Adeyemi, Michael B. and Adeyinka, Augustus A. Some Key Issues in African Traditional Education 
- Education index UN HDR 2007 2008 
- UNESCO: Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries, Final Report 
- Johnstone, Sally M. Open Educational Resources Serve the World. 2005. Educause Review. 
- Feldstein, Michael ITOE: History of Open Education 
- Stein, Jared Flexknowlogy: Background Information on Open Education 
- David Wiley, PhD, BYU Lecture 01 - History: 10 Years of Open Content 
- Free Software Movement 
- Stallman, Richard The Free Software Community After 20 Years: With great but incomplete success, what now? 
- Stallman, Richard Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism 
- GNU General Public License 
- MERLOT: About us - How did MERLOT get started? 
- MIT OCW: About Us - Our History 
- MIT News Office: Mellon, Hewlett Foundation grant $11M to launch free MIT course materials on web 
- Connexions: About Us - Project History 
- Connexions: About Us - Philosophy 
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: About Us 
- Hewlett Family History: William Reddington Hewlett 
- Open.Michigan: About 
- Open.Michigan: Community 
- Open.Michigan Educommons: About 
- Open.Michigan Open Educational Resources 
- University of Michigan Deep Blue 
- Open.Michigan Archives and Publishing 
- digitalculturebooks 
- OAIster... Find the Pearls 
- Open.Michigan Technology 
- University of Michigan: BlueStream 
- Sakai Project.org: Home