MERLOT Affordable Learning Solutions Workshop


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A presentation introducing CalState members to the Open.Michigan initiative and examining its varying community engagement strategies over the first three years.

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  • I'm here to talk to you about Open.Michigan, an initiative at the University of Michigan that publishes open educational resources and supports open teaching and learning practices at our University. I'll be sharing our story, about how we started, our goals and our engagement efforts over the last three and a half years.
  • First I have to give you a little bit of background about the University of Michigan. We're a very large public research institution. One of our taglines is: "Leaders and the Best." We pride ourselves on distributed innovation. This is the size of the community Open.Michigan is trying to serve.
  • As a public institution, we have a responsibility to serve our community and to share the knowledge we produce at U-M. Recently Mary Sue Coleman has been campaigning about the importance of connecting our university to the rest of the state, by providing education and skills that can stay in Michigan.
  • So let's look back at Fall 2007. MIT's OpenCourseWare effort had been in place for seven years and MERLOT was well established. Joseph Hardin, a lecturer at the School of Information was interested in developing an OpenCourseWare program at U-M, but he didn't want to replicate MIT's top-down model.  He wanted this model to be participatory and distributed, something that could be replicated across departments at such a large university and wasn't just focused on publication of content but on supporting open educational practices.“Earth” symbol by Francesco Paleari from the Noun Project (
  • He found a home for Open.Michigan in the Medical School, with support from Dean Woolliscroft.  Dean Woolliscroft sees Open.Michigan's efforts in alignment with the University's global mission, especially in the health sciences. "The Health OER program provides the opportunity for the University of Michigan health science schools and the School of Information to collaborate in an innovative, comprehensive approach to work with others to improve education opportunities for health care providers globally.” (April 2008)With this support, Open.Michigan is charged with gathering and editing the first two years of medical education at U-M and publishing these online as Open Educational Resources. We also support the African Health OER Network, a Hewlett funded project that encompasses over 17 institutions across the U.S. and Africa. Open.Michigan is still housed in the Medical School but we serve the entire University of Michigan community and campuses.  We are two full-time staff "strong" with an additional program manager for our international health OER project and a handful of folks who dedicate some percentage of their appointment to Open.Michigan projects. Open.Michigan serves both as a model for other open education initiatives by developing and documenting support material as well as an initiative which supports open publication of U-M scholarly content.
  • At Open.Michigan, we have two major goals: to sustain a thriving culture of sharing knowledge at U-M; andto provide comprehensive public access to all of U-M’s scholarly output. We do a host of activities to support these goals.  Since one of these goals is to sustain a culture of sharing, our engagement efforts are very important to the health of our initiative.
  • In order to support a culture of sharing, we have several objectives we aim to achieve and I'll talk more about how we do these things later in the presentation.We base our actions on participation and ground-up interest, so we have a lot of 1:1 contact with members of our community and I go to lots and lots of meetings with folks across campus.
  • Our goal doesn't stop at publishing content.  We are also interested in making it easy for people to share by giving them tools and guidance for their own creation and publication of open content.  We've developed an open publishing platform based on Drupal called OERbit.  We've developed a participatory, volunteer driven process for collecting, assessing and re-publishing educational resources under open licenses called dScribe and we've developed a content and decision management tool to support the dScribe process called OERca. We try to make it easy to support open educational practices by providing lots of DIY resources and this is where our strong branding comes in handy.
  • Early on in our process, we saw the need for strong branding. You see it in the font we use, our color scheme and in the design of our website. Our branding spreads across all our media and collateral and we even have business cards for the Open.Michigan initiative. We were early adopters of blogging and videos to get our message out to our community about what we do.
  • In the past three years, we had to focus on different aspects of our goals and objectives. Each year had a slightly different focus in terms of community engagement and we've been consistently adding onto our models for engagement each year.  We have also established ourselves as a national model for OER production and alongside our local community engagement efforts, we've participated in national and international conferences and other activities that support the development of open educational practices.  We're a sustaining member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium and former Open.Michigan team members have gone on to work for Creative Commons, manage ISKME's OER Commons and work for Microsoft Research.
  • Our first year was about getting institutional buy in from key stakeholders, including the Medical School Dean, the Head Librarian, the Dean of the School of Information and others.  We worked closely with the General Counsel to develop open policies that were aligned with the sharing culture at U-M. For example, at U-M faculty generally own the copyright to their works and can choose how to share their work.  We also developed the dScribe process and tools. dScribe process relies on volunteers who receive training from our team. They partner with a content creator, usually a faculty member to gather, assess and clear educational resources to publish on the Open.Michigan collection.  During this phase of our project, we focused on creating campaigns geared at students to invite them to become dScribes and partner with faculty members to publish OER.  The initiative had to prove this proof of concept was an efficient and effective way of publishing OER that didn't rely on a large staff like MIT's and also incorporated the learning community into the process.  Additional Notes: U-M policyU-M very decentralized: created a participatory, distributed process for creating OER“Leaders and the Best”: wanted to be able to use/adapt OER better than MITPD-Inel: worked with General Counsel at U-M to determine how to best classify scientific content (especially medical content) in terms of copyright based on factual representation.dScribeprocess for clearing contentparticipatory and distributedfocuses on student-faculty relationships8 step process: connect, training, gather, license, assess and clear, edit, review, publishOERca is a web-based content clearing application that supports the dScribe process. upload content (e.g. powerpoint presentations)add metadata (e.g. source and license information)extract and replace third party copyrighted contentre-assemble and publish with attribution information and disclaimer slides
  • Our second year consisted of starting to identify the culture of sharing that already existed at U-M and making these projects more transparent on our website. We highlight open source tools like the Michigan Tailoring System and Open Access publications like Digital Culture Books on our site.  We started reaching out to new schools across U-M and continued to focus on dScribe training and campaigning.  This is essentially running a long course, with time dedicated to recruiting, training, supporting and graduating cohorts of dScribes.  At one semester we had 24 dScribes from the School of Information and all Open.Michigan team members dedicated their semester to keeping this cohort functioning. We also started organizing community building events, like bringing in speakers, and partnering more deeply with the Library and their open access publishing units to promote open practices on campus. An Open.Michigan team member during this time taught an online class at U-M Flint called "Open Pedagogy—A New Paradigm for Teaching and Learning" and another team member helped write the "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare" with MIT and the Center for Social Media.  Additional Information: VolunteersBuilt up dScribe program, especially in School of InformationOne term had 24 dScribes from the School of InformationAwareness (events)Started organizing and hosting larger awareness raising events Open Everything, Fall 2009 Nathan Yergler speaks at U-MOpen.Michigan continues to report on open activities around campusExperimented with a book clubReached out to the Library system for deeper collaborationsCode of Best Practices in Fair Use for OCW, MIT, U-M, American Open.Michigan team member also taught an online class at U-M Flint: EDT 585: Open Pedagogy – A New Paradigm for Teaching and Learningmore strategic engagement with MLibraryPublishing Expand publishing efforts beyond M1/M2Reach out to central campus and other campuses (School of Ed, Nursing, LSA) N 536 - Utilization of Nursing Research in Advanced PracticeTeaching Persuasive Writing
  • Year three was when we really started digging into the culture we'd identified at U-M.  I joined the team as the first Open Education Coordinator, a position dedicated to community engagement. We started conducting more regular surveys of our community to identify needs, gaps and opportunities for open practices to support what is already happening on campus.  We have developed communications plans and started actively and strategically using social media to reach out to and connect with our community.  We have also started partnering more with current projects, interests and activities on campus.  Instead of starting from "Open" we're starting with other people's passions, research interests and needs and blending "openness" into our support of these activities. We are staring to shift our outreach from “This is how you do open” to “How can I help you better achieve your goals?”  This has been really successful and we've seen an increase in the amount of people participating in our events and in the outcomes of the events.  You see a few examples on this slide of projects we're consulting on (MERLOT, Global Health Disparities, Emergency Health), committees we're a part of (eTextbooks, Digital Storytelling), and local conferences or events we've coordinated or presented at. 
  • Something that must also be mentioned is our sense of "fun" at the initiative that encourages experimentation and fast iteration.  We play purposefully and reach out to a lot of other organizations who are doing things we like.  We collaborate and share information with MIT OCW, JISC in the U.K., University of Cape Town, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, Creative Commons, ISKME, Mozilla, Peer to Peer University, University of Nottingham, the Inclusive Design Research Centre in Toronto and other groups across the world.  We've been researching and developing our own badging system to recognize the community of open advocates and participants at U-M.  We've been involved with Mozilla and Peer to Peer University for this project. We just piloted this a few weeks ago and we're incorporating the feedback we've received into our system.  We're also looking at helping to scope and pilot an OER-based media development tool from the Toronto-based IDRC and the Open Video Alliance.  Because we encourage our own team members to play around with ideas, experiment and iterate, we've been able to come up with resources and tools that support a broader application open practices on our campus.
  • We've seen steady growth over the last three and a half years of our initiative's activity.  (That large red spike is YouTube, showing just how popular that platform is for folks educating themselves!) As we partner with other groups on campus, we see more engagement with Open.Michigan and more support for our work. Our mailing list has gone up substantially and we had seventy-five participants at our last weekend-long event.  Additional Notes: Outcomes•Youtube: 1,001,396 (youtube is acting funny (they are updating things) so our total upload counts on the /openmichigan page are different (less than) the total lifetime count found within our analytics tab. •SlideShare: 27,201Total visits to date:• 147,154•/wiki: 19,564•/blog: 14,299UMMS: We have shared 648 materials from 71 UMMS faculty across the first two years of Medical School.Medical students have shared 230 notes covering 11 sequences.OERca:21 schools/units represented in OERca13 external, including Brazil, South Africa, England, United States, Oman114 dScribes86 dScribe2sOpen.Michigan collectionSecond most viewed U-M YouTube channel with over 1 million viewsover 10,000 views per month to our collectionover 360 contributors across U-M180 courses and resources1,412 individual materialsFirst faculty member to publish all course content as OER in Fall 2011 (Paul Conway, archivist and digital humanist)Recognition15 presentations (locally and nationally) and trainings (2011)ACE Award for Technical Innovation from OpenCourseWare Consortium (2011)Invitation to Clinton Global Initiative University (2009)Involvement on three committees across U-M on various publication and open policy practicesParticipation in other campus efforts like CI Days, and innovative teacher training
  • Our training is in high demand with 15 presentations or trainings given last semester alone.  We won the OCWC ACE Award for Technical Innovation in 2011 for our OERbit platform and in 2009 we were invited to the Clinton Global Initiative University.  However, we still struggle to balance this outreach and community development with dScribe, which is basically an intense volunteer program.  In the last year and a half we've focused on awareness building efforts, experimenting with making the resources we have published more accessible, valuable and engaging and developing new tools and processes for becoming part of the open community.  This summer we intend to assess our dScribe program and our offerings and examine the question "what is the Open.Michigan experience at U-M?”We’ve realized we need to drop jargon like “OER” to most of our potential collaborators and focus on the concept of sharing well.
  • A great example of how we've been able to deeply engage with our community over the last year is the participation of Open.Michigan in the latest iteration of the MELO project at U-M.  This cross-disciplinary group is incorporating open practices into their LO development and doing some really innovative things with wikis, primary source documentation, podcasts and videos.  There are a ton of materials from this project that we are now able to openly license to showcase the MELO project not only as a model for other LO developers, but also the context of the classes in which the LOs are being used.  Faculty members were able to receive training about copyright, licensing, and open teaching pedagogy and then follow up with me for specific consulting as they developed their LOs. They are collaborating together and innovating faster because of this supportive environment.  It's been a great experience and is an example of where I see Open.Michigan's work really having an impact on campus. We’re starting to connect more with staff-led departments like the Libraries and Student Services on campus—those folks who are bridges between faculty and students.
  •  Thanks for listening, I'm happy to answer any questions y'all might have. Feel free to get in touch with me or theOpen.Michigan team through any of these channels.
  • MERLOT Affordable Learning Solutions Workshop

    1. 1. Emily Puckett Rodgers Open Education Coordinator Open.Michigan University of Michigan MERLOT AL$ Workshop March 7, 2012 Initiative Initiative InitiativeDescription Goals Engagemen t Except where otherwise noted, this work is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright 2012 The Regents of the University of Michigan
    2. 2. Health System 22,007 faculty and staff 42,301 faculty and staff 58,947 students3 campusesAnn Arbor, Dearborn, Flint
    3. 3. The mission of the University of Michigan is toserve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating,preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academicvalues, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.
    4. 4. “Open.Michigan enables University of Michigan faculty, students, staff and others to share theireducational resources and research with the world.” CC: BY “Earth” symbol by Francesco Paleari from the Noun Project
    5. 5. Office of Enabling Technologies, University of Michigan Medical School (
    6. 6. 1culture of sharing2comprehensive public access CC: BY-SA “SHARE” by Share Conference.
    7. 7. 1culture of sharing• Build partnerships and communities of sharing• Make visible the community and support its needs• Increase support for OER production(Innovate, Play,Experiment)
    8. 8. 2comprehensive publicaccess Make it easy to create and use open content • Build tools, processes, incre ase visibility of content • Consult, educate, train
    9. 9. Year Three Build community, evalua te, strategize Year Two Refine processes, identif y cultureYear OneBuild processes,tools, policy
    10. 10. YearBuild processes, tools, policyOne
    11. 11. YearRefine processes, identify culturTwo Policy dScribe volunteers Publishing Expand OER Community Events
    12. 12. Year Build community, evaluate, strategiz ThreeCatalyze community Medical Textbook of theinterests Future, Diagnose This, A2DataDiveConnect with other Digital storytelling, eTextbooks, U-Minitiatives Wikipedians, HASTAC • Evaluatio n • StrategicConsult on new MERLOT, Global Health Planningprojects Disparities, Emergency Health • Analytics
    13. 13. Play • Badges to recognize community • Play with new tools for media development • Pilot collaborative office layouts at UMMS
    14. 14. Output Participation Collection 360 contributors 1,142 materials 71 UMMS faculty 188 videos 114 dScribes 180 courses & (volunteers) resources 21 U-M units 10,000 views per month 387 mailing list members 13 U-M colleges & schools 1 million YouTube views 27,000 SlideShare views
    15. 15. Ongoing Analysis• Increase Demand• Increase Recognition• Increase Use “What is the Open.Michigan experience at U-M?” Open.Michigan’s analytics dashboard (
    16. 16. Outcomes CC: BY-SA • Cross disciplinary • Innovative technology use • Open Educational Practices • Participatory learning • Assessment
    17. 17. Connect Emily Puckett Rodgersopen.michigan@umich.ed Open Education Coordinator,u Open.MichiganFacebook @epuckettTwitter@open_michigan