Notes for Free Culture Presentation - dScribe: working together to create Open Educational Resources
- here to talk about dScribe – a collaborative model of for creating OER.
- Before I do, situate his model in the context of where I work.
o we are an open scholarship initiative at the University of Michigan. Our
mission is to help faculty, enrolled students, staff, and other self-motivated
learners maximize the impact that their creative and academic work can
have by making it open and accessible to people worldwide.
o We work to raise awareness on campus about Open, we showcase the
work of our open community on our website, we help build partnerships
and facilitate collaboration inside and outside the University around Open,
and generally serve as the group of people who after lectures,
presentations, and other events ask you to share your stuff.
o At the largest level, we’re interested in what open means for a university
and interested in exploring the role that openness plays in new and
innovative forms of teaching and learning.
o A large focus of our initiative is to help people on campus and around the
world create OER. We do this by providing resources on our website that
help people “do-it-themselves.” we offer advising services to people to
talk to us about their projects and goals, we give presentations and hold
workshops on creating OER and, what I’m here to talk to you about today,
which is to facilitate people to work together to create open content
through a model we call dScribe.
- what it is:
o dScribe is a participatory and collaborative model for creating open
content. It brings together enrolled students, faculty, staff, and self-
motivated learners to work together toward the common goal of creating
content that is openly licensed and freely available to people throughout
o It stands for distributed and digital Scribes – building on the idea that by
"distributing" tasks across a variety of interested people and using
“digital” tools and resources we can potentially lower the cost, time, and
overall effort required to create OER.
How dScribe works:
- Learn the Basics
- Gather & License your resources
- Assess and Recommend actions
o Keep, Replace, Create, Remove and Annotate
o OERca interlude
- Clear Copyright and other issues
- Edit Resources
- Review Resources
- Publish Resources
Benefits to faculty, staff, and students
- Faculty: have the desire to do open, but often don’t have the time or the know-
- Staff: increase departmental visibility; use other talents; build new relationships
- Students: meet new friends; a way to engage with faculty, staff, and classmates;
gain real world experience; something to put on your resume
Benefits to the Institution
- Potentially reduce the cost of OER production
- Rapid, scalable production of OER
- Not just courses, but other interesting material.
- Meaningful experiences for professional and educational development
- Encourage new methods of teaching and learning
o dScribe supports a participatory approach to teaching and learning where
students are not simply seen as passive recipients of knowledge, faculty as
the purveyors of it, and staff as intermediaries between the parties.
o Instead, dScribe supports a pedagogical approach that leverages the talents
and expertise of a variety of individuals to engage in new and innovative
forms of collaboration and resource creation.
o It’s an approach that supports the argument of scholars, like John Seeley
Brown and Richard Adler, who say that knowledge is not a substance that
is transferred; but instead knowledge and understanding are “socially
o It’s about how we learn, not necessarily about what we learn.
dScribe in Action
o Architecture, LSA, Medical School, Public Policy, E, Education, SI,
o Ghana, South Africa, IAPSS
o Architecture - Peter Von Buelow and his GSIs: videos, lecture materials,
o Public Policy – Bryce Pilz and Kathleen Ludewig: lecture materials,
o KNUST – a variety of collaborators: training modules for doctors and
- I want to talk about this because a number of you are probably asking the same
questions that we asked when we first started.
- A group of us at SI heard that there were some people exploring the idea of OCW
on campus – namely Joseph Hardin.
- Formed an independent study around the idea. Decided that we to want to work
together and started working and talking with others. We talked to people (MIT,
OCWC), did some research, learned more about copyright, spent some time in
pubs, in conference rooms, cooking dinner, and talking a lot.
- We eventually built a process - we deemed it as a student centric process – an
alternative to the staff centered model of MIT OCW – and called it dScribe.
- Built some software, and found that by offering food our friends and strangers
would help us out.
- We had fun, got some money from people in the University so that we could offer
o We piloted our model on graduate courses at SI, at the medical school, and
- Had so much fun that Pieter and I decided to graduate early and join the medical
school to see if we could implement the model there.
o Two years in, we keep having fun with the dScribe model and have a great
office of people (including former dScribes) exploring these issues and
building cool things.
- Where are we going?
o As an initiative, our goal at Open.Michigan is an open university
where the default is to think about and engage in the process of
sharing, using, remixing resources for use by people outside the
We want to change the way that people see content – as something
that has life beyond the classroom.
Where we continue to find people excited about collaboration,
doing interesting work, and willing to engage in the process of
working with their current
- How we get there is important.
o Get people to use open content.
o The institution making a commitment to openness
o Developers building software and using openly licensed software.
o Engage in new models of teaching and learning.
- - OER is a way
o Staff can do it for faculty.
o Students can also take up the reigns.
o Faculty can do it themselves.
All viable models.
o But a promising way is to work together and that’s what dScribe makes
- What does this look like where you are?
- Do you already do something similar at your institution?
- Where is content being developed?
- How do we encourage people who are already working together to go one step
further and share the tasks of making that content open?
- How do we get people together to raise awareness of OER and create it?
- The viral aspect of this – we don’t want to have to be in the middle. A social
networking component of this.
- Facilitate producer / consumer network
- Encourage adaptation of resources and strengthening the re-mix culture.
- We want this to be autonomous where people can use tools and continue to
produce with out a central resource.
- What motivates students to be involved in these sort of activities? What events
might we create to get more people involved to see this as important?