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The Meaning of Open [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 2

10:30am EDT

What 'Open' Means to the Saylor Academy Learner
Since 2008 Saylor Academy has been building open online courses. Internally, we know and agree upon what open means to us as an organization. From our own perception, Saylor courses are "open" in that they are available to learners for free 24/7, and just as importantly, because they are built using openly licensed materials and are released under a CC-BY license themselves.

However, our meaning of open is not necessarily the same as that of our users, and looking deeper into that potential difference may be telling in the understanding of what attracts individuals to freely available materials on the web, and useful in developing and spreading initiatives that have an aim to make access to education more equitable through the use of open materials.

During this presentation, Saylor staff will share the results and analysis of on ongoing survey of our student and user population that aims to get at the question of "What does open mean to you?"

avatar for Sean Connor

Sean Connor

Director of Community Relations, Saylor Academy
Open online courses; LMS; marketing; business & institutional use cases for OER; community management; libraries; edtech; equity; college affordability; alternative credit options; alternative credentials.
avatar for Devon Ritter

Devon Ritter

Director of Education, Saylor Academy

Wednesday November 2, 2016 10:30am - 10:55am EDT

10:55am EDT

Library Usage as a Map for Targeting OER Advocacy and Growth
Library collections contain significant analytics about the demand for and usage of course content that we are mining to guide advocacy and outreach for open educational resources. The NCSU Libraries has analyzed portfolios of request and usage data for this purpose. Data points such as general collection circulation, reserve use, and interlibrary loan requests all provide indicators of faculty textbook assignments and purchase alternative demand among students. Library request and usage data provide indicator signals of course content students are seeking to access through alternatives to standard purchase options. Librarians at NCSU compile usage data for required textbooks, compare it to course enrollment data, and identify courses and instructors for targeted alternative textbook outreach. Factors such as the demographics of enrolled students, course level, availability of content through the Libraries, and affordability of required content can influence the level of demand through the library. This presentation will outline the analytical techniques used to guide advocacy efforts and discuss the efficacy of that outreach in promoting alternatives to traditional textbooks.

avatar for Greg Raschke

Greg Raschke

Interim Director of Libraries, North Carolina State University

Wednesday November 2, 2016 10:55am - 11:20am EDT

11:30am EDT

Using a 'Course Refresh' initiative to open the OER Door
The Herkimer College/SUNY Internet Academy staff have developed and initiated a course development - course refresh process to provide its online students the highest quality, most accessible and most personally relevant learning experience possible. Courses refreshed under this program provide online students with state of the art learning strategies which encourage deep learning, course completion, and success. Three highlights of the process are its emphasis on 1) selecting and/or creating Open Educational Resources to replace expensive proprietary course content, 2) incorporating personally relevant applied learning experiences into the courses, and 3) designing heutagogical components into each course to maximize student engagement and deep learning. While the initiative was implemented to elevate the quality of online courses, the impact on campus courses has also been dramatic.

avatar for Laura Murray

Laura Murray

OER Coordinator & Librarian, SUNY and CUNY
I coordinate projects and support services for both SUNY OER Services and CUNY OER.

Wednesday November 2, 2016 11:30am - 11:55am EDT

1:15pm EDT

Inclusive design, addressing accessibility, and changing the way you think
The Floe Project funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been producing resources to help OER hosts and creators make learning environments and content more inclusive. The goal of breaking down barriers to learning and reaching those slipping through the cracks is being accomplished through a suite of embeddable components (learner options, sonification, chart authoring, and more), and through a handbook of techniques for making content more inclusive. The components are easily integrated into applications, sites, and WordPress; while the handbook tackles gnarly problems with complex content like math, simulations, sonification, simplification and more.

By using an inclusive design approach to all activities (hackathons, workshops, meetings, design, and development), the Floe community has carved out a process for conducting inclusive design. This process helps build open communities of participants who can solve for accessibility, represent an inclusive perspective, and think deeply about problem solving. And by building out these communities, Floe has extended the impact that an inclusive process can have - well beyond checklists and one-off solutions. This process yields more inclusive solutions that empower content hosts and creators to break down barriers to learning while better meeting the needs of diverse learners through transformation, augmentation, and personalization of the learning experience.

This session will provide a practical, hands-on approach to inclusive design using the tools, handbook, and processes described above. Participants will learn how to use the Inclusive Design Cards to collaboratively learn and teach inclusive principles, practices, tools, and activities - and in doing so disrupt old ruts of thinking and problem solving. Come ready to embrace diversity, exercise your design thinking, and learn how to co-create.

avatar for Jess Mitchell

Jess Mitchell

Sr. Manager Research + Design, Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
I am lately most fascinated with the evolving world of design, in particular ethics and design. I spend most of my time in inclusion, diversity, and equity. And am deeply committed to empowering people and helping to shift their perspective.

Wednesday November 2, 2016 1:15pm - 1:40pm EDT

1:40pm EDT

What could we do if all Textbooks were Open
We know about the obvious advantages of Open Textbooks, reflected in the 5Rs (as defined by David Wiley), the ability to: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute. We tend to think of this on the individual scale, rights granted to an individual professor, or student.

But beyond this critical set of freedoms for authors, faculty, and students, Open (Networked) Textbooks offer something equally exciting, the possibility of building a truly open learning system. A system where the information itself (the content in the books) becomes a "public utility" upon which we can experiment and build new and better ways of interacting with information, new and better ways of helping students learn and understand.

Does this mean educational AI chatbots that interact with students while they read? Does it mean direct messaging with a prof or a TA? Does it mean a Slack channel connected to your text, with all the students from your class in it? Or all the students in the world? Does it mean new and better analytics and monitoring of students progress?

Thinking about Open (Networked) Textbooks means we must start to think about building radically new learning tools and services on top of the "raw information" -- we need to think about why, and how. And just as importantly, why not, and how not.

Let's put on our see-the-future goggles and imagine what world we want once every course in the world has an Open Textbooks available in every language. What happens next?

avatar for Hugh McGuire

Hugh McGuire

Executive Director, Rebus / Pressbooks
I like the web / books / open. I've (helped) build some communities and tools over the years, including: LibriVox.org, Pressbooks.org and rebus.community.

Wednesday November 2, 2016 1:40pm - 2:05pm EDT

2:15pm EDT

So, a Librarian, an ID, and a Faculty Member Walk into a Student Union...Creating Awareness about OER at ASU
In this 25-minute presentation an Arizona State University librarian (Anali Perry) and an instructional designer (Jenni Hayman) will describe how they have been helping to build an OER and Open Access awareness and adoption campaign at a large, four-year public research university. Tactics, successes, and challenges will be shared, and a conversation with participants will be engaged. Jenni Hayman is also in her second year of the ASU Doctor of Education program conducting research on the effectiveness of the overall campaign to increase awareness about the opportunities of OER campus-wide, and specifically increase use of OER in online courses. Anali will describe the successes and challenges of establishing and maintaining an open access repository for ASU researchers, as well as the library's efforts to promote OER.


Jenni Hayman

Arizona State University

Wednesday November 2, 2016 2:15pm - 2:40pm EDT

2:40pm EDT

Building a Culture for Open Textbooks at Oklahoma State University
Proponents of open textbooks, particularly at a university level, often utilize a three-prong approach in their advocacy. The first is anchored in what Okamoto (2013) termed "the textbook affordability crisis" which results in students spending "on average $1,168 on textbooks and other course materials per year" (p. 268). The second approach is time related, whereby the length, which textbooks take to go from concept to print, can render them out of date before they enter the classroom, especially in fields that are innovation driven and oriented. The third approach is to argue that the technology available today makes it possible to easily and at a low-cost distribute widely various intellectual properties (Frydenberg, Matkin, & Center, 2007) for the benefit of others world wide. Other approaches and arguments exist, but the overall goal remains to create a culture that facilitate diffusion of an idea amongst varied stakeholders such as instructors, who may need encouragement to adopt, adapt or create open textbooks.

In an effort to build a culture for open textbooks, The Oklahoma State University Library launched the Wise OSU Library Open Textbook Initiative in 2015. Modelled on a similar program offered at the Kansas State University Libraries, the Wise OSU Library Open Textbook Initiative has a mandate to encourage OSU instructors to adopt, adapt or create open textbooks for their curriculum by offering them a financial incentive to facilitate the transition. Since unveiling the program last year, the Library has reached out to instructors to inform them of the program and encourage the submission of proposals. To date, the Library has received proposals from all levels of instruction at the University, including undergraduate and graduate classes in diverse disciplines such as Educational Technology, Psychology, Soil Science and International Composition. Additionally, interest in the program is coming in from other academic departments around the campus and we anticipate the program will continue to grow moving forward.

The program has presented the new opportunities and challenges for the Library as we position ourselves to provide new services, meeting new needs in new areas with fewer financial and staff resources. It has also encouraged the Library to reach out across the campus community to explore and forge new partnerships to provide those necessary services to support the development of open textbooks at the University.

This session will discuss the development of the Wise Initiative, the Library outreach efforts to publicize the program, the process of working with instructors to create their open textbook projects, determining needs for support services, tapping into campus expertise to support the program participants, and the sometimes steep learning curve the Library is currently engaged in as we learn (often alongside our program participants) what is necessary to support and encourage the development of open textbooks at OSU. The session will also present a case study of the Educational Technology Program as they process through their goal of running a program solely on OER.

avatar for Alesha Baker

Alesha Baker

Oklahoma State University
avatar for Dan Chaney

Dan Chaney

Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University Libraries

Wednesday November 2, 2016 2:40pm - 3:05pm EDT

3:15pm EDT

OER in K12 schools: An Alberta discussion
Education is a universal human right, and this right is supported by using free and legal OER. Such discussions are now in process in Alberta, in other provinces and in several US states as a way of exposing the issues and determining paths towards improving the quality of learning, while at the same time increasing the cost-effectiveness of taxpayer dollars spent on education. More importantly, the implementation of OER in Alberta schools will allow the teachers and students to take full advantage of what is becoming the world's intellectual commons - the Internet.

OER are gaining in popularity and are now being effectively introduced into primary and secondary schools in many regions of the world. K-12 educators, more than other groups, found OER useful in their practice, demonstrating "a need and a desire for continued growth and development [of OER]" (CCSSO, 2015). Open licences add significant value to content that has been developed and/or acquired with public funds. Licensing publicy-funded content as OER, makes them more accessible to the public who pay for them.

There are many benefits to using OER other than just the lower costs. Although lower costs are real and substantial. OER also provide pedagogical and technological benefits. Pedagogical benefits include their accessibility, and reusability for personalisation. The main technological benefit of OER is the ability to easily port applications between computers without digital locks or licensing restrictions.

Accessibility to and usability of content are enhanced through OER and this can be seen as one important quality measure. OER are also essential for learning analytics that is emerging as an important source of information about students and activities in the schools. OER are also an essential component of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are being used to deliver learning to thousands of learners, living in diverse jurisdictions. MOOCs grew out of the OER movement and their effectiveness depends heavily on the open access that OER provide. There are many ways to approach building an OER ecology and there are different ways of initiating the process.

OER can be viewed as a catalyst for educational change especially when introduced along with tablets and other mobile devices which can quite reasonably be assumed to become the norm in education worldwide. The world economy is digital, jobs are digital, our culture is digital, so our schools must become digital. The effective use of resources on digital media demands open content. The restrictions placed on commercial resources severely limit and often derail the effective use of digital devices, inhibiting educational activities, such as sharing, collaborating, mixing, reusing and adapting course materials. OER allow Alberta teachers and students to take full advantage of the world's intellectual commons that is the Internet.


Rory McGreal

Professor, Athabasca University
I am the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning/International Council for Open and Distance Education Chair in Open Educational Resources and the director of TEKRI at Athabasca University

Wednesday November 2, 2016 3:15pm - 3:40pm EDT

3:40pm EDT

Communicating 'Open'
Whether you are a seasoned open education advocate or a newcomer to the movement, communicating about "open" can be a challenge. The English language alone has more than 40 definitions of "open" (according to Dictionary.com), and the term has gained myriad nuanced meanings to different communities, from free software to open access research to open education. Effective communication is the key to success for any movement, so it's important for OER advocates to hone their skills.

The session will provide a general overview of communication in an advocacy environment, with tips and tricks learned during the session leaders' more than 15 combined years in campaign organizing.

Communications topics include:

- Defining your audience

- Constructing an effective message

- Cutting back on jargon without diluting the facts

- Communicating through stories and values

- Working with the media

- Counteracting "open washing"

- Responding to bad press

avatar for Nicole Allen

Nicole Allen

Director of Open Education, SPARC
Nicole Allen is the Director of Open Education at SPARC, a global coalition working to make open the default in research and education. A decade and a half ago, Nicole was an undergraduate student frustrated with the cost of textbooks. Today, she is an internationally recognized policy... Read More →
avatar for Nick Shockey

Nick Shockey

Director of Programs & Engagement, SPARC

Wednesday November 2, 2016 3:40pm - 4:05pm EDT
Thursday, November 3

9:50am EDT

Establishing actual costs of textbooks across curricula: Data from the Virginia Community College System
The dominant form of open education in North America is the proliferation of open textbooks and OER with the aim of making education more affordable and accessible. However, much of the work in higher education on this front is built upon ill-founded claims about the costs of educational materials for students (Hill, 2015). In response, Quill West, Open Education Project Manager for the Pierce College District, devised a simple approach to collecting data from bookstores to establish costs based in localized contexts. The methodology was shared through the LibOER group of the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). All members were invited to contribute their own data with the hopes of ultimately collecting a robust data set to represent textbook costs in a variety of contexts from across North America. To date, colleagues from Temple University, UMass-Amherst, and the Oregon Community Colleges (Hofer, 2016) have collected and shared their data.

One particularly appropriate candidate for establishing textbook costs is the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), consisting of 23 community colleges across the state. As of fall 2014, the VCCS reported that 183,443 students were enrolled at the 23 community colleges (VCCS, 2015). In order to provide greater access and affordability, colleges in the VCCS began exploring OER in 2013. That year, Tidewater Community College was the first college in the VCCS to develop and offer a Z-degree program in Business Administration. During the same time, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) developed the Digital Open OER-Based General Education project, which provided two pathways to a Z-degree for online students either in General Studies or Social Science. As of fall 2015, over 10,000 NOVA students have taken a zELI OER course since the fall 2013 launch. Building on these successes and as part of the ambitious Complete 2021 strategic plan, the VCCS partnered with Lumen Learning to launch the Zx23 program in 2015. With funding from a Hewlett Foundation grant, 16 of the 23 Virginia Community Colleges were provided training and technical support to build Z-degree programs. To date, the Zx23 program has resulted in more than 70 OER courses being made available.

Thus, establishing student costs outside of these OER program offerings will help to solidify the evaluation of impact as well as contribute to the larger national dataset. In this session, we will present our data collection methods that are customized for the VCCS context as well as the data collected in summer and fall 2016. Using descriptive statistics and GIS software, data will be analyzed across each of the colleges to reveal cost patterns among and between the state's community colleges. By compiling a localized empirical data set, our aim is to provide the VCCS with robust data to help support policy and program development around OER. Establishing actual student costs will support the argument for OER by basing the potential savings in real numbers instead of the estimates provided by the National Association of College Stores or The College Board.

avatar for Amanda Carpenter-Horning

Amanda Carpenter-Horning

First Year Retention Coordinator, John Tyler Community College
I spend my days navigating the world of higher education and the occasional evening blogging. I am native of Richmond and I currently reside in the suburbs with my husband Jerad, and our dog Clark.
avatar for Jamison Miller

Jamison Miller

PhD Student; Director of Teaching and Learning, College of William and Mary; Lumen Learning
Doctoral candidate and early-career researcher in open education theory, policy, and practice. Director of Teaching and Learning at Lumen Learning. The dissertation WILL be defended this year.

Thursday November 3, 2016 9:50am - 10:15am EDT

10:45am EDT

Is the price right? A pilot evaluation of open vs traditional textbooks on student performance'†
Publishers are increasingly recommending the use of online learning materials, citing the positive impact of active learning systems on student performance (Pearson, 2015). At the same time, the ever-increasing cost of textbooks pose a financial burden for students, with some researchers hypothesizing that the high price of course materials may result in students opting to not purchase the text and being under-prepared for the course or taking fewer classes per semester, both resulting in a delay to graduation (Florida Virtual Campus, 2012). Current research suggests that open textbooks may improve student performance or, at worst, not adversely impact performance when compared traditional publisher materials (Fischer, Hilton, Robinson, & Wiley 2015). The aim of this study was to determine whether student performance would differ when using traditional publisher materials compared to open educational resources. Student performance, as measured by a common multiple-choice exams, was not statistically significant across courses. Midterm student feedback slightly favored the use of open resources.

avatar for Veronica Howard

Veronica Howard

Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Anchorage

Thursday November 3, 2016 10:45am - 11:10am EDT

11:10am EDT

Open, but not for criticism
It is postulated there would be "little scientific advance" without individuals who are open-minded to assimilating new discoveries whilst discarding their prior beliefs and practices (Kuhn 1970). Underpinning the advancement of any subject is the ability of the individual to think and reflect critically, and as part of a self-regulating research community, we engage in the critical appraisal of the work of others in return for feedback on our own endeavors. This is not without difficulty and it is recognized we rarely negatively cite the work of others (Ball 2015), or publish negative results (Peplow 2014).

We are further subject to critical debate which would be confined to traditional academic activities such as question sessions at conferences or 'letters to editor' exchanges. Today, as traditional methods converge with our digital working environments, our activities become painted with emotional and social pressures, and the term critical "Öengagement' better describes our experience (Wohlwend & Lewis 2011).

This paper explores the nature of critical engagement of research communities within their digital spaces. A literature review will be conduced using a systematic approach to identifying research articles within a defined area of open education. A range of peer-reviewed and other scholarly articles such as blog posts will be used to assess the nature of the critical debate. The articles will be examined to identify the locations of where social interactions take place, e.g. blog comments, letters to editors? A further detailed analysis will explore the nature of research practices themselves, from the quality of methodology, biases within data published and cited, and self-awareness of the limitations and reproducibility of the studies by the author. A framework will be drawn up based on the meta-research approaches derived from Ioannidis et al (2015).

This paper will provide insight into critical engagement within the open education research community. This work will provide us with insight into our working practices that might call for us to open our minds to more critical debate.


Ball, P. (2015). Science papers rarely cited in negative ways. Nature News.

Ioannidis, J. P., Fanelli, D., Dunne, D. D., & Goodman, S. N. (2015). Meta-research: evaluation and improvement of research methods and practices. PLoS Biol, 13(10), e1002264.

Kuhn, T. (1970). Scientific Revolutions (2nd. ed., Enlarged), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Peplow, M. (2014). Social sciences suffer from severe publication bias. Nature, August.

Wohlwend, K., & Lewis, C. (2011). Critical literacy, critical engagement, digital technology: Convergence and embodiment in glocal spheres. In D. Lapp, & D. Fisher (Eds.), The handbook on teaching English and Language Arts. (3rd ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis.

avatar for Vivien Rolfe

Vivien Rolfe

Lecturer, University of the West of England
Sharing open educational resources to support life sciences education. Like to animate physiological processes. Saxophoning. Dog walking. Jellied Eels.

Thursday November 3, 2016 11:10am - 11:35am EDT