Interview with George Siemens about MOOCs

Interview with Dr George Siemens about MOOCS and Open Education – September 2012

Utah State Office of Education to Create Open Textbooks

This will appear on the USOE website later today:

Source : OER University group

= = = =

January 25, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sydnee Dickson, Teaching and Learning director
801-538-7739 *

Utah State Office of Education to Create Open Textbooks

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State of Office of Education (USOE) today
announced it will develop and support open textbooks in the key
curriculum areas of secondary language arts, science, and mathematics.
USOE will encourage districts and schools throughout the state to
consider adopting these textbooks for use beginning this fall.

Open textbooks are textbooks written and synthesized by experts,
vetted by peers, and made available online for free access,
downloading, and use by anyone. Open textbooks can also be printed
through print-on-demand or other printing services for settings in
which online use is impossible or impractical. In earlier pilot
programs, open textbooks have been printed and provided to more than
3,800 Utah high school science students at a cost of about $5 per
book, compared to an average cost of about $80 for a typical high
school science textbook.

“Utah’s open textbooks are a great use of technology,” said State
Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway. “Texts get into
classrooms quickly and can be updated as needed rather than on a
publishing schedule – something that’s particularly important in
science. The open textbook also adds to Utah’s reputation as the most
cost-efficient school system in the country. This is a fantastic way
to get the latest textbooks into the hands of Utah’s nearly 600,000
public school students.”

“We’re thrilled that the State of Utah is encouraging school districts
to consider adopting open textbooks,” said Barbara Chow, Education
Programs director at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which
helped fund the project. “At a time when education budgets are under
increasing stress, digital technology in the form of open textbooks
now offers the potential to save school systems millions of dollars.”

Later this spring the Utah State Office of Education will invite all
districts and charter schools across the state to attend informational
meetings and professional development designed to help open textbook
adoptions succeed.

The decision to pursue open textbooks at scale comes after two years
of successful open textbook pilots led by David Wiley of Brigham Young
University’s David O. McKay School of Education. Each pilot was
conducted by the BYU-Public School Partnership in partnership with the
Utah State Office of Education. The William and Flora Hewlett
Foundation provided funding. Mathematics and science textbooks will be
based on books originally published by the CK12 Foundation, a
not-for-profit organization based in California founded with the
mission to produce free and open source K-12 materials aligned to
state curriculum.

In new research soon to be published in the International Review of
Research in Open and Distance Learning, Wiley and his colleagues found
that Utah high school students learn the same amount of science in
classes using the $5 open textbooks as they do in classes using the
$80 traditional textbooks.

Reusing OER – SCORE Residential Fellowship Course

Reusing OER – session facilitated by Andreia Inamorato dos Santos  (OLnet/SCORE)

This afternoon I ran a session on OER reuse for the Open University SCORE short-term residential fellowship course. The task was for the fellows to pick a theme and look at their colleague’s OER created during the residential course, and also throughout the web and discuss a set of reuse questions. Interestingly, reusing OER does not seem to be the a simple task. Participants  have argued that quite often the OER sites link to resources that are not clearly OER (licensed materials) and it was very difficult for them to keep track of the licenses as they were searching for OER.

Finding suitable OER and assessing quality were also issues raised. Participants argued that they could not always find OER for the topic that they had chosen to work around. If they found OER, assessing quality did not seem to be straightforward. They mostly compared OER  in terms of the usability of the websites  rather than going through a checklist of OER quality indicators – authorship (credentials), design, license (copyright clearance),  etc. This shows the importance of the tools provided/not provided in the websites to reuse OER . Most academics in this group argued that the OER websites they came across did not seem to pay attention to the reuse aspect – they often used pdf materials and had complex navigation.

OER10: The Openness Agenda

OER10 Conference, Cambridge, UK.

Opening Talk by Dr Malcom Read, JISC Executive Secretary

Live blogging, 10:30 AM

Dr Read starts by discussing the various contexts in which ‘openness’ is used:

  • Open source: software
  • Open standards: interoperability
  • Open Access: research  outputs, research data
  • Open Educational Resources: course material
  • Open Science: open innovation (the research process becoming more open via web 2.0)

OER New Challenges:  need to focus on the discovery and use of OER and also on learning form current experiences (reuse).

HEFCE funding for next year (2011) is  £4million and will incorporate the release of projects in identified priority areas only. Another goal is to improve the findability of OER resources.



Live blogging, 18th March, 9AM

GUIDE workshop Rome – Dr Indrajit Banerjee opening talk – UNESCO

Dr Indrajit Banerjee of the UNESCO ICT in Education, Science and Culture starts by considering some of the challenges and benefits of distance education.

Next, he recommends practitioners the use of  the ICT Competence benchmarks for teachers, launched by UNESCO.

UNESCO is focusing on 3 key areas, having launched its Open Suite Strategy.  It has 3 components: 1) Open  educational resources (Unesco is developing its own educational resources platform); 2) Open Access to Scientific Information and 3) Free and open source software.

He also mentioned UNESCO’s Open Training Platform (OTP) with more than 3500 courses in 21 subject areas. The OTP has over 630 training providers and has attracted more than 1 million visitors (

TU Delft Open CourseWare Seminar: The OUNL Experience

Live blogging, 10:00 AM – attendance by webinar

TUDelft University is hosting a seminar on open courseware today, mostly targeting the universities of the Netherlands. The idea is to bring together prospective and existing initiatives to discuss the challenges and the successes of OER provision.

The experience of the Open University of the Netherlands was presented by Robert Schuwer:

Started in 2006, followed by Delft in 2007. They have two institutional initiatives, OpenER and Spinoza. The OUNL is one of the fourteen universities in the Netherlands, and they focus on lifelong learning. With more than 20.000 students, they are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Their aim with OER is to lower the threshold for access to formal HE, at the same time widening and increasing participation in HE in the Netherlands. They focus on offering high quality short open courses developed for self-study, what they call a ‘portal of temptation’ to higher education. They also offer the possibility to bridge informal learning and formal education, by means of official examination options. OpenEr was funded by both Hewllet Foundation and the Dutch Ministery of Education.

Figures of OpenER: the project generated a lot of media attention, attracted near 1.000.000 visitors, provided 25 courses online, 5700 users registered voluntarily, courses cost between 3.000-30.000 Euros each. The project ended formally in June 2008, but is now being incorporated to normal university activities. Approximately 10% of OpenER visitors signed up for formal courses at OUNL.

Three key best practices: Rely on quality awareness of authors (auhtorsd are already used to produce self-study materials); Support of top management (described as ‘crucial’), production of open courses should be a regular task of faculties (not dependent upon a few enthusiastic people).

Sustainability: can an OER project exist without grants? This is a challenge that all initiatives face, says Robert. At OUNL their aim is to incorporate the initiative to their business model. Each course they offer will have an OER (it may be all the course or a piece of it). They aim to be a service-oriented organisation and to offer interactive OER using different media.

Wikiwijs is a national OER initiative in the Netherlands. This national initiative was created due to the observation of the success of initiatives such as OpenER. They aim to offer school books for free and to make more appealing the ‘teaching profession’. It offers a platform where people can upload learning materials onto a repository at the same time being redirected to other existing educational materials (that they nicely call a ‘referatory’). The name of the initiative draws on the philosophy of Wikepedia, where together people create materials. Launching in Dec 2009 with the beta version, focusing on primary, secondary and community college sector. In January 2011 is the delivery of the implementation plan for the years ahead. Materials will be published under the Creative Commons License. Materials will be peer-reviewed.

Nice talk, Robert!

Explore, map and build: brainstorming questions

Live blogging:


continued from previous post:

What does each project think they can get out of this workshop?

What are the models of learning?

What do we mean by communities? What about collaborations?

In terms of technology, what are the experiences we have in terms of using different tools? How can we pull this knowledge together?

How can we use tools to better communicate and support communities?

How to explore ways of communication between OU existing projects?

What are the dimensions of formal and informal learning within our projects?

In terms of the design of materials, are there any approaches that would help us achieve what we want?

How can we draw on the visual elements of design? And representations in various ways?

Creative thinking and creative learning: how could people make the best of the opportunities that they are given?

Social technologies allow for creativity: what is the effect of this creative on the learning?

How can we build more authentic assessment drawing on users’ personal experiences?

Boundaries: how to manage our identity in social networking spaces?

How can we explore new ways of collaborating between the projects?

3 main themes: communities/collaboration, design/learning, technologies (formal &informal learning)

4 Models: models of learning: models of communities; models of technologies; models of design

Big question: How to explore ways of communication between OU existing projects?

We are now being divided into 4 groups, each group being a gatekeeper of each of the themes above. Our aim is to create a representation of how each of the 7 projects discussed today tackle the models above.

More to follow….

OLnet – designing a network of OER research

The aim of OLnet (Open Learning Network) is to establish a network for information sharing about OER research. Questions such as ‘How can the design and reuse of OERs be improved?’ and ‘How can we build a socio-technical infrastructure to serve as a collective evolving intelligence for the community?’ are the heart of OLnet’s interests.

Launched in January 2009, OLnet is in its very early days, but already planning a number of initiatives to start up its engagement with the research community. A fellowship program is being structured, in which researchers from all over the world will be able to invest their expertise in researching and sharing OER best practices and challenges. Alongside the fellowship program, OLnet first event will take place at the Open university in Milton Keynes in February, in which the OU community will have the opportunity to join the network and share experiences. The OLnet website is

The Discourses of OERs: how flat is this world?

 This paper was presented at the Open Education Conference, Utah State University, September 2007

 The Discourses of OERs: how flat is this world?

Power point slides

Abstract:  This paper discusses the provision of open educational resources, drawing on the concept of a ‘flat world’ (Friedman, 2005). A discourse analytical perspective (Fairclough, 2000) is used to discuss data from example OER initiatives. We enquire how flattening such initiatives are in terms of widening participation and empowering individuals through the access to knowledge.

Repurposing for an open educational repository:quantity, quality and processes

Presenters from left to right:  Tina Wilson, Rose Webb, Giselle Ferreira and Teresa Connoly.

In this presentation they are explaining the processes of unit production for OpenLearn. Giselle is presenting a unit in depth, showing all sorts of graphs, support texts and pedagogies that are cnetral to the OU courses.

Rose Webb is very briefly talking about the rights issues, technical cosntraints, resources and the Integrity Model. Rose emphasises that in OpenLearn people had to learn from experience. The faculties gained acces to a document entitled “Things to consider” which would provide them with some guidelines on what to offer in terms of their courses to OpenLearn.

Compendium map of production processCompendium map on the production process, by Teresa Connoly

There are 3 Steps to production:

Sourcing & assessment – contact with faculties and course managers, identifying in which format the materials were available, OpenLeanr academics examine the materials and check whetheer they are suitable to go to OpenLearn, think of the IP issues, materials are passed onto the media team for publishing and Rights dept double check for IP issues.

Production Process – Text, images, music etc. These need to be identifyed and copyright cleared. Materials are then XML tagged and upon return materials are checked. This process can take up to 6 weeks. Most of this time is used towards clearing copyright.

Publication – OpenLearn & Faculties academics check the materials to have a ‘go ahead’ for publication.

There is a similar production process to the LabSpace as well. The whole production has a collaborative approach.

Giselle brings a few questions: Efficacy: How do we make this work?

Efficiency: How can we make it work well?

Context: Comunity engagement

There is a lack of flexibility for hearing the various pedagogical voices embedded in the materials. There is no time to modify tehe materials to be more web-suited. This would have to happen outside the Integrity Model. The streamline production of OpenLearn aims to meet the project targets, but doesn’t stop people from experiementing at a times. A lot of time is spent negotiating with academics within the faculties. This is a sensitive matter because the academics have a very idiosyncratic relationship with the materials.

Internal community engagement:

Engagement: what’s in it for me? This is an attempt of universities to be part of a global movement and there are competing discourses within the OER movement (she mentioned my presentation yesterday, about teh discourses of OERs).

Leadership: decision-making & quality assurance. Making decision in OpenLearn rests within a core team and this is a very different way of operating from the rest of the university (interesting point!).

Pedagogies: for print & pedagogies for Web. There is not a tutor, a mediator or facilitator. Does it mean that there’s a need for a different pedagogy to support the self-learner, embedded in the materials?

Professional Jurisdiction: Authority & Validation

OERs needs to consider issues of authorship, validation, ownership of the work. The production process of units need to get specific attention.

Question: repurposing materials is very expense. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to produce brand new material for OpenLearn?

Giselle says that there is a lot of reuse already in the OU but not across disciplines.

The difficulty to transfer content relies largely on technological barriers (Moodle platforms are different at the moment). New production in the OU will probably already have OpenLearn in mind.

 Interesting presentation.