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Sharing in a Taxi – MOOCs and OERs



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Riding in a taxi from Houston Hobby Airport to the ZaZa hotel, I struck up a conversation with the taxi driver, Jose. We talked about traffic and airport location (easy to get confused in Houston and go to the wrong airport) and then we began discussing schools. Houston is home to many educations of higher learning including: Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, and Rice University to name a few. Jose also indicated that several online schools, including the University of Phoenix, had set up shop and were doing well in the area.

I asked Jose if he had ever taken an online class and he said yes, that he was going to school for computer science and often took online classes. He had his laptop with him in the car and he used it to study and do homework online while at the airport waiting for fares. In the few minutes left until we reached my hotel, I found out that his tuition cost for a recent class was $500 (3-credit course) and that his textbook was $200. I quickly explained about OER (open educational resources) and the Connexions conference I am attending this week (http://conference.cnx.org). I also wrote down on a card the names of the three major MOOC providers: Coursera, Udacity, EdX. These groups often offer classes related to computer science and students can obtain certifications in some classes.

Amazing what can be learned just by a quick conversation in a taxi from the airport to a hotel. I was happy to have the chance to expose Jose to some resources that might help him along his path.

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Open Courseware Consortium – 6th Annual International Conference – Summary of Day 2/3


Open Courseware Consortium – 6th Annual International Conference – Summary of Day 2/3

OCWC Global Conference

Day 2 of the conference began with panel presentation. I was honored to present with the CCCOER (Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources) panel in a session titled, “Discover How OER Adoption Fosters Policy and Practice Changes at Community Colleges”. Kicking off the panel was the Una Daly from CCCOER. Other faculty members presenting included Barbara Illkowsky from De Anza College and James Glapa-Glossklag from College of the Canyons.

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We each shared some background on the OER projects at our institutions then talked about changes in policy that came about as a result of OER efforts in each location.

Following our panel presentation, I attended sessions on technology and OER then later in the afternoon, the entire group headed to the king’s palace for tour and dinner. This activity took up most of the afternoon and evening and allowed us to see some local culture and interact with local leaders.

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After a keynote session on the state of OER in Southeast Asia by Emeritus Prof. Gajaraj Dhanarajan, I attended a group of sessions related to student involvement in creating OER. I found especially interesting a talk by Jonan Donalson titled, “Learners as Producers: Structuring Courses around OER Production by Students”. Jonan teaches educational technology courses at Oregon State University. He discussed a project in which students wrote the first ever published book about MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) as part of their course requirements. While I find the idea of student OER creation very interesting, I have not yet determined how best to incorporate it at the developmental mathematics level.

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Afternoon sessions included those on licensing issues related to OER. Presentations included those by Cable Green related to Creative Commons licensing 4.0 and “Legal and Quality Guidelines for Open Coursewares Sites” by Ignasi Labastida from the University of Barcelona.

Closing ceremonies followed these sessions and our Indonesian hosts gathered on the stage en mass to thank us for coming.

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Our CCCOER group took a photo opportunity after the closing ceremonies. Left to right, Una Daly, Donna Gaudet, Barbara Illowsky, James Glappa-Glossklag.

photo(17)Thanks to everyone for a great conference. I learned a tremendous amount about OER on an international level and made lots of new friends.

Open Courseware Consortium – 6th Annual International Conference – Summary of Day 1 – Part 1


OCWC Global Conference

photo(8)The conference began with some wonderful Balinesian dancing followed by a welcome from Dr. Richardus Eko Indrajit from Indonesia. I did not know much about Indonesia before arriving so welcomed his review of some statistics related to his country. Other speakers this morning also provided additional information about Indonesia and its place in the world including:
⁃    Indonesia has 243 million people scattered among 187,000 islands
⁃    Denpasar (close to where we are) is the capital of the island of Bali
⁃    Indonesia is the 3rd largest democratic country in the world with the 16th largest economy
⁃    55 million skilled workers are in the Indonesian economy
⁃    Indonesia is the #4 adapter of mobile learning technology, the #3 country currently in the use of textbooks and the #5 country in the use of Twitter
⁃    95% of Indonesia has telecommunications coverage

Anka Mulder, the president of the board of OCWC, gave a short reminder at the start of the conference of the main points of OCWC which are the 1) Access to education for all, 2) an unbiased view to open and online education and 3) the inclusion of innovation.  She also mentioned that by 2025, 80 million more students worldwide will be in higher education and that to meet this need we would have to build 3 universities a week that would hold 40,000 students each. Open resources and open courseware delivered via distance and online learning are an international imperative to meet the educational needs of a growing population of learners.

Tian Belawati, president of the Open University of Indonesia, gave an overview of Open Educational Resources (OER) and their place and importance in the educational system of Indonesia.

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Young Monitor Lizard

A wonderful lunch (where we were joined by a young monitor lizard pictured above) with spirited conversation and dialogue was followed by the ACE awards reception. Awards for Open Courseware Excellence (ACE) are international awards selected by the OCWC board and/or an appointed committee. These awards have traditionally gone to individuals and efforts at university member institutions. However, this year, community colleges were well represented. Barbara Illowsky, from De Anza College in California, was presented with the ACE Educator Award. Barbara is an early adopter and support of OER and is best known for her work on a open statistics textbook used by more than 20 colleges in the U.S., Canada, and beyond. Congratulations, Barbara!

Barbara Illowsky receiving ACE Educator Award

Barbara Illowsky receiving ACE Educator Award

I was also very pleased to see that my Basic Arithmetic online course received one of 5 Multimedia Course awards. These awards are given for exemplary courses that contain a high level of multimedia and interaction.

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I also want to mention that James Glapa-Glossklag from College of the Canyons was recently elected as a member of the OCWC Board of Directors. Community colleges are beginning to find their place in the international world of OER.

Unit Rates in Everyday Life


Photo Attribution: Retail by Robert-Couse Baker via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/5265004159/

[Before you begin this lesson, please print the accompanying document, Unit Rates in Everyday Life].

Have you ever been at the grocery store and stood, staring, at two different sizes of the same item wondering which one is the better deal? If so, you are not alone. A UNIT RATE could help you out when this happens and make your purchasing decision an easy one.

In this lesson, you will learn what UNIT RATES are and how to apply them in everyday comparison situations. Click the links below and complete the appropriate sections of the Unit Rates handout.

[Note: The links below were created using the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. If you have never watched Livescribe media before, take a few minutes to watch this very brief Livescribe orientation]

Which crunch is cheaper? Photo by D. Gaudet

Garbanzo or Cannellini? Photo by D. Gaudet

YOU PRACTICE: Use the photo above to make an initial response to this poll.

Then, in the comments area:

1) Compute the unit rate for each bean type and show your computations

2) Indicate which bean is the better deal and why.


Creative Commons License
Unit Rates in Everyday Life by Dr. Donna Gaudet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

OET about OER (Open Educational Thoughts about Open Educational Resources)


Thoughts and ruminations from the Open Education 2011 Conference, Park City, UT
October 25 – 27

The Canyons at Sunrise

First, some background for readers that may not be familiar with the focus of this conference. OER, or Open Educational Resources, are resources created with the intent of sharing. The mantra of OER is to, “Revise, Reuse, Remix, Redistribute”. Creators of true OER license their work to be used, edited, and reused for free. Typical OER licensing is provided under the Creative Commons licensing framework.

In this conference I connected with people of like minds and like interests related to the use of resources in education. We, and many others not in attendance, are the “early adopters” of this idea and are on the front lines of content exploration, creation, and research. We are, as Jim Groom put it, “the 29%” here to #OCCUPYOPENED (ok…I must admit…I still do not know what the 29% really means).

Some themes that emerged from the conference:

OER is important, although it cannot solve all the social ills of the word. Some comments heard throughout the week related to this theme:

  • OER allows for innovation and creativity and finding different ways to work together – from Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • A culture of sharing increases opportunities for sharing – from Connie Broughton, Assistant Director, eLearning, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
  • The opposite of open is not closed…it’s broken – from Cable Green, Creative Commons

OER has challenges associated with it including:

  • quality/impact, usage/distribution, sustainability – from Josh Jarrett, Senior Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • focus on the resource aspect only and not the learning experience – from Jim Groom, Instructional Technology Specialist / Adjunct Professor, University of Mary Washington
  • ability of content to be edited and reused – from Seth Gurell, Ph.D student, McKay School of Education, BYU

OER content takes on many forms but is often provided in large blocks (courses, textooks, etc…). Some of these blocks can be broken down into smaller components and edited or reused (print textbooks for example) and others prove more problematic (video for example). So, a question to the OER community…what are the grains of OER? How small do we go when talking about content that can be reused or remixed? I believe there are more questions than answers at this point.

“OER needs to be better not just free” was a statement made by Jim Shelton (Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education) and echoed by a few others at the conference. However, I heard and in fact hold a dissenting opinion on this. In my mind, OER IS better because it is free. Cost is one of the main reasons for creating OER. With states defunding education (Josh Jarrett) and student loan debt outpacing credit card debt (Nicole Allen – textbooks advocate for The Student PIRGS), the free aspect of OER may be the most important. What would have happened in the music industry if music companies charged higher and higher prices for CD’s and refused to offer more cost effective options (iTunes and single song purchases for example). I doubt that artists would have stood for it and certainly the consumers would not have bought into that model. Textbook publishers hold both students and instructors in the vice grip of convenience and access while pushing prices higher and higher. Something has to change. Publishers provide a valuable service and always have. They are just pricing themselves out of the value market.

Final thoughts:
I relate to OER in a very personal way. I create open resources for my students so they can reduce their costs to take my classes. As a mathematics educator working in the developmental education arena, I am confronted with a long list of reasons why students can’t or don’t succeed. I don’t want cost of learning to be one of them.

So, thank you to David Wiley, BYU, the volunteers, and everyone else who helped make this conference a fantastic learning experience. Already looking forward to next year.

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