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Week 8 Open Education Week: two live events (March 5 - 11)

This week is Open Education Week, with many live events to celebrate it online. I have been creating and sharing online OERs (Open Education Resources) since 1996, before the term appeared 

We have been using - and making - open educational resources in this course, which runs on an open learning platform P2PU. Several events this week are organized by P2PU people.


  1. Select and attend two live events from this list - mind the time zones!
  2. Post a review in this task's comments. In your review, discuss OERs in your work as a parent or teacher of elementary mathematics, and in your own learning path.

Last week, there was no live meeting task and this week there is a double. Of course, you can visit as many events as you would like. They are free, in both senses of the word - "free as in speech and free as in beer" as the saying goes

Task Discussion

  • Carolyn Lesser   March 11, 2012, 8:35 p.m.


    Flat World Knowledge: New Publishing Model for Lowering Textbook Costs, Increasing Access and Student Outcomes

    I watched the webinar by Flat World Knowledge president Erik Frank. He talked about how the textbook industry is ridiculously expensive and how a startup publisher could disrupt these companies. As a student I know from firsthand experience how expensive these books can be and have not purchased books for classes because I couldn’t afford them. This publisher group has five bets that they bring to the table to help textbooks more affordable: quality, control, choice, and cost. The quality of books includes top authors that are professionally developed and fully supported. The books are controlled by allowing reuse, revising, remixing and redistributing them online. You can actually edit the books online by deleting chapters or sections that you don’t plan on teaching or learning. You can also add link or definitions throughout the book. The choice bet says that you are able to download in different formats like for e-readers and tablets. The last, cost, allows you to access the books online for free. If you want to print the book it is only $34 and if you wish to get an all access pass (downloading it in any form, special help, etc.) it is also $34 and allows you to buy the print book for $19. He said that it saves the student of about an average of $80 per book. They have 150 authors, 15 license partners, 3,000 adoptions, and 270,000 students using the site. It was very successful in during the pilot run and is a great way to make school more affordable. Like Erik said “You can’t solve affordability at community college if book affordability is not solved.” It was really interesting and I will look more into it. I hope through this I will be able to save more money on books!

  • Kathy Cianciola   March 11, 2012, 7:36 p.m.

    On Friday, March 9th I attended, "The Importance of Open Education in Community College."  I learned that some of the great aspects of open education are low costs, collaboration, and improved learning.  James Glapa-Grossklag, president of the advisory board of Community College Consortium For Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) talked about the importance of becoming involved with the open educational resource movement so that doors to higher education might stay open to all.  He explained that when educators pool their expertise to create a culture of shared knowledge, everyone benefits.  He also spoke about how the use of free and open textbooks can lower educational costs for students. One professor, Judy Baker Foothill, who teaches a college health course, was searching for a place for her online teaching materials so that she could offer her students a course which would completely eliminate the cost of text books. There were many speakers on this topic including Carl Stitz author of "Open Source Mathematics," instructional designer- Corrie Bergeron, and Una Daly- community college outreach organizer.  Carl Stitz spoke about Ohio State's, "Scaffold to The Stars." This is an online resource for ebooks that is growing in leaps and bounds, and it has already saved students thousands of dollars.

    As a teacher, OERs will mean never being at a loss for educational tools and materials to assist me and not having to worry that they will break me financially. Whether I dive into a master's degree program right away, or not, I can still be continuing to benefit from online academic resources, and hopefully by the time I do start my master's degree even more text books will be available online.

  • Kathy Cianciola   March 9, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

    On Thursday, March 8th I attended a P2PU presentation/ webinar promoting participation in online forum communities. P2PU actually stands for Peer to Peer University.  This event was aimed at letting people know that P2PU is all about the great concept of people learning from people as equals.  Maria was one of the presenters, and she talked about our  "Developemental Math" group, and how we have taken it in a completely different direction from what she had initially planned. This made me laugh, but it's great that Maria believes in flexibility because I believe flexiblity fosters more independant learning through discovery.  Another presenter, Vanessa Genarelli, moderates an online poetry forum, which I plan on getting involved in, over the summer.  Through this presentation, I learned that there are many opportunities available through P2PU.  At P2PU every person has something to contribute and every person has something to learn.

    I do consider P2PU to be a great OER because it is what is says it is, "People learning from people." In this forum students will learn from each other, and teachers/ moderators will learn from students. People can also discover more about themselves in this process.  The peer to peer format does not put any limits on learning, therefore this is a great educational resource for teachers as well as students. We are all teachers and we are all learners.

  • SandyG   March 8, 2012, 11:14 a.m.

    This morning I attended OER in K-12 Education hosted by Karen Fasimpaur.  She began be answering the question, "What is OER?"  She defined it as "materials, tools and media used for teaching and learning that are licensed for anyone to use, modify, and redistribute".  She contends that OER is relavent to K-12 because it is a wise use of public funds and it gives educators the ability to use content in different formats.  She explains that this allows a teacher to differentiate instruction because the same material can be taught using different level materials and in different formats.  According to Fasimpaur, OER increases flexibility for teachers by allowing them access to varied content which can be tailored to meet their needs.  She provided the link which can be used a a starting tool kit.

    The remainder of the session was guest speakers from different schools throughout the country who are providing courses using OER.  The first speaker was Jeff Mao from the Maine Department of Education.  He disucssed the program in place in Maine that has provided each student with a laptop.  He said the assumption is that each all students have access to a computer, and because of that access, materials are developed using the resources.  I found this interesting.  I think the assumption often is that students today have the access and ability to use computers.  In my experience, this is a false assumption.  While every student in my school has access during the day to technology, many do not have the same resources at home. This lack of resources certainly prevents them from taking part in OERs.  Mr. Mao shared the website HippoCampus. which offers free educational resources for middle, high school, and college students, and instructors.  The site seems to offer a number of courses for many different levels.

    The next speaker was DeLaina Tonks of Open High School of Utah.   She said that they, too, provide each student with a laptop, and advocates that OER allows for a tailor made curriulum.  She said their courses are fully online, and their teachers are hired full-time.  The staff is expected to have 4 hours of office time in which they would work with students answering their questions or helping them with content.  The remaining 4 hours are to be used to "tweak" their content and curriculum.  This "tweaking" seemed to be very important as the content seemed to change continually.  Clearly there is no pulling the same test out of the file cabinet that you've been giving for the last 10 years.  This constant changing of the materials and curriculum keeps the content relevant and current.  She said that her students have an 80% pass rate which is higher than national statistics.

    The final speaker was from the Montana Digital Academy.  He shared his program which relies heavily on Moodle, Joomla, and Wordpress.  He said that his students spend 80+ hours a semester completing courses. Courses at this school run year round.  The school states, "MTDA puts no limits on learning. Students can access coursework whenever and wherever they want. This way course conflicts are completely eliminated allowing more students to graduate on time".

    The speakers were followed by a brief Q & A. One of the Q&A participants asked what the average prep time is for an instructor teaching an online course vs. a typical teacher in a brick and morter school.  The response was that initially, a teacher of an online course will probably work much more than eight hours a day tweaking the course and looking for new materials and programs to integrate into their curriculum. The experts said that this levels off, much like it does with a traditional teacher.  The consensus seemed to be that after awhile, the amount of time would not be any different between the two types of educators.

    I found this session interesting.  I'm not sure how I feel about cyber schools... which is what these places seem to be.  I know that every year we have students leave our district to attend cyber school.  I don't know the exact statistics, but I do know that many (the majority?) eventually return.  Much like taking classes online, I don't think this type of environment is appropriate for every learner.  I like that the option is available, and I enjoyed hearing about these three very successful programs.

  • SandyG   March 7, 2012, 9:58 p.m.

    I, too, attended a discussion about textbooks. On Tuesday, I attended Open Ed & Solving the Textbook Cost Crisis hosted by Nicole Allen of  She started with some incredibly expensie textbooks-- some as much as $200 per book.  She explained that because of the outrageous costs, students are looking for alternative ways to get their texts.  By buying used books, students can save 75% off the list price.  By renting books, students save 40%.  An ebook can save a student 50% off  new print costs.   While ebooks are gaining in popularity, most people state that they still prefer text on paper, and while many students rent, 2/3 state that they wish to keep their books after the class ends.

    Open resource texts offer several things that students find attractive.  Their costs are usually minimal.  They current because they can be more easily updated without the need for a new publication.  This cuts down on the need to purchase the latest edition at a higher cost. 

    Nicole recognizes that OER still has a ways to go before it is widely accepted.  She stated that three things need to happen for OER textbooks to become more accepted. 1) The OER must be of the same quality as printed texts.  That is, they must be peer reviewed and written by experts.  2) They must continue to be cheaper.  3) They must fit the needs.  They must go beyod the what a printed text can do by always being current, but also by allowing professors to add/delete secations and materials that are specific to their courses.  Studentpirgs contends that using OER for texts could reduce costs to students from $1000 per year to under $200.

    This issue is something I lament at the start of each semester.  I've spent $100 on  text that I barely crack open.  When there have been editions at half the price, professors have insisted on the most current when the prior edition isn't even 3 years old.  I think the idea of OER texts is fabulous.  Nicole said that for those who still prefer to read text on paper, often the option is available to get a copy for as little as $20.  It sounds like an ideal solution.  With the cost of tuition continually increasing, it would be beneficial to so many to at least have affordable texts.

  • Laura Haeberle   March 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

    I had very little experience with OERs prior to attending some sessions. The first session I attended was called “High Quality Open Textbooks and Connexions” on Wednesday night. Essentially, the speaker talked about the benefits of sharing textbooks online, specifically between countries. This type of sharing is free and beneficial for all parties. People take the same courses year after year, so it makes sense for the material to be available. It can be done online easily, and it extends collaboration between countries. The concept of open textbooks is obviously argued by textbook companies, who receive a lot of money through these transactions, but the idea is that the information should be shared and that children from poorer cities or countries should still be able to access education. Plus, keeping things digital makes them more accessible for people with disabilities and enables information to be printed easily.

    The other seminar I attended was "Obviousness of Open Policy." This one had a similar feel and message, in my observations. This one discussed how ridiculous it was that the material out there, for teachers, students, etc., is being funded publicly without being publicly available. There are billions of dollars that go into this industry, and the only group that really benefits from the current setup is the people behind all of the power. This webinar really helped me see that the people are being cheated by not getting what they, essentially, pay for. It also helped me realize how hard it is for the government to help out, considering how connected all the industries are. Changing this would mean changing the entire resource system, but maybe that's what we need.
    This webinar really helped me to connect to OER and why they affect my life personally. The webinar was very engaging, and the speaker let us discuss our own beliefs on the topic. As I listened, I realized that I’m in an interesting position as a college student studying education. On the one hand, I am a student. Having open access textbooks would completely change the way my classes are structured. It would allow so much more access, without worrying about textbook costs, and classes could depend more on the availability of technology. This reminds me of my one course on assistive technology, which could benefit from discussing this. This material is incredibly relevant, considering recent legislation in California and Washington, debating OERs. 
    As a teacher, I can also see the connections and how helpful it would be to have unlimited information for my classroom. Teachers are constantly looking to better themselves and their teaching style, and opening up scholarly information would allow teachers to better connect across locations. I recently attended a seminar on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), and having open licensing could perfectly supplement this online, supportive network of discussion. 
  • Carolyn   March 5, 2012, 2:16 p.m.

    Are all of the webinars in GMT time? 

  • Maria Droujkova   March 5, 2012, 2:39 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Carolyn   March 5, 2012, 2:16 p.m.

    I assume - it says so at the top. I really like this calculator for times: