This blog was started as my reflections on the 2011 Change MOOC. It is now an on going journal of my thoughts on Higher Education, specifically teaching Biology.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Opening statements on Open Content #change11

The work of David Wiley as an innovator and advocate are impressive, especially his current work on open textbooks.  The expense of textbooks is a topic that is dear to my heart, for as a science educator, I see the burden placed on students.  I guess it is one of the reasons I provide all of the lab materials to the students free of charge.  Of course, this makes me consider about opening up this material as open content.

I have yet to get through all of the sources provided, but my first concern regarding open content would be the quality of the material.  What is the review process?  Who are the reviewers?  What is the review criteria?  These would be my first questions (which of course may already be answered in the sources provided by David Wiley).

As to the challenge put before us, I would say that is two fold.  First is to provide and help students find open source material to further their biology education.  Even with a starting point provided, students often explore links and other sources when reviewing materials online.  As such, they become actively engaged in the material, which is a positive result.  For example, online games that allow you to look up answers through search engines provides a great example of becoming actively engaged in learning.

The second part is to encourage students to produce open content of what they have learned, be it a video, blog, song, or whatever creative outlet sparks their interest.  With varying levels of success, I have had students prepare videos on specific topics.  The greatest success was with a group of medical microbiology students who made videos on the immune system (some of their content is still available on our campus iTunesU site, if you can find it).  In the future, I would like to let them work through their own creative outlets, but still convey some accumulated knowledge.

This is just a brief introduction.  I need to consider this weeks challenge in more detail before I start building a map or other resource.


  1. Hi - good questions regarding material quality and review process. The open education resources movement, especially open scholarship (i.e. Martin Weller's topic a few weeks ago), is generally driven by academics. At Athabasca University, our use of OERs is based on a similar review process as other (proprietary) resources. However, OERs do away with the intermediary role of publishers. Which means that you are essentially trusting the academic. This isn't a problem, however, as quality and review processes can be added on by ratings/evaluations of end users...and most importantly, by end users being able to customize and improve the resources.

  2. Geroge: Thanks for the comments. The review is one of the parts of the process I'm interested in, especially as I create things that could become open content. I also like the idea of reviews by end users.