#OpenEd15 – Now what?


Here’s what #OpenEd15 has me thinking I/we need to do at VCU.

We ought to do a survey of current open-content and align it with high drop/withdraw/fail courses.
We ought to fill gaps there with stuff that we (ALT Lab, professors, students) make.

We ought to have multi-modal direct-instruction-media creation challenges. I want to do it like an Iron Chef challenge. I have tried and failed to sustain something similar in the past. It could be moving it from lesson plan to direct instruction media might make it easier. No doubt the hardest part will be the human element.

We ought to have a larger VA partnership around accessibility. Seeing everything that UBC does makes me realize how far we have to go.

I want to consider replacing OLE (our current attempt to get people comfortable with teaching online) with something very much like what we did with faculty for the VCU Bike Race Book. So we’ll pick a particular topic to unite the courses (say Richmond and Race). We’ll offer some standard professional development and drop in times but the real deal will be having a specific focus for faculty and to teach a group of one hour pass/fail courses online. I’ve become more and more convinced that it has to be live with students to create the need to get it done but making it 1 credit and pass/fail will give faculty the freedom to experiment.

I was really impressed with many people but UBC in particular stood out because they are doing so many things that we’re trying. It’d be nice to model our staffing along the lines of UBC. UBC has around double VCU’s student population. Grant Potter introduced me to a number of people that I should have been aware of but didn’t know (Scott and Novak being two of them.) While I realize I can’t know everyone or read everything, sometimes I’m still surprised by who I don’t know or whose work I haven’t seen. WPCampus was another group I hadn’t been aware of until recently. I’ve got to a do a better job finding and honing.

OER as more than a textbook

Nothing wrong with textbooks. People like them. They serve all kinds of purposes. It’s just not where I’m interested so I need to do more work on other things.

I need to get more students and professors involved in creating OER material that’s closer to primary source/research material than textbooks. We have bits and pieces of it going on but if I’m going to advocate for considering OER as more than textbooks, I need to make sure we’re doing it often, across a spectrum of content areas, and in inspiring ways. If all goes as planned,1 I should be in a good place to submit a session on this for next year’s conference.

What we’ve got right now that starts to show the spectrum and hint at the potential . . .

  • Sociology Curation – We have lots of these examples. It’s simply students curating and explaining articles, ads etc. It’s probably on the low bar end of the spectrum. Within this spectrum is probably also student summaries/projects that align to content objectives like this PSYCH video project or this other PSYCH review project.
  • Graphic Design History – students capturing elements of gestalt art theory in their daily life. This is another relatively low bar but an important one as it starts to move the class into their lives. That “Oh! This does exist outside of the classroom and class hours.” moment. The scavenger hunt that the students in the African Americans in Paris course did and the reflection/photography assignments from the Vienna group also start to expand things a bit. Conversations on how to shape the assignments so students are cpaturing the kind of things needed in other courses will take this to the next level.
  • Field Botany – photographing and documenting plant life in the local park systems
  • East End Cemetery – student photographing and entering data around a local African-American cemetery of historical importance
  • Folger’s Library Transcribe-a-thon – English students transcribing Secretary Hand. I’ve also found a number of places where you can do similar work for the National Archives.

Stuff I’d like to do in the near future . . .

  • have really strong examples of this content being used/re-used in other classes and by the public
  • get strong examples from other places that are no doubt doing this
  • expand our work into some of the online communities like Wikipedia, Reddit, National Archives etc. I want to really expand our definition of community engaged learning to include digital spaces/communities

1 “If God’s willing and the creeks don’t rise” is the way Hank Williams Sr. put it on something I heard one time.

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