This is not a request you get everyday: the creators of the OER World Map, a new project to “share information on behalf of the worldwide OER community, using local knowledge to describe the OER ecosystem” have extended an invitation to this community to share your OER story. From the website:
We invite you to share your OER story with the community and tell others about your OER activities! These could be OER projects or initiatives, Open Educational Practices like generating OER or teaching with OER, the development of guidelines & institutional policies on OER, new insights and research on OER, as well as the development or use of helpful infrastructure tools for OER. Please include a title and a text no longer than 5000 characters that describes the who, what, when, where and why of the activity. A photo connected to the story would also be great. Please note that stories will be published under CC-BY.
Built withopen data technology, OER World Map is attempting to use data visualization to represent OER projects and use as they spread across the globe. The OER World Map also supports a range of widgets and tools through powerful statistical analysis. OER World Map is built by hbz and graphthinking GmbH with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Looking for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to assist Virginia Community College’s dramatically scale open educational resources across the state? Want to work for Lumen Learning, in my opinion one of the most interesting new technology start-ups? Are you lovable, flexible, and committed to the success of community college students? If so, take a look at the description for the Zx23 Program Manager below.
The Zx23 project Program Manager (Program Manager) is a critical position in helping Virginia successfully meet the ambitious goal of offering a zero-textbook-cost degree (“Z degree”) program at all 23 of its community colleges. Employed by Lumen Learning but working exclusively on the Virginia Community College System’s (VCCS) Zx23 project, the Program Manager will serve as a connection between the innovative work in Virginia and the broad resources and experiences of Lumen and its other clients and partners. The position will start begin immediately, through June 30, 2016, with possible ongoing opportunity for employment with Lumen with continuing focus in Virginia or beyond.
There has not been an open education effort on the scale of the Zx23 project before and the Program Manager position will be critical to the project‘s overall success. Dedicated to defining, guiding, and facilitating a program that has the potential to create positive change across the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as serve as a model for similar efforts around the world, this position will require creativity, flexibility, risk-taking, and critical analysis in order to be successful. The Program Manager is often the initial emissary of openness and of new teaching and learning practices and will be expected to constantly seed and nurture positive change.
Community colleges are often the only or the last chance for a college education for many of America’s students. Some students enroll in a couple of classes or a short-term certificate to gain new skills, some enroll to obtain their associate degrees, and some enroll with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution. The open access of community college is one of America’s greatest postsecondary strengths, but also one of its greatest challenges. While almost anyone with minimum qualifications can enter a community college and pursue a postsecondary credential, few will actually complete.
Community college students need access to more high-quality, flexible support services, courses, and credentials to succeed. Students should be able to take at least two courses a semester—two in the fall, two in the spring, and two in the summer—so that they can complete their associate degrees in two to four years. Innovative use of information technology can help get them there.
On April 29th, New America’s Education Policy Program will host an event that focuses on the use of information technology at community colleges. In February, New America released Community College Online, which features case studies of how community colleges are harnessing technology to improve remediation, student services, and content delivery. Join us for a highly interactive technology expo where we present many of the innovations featured in the report.
Please note that only the opening remarks and innovation presentations will be live streamed.
Take part in the conversation online using #CCOnline and following @NewAmericaEd.
“P.S., citizens: ye should license openly all of mans’ intellectual endeavors to avoid some serious problems down the road.”
OpenVA is putting on its breeches and tri-cornered hat, hopping on its pony, and heading to Williamsburg, VA. OpenVA is evolving from a centrally-organized, annual summit to more of an umbrella term for a collection of institution or group-sponsored gatherings focused on all forms of openness. This is a good thing, I think, and was the goal anyway, shared at the close of OpenVA 2.0 last October at Tidewater Community College with the idea of the college “drive-by.”
The W&M event is really an ideal format for the next iteration of OpenVA. Jamison Miller, previous OpenVA participant and graduate student in W&M’s Higher Education Program, organized OpenVA 2.1 to address particular needs at his institution, but has designed the event with input from the the broader open community in Virginia. Here is the announcement Jamison posted to the OpenVA mailing list:
We are excited to announce “OpenVA 2.1”, a 3-hour workshop on Open Educational Resources (OER) that will be hosted at the College of William and Mary on Saturday, May 2nd. Although OER are gaining exposure and adoption across the globe, awareness remains one of the chief obstacles to implementation. This event, then, is about fostering a rich and varied awareness of the many faces of OER. We are organizing two focused panels to critically discuss:
the current OER landscape and what constitutes OER and,
first-hand accounts of OER implementation from a variety of disciplines and contexts.
These panel sessions will be broken up by an expectedly spirited keynote address from Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University. Space in the agenda will be reserved for audience input, as we hope to encourage an engaged dialogue relevant to attendees. And lunch is on us!
It is good to see the DIY, guerilla spirit of the first OpenVA conference continue. The first conference was created 2 1/2 years ago out of spit and polish, rolls of duct tape, Werner Herzog-recommended bolt-cutters, pure, unrefined human ingenuity, and a small roll of bills that constituted a budget. We referred to it as an “inaugural” event at the time, but that was purely aspirational. Here we are today, with another exciting event at one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious colleges. Who’d a thunk? Details below. It’s free, but you have to register.
Saturday, May 2nd, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 10 for coffee) Media Center, Ground floor, Swem Library The College of William and Mary 400 Landrum Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185
One of my favorite Onion articles is an expletive-laced “op-ed” by fictitious Gillette CEO and President James M. Kilts responding to his company’s lack of innovation in the “multi-blade” razor game. Softening up the language a bit so the VCCS will continue to allow me to blog, the modified headline reads: “Screw It. We’re Doing Five Blades.” I’m not going to link to it for obvious reasons, but you get the drift. Google the Onion + five blades if you want to read the whole, hilarious, testosterone-soaked article. Again: lots of cuss words.
Well, Virginia’s Community Colleges are “doing five blades,” too. Not in the multi-blade razor/moisturizing aloe strip space, of course. No, instead–building on the pioneering work of Tidewater Community College–the VCCS is taking OER to the next, audacious, metaphorical five-blade level by scaling the zero-textbook-cost degree–or Z Degree–to all 23 VCCS colleges.
The initiative, called the Z x 23 Project, is made possible by a generous grant from The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, an organization with a deep interest in understanding how to successfully scale OER. The one-year grant will allow the VCCS to kickstart the process of building out the Z Degree by providing funding, support, and training to fifteen (15) VCCS colleges to begin building pathways to their own Z Degrees. An initial cohort of 6 colleges will begin work right away and work through the summer. A second cohort of 9 colleges will get underway in early fall 2015. Each participating Z x 23 college will pilot the open courses they adopt for this project. Lumen Learning, the VCCS’s partner in this endeavor, will work closely with participating institutions to build these pathways, host the courses in Blackboard Learn, and evaluate the outcomes of the pilots. Along the way, we also want to document how OER successfully scales and becomes mainstream, and answer the question, “How do we make Z degrees portable?”
Virginia’s community colleges are known internationally for their innovative OER work and significant accomplishments in developing and using open materials. TCC’s groundbreaking Z Degree, the first all-OER degree in the world, is partially responsible for putting Virginia on the OER map. However, much of this attention also comes from Virginia’s uncommon central structure, which enables the system to translate a commitment to scale OER into action. Sixteen VCCS colleges have developed and deployed OER courses. Over 70 open courses have been developed using Chancellor’s Innovation Funds (CIF), Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grants, Professional Development Grants, or local college funds. Collectively, the efforts of Virginia’s Community Colleges have saved students millions of dollars in textbook costs. And with the addition of 2 new Z Degrees from NVCC, the VCCS now has 3 all-OER associate degrees. All of this has taken place in less than 3 years.
This is a growing, global movement, and the next three years are going to bring even more dramatic results. This grant from the Hewlett Foundation is going to allow the VCCS to continue to lead the way forward.
Details about how your college can become a Z x 23 college will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment on here or contact me directly to express your interest or get additional information.
I am a little late posting this report by The New America Foundation on online learning in the community colleges. Some of the findings in the report came directly from research on the VCCS done by the Community College Research Center. Findings such as this:
Given the lack of large-scale studies about online education in the public two-year sector, the Community College Research Center published a longitudinal study in 2013 that explored how well students in Virginia’s and Washington’s community colleges fared in online versus face-to-face courses. The study’s authors found that overall, student performance decreased in online courses. On average, if a student took a course online rather than face-to-face, the likelihood he would withdraw from the course increased by six percent. For those students who did complete online courses, the authors found that their final grades were lower by 0.3 GPA points (for example, a change from a B+ to a B).
Not exactly what we want to hear, but useful nonetheless.
I am still digging through the report but thought I would share the link for anyone interested in reading it.
VCU’s AltLab will be hosting its equivalent of a weeklong celebration of culture and “radical self-expression” in the Nevada desert with AltFest, an event billed as an “academic learning transformation festival.” While ALTfest will have a bit less nudity than Burning Man, it will offer a “program of formal and informal special events, performances, and festive activities celebrating stories of learning transformation and exploring new possibilities.”
The event is designed to capture and create opportunities for educators and learners to engage in active learning experiences and share stories of learning transformation. ALTfest is May 12-14, 2015 in the Academic Learning Commons on the VCU campus in Richmond, VA, clothing optional. On the final day of the event participants will set fire to a giant papier-mâché replica of Shaka Smart. The call for proposals deadline is March 30th. Registration is open. More info here: http://altfest.vcu.edu.
One of the first Reengineering efforts I was part of at the VCCS was serving on the Innovation Through Technology Task force. The stated goal of this group was to “support the creation of high performance systems that utilize fully the talent and potential of our people, leverage the power of technology, enhance productivity, and produce better outcomes for students.” The ITTF group quickly agreed that one major barrier to reaching this goal was, broadly, communication. On the one hand, there was too little communication among faculty and staff across the VCCS, leading to the age old problem of reinventing the wheel.
On the other hand, there was also too much communication. Throughout the VCCS faculty and staff communicate with email, discussion lists (d-lists), listservs, and online forums. We have an intranet, Buzz, and our various college and system websites. We have Blackboard announcements, RSS feeds, and digital newsletters. There is Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, and Google+. We can connect via videoconference with Collaborate, WebEx, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and Skype. I could go on and on. The information is out there, but on which channel? Overall, whether too much or too little, communication across the VCCS has been ineffective.
You could say that this problem is endemic to our information age: the belief that more communication is inherently better. Blast out your announcement on every platform you can in order to reach the most eyeballs. I am guilty of this. But I am also guilty of ignoring a large amount of information I receive. My Twitter feed speeds by unread. One third of my emails are vendor spam or electronic newsletters. Probably like you, I receive way too much information that I can realistically absorb and have few tools to sort the more important stuff (email request from my boss requesting materials for next week’s meeting) from the trivial (50% off Groupon for a hot air balloon ride).
That brings us to ICE. The Innovation Community Exchange (ICE) is an online system developed by the folks at New River Community College as an outcome of the Innovation Through Technology Task Force. The intent of ICE is to help solve the ineffective communication I described by linking people, technology, and information in order to promote college innovations. ICE is an online innovation space where VCCS “makers” can to share ideas, promote products, and search for collaborative partners. Users can use the platform to search for an idea, an individual, a software package, or a learning opportunity. Users can also participate in discussion threads or training sessions, or download available products to try for themselves. RSS feeds and email notifications allow users to track developments.
A system like ICE could be a powerful tool for the VCCS to effectively share innovative ideas, services and artifacts, allowing colleges to accomplish things together that may not be able to individually.
That said, I wonder if ICE is going to be yet another communication platform to add to my list above, or if it will be perceived as useful enough to get some significant use across the VCCS? We built it–will they come? And if they don’t, what will we have learned?
Perhaps the Rambling Professor can convince you to give ICE a try.