Tuesday, July 22, 2008

OER Handbook Zotero Collection

For those who are unfamiliar with Zotero, it is a Firefox extension for organizing sources and citations. One of the benefits of Zotero is the ability to export collections of sources for others to import into their copy of Zotero.

The OER Handbook project is now making a collection of the sources used within the handbook available as a Zotero collection. The hope is that making these sources available will assist OER researchers and practitioners in future endeavors.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Version 1.0 Available

Version 1.0 of the OER Handbook is now available. A print version will be available for purchase in the next few weeks.

During the development of this handbook valuable discussions have taken place regarding what it means to develop OER. Hopefully these conversations will inform future handbooks, tutorials and other introductory material. The contributors to the handbook have created a "Lessons Learned" page.

Special thanks to the following:
A very special thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their financial support.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Repositories and Licensing

Wayne Mackintosh of WikiEducator has suggested that the repository subsections (general, science, social science and humanities) in the Get section of the educator mini-handbook need to have more information about licensing. As the list of repositories has been compiled, it is clear there are significant differences in licensing, but they are not immediately apparent from reading the repository description. The mini-handbook should inform educators about these differences without overwhelming them. To do so, here are some possible solutions:
  1. An indication of free cultural works approved/non-approved.
  2. Some sort of coding along the four freedoms as outlined by freedomdefined.org.
  3. Simply display the license and provide deeper explanations in the licensing section.
I would like to hear your opinion on how to display repository licensing information. Leave a comment or make a suggestion on the general repository talk page

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We need user stories

As the educator mini-handbook takes shape it is time to add stories. This project needs stories in the following areas:

Finding OER: Which sources have you found particularly useful? Not helpful? Search engine strategies?

Creating OER: Software, practices and tips for creating an OER.

Localize and Remix OER: Stories of OER projects that involved remix, or why you localized a particular OER.

Licensing perspectives: Which license do you prefer to use and why? Would you recommend a different license for beginners?

Using OER: Stories of using OER, both in the classroom and online.

Publishing OER: Strategies for successful publishing and why you chose a particular method. 

These stories do not have to be glowing reports of successful OER's, because newcomers can learn just as much from failures as they can successes. The stories do not have to be particularly long; a simple paragraph in most cases would be great. I've written a few starting statements and you're welcome use these ideas as a springboard for your own.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

PDF export

In order to get a sense for the progress on the mini-handbook I used an extremely helpful feature of WikiEducator - collections. In WikiEducator, a collection is a series of pages that you've specially marked.  Creating a collection is easy; use the box below the search bar, located on the left side of any WikiEducator page. In this box you can add the current page to your collection or follow the link to your current collection.

Once you are viewing your current collection, you can modify/rearrange the order in which they appear. On the right side of the page you'll see the "Download PDF" button. The export takes a few seconds, so be patient. This feature opens up many possibilities for sharing and distribution.

The educator mini-handbook, by the way, is about 69 pages long. It has come a long way since January and I'm confident it will be even better in the weeks to come. As always, feel free to leave your comments, make edits or send me an e-mail at seth nospace, nospam gurell at gmail.com

Friday, February 22, 2008

Handbook for Educators

In a previous post I indicated that we were having trouble deciding how to organize the handbook and the target audience of the handbook. After discussing the issue with several of the key contributors so far, we've decided that the best option is to create multiple mini-handbooks. The idea right now is to have three mini-handbooks.
  1. A handbook for educators
  2. A handbook for institution staff
  3. A handbook for policy-makers
Much of the material for the second handbook has already been written by Philipp Schmidt of UWC. I've taken some of his material, along with what I've written, and combined it into a an outline for the educator handbook. Each part has been broken down so that an individual section is generally no longer than 2,000 words. I believe that this will make it easier for people to make "drive-by" contributions, or in other words, edits that take less than five minutes. Please take a look at a section on the outline that interests you and let me know what you think.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Outline Meeting

This past Wednesday Wayne Mackintosh, Leigh Blackall, Teemu Leinonen and David Wiley as well as others meet virtually to discuss the direction of the handbook. The audio will be posted as soon as it's available. The current feeling is that dividing the project into multiple mini-handbooks might be appropriate. Therefore, we are beginning to experiment creating high-level outlines for these mini-handbooks. Once these new outlines have been agreed on, we'll look at making the sections at little more granular so it isn't quite as intimidating for potential volunteers.

In the meanwhile, certain sections that we know will make it into at least one of the mini-handbooks are beginning to be written. Feel free to take a look at these sections and make suggestions.

You'll also notice that Wayne added a project history and links to planning documents. These new pages should help visitors get oriented more quickly.

Update: Audio available at Internet Archive.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Merged Outline Discussion

As some of you might have seen, I've started two sections of the handbook called Introduction and Get OER. As I've been writing, it has become clear that the merged outline is trying to hit two different audiences. One seems to be a micro-level, grassroots audience (such as teachers) and the other is a more macro-level, institution-oriented audience. For example, we have parts of the "Background" section that apply to both audiences, and parts of it that would apply more towards institution-wide OER projects. From there, the handbook goes to the "Get OER" section, which as outlined, is relevant for both, but mostly for micro-level development. After "Get OER" is the "Publish" section, which is mostly macro-level.

Some have pointed out that both perspectives are needed. However, writing the handbook with the two audiences may be impractical. One suggestion is that the handbook should have two parts: one for grassroots OER development, the other for institution-wide. I would like to hear from you. Anyone is welcome to make suggestions either on this blog, or on the discussion page of the merged outline.

Friday, January 25, 2008

WikiEducator Training Course and UNESCO

Wayne, from WikiEducator, has announced that there is a free online training session for wiki editing. It starts Monday, January 28 and goes through February 8th. Wayne estimates each session will take about 15-20 minutes per day for each of the working days during that time period. This is a great opportunity for  people who are unfamiliar (or perhaps a little rusty) with wiki editing. To sign up go to the Learning4Content Workshop page. Note: You must register with WikiEducator in order to register for the workshop.

EDIT: As you visit the wiki, you may also note that we've begun merging our outline with UNESCO's OER Toolkit document. This merging will be beneficial as UNESCO has already collected some excellent information about OER. You can see the new, merged outline on the wiki.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WikiEducator, Participation and the Next Step

I'm pleased to announce that the OER handbook project is teaming up with WikiEducator. WikiEducator has generously offered to host this project as well as contribute to the content. I've already created an OER handbook page on Wikieducator and moved over the proposed outline. The blog will stay right here and continue to provide updates about the project.
I've also received several e-mails asking about participation. Let me be clear in saying that we are not soliciting money for this project. What this project really needs is your experience.

In terms of personal participation, what we need next is for people look over the proposed outline. Next, pick a topic from the outline that interests you and add it to the OER handbook page under "Sections being worked on currently." Then create a new page for that section and begin adding your thoughts. Use the OERInterop2007 meeting notes if you're unsure how to begin. Feel free to experiment as you write in that section.  I've begun writing an introduction to the handbook; maybe that will give some ideas about what you want to write.
As always, leave a comment or e-mail (seth no spam, no space gurell at g mail dot com) me if you have any questions.

Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in this project, go ahead and invite them. If they have any questions, feel free to have them contact me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Existing OER Projects

Naturally when undertaking a new project, it's only smart to look around at existing projects. By no means is this the first project to undertake an introduction to OER. As Leigh Blackall pointed out, there's a great course from Wikiversity and WikiEducator. There's also some helpful information from OLCOS

Why this handbook is different:
  1. It's designed for hand-holding - Not that other tutorials don't address the beginner, but I'm hoping this handbook will have plenty of screenshots to guide the user.
  2. It's a handbook - Many of the resources available are in course format. Courses work great for some, but there's also a need for something that can printed off and distributed and used as a textbook.
  3. It's time to take a look around - Wikiversity has great background information, OLCOS has solid terminology explanations. I think it's time to look around and bring the best of each resource together.
I'm convinced that this project can happily work with existing projects. In fact, I hope that this project will further its predecessors. The vitality of a community can be gauged by how well it accepts new members. If this project reaches its potential, I believe we will have significantly helped the OER community.

If you aren't able to help, please get the word out on mailing lists, blogs and any other method you think is appropriate. We need as much help as possible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Welcome to the OER Handbook blog!

The purpose of this OER Handbook is to provide a beginner's guide to creating OER material. Once the handbook is complete, it will be made available online for free. Offline users will be able to purchase it from Amazon's Print-on-Demand service. If you have additional ideas for distribution, please let me know.

The base for this handbook is a collection of notes from the OERInterop2007 meeting (sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation). But in order for this handbook to be successful it needs help from the community.

That's where you come in.

Take a look at the wiki and the proposed outline here. Please add to the knowledge base to make this a truly useful handbook. This blog will be for announcements and meta-discussion.

I look forward to hearing from you and I'll see you on the wiki.