Open Michigan Blog
As we have more ways to collect data about how people use web-based content, analytics has become the buzzword in many spheres, including academia. Determining important metrics, looking for patterns and relationships in big data sets, and telling a story behind the numbers are all crucial components of analytics that hopefully lead to actionable insights. The abundance of information that exists today can provide great value. Faculty frequently use tools like impact factor when monitoring their scholarly publications. However, in the case of Open Educational Resources (OER) the criteria to measure return on investment is murkier.
Since working for Open Michigan, I have had the opportunity to investigate and create a reporting system that provides faculty contributors with data about their course. To develop the best possible tool for our users, we are interviewing faculty to gauge their expectations for a system like this, trying different reporting tools, and focused on creating value through these reports.
Our data lives in Google Analytics, and a very fundamental piece of our reporting involves understanding how faculty contributors are looking to measure success of their courses on Open Michigan in terms of audience, traffic, and engagement metrics. Our goal is to provide insights that tell us who is using Open Michigan and how, which can be beneficial in the growth of Open Michigan as a platform and as a service. It has been a great opportunity to learn from faculty and their history with Open Michigan, and it will be interesting to synthesize the information we receive from our interviews. Given the disparate backgrounds of faculty members and their prior experiences reviewing analytics reports, it is important to create a valuable and insightful tool that encompasses these diverse needs. Lastly, it is essential to find a tool that will allow for customization without a steep learning curve, to support future curation of reports by any Open Michigan team member.
We hope to achieve better communication and service between Open Michigan and faculty contributors by creating these reports, and we hope that these reports may provide insights to faculty that they can use to improve the way they use services like Open Michigan as educational tools. It is also my hope that by using analytics for our platform, the Open Michigan community can get a better understanding of our audience and learner behaviors with OER with quantifiable results.
Last week we brought up a few questions about the ways our work can impact the larger Open Education space. Namely:
How can we best support interested faculty in a demanding academic environment?
Given that time to reach out to our prestigious faculty is always limited, how can we let faculty who may be interested in OER, but who haven’t heard about our services, know we exist across campus?
To answer some of those questions, we have been reaching out to our faculty contributors to interview them about their past experiences with Open Michigan and ask how we can better serve them. Over the next several months we will be sharing some of the results of these conversations here. There are a few key questions that we hope to understand from our faculty in these hour long interviews:
What motivates faculty to share resources with Open Michigan?
What value do faculty see in return for sharing these resources?
What are some of the challenges faculty have experienced when sharing resources in the past that projects like Open Michigan can assist with?
How best can we keep faculty informed of the popularity of their material? Are there interesting metrics faculty think about when looking into Open Educational Resources?
While we aren’t conducting this as a formal research study, if you are interested in a copy of our interview protocol we are happy to share it, just ask!
What we learn will improve our understanding of Open Pedagogy on our campus.
Additionally, we are improving the metrics that we provide to our faculty members using analytics, but more on that next week!
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This past November the Open Michigan team packed our bags and headed to Richmond, Virginia to attend the 13th annual Open Education Conference, not as presenters as in years past, but as learners. The Open Education Conference provided us with an opportunity to learn from the experiences of evolving initiatives in higher education and K-12 schools across the country and the globe, and to think about how to iterate our own work as we enter 2017.
Faculty Involvement Successes
There was a lot of conversation about the role of faculty in Open Education initiatives. Several institutions shared their successes; particularly interesting was the success of the University System of New Hampshire in creating a large OER, open pedagogy and open access focused program. https://at.usnh.edu/usnh-open-education-initiative
K-12 Emerges as a Leader in the Open Education Space
In the early years, most OER initiatives took place in higher education institutions, and focused on college and postsecondary content. The work of the teams across the country to encourage the adoption and implementation of OER in K-12 curricula is extremely heartening, and also provides great examples of the construction of system-wide Open Education initiatives. There are a few examples of great work in this space:
The work of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is an interesting model of a distributed system for creating an OER curriculum and accounting for quality review of the material. http://digitallearning.k12.wa.us/oer/
The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen initiative, which funds and encourages states, school districts and educators to adopt and create openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. https://tech.ed.gov/open/
“Open Pedagogy” Continues to Gain in Prominence
Open Pedagogy has been described as “the relationship between the open licensing of content and the additional options students and instructors then have to remix that content as part of the work of the course.” More generally, discussing the value of open educational resources for faculty contributors, beyond cost savings for students alone, continues to be an important conversation. Numerous initiatives touched on the inclusion of “open pedagogy” as a faculty motivator, and it will be important for Open Michigan to consider how to incorporate or acknowledge this concept in our work.
Learning from this Experience
One of the big challenges facing Open Michigan is finding and reaching faculty who care about sharing their work but don’t know we exist. Learning from our conference experience, we can adapt a few key concepts for our own use:
First, it is possible to create a great initiative that looks beyond the cost of resources alone, but also focuses on Open pedagogy. But in order to do this, we must better understand the actual value we have provided to our current and past faculty collaborators. This means creating metrics, reports, and data that helps us understand and articulate our value.
Second, since faculty content is one of our most valuable assets, we must focus more on faculty motivations and needs, in order to produce the best possible services for them. This means we must go where our faculty are, learn from their work, and use contextual inquiry to understand how faculty may use our services.
Next week, we will share our plans to implement these concepts and share with all of you our plans for the new year. But in the meantime, if you have thoughts, comments, ideas about some of the best examples of Open pedagogy, please share with us!
Welcome to the new Open Michigan! Re-launching as a partnership of the University Library and Health Information Technology and Services, we are the home for all things open at the University of Michigan—including expertise and services for not just open educational resources, but open data and open publications as well.
In the past, Open Michigan always worked closely with partners in the Library to host events, promote sharing, and create OER. By officially joining forces, we can provide the University of Michigan community with a one stop shop for information and resources about open content of all kinds. Here you can find information about sharing research data, identifying reputable open access journals, and using openly licensed content in your work. This new site still has all of our OER collections, and after a dormant period we are beginning to publish new materials, such as new solutions sets for Dr. Garikipati’s very popular Finite Element Methods, and a module on improving hospital-based care for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
We’re excited to launch the new Open Michigan during Open Access Week, a global event to raise awareness about the benefits of open access, which is the unrestricted access and use of research outputs. The theme for this year’s OA Week is “Open in Action,” encouraging scholars, students, librarians, and other members of the academy to take action to make their work open and accessible. There are many ways to share your work with the world, and you’ll learn about them via our themes of “Find,” “Share,” and “Connect.”
As a public institution, the University of Michigan is committed to serving our university community, the residents of the state of Michigan, and the broader world in which we live. That means making sure that publicly-funded research (and its underlying data!) is accessible to citizens, providing a platform for teachers and students to find and re-use high-quality educational materials, and educating scholars about the benefits of sharing their work with the world beyond our campus. Throughout our new site you’ll find resources for doing all of this and more.
If you want to learn how to openly license your course, data, or research publication, or if you have general questions about all things Open at the University of Michigan please feel free to contact us.