Friday, October 14, 2005

Ken McAllister

Learning Games Initiative (LGI) had its first Utah Kickoff at Utah State University. The featured speaker was Ken McAllister, Associate Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Arizona. Ken is the Co-Director/ Co-Founder of LGI. The title of his talk was Why Humanities Scholars Need to Pay Attention to Computer Games. It is included here in the podcast.

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Jean-Claude Bradley and the EduFrag Project

This podcast represents an informal discussion of the EduFrag project between Jean-Claude Bradley from Drexel University (Philadelphia) and Faculty and students of Utah State University, including Robert McConkie, Brett Shelton, and Ryan Moeller.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Thank you for your patience

The following podcasts are from the COSL conference at Utah State University at the end of September. I thought you might want to get them as soon as possible, so I offer them here and now, in a somewhat raw form. This week we will be taking the mp3's to the sound lab to see if we can enhance them in any way. When they are finished we will replace any that we were able to enhance.

If you were podcasted and do not see your presentation here, it is because it didn't work. Some of the podcasts were accidentally turned off some time during the presentation. By next year we should have this thing mastered.

Thank you for your patience in this matter. And please enjoy!!

Brett Shelton, Ryan Moeller and Cheryl Ball

Games, Signs and Texts: Exploring Sustainable, Creative Learning
Environments Through Cultural Analysis and Localization

Brett Shelton, Ryan Moeller and Cheryl Ball, Utah State University
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am

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This presentation explicates a common research strand being pursued by the three presenters within the Creative Learning Environments Laboratory at USU. The research strand centers on the cultural impact of technological texts and investigates how technological texts change cultural formations. The three speakers will focus on the production and analysis of a variety of open texts within and across their particular fi elds of study: rhetorics, emerging media and graphic representations.

The Creative Learning Environments Laboratory is a collaborative multimedia research space that spans inquiry across the Instructional Technology and English departments. A mission of the lab is in itself an exercise of “openness:” to use textual theories from a variety of methodological fi elds including rhetoric, computer science, art and design, literary studies, and education to broaden approaches of learning and teaching from single-departmental efforts into ones that include a variety of adaptable learning perspectives.

“ All your base are belong to us ” and other computer game faux pas
Ryan M. Moeller
The Learning Games Initiative (LGI), one project supported by the Creative Lab, seeks to demonstrate that computer games are complex, cultural artifacts that, not unlike movies, need to be considered across multiple cultural mapping points beyond language translation. Subsequently, computer games can be used as sustainable resources to teach and analyze culture. The example of Magnifi cent Seven’s success is one of localization: a product that has been designed to be adaptable to various linguistic, economic, visual, environmental, and cultural conditions based upon its context and use. This notion of making products usable and sustainable across cultural boundaries is applied to many different disciplines and industries where it is most often used to discuss strategies of globalization—areas such as software development, economics, web design, movie and television production, and education. Popular, Americanized television shows for children such as the Power Rangers or Pokémon from Japan and Hi-5 out of Australia demonstrate the sustainability and reusability of resources 139 from talent to stock video to sets and props to music and sound effects. And, in an example of localization gone wrong, the widely popular Pokémon video game was banned in Saudi Arabia for its use of Zionist imagery. The video game Zero Wing, produced for the Sega Genesis platform, demonstrated a poorly localized product in which a bad translation (“All your base are belong to us “ ”) resulted in hilarious media frenzy for English-speaking gamers. Thayer and Kolko (2004) have recently articulated a protocol for localizing computer games, bringing educational games and simulations into discussions of international media. The LGI builds on this idea, allowing students and researchers to use, analyze, and produce computer games and educational simulations to discover how to effectively communicate in localized and globalized situations. We argue that many times, cultural faux pas like the Pokémon and Zero Wing examples teach us more about culture than even good adaptations might. Investigating the cultural infl uence for interpreting graphical information Brett E. Shelton Noted educational technology researcher William Winn (1994) posed the following questions over a decade ago: to what extent are the conventions of graphics culture specifi c, and are the processes that enable detection, discrimination and confi guration universal? Based on these questions, we are researching how culture infl uences the interpretation of familiar signs (e.g., graphic representations used for “restroom” and “stop”), looking primarily at differences in how Koreans and North Americans interpret the meaning of graphical symbols outside of their familiar context. A second phase of research involves investigating the infl uence of context on the interpretation of meaning by offering certain signs in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar settings. The third phase targets the identifi cation of the graphical components of the signs used in Phase 1 and 2 by studying the features of the signs that held signifi cant meaning for viewers based on their cultural and contextual meanings. We are currently in the fi rst phase of research in this project, but we expect the fi ndings will help inform our understanding of how we interpret meanings from graphical representations and may impact the design of graphics in order to increase understanding in a variety of cultural and contextual instances.

Trans-cultural multimedia production in an English classroom
Cheryl E. Ball
In English studies, the past decade has seen a dramatic shift toward analysis and production of multimedia texts (c.f. Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Wysocki, Selfe, Johnson-Eilola, & Sirc, 2004). This shift is informed by the study of rhetoric, which we defi ne as reading and composing texts with an understanding of a specifi c audience, purpose, and context. In Dr. Ball’s Perspectives on Writing and Rhetoric class, students analyze creative multimodal texts using multiple reading strategies, and then compose their own texts. Although this generation of students is typically well-informed about technology, most of them have never encountered a digital, multimodal text whose purpose is primarily aesthetic. Studying the rhetorical situation in what literary theorists such as Eco and Rosenblatt would call an “open,” readerdriven, adaptable text provides a rich learning experience for students.In this class, students read several examples of open texts including “Murmuring Insects” (Ankerson, 2001), which successfully uses Eastern and Western multimodal elements—including written, aural, visual, animated, and other modes of communication—to juxtapose calm with fear while honoring the events of September 11, 2001. In this presentation, we show this piece in contrast to student-produced multimodal texts that attempt to adopt cultural contexts of other writers, often unsuccessfully. We conclude by suggesting why some students’ attempts at adaptation in these creative and social media are hindered by localized contexts. In addition, we demonstrate how students who don’t attempt to adapt their creative work to other’s contexts often make stronger rhetorical choices in their multimodal texts while still meeting the needs of various audiences.

Ankerson, I. (2001). Murmuring insects [Flash Player text]. Poems That Go. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from .
Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. New York: Routledge.
Thayer, A. & Kolko, B. (2004). Localization of digital games: The process of blending for the global games market. Technical Communication 51, 477-88.
Wiley, D. (2005). A discussion of cultural texts, adaptation, and 141 openness. Personal communication July 17, 2005 with Brett E. Shelton.
Winn, W. (1994). Contributions of perceptual and cognitive processes to the comprehension of graphics. In W. Schnotz & R. W. Kulhavy (Eds.), Comprehension of graphics: Elsevier Science.
Wysocki, A., Johnson-Eilola, J., Selfe, C., & Sirc, G. (2004). Writing new media: Theory and applications for expanding the teaching of composition. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fred Beshears

The Economic Case for Creative Commons Textbooks

Fred Beshears, University of California at Berkeley
Friday, September 30, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am

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According to a recent survey, University of California students now spend 40 percent more on textbooks than they did six years ago. This presentation examines how colleges and universities may be able to significantly reduce these costs by creating a coalition for the acquisition and distribution of electronic textbooks. We begin by noting that although the textbook market seems rather tranquil at present, the same cannot be said for vendors of Learning Management Systems. One significant proposal that could disrupt the learning software market has been put forward by Ira Fuchs, Vice President for Research at the Mellon Foundation. In a recent article, he proposes the creation of Educore—an organization dedicated to the development of open source educational software. According to Fuchs, Educore would be made up of more than 1,000 colleges and universities around the world. And, to pay for the cost of software development, each member institution would be asked to contribute between $5,000 and $25,000 per year, based on size.

Inspired by Fuchs’s vision, this presentation explores the idea of establishing a global coalition of similar size that would acquire and distribute high-quality creative commons content that could be used in any of the following combinations: (a) as the basis of an online course, (b) as an electronic textbook, or (c) as a customized printed textbook for use in a traditional college course.

Unlike MIT’s Open Courseware initiative, this presentation focuses on content for the big introductory courses that account for a large percentage of student eyeballs and a substantial portion of the textbook market. The business model for the coalition would be simple: traditional colleges and universities would agree to pay membership dues to purchase content from one or more open universities such as the British Open University. The coalition would not develop the content; it would purchase content in bulk. In addition to saving money, this presentation also looks at how open textbook content could give faculty the freedom to customize course materials.

We examine the economically feasibility of an open textbook initiative by reviewing how such open universities now spend on content development. We then look at how much it would cost to buy this content on an ongoing basis. Finally, we divide the cost of purchasing the content by the number of students in the coalition to see how this cost compares with the current cost of textbooks.

According to our discussions with faculty, we find that a fair number of those who teach Berkeley’s large introductory courses would be willing and able to substitute open content for the commercial textbooks currently in use. But even if most instructors continued to use commercial textbooks, we believe that the figures show that it may still be that enough students will be able to use the initiative’s content to justify the small per-student cost. We also look at how schools may encourage instructors to use open textbook content by providing faculty stipends as well as paid student and staff support to help customize course content. We outline how some schools could support these costs by establishing a course material customization fee that could be far less than the current cost of commercial textbooks. Also, in our discussions with faculty we identify textbook selectors and authors to assess their stake in the textbook industry. Our initial findings are that only a very small percentage of faculty actually write textbooks. We also find that of this number only a small percentage report that they make a significant amount of money from their textbooks. On the other hand, we find that faculty who select textbooks for large survey courses are interested in the money that would be generated from a course material fee.

In summary, it should be noted that this presentation is not a specific business proposal. Instead, the main purpose of this presentation is to stimulate discussion of a number of different but interrelated cost savings issues, each representing a different lever that policy makers could move separately or together. Some schools, for example, may want to treat the open textbook content simply as a library resource. Other schools, however, may want to provide faculty with financial incentives and resources to customize the coalition’s open content. If these costs were substantial, then policy makers might need to consider a course material fee, which students might accept if it’s less than what they currently pay for comparable commercial textbooks. Also, any specific policy proposal would need to address licensing issues governing how said customized content would be owned. And, finally, different means of distribution (electronic vs. print) would entail different costs that would have to be addressed. The main point, however, is that a creative commons textbook initiative may not only save students money, it could also give faculty more freedom to customize the content of their courses.

See related papers at:
and at

Richard Siddoway

Utah’s Electronic High School

Richard Siddoway, Utah Electronic High School
Friday, September 30, 2005, 11:00-11:45 am

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The Electronic High School was created in 1994 as a response to a challenge from Utah’s Governor Leavitt. We serve five major groups of students: (1) students who wish to make up credit, (2) students who wish to take a course not offered at their school, (3) students who wish to take extra credit and graduate early, (4) students who are homeschooled, and (5) students who have dropped out of school and now wish to earn a diploma. The Electronic High School courses are free to Utah students (which covers the $18 course cost). Out-of-state students pay $50 per quarter credit per course. Currently the Electronic High School is serving more than 40,000 students and has recently opened its doors to students and teachers displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Electronic High School is funded through an on-going line-item appropriation from the legislature.

Jody Underwood

What Am I Learning? Performance Feedback in an Open Learning

Jody Underwood, ETS
Friday, September 30, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am

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Getting feedback on your progress is certainly a barrier to open education, except in the most informal environments. Home-schoolers, for example, don’t have access to the same kind of feedback that students get in traditional classroom settings. And it’s common to hear people complain that they can’t learn from self-study materials because they need to be ‘in a class’ to learn. What is it that they’re getting from the class, exactly? Partly, it’s structure and external pressure. But partly it’s feedback.

In order for people in isolated locations and other non-traditional settings to be able to further their educations, they need effective feedback about their performance. This involves helping them figure out what they need to work on, and what they’re in a position to learn given what they know already.

One way to approach this is captured by the concept of cumulative achievement (‘summit-ive’) testing. The idea here is to continually take variations of the same test until you score 100% on it. Helpful feedback describes the areas students still need to work on and what they are ready to learn, guiding them down paths toward mastering all the material.

One of the big changes that open education could bring—if we’re lucky!—is a viable alternative to the (completely insane) idea that everyone should be learning the same material, presented in the same way, at the same pace. One of the things that keeps this idea from being discarded is the current model of assessment, i.e., give everyone the same test at the same time, and then move on, whether the students are ready or not.

Once you break away from that assessment model, to one where any individual can get individualized feedback about his progress, open education would be poised to become the normal model for learning, rather than an alternative to the mainstream.

Andrea Edmundson

“Using the Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) Model”
Adapting e-Learning for Use by Non-Western Cultures

Andrea Edmundson,
Friday, September 30, 2005, 11:00-11:45 am

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The term globalization gained currency in the 1970s as Western corporations rapidly expanded into other parts of the world (Jarvis, 2002), accelerating cross-cultural exchanges (Walker & Dimmock, 2002). Industrial anthropologists, such as Hall (2003; 1981) Hofstede (1984;1997; 2001) and Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1998), have identified cross-cultural dimensions—categories of characteristics across which cultures can be compared and contrasted—to begin to explain how members different cultures communicate, perceive time, or view themselves in relation to others and to the environment. Thus, as e-learning options proliferate and globalization continues members of this expanding audience of learners are more likely to encounter courses created by another culture. Most e-learning courses are designed in Western cultures; however, the largest and fastest growing consumer groups live in Eastern cultures such as China, Japan, and India (Van Dam & Rogers, 2002). Educators will thus be challenged to provide e-learning opportunities that result in equitable learning outcomes for targeted cultures by addressing differences in educational systems and cultural values. In particular, corporations that have outsourced sections of their workforce will be challenged with providing training for employees in non-Western or non-American cultures. Today, much of this training is provided via e-learning. However, to be successful, e-learning courses, typically designed in western cultures, will more likely be successful if they meet the needs of learners in non-western cultures.

This presentation is based on current literature and an exploratory, quasi-experimental study (posttest-only control group design), The Cross-Cultural Dimensions of Globalized e-Learning: Pre-testing was neither desirable nor useful in this study, as the researcher was interested in the differences between learning outcomes caused by the culture, rather than the knowledge or skills generated by the e-learning course. The study examined the effects of cross-cultural dimensions on learning outcomes for employees in functionally equivalent jobs in Western and Eastern cultures. Participants from the United States and India completed a Level 1 e-learning course (one with minimized cultural influences) that was designed in the United States. Results (scores, time to complete the course and number of attempts needed to complete the course) were compared for 757 participants, using students’ t tests. Subsequently, 204 randomly selected completers of the e-learning course then reported their perceptions of the e-learning experience in an online survey.

The problem addressed in this study was: “Are e-learning courses designed in a Western culture equally effective when used in an Eastern culture?” The research questions used to address this problem were as follows:

When taking an e-learning course designed in a Western culture, do participants from Eastern and Western cultures experience equitable learning outcomes?

Do they have different preferences for or perceptions of elearning?

If there are strong similarities or significant differences in learning outcomes between the two cultures, in participants’ use of features, or in their preferences or perceptions, are these similarities or differences related to the cross-cultural dimensions described in the literature?

Learners from both cultures achieved equitable learning outcomes, suggesting that characteristics of a Level 1 e-learning course can mediate the effects of culture that may inhibit the achievement of equitable learning outcomes. In addition, while cross-cultural dimensions did seem to affect learners’ preferences for and perceptions of e-learning, both Eastern and Western participants were willing to try new approaches to learning that did not align with their cultural profiles, as identified in the literature.

Based on the results of this study, the cultural adaptation process (CAP) model was presented as a preliminary guideline for adapting e-learning courses for other cultures. The use of this model could assist corporations who are training their outsourced employees in another culture to ensure that all employees understand the training and acquire the desired skills.

Domestically, providers of e-learning will be challenged to accommodate increasingly culturally heterogeneous audiences of learners. In 1997, 36% of students in the United States were fromnondominant ethnic groups, yet 86% of new teachers were white, and only 3% of teachers spoke a second language (from the National Center for Educational Statistics in Carter, 2000). From an instructional point of view, incompatibilities between the cross-cultural characteristics of e-learning courses and learners could cause inequitable learning outcomes (Henderson, 1996). For example, members of cultures may prefer to learn in a particular manner (Gardner, 1989; Horton, 1999), or they may have specific approaches to problem solving (Lave, 1988; Soh, 1999) and creativity (Gardner, 1989). Or, a pedagogical paradigm espoused by one culture could alienate or confuse targeted learners (Hall, 1981), as could unintentional cultural biases in instructional design (McLoughlin, 1999). Thus, both producers and consumers of e-learning in cultures other than the designing culture may benefit from understanding and applying principles addressed by this study.

Carter, R. T. (2000). Reimagining race in education: A new paradigm for psychology. Teachers College Record, 102(5), 864-898.
Gardner, H. (1989). To open minds: Chinese clues to the dilemma of contemporary American education. New York: Basic Books.
Hall, A. (2003, June 2003). A Paperless Society, [Electronic newsletter]. Society The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County [2003, Sept. 30].
Hall, E. T. (1981). Beyond culture: Into the cultural unconscious (1st ed.). Garden City, NY: Anchor Press.
Henderson, L. (1996). Instructional design of interactive multimedia: A cultural critique. Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(4), 85-104.
Hofstede, G. H. (1984). Culture’s consequences: International differences in Work-Related Values (Abridged ed. Vol. 5). Newbury Park: SAGE Publications.
Hofstede, G. H. (1997). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (Second ed.). London; New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hofstede, G. H. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Raymond Yee

Towards Remixing Any Content from Any Source with Any Service:
Lowering the Barrier to Use of Content in Open Education

Raymond Yee, University of California at Berkeley
Friday, September 30, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am

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As the amount of open educational resources grows, the need for tools that allow users to interact with this content will also grow. What do users want from such tools? In Digital Resource Study: Conclusions and Next Steps14, Diane Harley and her colleagues, drawing from work to date on the “use of digital resources in undergraduate teaching contexts in the H/SS [humanities/social sciences],” write: Many [faculty] want a one-stop shop in which they can find and re-aggregate snippets from available resources into a customized resource for their own use. In other words, they would like to build their own reaggregated resources, using their own materials, mixing them with resources they have collected along the way. How to manage the array of available resources and integrate them into teaching practice is a concern for those involved in tools development. For faculty, there may be an array of tools available to them for collecting, developing, and managing resources, but the efficacy and interoperability of these tools for the immediate tasks faculty need supported are questionable. And yet another challenge, for those directly providing support to faculty, is the integration of learning management systems with library resources and other course content. Current Learning Management Systems (LMS) appear to have limited overall functionality, especially since existing LMS may not allow easy integration with many types of digital resources.

This description of how faculty members like to use educational digital resources echoes what members of the so-called “remix culture” are already doing. The remixers gather digital content from a variety of sources, create works derived from this material, and share the new products with others. Catchier coinages abound to encapsulate essentially the same idea: Apple’s “rip, mix, burn” or Yahoo’s new FUSE “find, use, share, expand.”

At the Interactive University Project at UC Berkeley, my colleagues and I have been building the Scholar’s Box, a tool that gives users “gather/ create/share” functionality, enabling them to gather resources from multiple digital repositories in order to create personal and themed collections and other reusable materials that can be shared with others for teaching and research. The Scholar’s Box can currently perform the following functions:

• Gather: From California Digital Library (CDL),,, NSDL, CalPhotos, RSS/Atom feeds, METS (digital library), WWW, CDL’s metasearch system, and the local file system.
• Create: Data and metadata gathered, annotated, and organized into personal collections via drag and drop
• Share: IMS-CP, Presentation or Text document, PDF, HTML, a METS document, a set of Endnote references, Chandler Parcel, or sent to a weblog via the Blogger API

At this point, the Scholar’s Box is primarily a prototype of an extensible general-purpose remix application geared to the educational community. Although there are more practical (but narrower) gather/create/share tools than the Scholar’s Box, there are unique aspects of the Scholar’s Box that should be of interest to the open education community:

• It is the one of few tools that connects domains that are of particular importance to educational users: digital libraries, educational technology, social software tools, and desktop content authoring.
• It is a tool that would have a particular affinity for open content, since it allows the manipulation of digital content on a fine grain level and the creation of derivative works in which the sources are explicitly tracked.
• It instantiates (if weakly) an architecture for a complete span of gather/create/share functionality

The current generation of gather/create/share tools represents only the first steps to enabling the robust re-aggregation of digital resources desired by educators. We predict that users will ultimately be satisfied by nothing less than a scholarly and educational information environment that gives them seamless access to any digital content source, handles any content type, and applies any software service to this content. Consider, for example, what a collection of bloggers expressed as their desires for next generation blogging tools:15

Bloggers want tools that are utterly simple, and allow them to blog everything that they can think, in any format, from any tool, from anywhere. Text is just the beginning: Bloggers want to branch out to multiple media types including rich and intelligent use of audio, photos, and video. With input, having a dialog box is also seen as just a starting place for some bloggers: everything from a visual tool to easy capture of things a blogger sees, hears or reads point to desirable future user interfaces for new generations of blogging tools.

Using the Scholar’s Box as a primary example, the talk will outline the many possibilities and challenges that face designers of tools for remixing content with services. We will analyze the progress that has been made towards the ubiquitous remixing of any content from any source with any service. In particular, this talk will consider what can be done specifically with open content to enable better reuse of open content by remixing applications.

Jacqus du Plessis and Alex Koohang

Underlying Open Learning Development—Reflections on Elements of
Success in Open Sourcing

Jacques Du Plessis and Alex Koohang, University of Wisconsin-
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 3:15-4:00 pm

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Higher education institutions have begun the formation of open source
applications in recent years. They reduce vendor control and lock-ins.
They are flexible and possess definitive access, control, ownership, and
freedom (Young, 2004).

Freedom to choose, increasing user access, increasing user control,
encouraging the formation of a global community/communities of
practice, promoting quality, and enhancing innovation in teaching and
learning are among many benefits open learning model offers (Coppola
& Neelley 2004). Claroline (, .LRN Course
Management (, Moodle
( and EduZope ( are some
examples of open source CMS options.

Open source is software’s source code made freely available to
anyone who wishes to expand, modify, and improve the code. The
success stories of open source model are Linux (http://www.linux.
org) and NetBeans ( The
source codes to both Linux and NetBeans are available to anyone
who wishes to reuse as they see fit, under the terms of use. Other
examples of the open source model are learning object repositories
such as CAREO (, Distributed Learning Object
Repository Network (DLORN) (
dlorn.cgi), MERLOT (, Open Course
(, and OpenCourseWare (MIT) (

The research emphasis of this paper is to explore the reasons
why open source works. The specific areas addressed include the
structuring of the community, the evangelism efforts, the license
agreement, and quality control.

The paper uses the essay, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” (Raymond,
1999) as a basis to explore the underlying differences between
traditional commercial software development and the open source

Several open source developments are investigated and a review
of literature is used to analyze the communities of practice, the
development cycles, the mainstream acceptance of these applications,
and the longevity of these development projects.
As Raymond (1999) indicated, we find that the Bazaar’s infrastructure
is crucial. Without an infrastructure the mission of the Bazaar is
frustrated. However, a good infrastructure allows the vision of the
Bazaar to be realized and the affordances of group-think and group-production
can be realized.

When looking at software development, the fi rst analogy describes the
traditional corporate environment and the open source development
environment. The cathedral-type system requires order and it is
managed top-down. This model claims private ownership and exists
primarily in a spirit of competition. The source code is proprietary
and every effort is made to make users dependent on the cathedral’s

The bazaar-type of development is less predictable. It is an
environment where strangers all over the globe participate in the
development and enhancement of software. The tire-kicking, willing
contributions, bartering, and collaborations happen freely to express
and meet the needs of the participants. Unlike the cathedral, the
bazaar exists because people are willing to publicly collaborate in
development. The bazaar is based on public ownership. Should an
entity depend on a product, their source code can protect them should
the development infrastructure disintegrate.

The concept of reusability can be seen from the context of either a
service or a product. The transformation of libraries helps explain this
reality. Traditional libraries provide reusable products (books). The
same book can be checked out many times. On the other hand, digital
libraries provide a reusable service. The library would be subscribed
to databases. This access to the database is a reusable service. The
moment this access fee is not paid up, the library loses the service
and with the service gone, there is no product either. A library that
purchased a product instead, would still have the product should the
money to enhance the acquisitions dry up. It is then a question of
ownership once the money has been paid. Within the context LOs,
the future will continue to offer both types of reusability. What should
be avoided is to predominantly have access to LOs as a service which
implies being at the mercy of an institution or individual for access.
Textbooks (a tangible LO) illustrates what will be in the future, but
it also illustrates what is lacking in alternatives. Textbook companies
strive to produce the best possible product. The catch is the cost. The
product is good, but the costs are high, and the textbook company
has to ensure that the textbook has to be purchased frequently to
maximize the return on their investment. This is done with copyright
protection and frequent updates and new editions. In theory, an
open-source textbook could bring great minds together to continually
develop a superb product and to ensure free distribution. This might
offer a much-needed alternative that is presently not adequately

Although there is evidence of open source code as far back as the
50’s, the infrastructure that the Internet provides in tying together
the global community has laid the groundwork for the development
of networking and P2P interactions and a social understanding of new
ways of working and collaborating. Many of these efforts are now
maturing. The maturity is rated against the success of the products
and how well such products hold op to their commercial counterparts.
The time is right for several developments to migrate into each others
purviews, viz. open source development, open learning, sharable open
content, especially reusable learning objects, unfettered by copyright

Coppola, C. & Neelley, E. (2004). Open source open learning: Why
open source makes sense for education. Retrieved October 27,
2004, from
Young J. (September, 2004). Five challenges for open source. Chronicle
of Higher Education.

Simon J. Buckingham Shum

From Open Content Repositories to Open Sensemaking Communities

Simon J. Buckingham Shum, The Open University
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 2:15-3:00 pm

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The Open Content movement is concerned with enabling students
and educators to access material, in order to then learn from it, and
reuse it either in one’s studies or one’s own courses. The core efforts to
date have focused on enabling access, e.g. building the organizational/
political will to release and license content, and in developing open
infrastructures for educators to then publish and reassemble it. The
key challenge in the next phase of the open content movement is to
improve the support for prospective students to engage with and learn
from the material, and with each other though peer learning support,
in the absence of formally imposed study timetables and assessment
deadlines. This paper reports on tools for e-learning and collaborative
sensemaking developed at the UK Open University which are now
being considered as candidates for open content learning support.

Framing the challenges
The Open University (OU) is Europe’s biggest University, with over
220,000 students. With 170,000 students online, the OU is the
UK’s largest e-learning institution, and specializes in providing the
support that distance learners require through small group tutors,
online interaction, print and digital media. Fundamentally, the OU’s
perspective is that open distance learning does not ‘ just happen ’
when a student encounters ‘content’, but that the engagement must
be crafted and scaffolded. This is of course a core element to any
instructional design approach, but the challenges are more acute when
most of the time the student is working alone much of the time, and
it is in this context that the OU has developed particular instructional
design strategies. Arguably, this is the mode in which most learners will
engage with open content most of the time (but this hypothesis may be
refuted by studies of open content learners, and possibly by emergent
patterns of social software use).

I propose four key challenges for the open content movement to move
to the next level:
1. Engage the instructional, multimedia design and computer supported
collaborative learning research and practitioner
communities, some of whose members will engage with open
content when they catch the vision. These fields are as much
craft as science, and require situated, focused application to
the open content context.
2. Contextualize this knowledge to embrace the particular
demands of what we might term Open Learning Pedagogy
which cannot assume the same work process support normally
present in a coherent course for which one is paying, and
pursuing with a stable cohort of peers. In an Open Content
user scenario at present (e.g. a web search brings up a new
learning object), there may well be no study guide, assessment,
expert support or peer group, or they may not be apparent on
initial inspection.
3. Develop engaging, integrated tools to support learning, not just
resource discovery.
4. Develop engaging, integrated tools to provide the social
support often needed to maintain motivation when pursuing
serious study with difficult material.
In the remainder of this abstract I will sketch some of the sensemaking-support
and social software tools at the Open University for supporting
(3) and (4) above, based on (1) and (2).

Tools for collective sensemaking
We use the term collective sensemaking to refer to the broad spectrum
of activities that occurs when an individual or group must construct
meaning from an array of environmental inputs. [1] They must literally
“make” sense by giving form and utterance to the emerging picture
they are constructing as they grapple with the material. Our tools are
designed to assist users in giving form and shape to their ideas as they
evolve from ill-formed, inchoate structures to more formal, rigorously
organized expressions, very much as in the cognition of writing.

One example is the D3E is a tool for document-centric discussion.
[2] The document could be a research paper, a policy proposal, or a
multimedia student assignment. The tool makes it easy to transform an
HTML fi le or URL into an interactive document, tightly integrated with
topic-specifi c or section-specifi c discussion threads. D3E has been used
since 1996 to publish the award-winning e-journal JIME [3] in order to
support conversational Web peer review. D3Eprints is a specialization
for the auto-generation of document discussion spaces for Eprint
archive documents. [4] The OSLO group has already integrated this
kind of functionality into open content repositories. [5] Another
example of such a tool is the Compendium semantic hypermedia
concept mapping tool [6] which has been used in online contexts as
diverse as NASA science teams [7], modeling the Iraq debate [8] and
long term doctoral research [9]. Another is the ScholOnto suite of
tools for annotating, visualizing, filtering and navigating networks of
knowledge level claims about the connections between documents in
a literature. [10] These make use of a metadata scheme which focuses
on the connections between ideas/resources, as opposed to trying to
classify the resources themselves, which is the usual focus of metadata
or annotation. It then becomes possible to ask queries which will get
you nowhere with a conventional search engine: Whose work supports
or challenges this article? On what previous results did this idea build?
What impact has this result had: has anyone replicated the data? Has
anyone extended the methodology?

All of these are examples of the missing interpretational, sensemaking
layer in a content repository –the space for expressing and contesting
perspectives –but with the difference that they provide explicit
support for working with conceptual structure which is lost in email
lists or threaded web boards.

Social software
A raft of community-building tools has emerged in recent years, all
of which are now being assessed for their potential in a learning
context: blogs, wikis, RSS feeds. We are also focusing on the slippery
notion of online presence, which, we hypothesize, will be an important
affordance of mature open content repositories as students seek
like-minded peers. We are developing augmented instant messaging
with tools such as BuddySpace [11] which include conceptual and
geographical visualizations of online peers, Hexagon [12] which provides
lo-fi video snapshots of colleagues, and FlashMeeting [13] which
offers video conferencing to anyone with a Web browser and the
Macromedia Flash plug-in. We envisage that integrated into an open
content environment, these and other tools will offer a spectrum of
communication options to learners, for peer-to-peer interaction and

All of these tools are now being trialed in the Open University. A more
detailed overview, and the replayable webcast of a hybrid physical/
virtual workshop which deployed many of them live, can be accessed
from the e-PhD project. [14] Some of these will be demonstrated in the
presentation to better convey their affordances.
It is early days for the open content movement, but an important
trajectory to pursue is to bring to bear the pedagogical expertise
and software design expertise needed to tackle the four challenges
proposed. Examples have been given of emerging tools for
sensemaking and social presence awareness. Future work aims to
integrate these into open content repositories, to move them from the
first key step of gaining access, to the ultimate reason we are doing this:
facilitating learning.

[1] Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in Organizations. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
[2] Digital Document Discourse Environment: http://d3e.
[3] Journal of Interactive Media in Education:
[4] Eprints: Open Archives Initiative server software: http://www.
[5] Open Sustainable Learning Opportunities:
[6] Compendium Institute:
[7] Clancey, W.J. et al. (2005) Automating CapCom Using
Mobile Agents and Robotic Assistants. Proc. AIAA 1st Space
Exploration Conference:
[8] Okada, A. and Buckingham Shum, S. (2005). Results of Iraq
Debate Modelling in Compendium: http://www.globalargument.
[9] Selvin, A.M. and Buckingham Shum, S.J. (2005). Hypermedia
as a Productivity Tool for Doctoral Research. New Review of
Hypermedia and Multimedia, 11 (1), 91-102.
[10] Scholarly Ontologies project:
[11] BuddySpace instant messaging and presence visualization:
[12] Hexagon video presence:
[13] FlashMeeting: www.fl
[14] e-PhD project, Knowledge Media Institute: http://www.kmi.

Jan Hylen

Open Educational Resources: Opportunities and Challenges

Jan Hylén, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 1:15-2:00 pm

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The paper presents a project that was launched in August this year by the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) at OECD, and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It outlines the main themes and issues that will be covered in the project. The study will concentrate on Open Educational Resources initiatives in tertiary education, although many of the fundamental issues in this field affect the whole educational spectrum.

There are many critical issues surrounding access, quality and costs of information and knowledge over the Internet as well as on provision of content and learning material. As it becomes clearer that the growth of Internet offers real opportunities for improving access and transfer of knowledge and information from universities and colleges to a wide range of users, there is an urgent need to clarify these issues with special focus on OER initiatives. There is also a need to define the technical and legal frameworks as well as business models to sustain these initiatives.

By Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives we understand: 1) open courseware and content; 2) open software tools (e.g. learning management systems); 3) open material for e-learning capacity building of faculty staff; 4) repositories of learning objects; and 5) free educational courses. A more thorough conceptual analysis will take place in the course of the study.

The purpose of this study is to clarify and analyze the above mentioned issues concerning OER, mapping the scale and scope of these initiatives in terms of their purpose, content, and funding and addressing four main questions:

1. How to develop sustainable costs/benefits models for OER initiatives? Many OER initiatives have obtained “seed resources” from private foundations and public authorities. The financial sustainability of these projects in the long term is a key issue. In general, the social value of knowledge and information increases to the degree that they can be shared with, and used by, others. But at the moment, the individual institution providing OER has to bear the costs of providing social benefits on a global scale. Many institutions are not able to do this, especially if seed money runs out. An analysis of the positions of different stakeholders is needed to tackle the question of costs and benefits.

2. What are the intellectual property rights issues linked to OER initiatives? The key issue is to find the right balance between “open material to all with no control” and “open to no one”. The project on “Creative commons” is for example seeking such a balance. A possible challenge is to join Creative Commons with national initiatives to find legal frameworks for OER initiatives. Furthermore there are important distributional and equity issues related to IPR both within countries and between North and South countries. Among academic economists and other experts of intellectual property rights, there is now lively discussions about the economic “raison d’être” of strong intellectual property right rules and their implementation. Taking on board these generic issues, how best to address IPR issues in OER initiatives will be discussed and analyzed.

3. What are the incentives and barriers for universities and faculty staff to deliver their material to OER initiatives? This issue has both an individual and an organizational dimension, and has significant policy implications at national and international levels. Promotion and funding allocations in universities and research institutions are often linked to publication in a few, key, refereed journals often only available in specialized libraries. In parallel, scientific publishing is facing a generic transition from print publishing to online communication and dissemination. Players throughout the scholarly communication product system are developing new skills and new business models, while at the same time maintaining the existing print paradigm. There are thus costs to be born from moving from the print to the online paradigm. The challenge is to work out what to do differently and what new things to do to facilitate an effective communication and dissemination of knowledge and information.

4. How to improve access and usefulness for the users of OER initiatives? There are many different issues linked to this question. One of them is quality assurance. User commentary, branding, peer reviews or a kind of user community evaluating the “quality” and the usefulness of the material might be possible ways forward. Another important challenge is to adapt “ global OER initiatives ” to local needs and to create a “dialogue” between the providers and user of the OER. Lack of cultural and language sensitivities might be an important barrier to the receptiveness of the users. Training initiatives for users to be able to apply course material and/or software might be one way forward to reach out to potential users. Also important will be the choice (using widely agreed standards), maintenance, and user access to the technologies chosen for the task.

Four main activities are planned within the project:
• a concept analysis of the concept of “open educational resources”;
• a mapping activity with the purpose of giving the contours of an “OER initiates map”—which HEI are involved in OER activities, where are they located, and what are they doing?;
• a web-survey to a restricted number of HEI complemented with site visits, telephone interviews etc to further investigate how institutions tackle the above mentioned issues;
• a close co-operation with UNESCO/IIEP Forum on Open Educational Resources/Open content.

Andy Gibbons and P. Clint Rogers

A Structural Approach Relating Instructional Theory and Instructional
Design Theory

Andy Gibbons and P. Clint Rogers, Brigham Young University
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 2:15-3:00 pm

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The topic of this paper is the architecture of instructional theory. Instructional designers have been at a loss to describe in other than monolithic terms how instructional theories influence their designs. This situation can be improved if theorists will provide a more nuanced view of instructional theory and of instructional design theory. We describe an architecture of instructional theory that relates elements of an instructional design in a more detailed way to instructional theories. Rather than tracing the origins of an entire design back to a single, monolithic instructional theory, this architecture also allows multiple elements of a design to be related to multiple local instructional theories.

Our discussion distinguishes between instructional theory and instructional design theory. Instructional theory deals with the theory structure of instructional conversations. Instructional design theory deals with the manner in which those conversational structures are selected and formed into a design. The substance of an instructional theory consists of categories of design building blocks and the rules by which building blocks may be articulated to operate together. The substance of instructional design theory consists of methods for analyzing and decomposing design problems, classes of design structure, and principles for deriving design processes appropriate to different types of design problems. If instructional theory reflects the theorist’s view of effective instructional structures and operations, then instructional design theory reflects the theorist’s view of effective design structures and operations.

This distinction between two major categories of theory for instructional design parallels similar views of theory in design fields in general. In virtually all mature design fields there exist multiple domain theories that describe fundamental building blocks from which designs may becreated and rules for articulating these building blocks together in workable ways. There also exist in those fields theories for accomplishing designs. Both kinds of theory have been critical to advances in design in those fields. An additional level of design theory, which we shall call general design theory, crosses disciplinary boundaries and encompasses design in all fields. Application of this more abstract general design theory has accelerated the development of discipline-specific design theories in many fields, including architecture, engineering, software, and digital design.

In this paper we approach a more detailed description of instructional theory and its architecture through a description of instructional design theory in terms of design layers and design languages. We show how this approach to the description of design theory makes possible more detailed discussion of instructional theories and their comparison against a common background.

Traditionally, instructional design theory has been described in terms of generic design processes, but process is only one of many possible approaches to the decomposition of design problems. We suggest consideration of an alternative decomposition scheme that has been fruitful in many other design fields: decomposition in terms of artifact functionality. This kind of problem decomposition creates separate design layers representing design sub-problems that can be addressed more or less independently. Each layer accounts for a certain number of design decisions regarding specialized functions that are eventually seamlessly integrated to become part of a complete design.

Design languages are used to give specific content to designs within these layers. Design languages consist of collections of primitive building blocks that can be combined into designs and the rules that govern the combination of these building blocks in design expressions. Design languages are supplied by, among other things, the terms used in specific instructional theories. Problems within each layer are solved using the terms of multiple design languages—some from instructional theory and some from colloquial sources—that pertain to the specific layer. Designs are expressed in the terms of these languages.

The specific layers of a design evolve and change based on their utility to the designer, according to a number of factors that include design criteria, resources, tools, new technology, new construction methods, available designer skills, and designer awareness. Each design includes its own unique combination of layers. We suggest a list of high-level layers that is generic to virtually all instructional design projects. Each project, however, breaks these layers into more detailed sub56 layers, according to decisions of the designer, so layers are created or destroyed according to the dynamics of a given project.

Within the context of this view of instructional design theory, we propose that an instructional theory can be described as a set of specialized, mutually-consistent design languages containing defined terms that are distributed across multiple design layers. This insight unifies the concepts of design layers and instructional theory and, more importantly, shows the relationship between instructional design theory and instructional theory. Design theory provides the structural framework within which specific instructional theories can be analyzed and compared. Instructional theories dwell within a framework of layers; however those layers are construed according to the theorist’s way of structuring instructional conversations.

We propose that this architecture of instructional theory gives designers a tool to create quality designs more consistently, can facilitate communications about designs and theories, can allow designers to work efficiently in design teams with a greater degree of mutual understanding, suggests functionalities for more advanced and productive design tools, and allows experienced designers to convey design knowledge and judgment to novices more quickly.

Fen-Den Wang and Catherine Ngugi

Barriers to the Distribution of Open Content

Fun-Den Wang, CORE and Catherine Ngugi, African Virtual University
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 11:00-11:45 am

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Fun-Den Wang of China Open Resources for Education (CORE) and Catherine Ngugi of African Virtual University (AVU) will explore challenges faced by their organizations in localizing and distributing content from MIT OpenCourseWare. MIT OpenCourseWare collects the materials used in MIT classes—including lecture notes, syllabi, homework, exams and more—and publishes them openly on the web for reuse by educators and learners around the globe. Publication on the OCW site, however, is only the first step in making these educational resources available to many audiences. CORE has worked closely with the MIT OCW staff in the past three years to translate OCW content into Simplified Chinese and also to provide local copies of English-language content to overcome technical access constraints. Similarly, AVU has worked in partnership with MIT OCW to provide local access to OCW content in Sub-Saharan Africa.

About MIT OpenCourseWare—MIT OCW is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world. OCW supports MIT’s mission to advance knowledge and education, and serve the world in the 21st century. With 1,100 courses published as of June 1, 2005, MIT OCW has published materials from more than half of MIT’s courses and includes materials from approximately 70% of MIT’s faculty. MIT OCW expects to have published materials from all 1,800 of MITs courses by 2007, and will continue to update course content from that point as an ongoing activity of the Institute.

About CORE—China Open Resource for Education—is a non-profit organization. Her mission is to promote closer interaction and open sharing of educational resources between Chinese and international universities, which CORE envisions as the future of world education. Together, CORE and MIT have brought OCW to China. CORE has developed partnerships with international organizations and Chinese universities to enhance higher education in China, promote open sharing of educational resources in China, and share Chinese OCW globally. It achieves this through a variety of programs including establishing Lead Universities, translation, quality control, localization, and utilization of open educational resources. CORE most values open sharing and partnership and will assist the Chinese universities to share alike.

About AVU—The African Virtual University (AVU) is an innovative educational organization established to serve the countries of Africa. The objective of the AVU is to build capacity and support economic development by leveraging the power of modern telecommunications technology to provide world-class quality education and training programs to students and professionals in Africa. After a successful pilot phase, AVU has been transformed from being a project of the World Bank to an independent reputable Inter-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya with over 34 Learning Centers in 19 African countries.

Henson and Sandry

Starting an OCW: A Case Study

Shelley Henson, Utah State University and Andrea Sandry, Weber State
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am

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Starting an opencourseware project at an institution involves planning, resources and vision. It starts with a conversation and progresses to garnering faculty and administrative support, and locating resources to sustain the project. The Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (COSL) at Utah State University has created a support structure for schools that would like to participate in the opencourseware movement. This includes software, hosting services, training and consulting services. Weber State University has been working in collaboration with COSL to begin an opencourseware project. This session will describe their experience.

Kansa and Ashley

Embedding Open Content in Instruction and Research

Eric Kansa and Michael Ashley, Alexandria Archive Institute
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 3:15-4:00 pm

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Research content is often developed at great expense and effort. The availability of this content for reuse as a basis for follow-up studies has obvious research benefits. In addition, instruction is becoming more and more integrated within the research process. With the emergence of “apprenticeship” and “problem oriented” instructional methods, students are often actively involved in the production and analysis of research content. Thus, students are becoming more than consumers of instructional material—they are becoming active participants in the creation of knowledge.

Our own efforts explore ways to embed the production, dissemination, and application of open content within the context of research and participatory learning. The Alexandria Archive Institute is currently developing “ ArchaeoCommons ” an online resource that provides open content and information management and dissemination services. ArchaeoCommons will focus on the types of content that are thus far underserved through traditional scholarly publication. These include primary fi eld data, conference presentations, and digital media relating to world cultural heritage (archaeology, anthropology, history, and related disciplines). Open licensing enhances the value of this content by encouraging its use and reuse by both students and researchers. To develop and sustain ArchaeoCommons, we are experimenting with a variety of “author pays” professional services for primary researchers who are themselves principle producers of content.

1. Services for Researchers: Many field disciplines, especially archaeology, rely on the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams of researchers, each producing large analytic and multimedia datasets. For a large project, integrating and synthesizing such diverse research is a tremendous challenge and a major bottleneck in the publication process. In addition, project directors not only have to justify the value of their work in terms of research outputs, but also in terms of public outreach, instruction, and historical preservation (both physical and digital). To meet these needs, we have successfully developed and demonstrated key data integration and dissemination technologies. We employ global data schemas developed by the University of Chicago XSTAR project to integrate disparate multidisciplinary datasets into a searchable online resource. We have successfully applied these schemas with the Çatalhöyük Project, and in the process we have created a large openly licensed resource that not only provides students and researchers with rich multimedia content, but also provides the essential analytic data that makes this media meaningful.

2. Consulting Services for Universities: The same recursive and highly generalized data structures that are of such value to field researchers can see wider application. We have entered into a partnership with the Microcosms project, an initiative sponsored by the University of California Office of the President. The Microcosms Project is a system-wide research project comprehensively examining the material collections of the University of California. On the basis of our initial survey, we currently estimate the formal collections of the university to contain more than 150,000,000 objects and specimens, equivalent in scale to the Smithsonian Institution, and to have an approximate replacement value in excess of $40 billion. These collections are central to university research, teaching, public outreach and history. They are also substantial contributors to the state and national economies, important repositories of cultural history, and provide an excellent resource for introducing the general public to the important services being performed by research universities. The publicly accessible Microcosms Database will provide an openly licensed sample of this rich array of multidisciplinary content.

3. Professional Services: We are seeing increasing interest from both individual researchers and professional societies for digital services to enhance the research and networking value of conferences. A serendipitous confluence of events lead to the development of “ AnthroCommons,” an online open content conference abstract and paper dissemination service that we built on behalf of the American Anthropological Association, a 9000 member professional society. Following AnthroCommons, two more professional societies as well as individual researchers have sought online conference services from us on a contract basis.

4. Student Apprenticeship and Media Instruction: Through our partnerships with the Presidio Archaeology Lab and UC Berkeley, we are successfully demonstrating the value of building open content into instruction and apprenticeship programs (students helping produce the content they use). Hands-on student digital documentation projects not only capture content and are important for research and historical preservation, but they also provide student apprentices with invaluable skills in problem solving, peer-collaboration, and research design. Students themselves see both the costs (in the form of tuition and fees) and the benefits (in the form of enhanced learning and creative expression) of open content. Continued high enrollment levels and enthusiastic course reviews illustrate that students value this approach and are willing to bear its costs.

Sustaining open digital resources is a challenge that few institutions or projects have yet answered. For our own case, the issue of sustainability cannot be divorced from the larger context of how research and education takes place. Unless the immediate needs of researchers and institutions are met, open content initiatives will fail to garner sustainable support. Thus, we hope to support the commons by building tools and services around open content that meet the information management challenges faced by individual scholars and institutions. Only time will tell if this is a viable path toward sustainability, or if an open cultural heritage commons will always depend on the same mix of charitable donations, philanthropic granting, and government subsidy that supports most of the humanities and social sciences today.

Madsen and Hurst

The Role of the Library in Open Education

Christine Madsen and Megan Hurst, Harvard University Library
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 2:15-3:00 pm

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In 1931, when S. R. Ranganathan presented his Five Laws of Library Science, he envisioned libraries playing a vital role in education.6 Yet, as these principles have confronted modern technologies and the tendency of libraries to distance and isolate themselves from the larger educational environment, they have been significantly weakened. 7 Libraries must be involved in the effort to advance and sustain open education. They should be at the forefront of providing open content to educators and students. But because they often believe this responsibility falls outside the scope of their profession, many librarians avoid it, leaving a noticeable gap between educators and students and the resources they need.

The Open Collections Program (OCP) of the Harvard University Library interprets Ranganathan more boldly. For the past three years, OCP has been an active participant in the creation of open educational content and in exploring and expanding the roles digital library collections can play in education. Through its marketing, outreach, and evaluation efforts, OCP works directly with educators and students at all levels. In this presentation, we will discuss and demonstrate our recent work in these critically important areas.

Ranganathan’s five laws:
1. Books are for use.
2. Every reader, his book.
3. Every book, its reader.
4. Save the time of the reader.
5. A library is a growing organism.8

One of the founding principles behind OCP was that a collection isn’t really open unless its resources can easily be accessed and navigated. This means, first and foremost, that users must know the collection exists. Many digital collections stop short of connecting their books with their potential readers, holding fast to the principle that if you build it, they will come. But will they? If librarians really believe “books are for use” (and that includes electronic books), they must be more active in promoting their collections. Marketing seems to be unspeakable these days in libraries, as if librarians think self-promotion implies lower standards. But Ranganathan’s laws demand marketing, or outreach, or public services—call it whatever you like, but libraries must be more aggressive in connecting their digital materials with their users.

The fourth law, “Save the time of the reader,” requires librarians to organize their online content and provide context and navigation tools. Librarians often resist adding such features to their web sites, but these tools parallel the topical pathfinders they have been creating for years—the medium has changed, but the underlying idea has not. The more creative and prolific librarians become in designing materials to help users navigate their online collections, the more successfully they will bridge the gap between the library and education worlds.

Like all students, library users learn as they make sense of the texts, images, and objects they encounter and as they find relationships and create connections among them.9 Ranganathan called for librarians to make their collections known and available, and to help readers find relevant materials within them, even and especially when patrons “do not know enough about available resources to know what to request.”10 “The majority of readers do not know their requirements, and their interests take a defi nite shape only after seeing and handling a well arranged collection of books,” he wrote.11 He charged librarians to bring related books together—to arrange books in ways that would support the development of the reader’s interests and questions.

We will demonstrate several new web pages through which OCP is responding to the needs of learners and offering theme-based access to its collections. As with the pathfinders librarians traditionally have created, themes are chosen based on the budding interests audiences bring to the collections. Items representing various genres are selected for their potential to help raise questions and start conversations when they are placed near one another. Additional selections, listed next to each featured item, draw the reader further into the collections. Links to individual items and to parts of the collections and embedded browse and search functions offer multiple paths into a broadening range of materials set in an increasingly complex web of relationships. The design of these new pathfinders is shaped by this belief: the more entryways librarians can provide to their collections, and the denser the networks of pathways they can suggest within them, the richer visitors’ experiences of the collections will be, and the richer the understandings each reader can develop from her interaction with them.

One of the greatest potential barriers to open education in the coming years may be the continued reluctance of libraries, particularly academic libraries, to share their resources more fully with all educators and students. Certain policies help to sustain this reluctance and this roadblock. Library administrators often argue that creating digital collections for use outside their own institutions, and providing navigation tools or reference support for outside users, is beyond their purview. But libraries are growing organisms. The Open Collections Program has set out to open Harvard’s library collections to the world. Our intention is to create a model for the creation of digital library collections—a model that demonstrates the potential power in bringing once closed and hidden materials to educators and students around the world. When we envision how educators and students beyond Harvard might navigate these collections, for example, we are able to improve access for all visitors, creating collections that are more usable and more open to people both inside and outside the Harvard community.

Librarians have the potential to be important players in the world of open education, but they must expand the way they think about their collections, their users, and their profession.

Cyprien Lomas

Can Higher Education Repository Projects Learn from Flickr?

Cyprien Lomas, University of British Columbia
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 1:15-2:00 pm

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Repositories have been part of the academic landscape for many years. Stores of information collected by individuals or groups have been used for research and academic purposes. While the library has often been the location for repositories, they are also created by research groups, teaching groups or just about anybody wishing to store and organize information. Unfortunately, little communication by creators of repositories often results in ‘silos’ of information that evolve with little attention paid to standards, interoperability or thoughts of preservation. Repositories may be as simple as files stored on a computer or as complicated as custom applications residing on networked computers. Sharing of resources may or may not be part of the design of the repository, and consequently, intellectual property issues are seldom in dispute.

In recent years, renewed (continued) interest in repositories has resulted in new cadres of individuals (or groups) proposing, designing, creating and implementing data stores for use within their particular disciplines. While the creators of the new databases are building them with standards and reuse in mind, the challenge of promoting reuse by anyone other than the owners and creators of the resources still remains. Inadequate promotion of databases combined with general lack of knowledge of them results in their under use. While older databases are left to wither and die, they are duplicated and ultimately superseded by newer initiatives.

Meanwhile, outside of the institution, photo sharing applications like Flickr and BuzzNet are enjoying great popularity and success with the general public. While Flickr is primarily a website to share pictures, it has many features in common with repositories. Photos are stored online and are available in several resolutions. They can be categorized for easier retrieval. Photo creators can restrict access to their content by setting permissions; subsets can be shared with trusted friends and peers. Metadata and usage data is collected and stored along with the photos.

In addition to repository-like features, Flickr incorporates a number of other features that may contribute to its success. All pictures have an absolute URL and can be easily included in other webpages. In addition, tools for easy incorporation into weblogs have been built for most of the existing weblog packages. Publishing an open API has resulted in the creation of several plug-ins that extend the functionality of Flickr.

Friends and colleagues can collect and view photos without sharing them with the general public. Pictures can be ‘tagged’ to allow their discovery by parties with similar interests and groups can self discover and self organize using the ‘friend of a friend’, recommender/referrer and other social software features of Flickr. One additional significant feature of Flickr is its embrace of standards including RSS and Atom. All of these features go far to ensure that Flickr is versatile, works with almost every other system out there, can be ‘hacked’ by those who wish to do so and promotes a ‘social’, fun type of engagement.

The University of British Columbia created several image repositories as part of a campus wide Learning Objects pilot. These projects were part of a larger pilot project looking at institutional repositories and their utility as campus wide learning object repositories. Of the pilot projects undertaken, image repositories were amongst the most successful having the largest number of loyal users and greatest number of records. While these projects included some of the features seen in Flickr, an analysis of the successful features of Flickr and a comparison with UBC projects may help to enhance the success of the institutional projects.

A Biological image repository that was discipline specific, locally ‘owned’, and sensitive to the requirements of its users was created. Its intended purpose was to store research data for use by fellow scientists as well as instructors and students. The repository managed to fit the needs of researchers, instructors and students resulting in records serving as research objects, teaching objects and learning objects. In addition to serving as a repository, some of the additional features of this repository promote community, flexibility and sharing.

In a second UBC project, a community site related to a Botanical Garden serves as the place for amateur botanists and gardening enthusiasts to meet and discuss a wide variety of botanical topics. The site consists of a weblog, moderated discussion boards, and links to the scientific image repositories of plant scientists. Volunteers from the general public are enlisted to ensure that the site runs well. Enthusiasts have helped to make this site one of the more vibrant amateur botanical communities on the web and a potential outreach point to make scientific research accessible to the general public.

This paper attempts to explore those design features that help to make a repository useful to its users. By examining the goals of institutional projects and fitting them to some of the features that have been successful outside the academy, we hope to identify design principles that contribute to the success of open, useful research object /learning object repositories.

Wright, Yoshimi and Gavilan

Open Education at UC Merced

Jeff Wright, Jeff Yoshimi and German Gavilan
University of California, Merced
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 3:15-4:00 pm

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The University of California, Merced, the new tenth campus of the UC system, opens Fall 2005 to an inaugural class of 1000 students. The campus has made a commitment to innovative pedagogy using open source and open-content tools. We describe a variety of efforts currently underway at UC Merced, including the following:

An introductory course in computer science, which uses UC-Wise (Web-based Instruction for Science & Engineering) a real- time collaborative tool for teaching. UCWISE is a UC Berkeley and CITRISled partnership of four UC schools including Merced. Researchers in the College of Engineering and the School of Education are changing the paradigm of distance education to bring highly-rated courses to community and state schools. UC WISE consists of a customizable learning management system (LMS), collaborative tools for projectbased work, communication and assessment mechanisms, as well as support for connecting technology and teaching practices. Teachers and students access the system through web-based portals, allowing location-independent access to learning materials. The online format allows for the replacement of didactic presentation of topics (lecturing), either wholly or in part, by targeted small-group or one-on-one instruction (tutoring) in a lab setting. UCWISE combines a sophisticated web-based learning environment with a wealth of interactive, collaborative, and assessment materials. UCWISE researchers are also examining new forms of pedagogy that this system affords.

A course in psychology and cognitive science in which students build simulated models of the brain using an open-source software package called Simbrain ( The software is being developed at UC Merced with the help of local transfer students. Users create the neural networks using a familiar, visually oriented “draw” interface, and use them to control a simulated agent in a virtual environment. The software is easy to use and does not require formal background in mathematics and programming, making otherwise challenging concepts accessible to a broader range of students. The course is being developed using Connexions modules, and plans are underway to interact with local community colleges in incorporating these modules into their psychology, engineering, and biology courses.

A course in world history incorporating open-content historical spatial data, and animated maps made with an open source mapping tool called TimeMap ( The software, developed at the University of Sydney Archaeological Computing Laboratory, is being adapted at UC Merced for use in a Digital Atlas of World History. Spatial resources from the metadata clearinghouse of the UC Berkeley open-content Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI) (, developed in conjunction with TimeMap, are being incorporated into the Digital Atlas of World History. A UC Merced community college transfer student is identifying digital and paper historical maps that can be incorporated into the Digital Atlas of World History as additional resources. Students in Introduction to World History will be able to use the Digital Atlas in two ways: 1) packaged modules that highlight particular course themes will incorporate authored interactive maps that allow panning, zooming, layer control, animation, hyper linking, and access to time-enabled geodatabases. 2) A searchable metadata clearinghouse with links to each of the datasets that comprise the Atlas will allow advanced students, instructors, and researchers to select data and author their own maps. This data can also be exported into ArcGIS or other programs with advance spatial analysis tools.

Campus wide deployment of open source tools such as 1) Zope ( an open source web application server primarily written in the Python programming language. It features a transactional object database which can store not only content and custom data, but also dynamic HTML templates, scripts, a search engine, and relational database (RDBMS) connections and code. It features a strong through the-web development model, allowing you to update your web site from anywhere in the world. Zope’s security architecture also allows you to turn control over parts of a web site over to other organizations or individuals. The transactional model applies not only to Zope’s object database, but to many relational database connectors as well, allowing for strong data integrity. This transaction model happens automatically, ensuring that all data is successfully stored in connected data sources by the time a response is returned to a web browser or other client. 2) Plone ( a user-friendly and powerful open source content management system built on Zope.

Marshall Smith

State of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement

Marshall Smith, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 8:00-8:30 am

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Marshall “Mike” Smith has been Program Director for the Education Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, since 2001. Prior to that, he was acting deputy secretary and undersecretary for education in the Clinton administration. During the Carter administration, he was chief of staff to the secretary for education and assistant commissioner for policy studies in the Office of Education. In this session Mike will provide an overview of the open educational resources movement and provide context for the rest of the conference.

Liza Loop

Why do Schools Have Walls? Another Look at Barriers to
Paradigm Shift in Educational Infrastructure

Liza Loop, LO*OP Center, Inc.
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 1:15-2:00 pm

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If we didn’t have a school system and we had to invent something to encourage learning, what would we design? This question has been with me all of my adult life.

In 1983, after working with kids and computers for 8 years, I wrote out a brief description of the Open Portal School and published several versions of it in magazines and newsletters for educators. Although positively received, no one offered a further developed blueprint of how to migrate from a 1980s style “little red schoolhouse” to a school of the future. Many educators of the time became deeply involved in building and marketing educational hardware and software. These inventors promised that their technologies would revolutionize the processes of teaching and learning. Marketing these products required that they be either “entertainment,” and therefore compete with educational activities, or easily adapted to the traditional classroom. Much progress was made in delivering traditional curriculum to distributed locations via radio, video and teleconferencing. The Internet made many types of mediated courseware available to students of all ages any time, anywhere. However, in spite of all this progress, the basic concept of school has not evolved significantly. Why not?

I think the answer to this question lies in our collective global mindset. Even in developing countries parents, government offi cials and community leaders view building schools and providing trained classroom teachers as essential to the growth of self-sustaining economies. We expect to educate people in “teaching factories” even though the nineteenth century industrial model may never again be viable in many parts of the world. We need a mindset appropriate to the information age.

It’s time for envisioning, inventing, interlinking and, eventually, implementing a set of organizational structures to promote “open” learning environments for all people. To facilitate this process I pose the six “formative questions” listed below.

1. What do schools do? What functions does a school perform today? If we are inventing educative systems to replace or exist along side today’s schools we would be wise to know what they already do. We wouldn’t want to lose functionality we already have. However, cataloging current functions may help us identify additional outcomes to incorporate into schools of the future. We may also find activities that no longer need to be coupled with formal education. We might ask what other social institutions can do this better?

2. What kinds of educational programs currently exist worldwide? People all over the world learn in formal and informal ways. Let’s look around before we launch our educative revolution and compile an inventory of different kinds of learning institutions already invented. Every city in the world has examples of private and government sponsored, formal educational institutions. But learning also takes place in nonformal venues such as museums, theatres and libraries. Home based tutoring and schooling used to be the rule for most children before the industrial revolution. Now it is experiencing a revival across the United States. Can parents now take more responsibility for “education”? What about workplace education, coaching, and the school of hard knocks? We must look beyond the traditional school and college campuses for models of how people really acquire the skills and information needed to thrive in the 21st century.

3. What counts as educational and why? What characteristics differentiate “educational” activities from other kinds of activities? We judge activities—our own and others’—against a standard that is often unspoken and unexamined. We value some experiences more than others. The term “learning” is usually applied by teachers to changes they have mapped out for others designated as “students”. But as information and skills training becomes more mediated the learner gains control while the teacher transforms into a coach or facilitator. How do we draw a line between teacher and entertainer?

4. Who grants degrees and certificates? From whom or from where do degree-granting organizations get their formal authority? Who says Tom can have a high school diploma and Harry can’t, Mele can practice medicine or Nga can represent you in court? The local school board, the State of California? The Educational Testing Service? The Minister of Education of India? An important modern-day function of many schools and universities is the granting of degrees. Changes in the structure of education must address the question of certification.

5. Who is responsible for the care and safety of those who cannot fend for themselves? Today many schools function as glorified babysitting services. Hospitals, senior centers and rehabilitation centers teach older people how to manage medications and infirmities. Families and nursing homes may not offer any learning opportunities to their elderly or handicapped. Our modern infrastructure often intermixes the functions of caregiver, social skills developer and intellectual coach to such a degree that none of these roles is well done. There may be better ways to care for people then sending them to “school.”

6. Who gets to learn? What formal and informal conditions control access to various educationalexperiences today? How should we arrange access for tomorrow’s learners? We agree that the learner needs to come to the educative experience with the skills needed to benefit from it. We wouldn’t send a person who had never been on skis to the top of the expert slope. Aside from lack of prerequisite physical or intellectual skills what other barriers are there to learning opportunities? Money? Time? Motivation? Social class? Cultural capital? Educational infrastructure?

Participants will be invited to refine these six questions during this presentation and then contribute their comments and answers to an ongoing wiki web site on these topics.

Original paper, updated paper in process.

Meng-Fen Lin and Luc Chu

The Power of Volunteers: Effectiveness and Sustainability through Lessons Learned from OOPS

Meng-Fen Lin, University of Houston and Luc Chu, OOPS
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 11:00-11:45 am

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OOPS is an innovative Chinese localization project that uses a volunteer-based model which capitalizes on human generosity and social capital to translate and adopt OCW. Standing on the shoulders of the OCW giants such as MIT, Utah State University and John Hopkins, OOPS aims to break the language barriers and makes open educational materials more accessible to readers in the Great China Region (mainly China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.) The Internet may be one of the most important tools in bringing world knowledge into this region; however, language “remains a significant barrier discouraging users from venturing out farther into the cyberworld” (Liu, Day, Sun, & Wang, 2002). For example, only 9.3% of China’s Internet users visit English language web sites (CNNIC, 2005). In a different survey, when asked what language-based web site they most frequently visit in addition to those in Chinese, 33% of Taiwan’s Internet users indicated that they do not visit any other language-based web sites (, 2005). It is evident that language differences pose one of the biggest obstacles for knowledge sharing in today’s information age. OOPS is a bottom-up model to solve this problem.

OOPS Model

The distinguishing spirit of OOPS is the recruitment of volunteers from all disciplines and from all over the world to adopt courses and translate them. Launched in February 2004 with only two volunteers, OOPS has, to date, recruited over twelve hundred volunteers from fifteen countries and regions. Over forty courses are completely translated, with several hundred more on the way. OOPS uses an “adoption” strategy where volunteers self-select the course they want to “adopt” and translate. Once the translation is completed, a volunteer editor will edit the translation for grammar and spelling. If a content expert is available for the subject, the edited translation will then be reviewed for technical accuracy before being published online.

As a volunteer-based project, OOPS’ operations progress with both advantages and challenges. We will focus on some of the challenges and offer a range of possible solutions that seem to work for us.


Challenge #1: Effective utilization of volunteers OOPS has faced a major bottleneck in publishing translated materials online in a timely manner. Once a piece of translation is turned in, we have to locate a qualified and interested editor, coordinate the translator-editor dialogue to reach an agreed-upon version, recruit a reviewer, create two versions (traditional and simplified Chinese) of the files, including the recreation of PowerPoint or Word files, and then publish them online. This process requires a tremendous amount of collaborative work among many volunteers and can be quite time consuming. A delay in any step results in a delay in the process, which could be frustrating for the translator. How to better manage and utilize all available human resources is the first challenge we face in effectiveness.

Challenge #2: Effective lateral interactions among volunteers Volunteer interviews confirmed that many volunteers temporarily “leave” OOPS when they lack a task with which they could continue to be involved. They miss the interactions, both with the material, and also with other volunteers. While online postings seem to show that some volunteers want to interact with others in similar disciplines; others like to know who live in the same region. Volunteers’ lateral interactions could strengthen the OOPS community. Finding an effective way for volunteers to interact both inside and outside of OOPS is a longstanding challenge.

Challenge #3: Effective dissemination of project ideas To reach out to more volunteers and users, OOPS has undergone many dissemination efforts that include TV, newspaper, and radio as well as online media. Nevertheless, one of the biggest challenges we consistently battle is a public perception that this venture is “too good to be true.” Many people are suspicious about the motivation behind such a generous gesture and suspect OOPS of being an online scam for profit. OOPS sets a higher social and moral standard, asking people to donate their skills instead of money, but such a high standard seems to make the spreading of OOPS more problematic.

Possibility #1: Empower leaders and redistribute duties Because OOPS functions as a democratic community, it fosters emergent leaders. Leaders will naturally surface when the “doors are open” and members can step into roles as needs arise. In addition, empowering members to contribute at multiple levels enables the community to be problem solvers. Following are several ways in which OOPS has benefited from unique volunteer contributions: 1) the transcribing project was initiated and maintained by a volunteer, 2) the separate online forums, with subgroups by topics, for the mainland China readers, were initiated and maintained by a group of volunteers, and 3) the logo design and promotion effort was led by a volunteer who continues to oversee new design and marketing efforts.

Possibility #2: Foster local/regional subgroups
OOPS has recently started separating online subgroups, with the hope of promoting local offline communities for volunteers living in geographically close regions. These offline communities could initiate local efforts such as promotion and gatherings by people who have better understandings of the local culture and context. Based on the online postings, it appears these subgroups have been making connections with local volunteers and were initiating university-based promotions.

Possibility #3: Disseminate through click-of-mouse
The best way to publicly demonstrate OOPS’ mission is through world of mouth and “click of mouse.” In other words, if we are persistent in our successful grassroots approach we can let our work speak for itself. Our volunteers are truly our best ambassadors because they go beyond translation, editing, or creating web pages. These remarkable workers assist with marketing, with promotion, and helpeach other. Volunteers sign up for the work, find it enjoyable and interesting, and then recruit their friends. It is our volunteers, with their willingness, creativity, and generosity who are our ultimate solutions for issues of effectiveness and sustainability.


Challenge #1: Sustaining experienced volunteers
Many volunteer translators finish their work and are willing to continue to help. At that point in time, however, there may be no current available course that interests them. Nevertheless, the knowledge they gained during their previous involvement could be a valuable asset to the OOPS community. How could we better sustain experienced volunteers and capitalize on their knowledge to help sustain the community as well?

Challenge #2: Sustaining a robust workflow
Another way to sustain OOPS relies on a robust community that can maintain its functions despite a 33% turnover rate among volunteers. OOPS has about an overall 33% drop-out rate and online postings reveal that many newcomers ask only a few similar questions repeatedly, such as “where do I find those reading materials”, “how do I go about becoming a volunteer,” and “why I have not received adoption confirmation.” The continued influx of newcomers necessitates a robust system that can sustain itself.

Challenge #3: Sustaining adequate funding
OOPS has been successful functioning with a limited budget. Yet, OOPS requires ongoing funding. The effort of making freely available materials is by all means “free.” But OOPS needs more full-time staffs such as a project manager, a system engineer, and administrative assistants, to provide stable support to the growing volunteer efforts.

Possibility #1: Create a mentoring system
A group of volunteers recently proposed an idea to create a special taskforce whereby experienced volunteers could serve as mentors to newcomers. The experienced volunteers could “adopt” newcomers and guide them through their initial questions. This idea offers many implications for OOPS’ effectiveness and sustainability. Experienced volunteers now have reasons to not only stay within the community, but also continue to contribute and give back to the community what they have learned. The knowledge sharing and value creation through the realization of this volunteer adoption idea will be exciting to watch in the OOPS future development.

Possibility #2: Build a relay-based workflow
Currently OOPS functions as a relay system in that volunteers have two months to finish all HTML-page translations after their initial course adoption. After two months, if a volunteer fails to finish the work, the course is then reopened for a new adoption. This mechanism eliminates laggards, encourages a flow of new volunteers, and facilitates project progression. We are evaluating the possibility to further break down the “unit of adoption” into smaller subsections to facilitate even more fluid progression.

Possibility #3: Foster a knowledge community
OOPS encourages volunteers to pair up for translations. Collaborating with others might help sustain volunteers, and in turn increase project production. The volunteer mentoring taskforce might also help sustain the experienced membership. Online forum moderators, led by volunteers, can also help encourage and maintain lively discussion and provide timely responses to members. The key to sustaining the community centers on both maintaining membership and maintaining the workflow within the system. Fostering a knowledge community enables the value individual volunteer gained through participation to become a commodity of the community.


Two thousand years ago, Confucius said that, “They hate not to make use of their abilities, yet they do not necessarily work out of self-interest.” In a Confucian ideal commonwealth state, everyone devotes his or her ability toward the communal good. OOPS capitalizes on human generosity and channels this social capital into a facilitation of knowledge sharing. OOPS models a three-way winning scenario: the volunteers, the future learners and our society are all beneficiaries. Volunteer-based models have inherent challenges as well as possibilities. We have offered a short list of them here in this proposal. While still other challenges (such as intra-cultural issues, access to materials, and quality control) lurk behind OOPS’ promising possibilities, OOPS is nevertheless a testimony to the power of volunteers in the current movement of OCW.