OERs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

lego Clint EastwoodI posted in diigo (inadvertently jumping the gun) about how much I really liked MERLOT. I’ve used this site for years but never really, truly understood the significance and value of this resource until we started examining and discussing this kind of content in M8. I think it’s still my most favorite, and I find all kinds of creative objects there, free. Another OER I’ve become acquainted with more recently is Khan Academy. This site is particularly good for examples in working math problems, in my opinion, but I’ve used some really good, clear, effective tutorials/short lectures on a variety of science topics, which I really like. One aspect that makes these sources of OERs more valuable is that they have more of a community presence – blogs, Q&A – than some other sites. I had the opportunity to explore Wikimedia Commons, which I thought would be a great resource for images and videos, and which was also very edifying about Creative Commons licensed content (with a shout-out to Erin and David here). I had heard of Creative Commons but honestly didn’t understand its purpose, until now. Surprisingly, one of my least favorite sites for OER was the MIT Open Courseware (OCW) site. Yes, there is a lot of material there, in a format that is somewhat searchable, but what I kept finding was content without the expectation that it would be completely usable as-is – that is to say, I found syllabi, assignments, readings and lecture notes that didn’t seem to be completely helpful outside the context of the f2f courses with which they had been associated. Many, many readings for some of these courses needed to be purchased, which seemed to contradict the idea of “open” courseware. Clearly the courses / course materials I viewed were not designed with learners in mind, but I guess you can do what you want when you’re MIT. However, they did have an awesome site for HS teachers, with some great examples.
Now, I like YouTube because you never know what you will find. (I liked flikr also for the same reason.) I usually can find something I can use on YouTube and my students (and my kids!) refer to it constantly. Using content from YouTube in an academic setting seems to involve some risk, which makes me worry. flikr is all CC licensed material – handy, but I had difficulty finding anything I could use. Like Ed, I’m glad we have librarians to assist with copyright issues, which seem to be beyond me.

(Andrew Becraft, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/2936382833/in/photolist-5ttJje-eTomR1-HYvYr-d6nc27-9YFEs-5smanB-d6nc5q-9nJtds-bmgMe3-eUJ1Xp-5rsULK-9sHjmU-bZw1L-6GF4f8-d2Vnef-gXhY7-HYw6V-cuEvF1-7BxMie-7wkMni-64LMMp-5FDAHf-5KtHK3-dP2vP-dMskqA-6ykDAQ-fkRanA-gM6b7u-5UPckS-32MkQ1-9ZmXEq-AGLSh-eUV6Vs-51heMk-bVDyQC-fK8HY-5EmaqZ-7wW7Lg-aEis3K-aD8E7C-7wW8dD-79ohzj-f4JVx-dTAc1W-7wVSfF-7wW8Jv-7wWpeK-7x19T7-7x1eHC-7wWaqx)

OER for Dmin community analysis class

In the past I’ve relied on our Pitts Theology Library staff to help me wade through copyright laws, Emory policies, Bb opportunities and constraints. This module has been helpful so I can be better informed and also equipped to search on my own for OER.

I was grateful for the reference to Open Washington where I found a variety of Open Educational Resources for the DMin class, as well as a OER for other courses I’m developing. While not many OER texts books related to my course on (theological and social) community analysis existed, a search in sociology unearthed these two books (below) that look promising, particularly the book on changing the social world. What student doesn’t appreciate a free text book?

Text book:  http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=141 Continuity and Change. Steven Barkan, University of Maine

Text book: http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=38 Understanding and Changing the Social World.  Steven Barkan, University of Maine

Open Washington’s library of videos linked to Vimeo.com. A search in the nonprofit and activism category revealed lots of international videos that didn’t relate to my course until I found this one that I encourage you to watch: H(R)OPE  Video: https://vimeo.com/groups/creativecommons/videos/64110751  This brief, quiet and surprising video highlighted one of the physical assets of an urban community that might expand students’ imagination as they observe neighborhoods.

The photos/images available through Flickr.com (also linked from Open Washington) was a fine resource. There were dozens of photos I could download and lodge in a fast-paced PP presentation. One of those was a simple photo of a sign in Berkley advertising a Tool Lending Library, one more creative community asset that draws on the power of associations and social capital: Tool Lending Library: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41840698@N05/8540453967/in/photolist-e1G4qk-e1G2FT-e1MGbj-e1G3aR-e1G3ix-e1G2Wz-e1G2fp-e1G456-e1G3xc-e1MGHq-e1G3Dc-e1MFPj-e1G3J8-e1MFqf-e1MEKJ-e1MFuL-e1G46D-e1MEVG-e1MGVU-e1MEq3-9qXFyn-ngzsib-niizgP-ngwZaP-ngzsbh-neuLCw-e2mm1U-9qxMuc-9ZtYZU-4Vj7X-bz7sU6-e48qfj-cZuH77-6V7UHx-8TXaNm-d3vHJJ-e1BiF3-6mXUCC-bmTSRo-5ZcNcR-nWUs7W-88WjDs-byv1AP-2tt6ZX-8SXazN-cqwdLh-bU8MyT-e1MEQC-e1G4gc-e1G28Z   That’s quite a long link for a little photo.

Enjoy.  David Jenkins

OERs and Open Source

I have been familiar with the conversations around Open Source materials.  I was not familiar with the websites where this week’s class material took us.  I found the sources fascinating.  I really like the Creative Commons website.   When it comes to copyright, our Pitts library staff has handled the details of what we can use.  I’m not sure I want to move into their territory.  I do feel like I know a lot more about these challenges after this week.  I think I will still have Pitts staff check my work.

I think the electronic world continues to move towards Open Resources.  I realize that there is the other push towards protecting intellectual property.  These two competing values are fighting it out.  I would fall on the side of opening up the content for all.

If we move toward a heutagogical model of learning, Open Educational Resources would have to be a major source of material going forward.

One side note:  As a child, when I was bored, I would read the  World Book Encyclopedia.  At the end of the entry, would be a bibliography that would take me to other entries.  I would create my own learning module.  If only I had the internet then.  This kind of learning was very helpful to me.  I see it as a possibility for others in this electronic resourcing.

OERs, Open Access, Open Sesame

I had heard about OERs before this module. I learned of Creative Commons (CC) several years ago and have been using CC images and videos in my online research guides (example) — though not using the proper attribution, I’ve learned. In addition, I sit in close proximity to the Scholarly Communications Office folks here in the library and they are always talking about Open Access, CC, etc. and trying to get faculty members to add their publications to our own instance open source publications, OpenEmory. I was also part of a group of librarians who formed a kind of MOOC interest subgroup to discuss the library role in Emory’s MOOCs which so far has been pretty much consultations about copyright! But of course we discussed OERs a LOT in that group, since MOOCs are completely reliant on such materials.

Online Emory classes given for students paying tuition however, are able to make use of library resources and are not solely reliant on OERs. Don’t forget that folks!!

MERLOT has loads of OERs for information literacy. I found an InfoLit tutorial for nursing students! And even an entire one-credit information research skills course for graduate students at ACTS seminaries.

I also use the Creative Commons website and Youtube (where I limit to CC licensed stuff). There are tons of library-related videos, including on of my favorites: Using Wikipedia for Academic Research — no, really!

OERs are a great sources of images!

I am somewhat familiar with OER’s. The main way I have found them very helpful is for incorporating images into my classes. I often will use images—sometimes just to provide color, but more often as a way of helping students to see the varieties of ways a text can be interpreted. Artists make decisions about interpreting passages of scripture, and looking at a variety of ways a single passage of scripture has been portrayed can help the students to notice things about the passage and give them a sense of the kinds of decisions interpreters make.


The OER I usually use for this is Wikimedia Commons, which is a searchable database with all kinds of images from various periods. Many of the older images that I’m interested in are in the public domain, but sometimes they have a Creative Commons license. I was not previously aware of the specifics of citing these licenses—I would always cite the artist and URL—so now I have a better sense of how to do this.


I have a question about using OER materials in a Powerpoint presentation. Does the copyright information need to go on the slide so everyone can see it, or is it okay if it’s in the notes?

UDL, Accessibility, and Coming to terms with kites

UDL has an intensely personal dimension for me.  I have a disabled adult daughter who lives with the double whammy of paraplegia and a cognitive/social disability.  Let us consider wheelchair accessibility as an example of how the rigorous application of UD makes a difference. When Karen was 11, we lived in a small town in Kentucky that received a government grant to redo all of their sidewalks, which were in poor repair and utterly unusable for persons with mobility issues.  The town was required by law to follow the ADA guidelines. But we soon noticed that even though they were installing cutaway curbs, they occasionally did not remember to install the cutaway. This meant about every 10 or so curbs the left a curb that was inaccessible.  When we complained, the city administration replied—“At least we are 90% better than before; isn’t that good enough?”  “But,” I argued, “it only takes ONE barrier to make an entire street completely inaccessible to someone who needs to go past the barrier.”  They just didn’t get it.

The good thing about UDL as a principle is that we need to develop rigorous habits of planning and implementation that take accessibility into account.  This is just basic human decency, but it is often forgotten when we don’t have personal knowledge of persons who struggle.  I’ve heard many churches say, for example, “We don’t need a ramp for our church because we don’t have anyone here who uses a wheelchair.”  Well, duh!

We may find we have a more interesting variety of students in our courses if we just ASSUME that accessible design and teaching are status quo for planning and implementation, and apply them rigorously.

That said, I will need help.  Having standards in place that require me to practice accessible teaching F2F and online is a GREAT benefit.

On the large themes of the course, the work has opened my eyes to pedagogical issues that I should have noticed years ago. I now have a better idea of why things work or don’t work in my F2F courses.  Some principles of pedagogy I’ve learned for online teaching will have an impact on all my teaching.  I only wish I had taken this course 20 years ago!

I have truly enjoyed my interactions with fellow students.

I’ve grown.  Regarding twitter, Plato now follows me (no kidding). And, I’ve become a follower of Pope Francis:  https://twitter.com/Pontifex  (what a guy!)

And just when I was thinking how odd and complex all of this modern brain science and learning theory seems to me, I remembered that teaching and learning have never been simple, really.  Here, for example, is Roberto Fludd’s chart from the early 17th century that gives a diagram of  how memory works:


“Memory” by Roberto Fludd

So, it’s never been easy.

My resistance to learning how to teach and learn online has come through in various posts. And I have referenced the Borg in the Star Trek: Next Generation: “Resistance is futile.” But here at the end of the course, I have a better metaphor.  Learning these new things is more like giving up fuddy-duddy pretentions and coming to terms with kites.  Here’s to Mr. Banks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzcBEY8ZxsU


Ed Phillips

OERs; and So long and thanks for all the fish… (Is that copyrighted?)

Friends, I’m hustling to get my last bits done before heading off to Kenya for two weeks.  I leave on Thursday, and I’m not close to being ready.  So, this will piece won’t exhibit my usual flare for overly-dramatic and/or insanely hilarious posting.

Briefly: I have been aware of Open Educational Resources through my teaching of worship at Candler.  An OER I use often is the website for the Worship Resources area of the United Methodists’ General Board of Discipleship:  http://www.gbod.org/worship.  This site has numerous resources for the practice of worship, as well as for teaching worship in seminaries.

OERs are a terrific opportunity for acquiring diverse teaching tools:  video material, charts, lecture notes, art and graphics.

Maintain clear lines for copyright can be a challenge, of course.  It is vitally important for teachers to model appropriate use of copyright in, for example, material posted on PowerPoint slides that is also posted on a Blackboard site.

If I have questions, I talk to our library staff.  They have been helpful.

That’s all for now.



Crazy lil thing called “Assessment” or What’s in an Approach?


I am constantly assessing my students in my classes: with every utterance from my students, I am assessing what they are saying, how they are saying it, their strengths, weaknesses, application of what we have focused on up to that point in the course, what they understand, what they don’t understand based on questions I may ask and questions they ask; with every activity based on what they completed, how they completed their assignments, how they are participating or not participating in activities in class and out of class. Is that an ‘approach’?

My strength is my awareness of  and skill at targeting key individualized areas for students to focus on which is communicated through immediate feedback during an activity, individualized audio recorded & written following an activity, and F2f individual conferencing for which students receive ‘action plans’ and target areas.


I teach students to monitor their own speech patterns to improve performance and understanding. They do this with self-analysis guided worksheets and self-correction.

For the Love Of Grades

Opportunities for improvement include more rubrics with which to communicate to the students the purpose/focus of each activity. Although I frequently do this orally, I am finding that students to respond positively to grades. Thus, I am creating more specific rubrics to communicate the focus, purpose, relevance, and benefit of the activity and my expectations in order to improve.

Connecting With Learners

I have one mid-semester self-evaluation in which students report on their improvements, their knowledge of how to improve, and comments on the effectiveness of activities and my feedback. After reading the articles for this module, I particularly liked the strategies of  ‘muddiest point’ and ‘one minute paper’ from MERLOT “Online Assessment Strategies: A Primer” (March 2010).


I had the opportunity to do this with a 4-day workshop I taught this summer: each session ended with participants writing on an index card one key point they found important and/or relevant, and one question they had. It was enormously successful: I addressed the questions in the next session, and was able to gauge the participants’ engagement and understanding of the material.

For More Connection

More One-Minute papers, muddiest point, and more rubrics. This is what I would try to incorporate more often in my class.

Are we really engaging our learners, or are they here for the doors it may open?

I have posted late, and for that I apologize. It appears my self directed learning has led me to enroll in  a post masters certificate at Emory which is kicking my posterior in terms of time, commitment, and assimilation of new information in order to expand my NP scope of practice from age 12 instead of age 55. Thus to employ this learner centered heutagogy model, I needed these courses to essentially  open “practice” doors to finally pay off student loans, to meet CCNE requirements, and to complete this post masters degree in a fiscally conservative manner. Are my reasons for this pedagogy, or andogogy or heutagogy learner centered or externally driven. Would I have chosen to put myself through these past two semesters unless an external push compelled me to do so? All questions that I pose do not appear to be clearly answered with the current assumptions underlying the articles.

I’m not sure as an educator I can personally develop a lifelong learner unless that learner is somewhat intrinsically motivated.  Even though my original motivation is extrinsic, my desire to be an accomplished professional is the intrinsic push whether it is teaching (thus this course) or practice ( the post masters course). Perhaps it is expanding the map of the learner’s world that truly aids learning and facilitated life long learners.

I do believe nursing education, especially the clinical education and application component has celebrated this huetagogy more than our peer educators as we can more easily incorporate this model into our assessments, design and instructional methods.  For example, Integrating art history into today’s culture takes much more planning than developing a case study of  unwed teen mother with neonatal  genetic complications, no prenatal care, presence of a sexual transmitted disease, and no source of spousal, paternal or financial support.  Asking what ethical, social, financial, physiologic and emotional components of this case truly can implement flexibility, learner direction and assessment. In my leadership course for fall, we can even examine institutional sources of support, societal influences, policy decisions and system failures that could have resulted in such outcomes from health care–in the present, past and future.

Preparing our students for the workplace is common practice. Modeling engagement, autonomy, creative problem solving and decisions that are relevant to my nursing students whether at the undergraduate level or graduate level is a given. Making sure the sustainability of continuing to learn, to grow and develop may not be in my hands.


Measuring how students become like their teachers

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

Epistle of James 3:1-2.

Years ago, I taught religion Union College, small, church- related college in Kentucky.  We had about a dozen students who majored or minored in religion, and since I was the only full time religion teacher, this meant these students would take four or five courses with me during their four years.  In one class, as we were discussing virtue-based ethics, and the role of wise leaders in shaping the virtues of communities.  We were reading an essay by Duke Professor Stanley Hauerwas in which he commented that one of his goals was to get students to think like he did rather than to think for themselves. Indeed, Hauerwas argued that this is what every teacher always did—though most teachers today were not willing to admit it.  The half-dozen junior and senior students in my class were outraged by Hauerwas’s provocative claim, but I surprised them by defending the claim:  “Just as Hauerwas does, I also work to get you to think like I do in my courses.”   “No, you don’t,” the students protested.  “You want us to be able to think for ourselves.”  “All right, let’s look at the facts,” I responded.  “When you came to your first class with me on the New Testament your freshman year, most of you were resistant to historical-critical approach to scripture, as well as to numerous points of philosophy and ethics that came up.  Now, after working with for three years, ask yourself:  Do I think more like Dr. Phillips or less like Dr. Phillips about these things?”  “More like you,” they all admitted.  “That means I’m achieving my goal to get you to think like me.”

I find Bloom’s taxonomy to be the most clear of the assessment models.  He shows how the teacher guides students as a coach, leading them up from basic levels of learning (facts) to higher levels (evaluation, or in the revised model, creation).  This model allows for, let us call it the “Hauerwas effect,” since coaches do not have to be coy about leaving their stamp on their students, even as these students progress to higher levels of learning.  What the Bloom taxonomy also has helped me name is that learning takes place in three domains.  The Hauerwas effect doesn’t merely apply to the cognitive domain;  it also applies to the affective and psychomotor domains.  Students also learn to feel about things the way their teachers do, and they begin to act like their teachers—using stock phrases and gestures. I have often notice how Candler students will begin to mimic the gestures of their favorite teachers as the lead worship in chapel.

I suspect that online learning privileges the cognitive domain.  It certainly is not as conducive to the psychomotor domain. Or, rather, the sort of psychomotor learning in an online environment is more directly tied to the feel of a computer keyboard than, say, how to shoot free throws or master a tricky passage in a musical score.  I continue to ponder what this means for what and how I teach in an online course.

On a related topic, I continue to wrestle with the matter of measurability of learning as the advanced, graduate level.  Obviously we are applying standards of judgment as we evaluate student performance, and it makes sense that these standards should be expressible.  However, I think that the language of measuring and objectivity attempts to apply quantitative standards to matters that are more qualitative.  Higher forms of learning are not like science by like art.  The standards for evaluation art are finally subjective, and matters of affect and desire.  I think measurability is a strategy to avoid the Hauerwas effect;  but it may rather function as a sort of deception that masks the Hauerwas effect rather than avoids it.  Which would make it even harder to name or (for the student) to resist, since it has been hidden from view.  That said, the readings have opened my thinking to the usefulness of developing more clear assessment tools to guide students in their learning and to give me feedback on how well I am doing as a teacher.  See the quote from James with which I begin.

That said, not all learning, even at the graduate level, falls at the top of Blooms hierarchy.  I am learning here—I am still at the remember and understanding stage, hoping to progress to “applying.”