1) Brief description of your project: objectives, activities, impact

My project’s main objective is to apply the openness concept to my course “Computers and Their Use”. This is a General Educational Requirement (GER) course that exposes students to a broad view of computer science by examining computer fundamentals, the system unit, input/output and storage, system and application software, the Internet and the WWW, networks, computer ethics, and security. In addition, the course aims to provide students with skills in managing data, word processing, electronic spreadsheets and presentations, web browsing, and e-learning.

This course has the following Learning Outcomes (LO):

  1. Students demonstrate knowledge and skills in file management, text editing, electronic spreadsheets, electronic presentations, email, e-learning systems, and Internet and World Wide Web usage.
  2. Students have the ability to define, recognize, describe, discuss, explain, and give examples of computer fundamentals, computer types, computers and society, the system unit, input/output storage, system software, application software, the Internet and the World Wide Web, networks, and wired and wireless communication.
  3. Students demonstrate knowledge of computer ethics and ability to make the right decisions in daily computer use.
  4. Students demonstrate knowledge of how online connectivity can threaten privacy, personal safety, and computer system, and learn how to protect oneself from these online threats.

For the material related to the first LO, we don’t have any book or PowerPoint slides as reference to our students. The instructor explains the material in class on the projector using the appropriate application, and then the students have to practice outside the class, either at home or during lab sessions.

For the other parts of the course, the students have to pay for the printed book adopted by the department and use it as a reference.

The book price is around 50 USD with a total number of 210 students in the seven sections. Which means that the total amount the students are paying per semester for a printed book is 10500 USD.

Since the students are always asking for additional references, we decided as course instructors in collaboration with the course coordinator to find and reproduce some additional content/resources to students.

One of the challenges we faced in reproducing and remixing the PowerPoint presentations provided to the instructors with the book, was that those presentations are Copyright protected as illustrated below.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America.

Copyright © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall

This led us to search for some existing OER and look for resources on websites offering different types of content and data available under Creative Commons licenses or in the Public Domain. For this purpose, we used materials with attribution “CC BY” which allowed us to share, copy and redistribute the material we adapted. Besides, this license allows us to adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

Since Blackboard (LMS: Learning Management System) and Camtasia Studio for recording video sessions are available at NDU, we are planning to record all the content materials related to LO1, and upload them to our LMS under Creative Commons.

For the other LOs, as a first step we will use and incorporate Creative Commons licensed documents, presentations and videos.

We will be using materials with attribution “CC BY” which will allow us to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. Besides, this license allows us to adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

We will also use materials with attribution “ShareAlike” (CC BY-SA) illustrated below to be able to make some adaptations and then share this material under the same license as the original.

Since we will not be using the material for commercial purposes, then we can also use materials with attribution “NonCommercialShareAlike” (CC BY-NC-SA).

As a second step, we will be applying a Creative Commons license to our own material (documents, presentations and videos), and will make it available as an “Open Education Resource” to enable others to use it freely for education purposes. Since we will allow adaptations of our work to be shared as long as others share alike, then we will use attribution “ShareAlike” (CC BY-SA) illustrated below, considered as “Free Culture License”.

Anyone willing to use our work can share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. He can also adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. The attribution obliges any user to give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. The ShareAlike indicates that if anyone remix, transform, or build upon our material, he must distribute his contributions under the same license as the original.

Below are some of the websites offering different types of content and data available under Creative Commons licenses or in the Public Domain:

  • http://serendipity.utpl.edu.ec/
  • https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Subject:Books_by_subject
  • https://www.oercommons.org/oer/providers

https://www.oercommons.org/authoring is the URL to one of the portals that incorporate tools like “Open Author” used to create and remix OER.

Below are some resources I am planning to use in my course:

  • First resource:

Search engine: http://serendipity.utpl.edu.ec/

Title: Introducing ethics in Information and Computer Sciences

URL: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?name=ETHICS_1

Type: Online Course

Published under the following terms:

Attribution: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Non-Commercial: You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

ShareAlike: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

 

  • Second resource:

Search engine: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Subject:Books_by_subject

Microsoft Office

URL: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Microsoft_Office

Type: Online Book

Published under the following terms:

Attribution: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

ShareAlike: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

2) Relevance of the project for you and for your institution

Notre Dame University is the first Lebanese institution in higher education to start practicing Open Education in its academic program. The first initiative at NDU was taken by the Office of IT in collaboration with the faculty of humanities to use Open Educational Resources (OER) in some English courses giving the opportunity to a large number of students each semester to benefit from its use.

Below is some of the benefits that OER is offering to our students:

  • Saves costs for students.
  • Grants access to more quality choices.

OER is also offering benefits to the institution. Some of those benefits include:

  • More clarity and certainty regarding reuse of materials.
  • Showcases research to widest possible audience.
  • Enhances a university’s reputation as well as that of the teacher or researcher.
  • Social responsibility – provides education for all.
  • Shares best practice internationally.
  • Allows for peer review.
  • Maximizes the use and increases availability of educational materials.
  • Raises standard of educational resources by gathering more contributors.

Instructors took advantage of the LMS system used at NDU to collaborate while preparing the course material and to give free access to the course content and activities to their students, anytime and anywhere.

3) Main results of the project

As a first step, this content will be only available to the students enrolled in my course, waiting for the institutional policy to check the possibility of making it available later for the public.

Since Blackboard Learn is the LMS adopted at NDU, then we will create a well-structured Online Course to upload the course content and make it available for the students.

In this way, the students can access it anytime and anywhere outside class, and then they will benefit from the class sessions for practicing and discussing this content with the instructor and peers.

As an instructor, I will be reusing and remixing this content each semester and will develop this content based on the course curriculum.

4) How these results will be used in your teaching

One of the objectives of NDU’s strategic plan 2015-2020 is to “Introduce Open Educational Resources for teaching and research.”

Goal 1 in the strategic plan states that NDU will continue to foster a teaching and learning environment based on a liberal arts foundation and driven by a holistic learning experience that enhances students’ professional and communication competences.

Besides, Objective 1.6 under Goal 1 is to Introduce Open Educational Resources (OER) for teaching and research.

 

The table below illustrates for each of the four items under Objective 1.6, a Detailed Description of Action Steps, the Champions involved, and the Start and End Date for each item.

For that, an OER committee led by the Office of IT was created, where each of the seven faculties at NDU is represented in this committee, in addition to a representative from the library.

This committee is responsible for ensuring awareness and implementing OER in various faculties’ courses. Besides, this committee is working on a draft policy that outlines and describes OER. OER is now implemented in at least one course in each of the faculties, and OER committee is making double efforts to consolidate this implementation and motivate faculty members.

Besides, the Office of IT and Faculty of Humanities (FH) at Notre Dame University organized a two-day participation in the Global event titled “Open Education Week 2017”. Those two-day event were open to the entire NDU community (faculty, students, and staff), and talks and workshops familiarized the community with ongoing efforts in the adoption of OER at NDU.

Currently, many attempts are also initiated by the Office of IT to encourage and support this integration in other faculties at NDU.

5) How these results will be promoted within your university

 

6) Conclusions, challenges encountered and lessons learnt

All the instructors teaching this course were involved in the process.

Some of the challenges we faced were related to:

  • Some instructors are still unaware of the existence of OER.
  • Some who are aware of OER pointed out that they do not have the skills and knowledge to access and use them.
  • Technological problems related to slow and unreliable internet connection especially at home. Besides, some instructors don’t have enough skills and knowledge to use technology in teaching.
  • Work load and time availability of the Faculty Members.
  • Lack of technical skills and the skills related to using and reproducing OER and Creative Commons. Some instructors do not have knowledge about copyright and intellectual property issues. In this regard, instructors do not know which resources should be shared in the public domain, and which rights should be reserved to the institution or to the authors.
  • Lack of policy and incentives on the institutional level to motivate Faculty members and engage them in this process.
  • Some instructors do not trust the authenticity of internet based materials.
  • Some instructors don’t how they can have access to web resources.

 

 

 

The table below resumes most of the inhibitors and constraints.

Dimensions Inhibitors Opportunities
Technological equipment NDU is well equipped with the latest hardware and software technological equipments. Blackboard as LMS, Smart Boards, Camtasia Studio, ActivInspire, Internet, Wifi, Computers, available in offices and classrooms.
Attitudes towards Open Education Time consuming, lack of interest, lack of self-confidence and knowledge, fear from implementing and adapting new pedagogies and technologies. Sufficient online technical and pedagogical support, in campus campaign and through social media.
Digital competences (knowledge and skills) Lack of digital competencies, lack of technical/computer skills. Software, support and training, Online courses like OpenMed.
Institutional factors Lack of policy and incentives. Institution Goals and strategy, OER committee, policy draft.
Language and local relevance No barriers. x
Cultural characteristics Instructors Openness and Sharing Culture. Group Work.

 

6) Authors’ bio

Danny Azzi, Information Technologist