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Open Education

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I've been researching Open Educational Resources (OER) with another instructional designer through the ID2ID Program sponsored by Penn State and EDUCAUSE. We just completed an open Canvas resource site to help higher education faculty start using Open Educational Resources. It includes a collection of open textbooks, searchable OER databases, subject-specific OER, and a PowerPoint presentation targeted to faculty that is also CC-licensed. A Google Form that can be copied/modified allows faculty to request support from an instructional designer and/or librarian.


It's in the Commons (titled Open Educational Resources) and also available to the public on the free instance of Canvas: Open Educational Resources


Comic containing CC on a box with a character placing papers into the box


Let me know if you have suggestions or additional resources to add to our OER about OER!



Some of the research within the presentation:

According to our research, 54% of higher education faculty are unaware of OER (Seaman, J.E. & Seaman, J., 2018) even though they are free, increase access and equity, and allow for customization (BCOER Librarians, 2015; Clinton & Khan, 2019; Colvard, Watson & Clark, 2018). Faculty challenges are understanding permissions, assessing quality, and locating supplemental content for open textbooks (Seaman, J.E. & Seaman, J., 2018). Our presentation provides solution to the challenges and motivates faculty by describing benefits that include diversity/inclusion, academic freedom, learning and retention (BCOER Librarians, 2015; Clinton & Khan, 2019; Colvard, Watson & Clark, 2018).


Efficacy of Open Textbook Adoption on Learning Performance and Course Withdrawal Rates: A Meta-Analysis
(Clinton & Khan, 2019)
Faculty Guide for Evaluating Open Education Resources is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (BCOER Librarians, 2015)
Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. (Seaman, J.E. & Seaman, J., 2018)
The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics
(Colvard, Watson & Clark, 2018)

"Key Things to Know about Open Educational Resources (OER)" is licensed under CC BY 4.0
(BCOER Librarians, 2015)


Graphics in the blog header and within this blog post are in the public domain and created by Manfred Steger from Pixabay

After testing out various free open book platforms with an instructor, we selected Pressbooks as a user-friendly platform for her to create an open book. Once the book was created (, we tested various methods of placing it in Canvas which are demonstrated in this course:

Examples of placing a Pressbooks open textbook in Canvas 



Pressbooks Cover for Education 2010 available at


Directions for the Examples:


  1. Use the Redirect Tool app to add the book to the course navigation menu. 
  2. Add the book as an External URL to a module: How do I add an external URL as a module item?
  3. Add the textbook chapters as External URL's to a module: How do I add an external URL as a module item?
  4. Export the PDF from Pressbooks and add the PDF to a module as a File or Page. On the Pressbooks Dashboard: Select Export>PDF (for print)>Export Your Book. Download the PDF. Then, add the exported PDF to a Canvas module as a File or as a hyperlink on a Page:
    How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?
    How do I create a file link in a page in a course?
  5. Copy and Paste a Pressbooks page into Canvas. Review after pasting on a page to ensure formatting is correct and images remain linked. If you upload the images to Pressbooks while creating your book, they remain linked when copying/pasting to a Canvas page.

A few students may want to print portions of an online textbook

Printable Options for Pressbooks that are free or low cost


CC Licenses

Education 2010 Textbook is licensed as CC Attribution ShareAlike

Printable Options for Pressbooks that are free or low cost is in the public domain and contains no copyright CC0

Denise Dejonghe

Promoting Open Content

Posted by Denise Dejonghe May 30, 2019

There are many benefits to instructors and students when courses use Open Textbooks (and other Open Educational Resources). In addition to cost savings, instructors are finding that students read open online textbooks in more locations and more often than previously-purchased textbooks. Instructors can also customize open online content to reflect their students (and their geographic location).


Our institution created a brochure to promote the use of open content. It was created by modifying a few different open resources and may be reused, retained, revised, remixed and/or redistributed by anyone. The inside pages contain our institutional process of locating, creating and placing open content in Canvas. If any of it is useful, please share what you use it for at your institution. Also, feel free to share your ideas for promoting the use of open content.

OER Brochure cover. Contents can be downloaded to edit.


OER Flowchart - download files to edit

Free Adobe Reader is required to view the PDF of the print brochure. InDesign is required to modify it for your institution. If you'd like to modify the colors of the graphics to fit with your institutional colors, Illustrator will be necessary.


"Go Open, Go Free Using OER at Leeward Community College" is licensed under CC BY 4.0

"Key Things to Know About Open Educational Resources (OER)" by BCOER Librarians is licensed under CC BY 4.0

"Pexels" by The best free stock photos & videos shared by talented creators. All content in the Public Domain, CC0

Last week, I attended the 15th Annual Open Education Conference in Niagara Falls, NY to learn how to support student success using educational content that is free, diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible. Using open educational resources (OER), colleges and universities are providing degree programs that do not require the purchase of textbooks. For example, Central Lakes College in Minnesota offers Z-Degree courses in which students begin learning without waiting for (or purchasing) a textbook. Instructors are finding that they have more academic freedom. They customize open content to focus on their course outcomes and are able to ensure textbooks reflect the diversity and geographic location of their students.


Canvas was a sponsor of the Open Education Conference, so I'm sharing some of the presentations and resources that might be helpful to others in the Canvas Community. At the conference, K-20 institutions described how they implement OER by considering:

  • Students with differing levels of access to technology
  • Textbooks and content that are diverse, inclusive and accessible 
  • Open pedagogy to engage students in active learning
  • Protection of student data and privacy 


Open Education Conference Presentations/Videos/Webinars


Education is sharing - Lumen Learning OEROpen Courses, Content, Textbooks, Tools


Professional Development ResourcesCC by Faculty Sticker (Attribution 4.0)


 A great resource for OER that is available in the Canvas Community: Open Content Providers 


If you're on Twitter, you might want to follow key people in Open Education including:

@jesshmitchell @actualham @tararobertson @amcollier @actualham @Bali_Maha @audreywatters @hypervisible @safiyanoble @catherinecronin @OtterScotter @thatpsychprof (Rajiv Jhangiani on Twitter: "One of my resolutions for 2018 is to participate regularly in #ScholarSunday (a wonderful i… ).

The specified item was not found.

I'm new to creating and using OER, but will share what I learn on Twitter @dejonghed07


Images in this blog post are photos of stickers provided by and

I thought I'd share this here in case it is of any use to folks making the case for the use of open textbooks (such as those from OpenStax) at their schools.  See also the OpenStax-enabled course shells on Canvas Commons that Barbara Illowsky posted about earlier: OER-enabled Canvas sample course shells to other LMS.


The Open Textbook Alliance created a nice handout explaining The Case for Open Textbooks.  Open textbooks are textbooks that are free for students to use and openly licensed so that instructors are free to revise and redistribute them, with attribution.

Below are some arguments for open textbooks explained in more detail and updated with more recent research and data.  But the gist is - open textbooks not only save students money, they can help improve student success, as well.


Background - The High Cost of Textbooks


How many students do you think have avoided purchasing a required textbook for a course?

  • Recent surveys and studies have found that over two thirds (66%) of students report not purchasing a required textbook because of cost (Florida Virtual Campus, 2016, Martin et al., 2017).  94% of those students recognized that doing so would impact their grade in the course (Student PIRGS, 2016).  26% of students occasionally or frequently drop a course because of high textbook cost (Open Textbook Alliance, 2016).
  • Textbook prices have increased 88% in the past decade, compared with a 63% increase in tuition.  37% of community college courses require students to purchase an access code (Student PIRGS, 2016).  Faculty report the average prices of their textbook is $97, and only 9% of faculty report adopting an open textbook (Seaman & Seaman, 2017).  Students spend an average of over $1200 a year on textbooks (College Board, 2017).
  • The consequences of the high price of textbooks include scenarios such as students having to decide between textbooks and food or rent, students' learning and grades suffering, and hurting time to graduation and access to courses.  Search #TextbookBroke on Twitter for some stories.


Benefits of Open Textbooks

1. Saving Students Money

Individual faculty, colleges, and states adopting open textbooks are saving students millions of dollars every year, with the total approaching $1 billion in savings worldwide.  See this list of the amount of money saved at some institutions:

Just one open textbook, Introductory Statistics from OpenStax, saved California community college students over $3 million over the past 10 years.

Since 2012, use of OpenStax textbooks has saved students over $155 million.

Four states (California, Oregon, Texas and Washington) recently passed legislation requiring the labeling of courses that use open textbooks and open educational resources (OERs), and colleges like Tidewater Community College are creating entire degree programs that utilize free resources.  Students in these open textbook courses persisted at a 6% higher rate and take more credits each semester than students in traditional courses (InsideHigherEd, 2017).


2. Increasing Student Success

But saving money for students isn't the only benefit of open textbooks - student grades and course passing rates may increase, as well.

  • A 2018 study of over 22,000 students at UGA found that switching to open textbooks resulted in a significant increase in student grades and course passing rates (Colvard et al., 2018; summary).  They used OpenStax textbooks in that study.  OpenStax books can be used in conjunction with some commercial publisher tools.
  • A 2015 study of over 15,000 students in 15 courses found that in 4 of the courses students had better grades with open textbooks and 9 showed no significant difference.  Students in courses using open textbooks also enrolled in a higher number of credits in the following semester (Fischer et al., 2015).  What about that one course where students had better grades with the commercial textbook (Business 110)?  It turns out that "21% of students in the commercial textbook condition withdrew from the course while only 6% of students in the OER condition withdrew from the course" (p. 165, ibid).
  • A 2018 study of over 10,000 students found that ”students using the print format of the open textbook perceive its quality to be superior to the commercial textbook. Moreover, students assigned an open textbook in either format [paper or online] perform either no differently from or better than those assigned a commercial textbook” (Jhangiani et al., 2018).
  • In 2016, John Hilton III reviewed 16 studies on open textbooks and found that “students generally achieve the same learning outcomes when OER are utilized and simultaneously save significant amounts of money. Studies across a variety of settings indicate that both students and faculty are generally positive regarding OER” (Hilton, 2016).
  • Virginia Clinton has compiled as list of several other published studies on the use of open textbooks.


3. Customizing, Creating, Finding Open Textbooks

I am not sure if people know about $5 Million that was placed in the Federal 2018 Fiscal Year Omnibus Bill for Open Textbooks. Congress funded a $5 million open textbook grant program in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus bill, the result of extensive advocacy by SPARC and our coalition partners. SPARC is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education.


Here is the link $5M Open Textbook Grant Program Funded by Congress in FY18 Omnibus 

John Boekenoogen

OER Links

Posted by John Boekenoogen Apr 23, 2018

I know a lot of people have links to these OER links, but sometimes it is good to repost things. People lose the links or just want them on a single page. I currently sit on an university-wide committee lead by the University of Oklahoma Library where we have met a few times to talk about OER and how we can help students receive the best information for the least about of cost. 


After several meetings, I have put together a list of these web links and wanted to share them with the Canvas Community.



Free online courses

MIT Open Courseware

Publication of virtually all MIT course content

Open Stax

Free textbooks developed and peer-reviewed by educators

OER Commons

Dynamic digital library and network

Open Textbook Library (UMN)

Textbooks that have been funded, published and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed

Project Gutenberg &

Plain text versions of books available free to all

University of Oklahoma Libraries – Open Educational Resources

Introduction to Open Educational Resources

Open Learning Initiative

Free online courses

Educational Cyber Playground

Free education resources

Who doesn't love a good field trip, right?! We all know the advantages students have when they take their learning to the real world.


If you plan on participating in the Summer Contest: Best. Field Trip. Ever.  then check out these OER tips and apply them to making your field trip prompts and assignments much more open and accessible:


  • A good OER is clearly described. Teachers want to know more about the resources they may potentially use. At the very least, consider including the purpose of the field trip, the learning objectives, and a list of materials, facilitation notes, assignments and/or activities.
  • A good OER includes a open license. This seems like a no brainer: if you want to share, be sure your licensing reflects the type of sharing accordingly. Re-visit the criteria for the different Creative Commons licenses and decide which one you want to use. All CC licenses are open, but CC-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs might be considered more restrictive than a simple CC-Attribution. Luckily, when sharing your field trips to Canvas Commons, you will have a selection of open licensing options.
  • A good OER is easy to find. Creative field trip titles or fun assignment names are great, but teachers typically search for resources using common language. Tag your resource using frequently used words for subject, grade level, outcomes, and any other metadata to help other teachers find your resource, effectively. The more tags, the better!
  • A good OER is imperfect. The whole idea of OER is to share resources so others can modify and use them, making open resources much more dynamic. Forget about polishing all aspects of your resources. Focus on making it effective and adaptable. If you're designing assignments and activities for a field trip to the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, CA -- perhaps those assignments and activities will work at a different (but similar) children's museum in a different city, state. If it works for you, chances are it will work well for other teachers, too.


The best open resources are those where teachers are not afraid to share them.



Canvas Network started the year with a bang by recommitting to its primary mission—promoting openness, innovation, and experimentation in education. As a way to communicate important changes, updates, and successes to our Canvas Network partners we sent out the first Canvas Network Newsletter.


Given your passion and dedication to open education resources I thought I would take a moment to provide this group with a brief(ish) summary of each newsletter. To read the full newsletter see the Canvas Network Community page.


We’re Becoming MORE Open

During the next year, we’ll focus on transitioning Canvas Network from being a passive promoter to an active promoter of open education. A transition such as this will not happen over night. It will also require revising old policies and implementing new policies and practices. In the meantime, we’ve identified three goals to focus on today and achieve by March 1, 2017:


  1. Increase Creative Commons-licensed courses from 40% to 60% of Canvas Network courses.
  2. At a minimum, have as many publicly viewable courses as there are Creative Commons-licensed courses.
  3. Increase the number of courses or objects shared to Canvas Commons from 21 to 300.

Canvas Network is and always has been open. We’re excited to see how much further we can go to promote openness, innovation, and experimentation in education.


Upcoming: New Features for EVEN MORE Openness

Class Central Course Review Widget

We’re pleased to announce our partnership with Class Central, the renowned MOOC aggregator. Starting shortly, all new course listings will incorporate a course-rating widget created by This widget will allow students to give a course a one- to five-star rating and comment about their experience with the course.



Open Badges with Badgr


The good news keeps coming. We are adding Badgr, the open badges tool, at the account level. Adding badges to your course can help motivate learner participation as well as provide you with important data points.



Upcoming Events

Do you have an interesting story to tell? The call for proposals is out for Learning with MOOCs III. The proposal deadline is scheduled for May 15, 2016.


We’re Open to Comments and Suggestions

Again, recognizing your dedication and passion for open education I am eager to hear back from you. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions please let me know by replying to this post or by emailing me personally at

Some disciplines lend themselves to open education better than others. For example, over the course of my academic career, I've had occasion to take basic psychology courses in three separate (and not consecutive) decades. In the first go-round, the foundation of the course was Freud (yes, it was a long time ago). The second time, behavioral psych came to the fore. More recently, the emphasis has been on advances in the neurosciences. I mention this as an example of how advances in research and changes in disciplinary emphasis make developing open resources more challenging for some fields than for others.


With that in mind, as long as one is willing to look beyond the recent past (meaning the last hundred years or so), the overarching discipline of the humanities, and specifically the subjects of philosophy--where much of our study concentrates on 2000-year-old writings!--and art represent fertile areas for the development of open education resources.


I've compiled a brief and by-no-means-comprehensive list of resources from which I draw to build my courses while using as little publisher content as possible.


ResourceLinkWhat you'll get (description from website)
Film noir archive at archive.orgFilm Noir : Free Movies : Download & Streaming : Internet ArchiveFree and openly-available films noir, described as "Expressionistic crime dramas of the 40s and 50s: tough cops and private eyes, femme fatales, mean city streets and deserted backroads, bags of loot and dirty double-crossers."
Historic American Newspapers, Library of CongressChronicling America « Library of CongressSearch America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.Peer-reviewed academic resource (the link title says it all).
Project Gutenberg (Arts)Art (Bookshelf) - GutenbergSelected art books and books about artists, including practical methods and specialties, as well as general works on art and art history, plus visitor guides to art expos, galleries, and museums.
Project Gutenberg (Music)Music (Bookshelf) - GutenbergMusician biographies; music collections, music history, music literature, and music instruction.
Project Gutenberg (Opera)Opera (Bookshelf) - GutenbergOpera librettos; opera excerpts (recordings); opera plot summaries, history, and commentary; opera fiction;  source texts.
Project Gutenberg (Religion)Category:Religion Bookshelf - GutenbergBookshelves on atheism, Bahá'i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Latter Day Saints, Mythology, Paganism.
The RSA ArchiveThe RSA ArchiveThe RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce) archive of Society, Council and Committee manuscript minutes, membership lists, transactions, catalogues, correspondence, artworks, artifacts, books from the early library and audio visual items, photographs, slides, CDs and DVDs.
Smithsonian Learning LabSmithsonian Learning Lab :: Discover. Create. ShareThe Smithsonian Learning Lab is "a major rethinking of how the digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 9 major research centers, the National Zoo, and more, can be used together, for learning."
Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyTable of Contents (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)Organizes scholars from around the world in philosophy and related disciplines to create and maintain an up-to-date reference work.
Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia CommonsA database of 31,017,562 (this number changes regularly) freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute


For additional resources, please have a look at Susan Nugent's: Opening the Box to the Past and Katie Bradford's Open Content Providers.

What does the phrase 'unlock the power Open Education' mean to you?


Education empowers people. Open education empowers ALL people.


Getting an education is hard work for many students. It takes time, it takes money, it takes perseverance. For many of our students, daily life is also hard. They need to work to survive and they are often supporting others. The more education costs, the harder it is to complete. They may not buy the materials at all because they cannot afford them. This places them at a disadvantage and makes it more difficult to pass the class (on top of all the other difficulties they face). Or, they may go into debt to be able to afford all the materials. And this weighs them down later and makes it even more difficult to move ahead in the world. The article “Data To Back Up Concerns Of Textbook Expenditures By First-Generation Students” provides excellent evidence showing how much the cost of textbooks is an issue of equity. Many of the points were ones I had not really considered before; it was very eye opening.


Open education frees knowledge from its bindings and makes it available to everyone. Everyone can be part of the same global educational community. The more people that participate in education, the more knowledge we as a species gain. The more we share our knowledge with each other, the more we strengthen the bonds between each other.



Share a time when you leveraged OER for teaching and it (the resource or the experience) turned into something awesome!


Take one, it’s FREE! Heck, take TWO.


A few years back I was involved in collaborating on an open textbook with online interactive components. We wanted to see how the use of this type of textbook affected student learning. So, I gave students the option of either buying the traditional paper book used for the course or using the online book. While this was not a controlled experimental design, I felt it was important to give students this choice. I had never considered giving students options in their textbooks, and was a bit worried about the potential for chaos in the class. What I learned was that giving students this choice was a GREAT idea! Some preferred the paper book because reading on a screen can be tiring on the eyes. Some preferred learning in an interactive format. And many used both! Since then I’ve added another free book that has a downloadable option so that students can save it and have it on their device wherever they go.


The survey data showed that students really appreciate being given these choices. It allows them to use the format that works best for their learning style. Students couldn’t use try out different texts if they had to pay for each one. But, when they’re free students often use all the books to find the one that covers each topic most clearly for them.


This approach also helps students become more information literate. Rather than telling students to learn the stuff on page 36-49; I give them a very specific list of what to learn. For example: identify the following structures on a picture of a cell and list a function for each structure. Since students are seeing these structures in different books, they don’t learn that the mitochondria is the purple thing, rather they see the similarities and differences between the books and identify what’s important (it’s the sausage shaped thing with a swiggly line – which is where the action happens). I have taken this one step further and have students find additional sources online. They then discuss the accuracy and usefulness of these sources. This allows me to discuss how to find credible sources of information online and how to evaluate the sources they find. 


This takes learning from a process of moving information from a book to your brain; and makes it a process of finding good sources for answering questions. This is much more useful in the long run. This is only possible because of the move to FREE and OPEN educational resources. [We couldn't afford it otherwise].



Name one (or more, if you want) OpenEd repositories or tools do you use and why?


Well…all of them – I hope! (Let me know if I’ve missed any; I’d love to expand the list.)  I have been helping faculty from our district find Open Textbooks for their classes. So, I’ve been searching for a wide variety of  content and have developed a list of resources here:


The rest of this site is part of a project I’m working that I’ve called “Starting at the top of the Pyramid: using the act of creation to build understanding.” As part of this project I’ve been developing a list of Open Online Tools that can be used to help develop interactive classes. These tools include a variety of things from storytelling to designing games and animations to creating concept maps and much much more!


The site also outlines a plan for designing a course where multiple semesters of students create an open textbook. This project began when I was collaborating on a textbook and realized that the discussions we were having are exactly the ones that I want students to have. What is the best way to explain this concept? What important applications of this concept should we discuss? How can this material best be organized clearly?  I want to move students from passive consumers of content to creators of content in the hopes that this will excite them to become part of the greater educational community.  This project is still in its early stages, so much of the content is still being developed.


The Open Education Group on Canvas also has a wonderful list of resources and content providers. Canvas Groups are a wonderful way to share ideas – thanks for creating this space!



Anything else about Open Education you want to share (a poem, a music video, a wordle, a drawing...)?


I’m not an artist. Or a poet. Or particularly creative. But because of the Open movement, I can have someone else help me express my thoughts:





Any instructional designers in the house? Canvas Network is hosting a free course for instructional designers that provides hands-on experience building open educational resources. Check it out!


2016-03-21_11-27-43.pngInstructional Design Service Course: Gain Experience for Good


In this project-based course, you’ll gain instructional design experience while developing open educational resources (OER) for instructors and learners in adult basic education programs. This service course is facilitated by Designers for Learning, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the United States that coordinates service-learning opportunities for those who seek to gain experience creating instruction to support important social causes. Upon successful completion of this 12-week course, you’ll receive an instructional design service badge, a Certificate of Recognition, and an invitation to include your instructional materials in the Adult Learning Zone group on OER Commons.



By the end of this instructional design service course, you should be able to:

  • Analyze key aspects of the design need by considering the learners, the learning context, the requirements of the project, and existing open educational resources.
  • Synthesize information about the design project to generate solutions to meet the instructional design need.
  • Simulate draft representations of your design concept in a written design proposal and a prototype of your instructional materials.
  • Evaluate whether your draft design prototype meets the needs and constraints of this project.
  • Decide upon final design decisions as you prepare your final deliverable based on evaluation feedback.

What does the phrase 'unlock the power Open Education' mean to you?


The internet and web have opened up new ways of learning, creating, curating, and finding content. The power of open education is that is community driven in the since that someone sees a need and they build a resource for that need and the community helps to curate the resource and even expand upon it. Then other educators can take that resource and build upon it for their courses. This flexibility of open education gives power to all.


Share a time when you leveraged OER for teaching and it (the resource or the experience) turned into something awesome!


When I taught web development a few years back, my absolute favorite resource was and still is the CSS Zen Garden. Designer Dave Shea created it back in the early 2000s as a resource for print designers to understand the power of CSS. In class I would demonstrate with the Web Developer toolbar what the page looks like without CSS and how web page changes when a different CSS file is applied. This really helped students understand the importance of separation of structure and presentation in their code.


Name one (or more, if you want) OpenEd repositories or tools do you use and why?


Smarthistory  - Well I love art and learning about Art


The next couple of resources I love because of love researching history.

Missouri Digital Heritage  - Lots of states have awesome archive websites. Missouri has many great collections

Seeking Michigan  - Michigan also has a great archive website as well.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection| The Collection - great collection of old maps


Anything else about Open Education you want to share (a poem, a music video, a wordle, a drawing...)?

I've been researching my family for quite some time now and I found this image via Ancestry posted by distant cousin. He actually had posted this image with an entire collection from an old photo album on Flickr using a Creative Commons license. This image is my ggg grandfather and grandmother apparently on their wedding day. Because my wonderful distant cousin shared this great resource via the open web it can be enjoyed for many generations to come and that is the power of open education.


30a_RuthC_Album : Tintype of Henry & Mary Hobby

What does the phrase 'unlock the power Open Education' mean to you?


To truly unlock the potential of Open Education one must be willing to take risks.  That is to say, be willing to try new approaches and not float the mainstream.   I believe doing so enables educators to mix and create original instructional materials and thus, in my opinion, better curate a more authentic and effective learning environment.  (As compared to pre-packaged 'tubes of passive learning' that are easily and quickly posted to online paper farms and 'course hero' type sites.)


Share a time when you leveraged OER for teaching and it (the resource or the experience) turned into something awesome!


I wrote/ compiled a course text for an Introduction to Computers and Applications course that has roughly two thousand student enrollments annually.   While I was tempted to self-publish,  in the end I elected to freely share knowledge with students using modern delivery methods.  While we dabbled with flip books and iBooks, we decided to post the completed eBook in the course as a free PDF.  Students would be able to download the book to any device and are able to print, if so desired.  When referencing materials I had the initial goal of writing all original content.  I quickly found a hidden skill in technical writing and was able to put out the first sample chapter (networking) over the course of a Thanksgiving weekend (yes, I am a geek).   However, I was lacking the visuals.  And so I started poking about and much to my delight found various treasure troves of open source images posted to Flickr, Wikimedia, and other sources.  Being able to use images tagged with a Creative Commons license was immensely helpful!!  After writing 3-4 chapters I became more willing to integrate other authors writing and then sought supplemental sources for the chapters.  This too proved helpful.  I justified the new approach just as Newton wrote of Galileo and Copernicus:  I was standing on shoulders of Giants... who came before me, and as such I was able to do more and see further.


At the end of the effort we produced a nine chapter, 245 page textbook that covered an array of topics:

  • Computer Applications
  • Evolution of Computers
  • Hardware
  • System Software
  • Networks
  • Internet
  • Privacy and Security
  • Ethics, Conducting Research, & Backups
  • Digital Lifestyle


I also crafted an accompanying set of PowerPoint files which are provided as instructional aids to the faculty.  And the course is within Canvas and is full of hands-on activities that focus on student enrichment and engagement.  We are now on the 4th Edition so that pretty much means it has been in use for as many years.


Name one (or more, if you want) OpenEd repositories or tools do you use and why?


I've referenced so many to include Merlot, Open Education Consortium, and of course all the wonderful content tagged with the Creative Commons license. Aside from the content, many of these sites/ services have a large following and broad community of practice. I found this very helpful when thinking about the problem I wanted to solve.


Anything else about Open Education you want to share (a poem, a music video, a wordle, a drawing...)?


Sure!  While we may borrow from others, be sure to put your thinking cap on and find a means to contribute to the body of knowledge.

"None of us are as smart as all of us”



ps.  get your t-shirt here....


Cross-posted from the Keep Learning Blog at

Instructure has seven company values that keep us on track. As the manager of Canvas Network, I find myself thinking a lot about two of these values (integrity and openness) and how they help us achieve our primary mission—to promote openness, innovation, and experimentation in education. To be honest (another company value), I think we’re off to a great start, but we still have room for improvement.

Where We Are Now

Unlike other MOOC platforms, our openness doesn’t begin and end with open entry for learners. The Canvas Network infrastructure supports openness, innovation, and experimentation in at least four big ways. We provide:

  • Open entry for learners around the globe and continual access to course content after the course end date.
  • Open licensing options and access to Canvas Commons where instructors can share course content for others to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute content.
  • Open platform for others to engage in the ecosystem and build upon Canvas code.
  • Open, de-identified Canvas Network data for researchers to analyze and synthesize.

Where We Want To Be

The way we see it, we need to envision the perfect open platform and then design a strategy to get there. We believe the “perfect open education platform” would:

  • Allow learners to audit a course without having to pay for it with personal information.
  • Allow teachers to publish content and assessments under open licenses.
  • Provide a mechanism for other instructors to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute content.
  • Provide programs with open credentials.
  • Provide courses with open credentials.
  • Foster research for both open and restricted data.
  • Promote the sharing of competencies.
  • Maintain flexibility for institutions and instructors to achieve their own goals.

Canvas Network Goals

We already have the infrastructure in place, so during the next year, we’ll focus on how to prepare our partners, revise policies and processes, and implement initiatives to move toward our vision. In the meantime, we’ve identified three goals to focus on today:

  1. Increase openly-licensed courses – Of the 504 courses hosted between Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015, 40 percent retain Creative Commons licensing. By Mar. 1, 2016, our goal is to increase Creative Commons-licensed courses from 40 to 60 percent.
  2. Increase publicly-viewable courses – Of the 504 courses hosted between Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015, 26 percent were publicly-viewable. In other words, learners simply needed the course URL to access the material. By Mar. 1, 2016, our goal is to have as many publicly-viewable courses as Creative Commons-licensed courses.
  3. Increase sharing in Canvas Commons – Since the launch of Canvas Commons, 18 courses or learning objects created in Canvas Network were shared to the repository. By Mar. 1, 2016 our goal is to increase that number to 300 courses or course objects. 

Our Commitment

Canvas Network is and always has been open. We’re excited to see how much further we can go to promote openness, innovation, and experimentation in education. So if you have comments or suggestions to help us achieve our goals (and your goals!) for open learning, please let us know. Tag #openeducation and @canvasnet on Twitter, or email the Canvas Network team at

Keep learning,
Hilary Melander
Manager, Canvas Network