Don't float the mainstream

Blog Post created by fernerj@erau.edu Expert on Mar 16, 2016

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....