OpenFiction [Blog]

Puttin’ the “fiction” back in “OpenFiction”

Posted in fiction, the OpenFiction Project by scarsonmsm on November 30, 2011

It’s been too long since I’ve written anything in this space about fiction in general, and the OpenFiction Project specifically.   Events however conspire to bring both back to the fore.  But first, a detour into advisory work.  One of the real pleasures of my job is that I am asked quite often to provide advice to other open projects, a pay-it-forward activity that pays dividends back to me and MIT OpenCourseWare by helping us keep in touch with the latest developments in open education.

I’ve accepted a few requests to participate in advisory boards for projects, a larger commitment that I try to take on only as I have sufficient time and strong interest in the program.  One of the projects I’ve advised for a while is Peer-to-Peer University, and it’s been a pleasure to watch that community develop over time (though I’m not sure my advising has had much to do with it).  P2PU is a really innovative online learning community that has recently developed a new approach to supporting scalable learning based on challenges and badges.  More at another time on how these work (or visit the P2PU blog for more information).

In discussions with (mostly) Philipp Schmidt, a co-founder of P2PU and fellow OCW Consortium board member, I realized that the challenges model they’d developed for HTML programming might also work very nicely for the OpenFiction Project courseware.  I’d been meaning to do a little pruning on tOFP content for a while anyway, so I took the opportunity to do so, and then created a challenge for the first part of tOFP content on the P2PU site.

I’m not 100% sold on the way it is working together so far.  I have tried in tOFP content to preserve as much of the original language and pedagogy of the online course from which the materials were taken as possible, and that language refers to craftbooks, bulletin boards and other features that were a part of the course structure, but are not part of the current site structure or the challenge structure.  To work effectively with the materials in the P2PU context, users will have to understand the historicity of materials and how to use the P2PU features with the content.  The alternative is to undertake a significant redraft of the content, tailoring it specifically to the P2PU format, something I might consider if the model seems to work.

Also, I’ve been asked recently to join the advisory board of Writing Commons, and this seems to coincide well with the above developments.  I’m going to be writing a piece on tOFP and the above experiment for that site, which will give a better idea of how the P2PU/tOFP combination works.  I will throw that up here as well.

Seems like the only thing not going on in my writing world is actual writing…

Lies, damn lies and…

…new statistics.

Just completed the 2011 evaluation summary.  Hope as always to follow with a more detailed report, but for now, this gives a general idea of directions and trends.

Most interesting thing in here for me is the increase in % of students (up to 45% from 42%), making them now the largest constituency instead of self learners (at 42% down from 43%).  These are margin-of-error-ish changes, but interesting nonetheless.  Could be a result of the time of year we did the survey, could indicate more people returning to school in a tough economy–lots of possible explanations.

Also interesting that the primary student use is now complementing materials from an enrolled course  (up to 45% from 39%) instead of learning outside the scope of formally enrolled coursework (down from 44% to 40%).  This may indicate that more students are coming from undergraduate and community colleges, as this lines up more with past measures of usage scenarios at that level, but I’ll have to dig deeper to see if that holds.

Dig in yourself, and feel free to ask questions!

What if…?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on November 15, 2011

One of the things that I learned recently at the Asia OpenCourseWare Conference was that a major newspaper in Taiwan that publishes US News & World Report-style college rankings has begun considering OpenCourseWare as part of its ranking formula–reportedly 5% of the total.

OCW publication is a more widespread practice in Korea than in the US. A government-sponsored site includes more than 1,000 courses from 127 institutions, and the Korea OCW Consortium includes 19 leading universities.

What would happen in the US, I wonder, if US News & WR suddenly began considering transparency and knowledge dissemination as embodied in OCW/OER projects as a part of its formula? I’m sure they are lobbied all the time for changes to the formula, but I think there is a pretty good case to be made here.

After all, schools sharing their educational content openly must be fairly confident it’s of good quality, and OCW certainly aids students in selecting a program that is not only of high quality, but also well suited to their learning styles and interests. Plus OCW/OER demonstrates a serious commitment by the institution in fulfilling its mission to disseminate knowledge and address global educational needs.

Any thoughts on how to start the campaign?

Asia rising in the OCW world

At the Asian OCW/Open Education Regional Conference (AROOC) 2011.  It’s clear that Asia is moving into the fore of OCW publication.  OCW in Asia is more widespread than anywhere else in the world, with 213 institutions sharing more than 3,500 courses.

Members of the Japan OCW Consortium and participants in the Korea OCW program have each published more than 1,000 courses each, and members of the Taiwan OCW Consortium have published around 450 courses, three quarters of which include video lectures.

Even more impressive is the way that these univerisites are beginning to leverage the open content they’ve created to reimagine how they provide campus-based education, experimenting with inverted classrooms, tuition reduction, and student generation of content.

This information is drawn from presentations that will be available via streaming media soon.  I’ll post a link when I have it.

View the last Awards for OCW Excellence

2012 Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence call for nominations

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the second annual Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence (ACE). The OCW ACE’s will be presented at the next global OpenCourseWare Consortium meeting in Cambridge, U.K., April 16-18, 2012.

The Awards or OpenCourseWare Excellence recognize outstanding individual contributions to the OCW/OER movement, exemplary OCW member sites and excellent individual course presentations. A panel of voting members will select ACE site and course winners from finalists culled by the award committee. Individual winners will be selected by a vote of the board of directors.

Nominations for individuals, sites and courses will be accepted through January 13, 2012 and may be submitted through the following page ( or by e-mailing Nominations for sites and courses are encouraged to be submitted as two-minute video/screen capture tours of the relevant content. Visit the above web page for complete information on preliminary criteria, rules and eligibility.

The OCWC is seeking volunteers to serve on the ACE Committee to refine award criteria and select award finalists. The Consortium is also seeking a sponsor for the awards ceremony at the upcoming Consortium meeting.

A record month for MIT OpenCourseWare – 1.7 M visits

Posted in Evaluation, MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare, web metrics by scarsonmsm on November 1, 2011

October is traditionally OCW’s annual high-water mark for traffic, and last month was no disappointment in that regard.  The site received a record 1,733,198 visits from 1,026,004 unique visitors.  This eclipses the previous high of 1,602,561/1,015,112 from August last year, and is a 12.4%/12.8% increase over last October.

A few more October numbers:

  • Average visits per day: 55,909
  • Page views:  8.8 M
  • Top course: 6.00 Intro to Computer Science and Programming – 104,096 visits

It’s great to see continued momentum as we swing into a new school year.