Digital Teaching In Higher Education

Designing E-learning for International Students of Technology, Innovation and the Environment

A book by Tom Worthington MEd, FACS CP

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Use of Open Education Resources

  1. Defining openness: a personal reflection
  2. Curated or crowd-sourced learning resource development
  3. Developing learning modules from open resources

Defining openness: a personal reflection


Openness in education can apply broadly to the nature of eduction, the institution, and the course materials. Here the concept of an "Open University" is first discussed, then Open Educational Resources, before a personal reflection on appropriate open licenses for the educational materials I produce.

Definitions and Trends of Openness in Education

The Concept of an Open University

Open University (OU) UK's official short history is not as compelling as the personal account by Perry (1976), the first Vice Chancellor. He describes the politics of the process, dealing with the government of the day (the government changed during the establishment of the university), the opposition from the UK's existing universities and even the BBC (which was an important part of providing broadcast education). "Open" in OU terms is about providing a university education to those who do not have access to traditional university, due to a lack of formal education, money, location, gender or minority group. The OU's clients included, and still include, prisoners and members of the military (for whom the transition from paper based to on-line courses presents difficulties). The formation of OU has parallels in the current discussion of on-line courses and MOOCs: with issues of access for the disadvantaged. What is disappointing is that little to of the current discussion of openness in education is informed by the experting of the past.

Young (2011) provides an oral history perspective of the formation of OU UK, pointing out that while considered a national distance university, its campus was at Milton Keynes, anchoring it in England (although outside London, Oxford and Cambridge powerhouses of English education). Young raises the issue of Welsh, Irish and Scottish national identities on what was supposed to be a "UK" university. OU's students included political prisoners in Northern Ireland and Young credits this education as helping further Ireland's peace process.

OU UK has been emulated in developed countries, but more particularly in the developing world, fitting with an agenda of nation building. Halttunen (2006) describes the Finnish Open University as a "complex network-like organisation". They trace development from university extension and summer studies from 1912. Halttunen describes these as the "women's academy", being summer vacation courses for female elementary school teachers. Perry (1976) also noted that many of the new OU UK were school teachers.

Unfortunately, the current structure of Finnish open university is not clear from Halttunen (2006) paper. While referring to this being based on the OU UK model, they then refer to "the gateway from open university to degree studies". In a footnote the author explains that "the Finnish open university is not a separate university of its own" instead the student can receive credit at "regular university". This suggests a role and structure different to the UK, where OU is an separate university offering its own degrees. The Finnish approach appears to be more of a university preparation program, but it is not clear who runs these programs.

Ambe-Uva (2007) traces the genesis of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), from OU UK in 1971, through Open University Thailand (Sukkothai Thammathirat) 1978 and the Indira Ghandi National Open University 1985. Ambe-Uva characterizes access to education as a human rights issue, with access, quality and cost to be considered. They describe "about 15 stormy years were wasted in Nigeria's quest for Open University", from 1990 to 2005. Ambe-Uva's paper is published in the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education (TOJDE), which I have found a good source of research on approaches to education outside that of western universities.

MOREIRA, Safanelli, CARDOSO and Battisti (2010) trace the origins of open education in Brazil to the Radio Society of Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s, which was founded by the members of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences to broadcast education and cultural programs (and still operates today as). The authors relate how the Brazilian Navy started correspondence courses in the 1930s. The modern Sistema Universidade Aberta do Brasil (UAB) (Open University of Brazil) was founded in 2006, not as a separate university but as a national system, similar to Finland.

Open Educational Resources

CETIS (2008) uses a definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) from the OECD (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 2007): "digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research". The term OER appears to be derived from the open source software community and is unrelated to the term "open university". CETIS (2008) refers to the OU UK's use of OER materials, but does not make any connection between the two definitions of "open".

Wiley Caswell, Henson, Jensen (2008) start with the right to education in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and then quickly jump to MIT's OpenCourseWare announced in 2001. The authors them make a link between MIT's OpenCourseWare and Richard Stallman's 1983 GNU project at MIT. This is a little tenuous as while Stallman has been influential outside MIT on the software development process, he appears to have had little impact on education, inside or outside MIT.

Wiley Caswell, Henson, Jensen (2008) are on firmer ground showing the logical development from the GNU software license to Creative Commons (CC). In Stallman's terms CC's licenses range from Free to Open. That is some CC licenses allow for use of material with no charge, whereas others allow for the material to be modified.

MIT's OpenCourseWare is open in a fuller sense than later MOOCs: the former can be modified for reuse, whereas the latter can just be used as is. It would be interesting to see OpenCourseWare's use has stalled with the popularity of MOOCs.

Personal Reflection on Openness in Education

Openness in education is of interest to me as a philosophical concept, part of being a professional and a practical way to provide courses and get paid for it.

As someone with a background in computing, open source software is a familiar concept. On a person note, during a visit to Canberra, I had Mr Stallman as a house guest. He had (and still has) an extreme dislike of the use of the term "open" and corrected me every time I used it in conversation. Stallman (2009) sees "open" to be less open than "free". Stallman, asserts that citizens should have access to the computer source code, so that they can see what programs they are using are actually doing. He suggests that there can be "free" code which you have to pay for: that is you are allowed to look at the source code, but you may still have to pay to use it (Williams, 2002). My own views of openness in eduction are less fixed than Stallman (2009).


The use of Open Content Licencing (OCL) for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Australia has been heavily influenced by the Open Access to Knowledge Law Project (OAK Law) at the Queensland Universality of Technology. This project ran from only 2005 to 2009, but in that time the project members made many presentations at academic and government conferences promoting the use of the Creative Commons licenses and producing a detailed Guide for Authors (Pappalardo, Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald, Kiel-Chisholm, Georgiades, & Austin, 2008). The team lead by example, with their guide, and most of their other published work, using the Creative Commons "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" License.

Creative Commons Licenses: What is Non-Commercial?

In creating "open" materials, the issue of which licensing to use arises. There are six commonly cited versions of the Creative Commons license, in order of increasing restriction:

In an analysis of online materials with a Creative Commons license, Cheliotis (2007) found that 70% allow only non-commercial use (NC), while 50% include Share-Alike (SA), while only 25% are No Derivatives (ND). This is an important factor in choosing a license for open educational material which makes use of existing materials, as the two licences need to be compatable.

It should be noted that even the first, least restrictive, of the CCe licenses (BY), requires attribution, which would fit with the academics' practice of acknowledging the work of others. Attribution and NoDerivatives (BY-ND) would suit a research paper, where the author wants their work freely distributed, but not altered in any way. ShareAlike suits open course-ware, where the original author wants others to make contributions to the common pool of work. This would fit well with my approach to creating educational content. The difficulty comes with the meaning and use of the "Noncommercial" licenses.

Australia has a tradition of not-for-profit publicly owned higher education institutions providing extension, distance, adult and other forms of non-conventional education. Whitelock, (1974) points out that Sydney University set up an extension program as early as 1886. A much later example is the Canberra Learning Exchange, using paper based bulletin board and a telephone information service (Learning Exchange, 1973).

However, Australia now has a mixed private and public higher education system, with for-profit companies, as well as not-for-profit institutions. Australia's publicly owned universities are still notionally not-for-profit, but have taken on business practices of the private sector. There may not be any good reason to give them exclusive use of open access materials. So it would appear the most suited for my development of materials is the CC Attribution & ShareAlike (BY-SA).


Openness can apply broadly to the nature of eduction, the institution, and the course materials. Here the concept of then "Open University" has been discussed, with the UK precedent being applied particularly in developing nations. In a personal reflection the various open licenses for the educational materials are considered, before concluding Creative Commons Attribution & ShareAlike most suits my intended work.


Ambe-Uva, T. N. (2007). National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN): A Historical Perspective and Challenges. Online Submission, 8(1), 73-84. Retrieved from

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (2007). Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved from:

CETIS, J. (2008). Open educational resources-Opportunities and challenges for higher education. Retrieved from

Cheliotis, G. (2007). Creative Commons Statistics from the CC-Monitor Project. Dubrovnik. Retrieved from

Halttunen, N. (2006). Changing Missions. The Role of Open University Education in the Field of Higher Education in Finland. Scandinavian Journal Of Educational Research, 50(5), 503-517. doi:10.1080/00313830600953584

Learning Exchange. (1973, August 2). Woroni (Canberra, ACT : 1950 - 2007), p. 7. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from

MOREIRA, B. C. D. M., Safanelli, A. D. S., CARDOSO, J., & Battisti, P. (2010). Gestão acadêmica na educação a distãncia: desafios e prãticas. Retrieved from

Pappalardo, K. M., Fitzgerald, B. F., Fitzgerald, A. M., Kiel-Chisholm, S. D., Georgiades, J., & Austin, A. C. (2008). Understanding open access in the academic environment: A guide for authors.

Perry, Walter Sir (1976). Open University. Open Univ. Press, Milton Keynes

Young, H. (2011). Whose story counts? Constructing an oral history of the Open University at 40. Oral History, (2). 95.

Stallman, R. (2009). Viewpoint Why open source misses the point of free software. Communications of the ACM, 52(6), 31-33. Retrieved from

Whitelock, Derek (1974). The great tradition : a history of adult education in Australia. University of Queensland Press ; Hemel Hempstead : distributed by Prentice-Hall International, St. Lucia, Qld

Wiley, D., Caswell, T., Henson, S., & Jensen, M. (2008). Open Educational Resources: Enabling universal education. Retrieved from

Williams, Sam (2002). Free as in freedom : Richard Stallman's crusade for free software (1st ed). O'Reilly, Sebastopol, Calif. ; Farnham

Curated or crowd-sourced learning resource development


Open Educational Resources (OER) are "digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research" (Center for Educational Research and Innovation, p. 30, 2007). But how free and open is the development process for these materials? Are curated materials (that is selected by an "expert"), preferable to crowd-sourced (that is selected by the students, who, in the case of open courses are the general public)? This work sets out to briefly answer those questions and see how OER could be used in teaching a course in innovation. One question left unanswered is how OER can help the business of education.

Different formats for content development

The OECD categorizes policy actions, and responsibilities for OER, into four levels: International, National, Intermediate and Institutional; and also identifies four issues: Legal, Access, Funding and Curation of Materials (Center for Educational Research and Innovation, p. 140, 2007). This analysis does not allow for crowd sourced development of OER, nor development by organizations which are not "institutions". This perhaps reflects the OECD's top-down outlook, being an organization formed by governments and so assuming that work on education resources must come from government, or an organization endorsed by Government. An alternative approach is to have OER developed under processes endorsed by government, but where independently developed materials, including crowd sourced ones, are permitted.

Curated or crowd sourced?

Holotescu (p. 31, 2015) questions the division of OER into curated and crowd sourced, by referring to "socially curated" web content. Holotescu points out that curation can happen in an organic way via social media, where there can be content, as well as commentary, provided (p. 62, 2015). This approach could be used to, at least in part, break down the distinction between curated and crowd sourced materials.

An example of where the traditions of academia come into conflict with crowd sourcing is the Wikipedia. Azer (2015) carried out an analysis of a sample of medical articles in the Wikipedia and concluded that they were not a reliable learning resource for medical students. However, while recommending medical students should instead read articles written and edited by scholarly authors, Azer (2015) did not check to see if these officially curated sources were more reliable the Wikipedia and appears to have simply assumed they are.

Curation by an authoritative source implies acceptance of the authority and for OER a particular view of "openness". The Open University UK is based on a centralized model which has changed little despite the adoption of on-line technology (Perry, 1976). Halttunen, (2006) describes a more community based approach to open education in Finland which would fit better with social curation of materials.

There can be degrees of curation. Two of the models for open course-ware examined by Wiley (p.7, 2007) are the MIT model and the Rice model. (named for the respective universities). The MIT model uses a central staff (29 in 2007) and follows an approach would be familiar to OUUK. In contrast the Rice model has content contributed by external collaborators (Wiley, p.9, 2007). There is less central vetting of material in the Rice model, with the contributors responsible for preparation and categorizing of their work, arranging intellectual property release and design.

A Small Test of Crowd Sourcing for an OER Project

OpenStax CNX: The Rice model is currently implemented using a system called OpenStax CNX ( A search of the OpenStax CNX system on the topic of "Entrepreneurship and innovation" returned 47 results and showed problems with the quality of such crowd sourced material. The first English document found ("Growth strategies for start-ups") consisted on just one paragraph of text which appears to have been submitted for the purposes of self promotion of the author.

The latest work found at the OpenStax CNX system on "Entrepreneurship and innovation" was "A Vibrant Capitalist Republic" (2015). This consisted of the equivalent of 7 pages of HTML. The content was well laid out with illustrations headings, a summary, review questions and links to reading materials. However, the multiple choice review questions had no prefixes displayed (so I had to work out the first possible answer was "A", the second "B" and so on). Also there were not formal references for the reading materials linked to. The PDF, ePUB and HTML downloads were not available. As is this material looks usable for a course, but not the innovation course I had in mind.

More relevant is "Responsible Choice for Appropriate Technology" however, the description says that is incomplete and the content is not so relevant for me to take the trouble to complete it. Again, the PDF, pub and HTML versions were not available, making reuse more difficult.

The first OpenStax CNX document, which looked both relevant and usable, was "An Introduction to Regional Participation in a Global Network to Accelerate the Development of a Sustainable Technology Cluster". This is a study of Wales (England) and has an extensive bibliography and a research question, suitable for a student assignment. A second article "Results for a Study on How a Region Can Lever Participation in a Global Network to Accelerate the Development of a Sustainable Technology Cluster" by the same author also looked usable.

MIT OpenCourseWare: A search of the MIT OpenCourseWare system on the topic of "Entrepreneurship and innovation" returned 1,850 results. The first document found ("15.351 Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Sloan School of Management") consisted of a 6.4 Mbyte download with the syllabus, calendar, readings, lecture notes and assignments for a course. However, the lecture notes consist of slides without extensive explanatory text and the readings include non-open content in published books. Some of the materials may be of use in preparing a course but cannot be used as is.

What is the Business Model for OER?

Both OpenStax CNX and MIT OpenCourseWare proved a disappointing source of OER. OpenStax CNX contained incomplete materials and MIT OpenCourseWare materials which depended on use of non-OER ones. The question might be asked what motivations and rewards need to be in place for quality OER to be produced. In commercial terms what is the business mode for OER, or in academic terms, what is a sustainable strategy? Stacey (2015) called for work on sustainability strategies for OER, but unfortunately did not present any solutions.

Ives and Pringle (2013) describe how Athabasca University (AU) could use OER to reduce the cost of course materials and initiatives to encourage staff to seek out OER opportunities. However what is lacking from this is how to build OER into the business of the organization. AU is reported to be having financial difficulties and the solutions proposed would see it turn into a more conventional institution (Gerein, 2015). OER needs to be something which helps the university prosper financially, as well as an academic pursuit, so that it will be part of the normal daily business of the institution (a topic I am investigating in MDDE 605).


OER offers the prospect of educational materials which are freely available for teaching, and learning. The OpenStax CNX system uses a crowd-sourced approach to curation which may lower cost and, in theory, allow more materials from more sources. However a search for materials on the topic of innovation was disappointing, with very limited content of questionable quality. In contrast the MIT OpenCourseWare system with its centrally curated approach had higher quality material, but which was not usable without accompanying non-open content. The real question may not be curated v crowd sourced, but what are suitable motivations and rewards, including funding models, for creating quality OER.


Azer, S. A. (2015). Is Wikipedia a reliable learning resource for medical students? Evaluating respiratory topics. Advances in physiology education, 39(1), 5-14. Retrieved from

Center for Educational Research and Innovation. (2007). Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved from:

Gerein, K. (2015, June 11). Province may need to step in to save Athabasca University, minister hints. Edmonton Journal, Retrieved from

Halttunen, N. (2006). Changing Missions. The Role of Open University Education in the Field of Higher Education in Finland. Scandinavian Journal Of Educational Research, 50(5), 503-517. doi:10.1080/00313830600953584

Holotescu, C. (2015). Emerging Technologies in Education. Conceiving and Building a Microblogging Platform for Formal and Informal Learning (Doctoral dissertation, PhD Thesis, UPT Romania). Retrieved from

Ives, C., & Pringle, M. M. (2013). Moving to open educational resources at Athabasca University: A case study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(2), 1-13. Retrieved from

Perry, Walter Sir (1976). Open University. Open Univ. Press, Milton Keynes

Stacey, P. (2015). Sustainability Strategies For Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from

Wiley, D. (2007). On the sustainability of open educational resource initiatives in higher education. Retrieved from

Developing learning modules from open resources


Here the process to develop a learning module "An Introduction to Entrepreneurship in Technology" using Open Educational Resources (OER) is described. This is intended to be the second part of a new course, provisionally titled "Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship in Technology" to be offered on-line, initially for students in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Canberra. The first steps in instructional design (ID): needs assessment and proposal, were carried out as an assignment for MDDE604 along with development of the first instructional unit ("An Introduction to Innovation") in the previous term. This assignment builds on the previous work with more OER to text, student activities and video added to the Moodle Leaning Management System. It is expected to take one to two hours to complete.

OER Sources

In the previous work ("Curated or crowd-sourced learning resource development"), two sources of open access content were investigated: OpenStax CNX (, established by Rice University and MIT OpenCourseWare system from MIT. A search of these was made for course-ware on the topic of "Entrepreneurship and innovation" with disappointing results. Materials found were unfinished, unsuitable, or lacking in-sufficient open content (instead just being summaries or pointers to commercial for-fee material). As a result the search was then widened to other repositories.



Returned Items



"Entrepreneurship and innovation"


One document limited supplementary use: "Little Book of Enterprise" from Leeds Metropolitan University


Entrepreneurship AND innovation


"Invention and innovation: an introduction" and "Entrepreneurial behavior" (2010) from Open University UK

Open Tapestry

"Entrepreneurship and innovation"


None: Unreadable thumbnails displayed with cryptic headings. Hypertext links for first four resources returned no documents.

OER Commons

"Entrepreneurship innovation" & Language: English


"Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship" is a video and "Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship"564 page PDF textbook of limited use.

Flickr Creative Commons Search

"Entrepreneurship innovation"


Hub Global Network, Practice Gathering l, Milan (CC BY-SA 2.0) 2011


"Entrepreneurship innovation"


None: step by step approach not suited to university studies.




Excellent summary, with images and references




Excellent summary, with images and references

OER Repository Search for "Enterprise and innovation"

Share Alike Licenses

The first repository searched was Jorum, a UK based service using a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license. The "SA" ("Share Alike") for this and the other resources searched is significant, as it requires any upgrades to materials to be made freely available. This may limit use in some circumstances where commercial, or quasi-commercial, education providers want to use and adapt open materials but then not want to share their upgrades. However, Share Alike has the advantage that it requires that those who use and adapt open access material to give back to the educational community by making their improvements available.


Despite being created by the very prominent JISC, Jourm does not appear to be well known, even in the UK. Reed (2012) surveyed staff at Manchester Metropolitan University UK and found that only 32% had hears of Jorum. The same proportion (32%) were familiar with the term "Open Content Movement" and even fewer with "Creative Commons" (24%). For this reason perhaps resources should be put into promoting existing open repositories and directories, not creating new ones or additional content.

A search of Jorum for "Entrepreneurship and innovation" returned only two results: "How to promote Employability in Geography and Cognate Degrees" and "Little Book of Enterprise". The first was a 26 page list of resources from Plymouth University for promoting employability of geography graduates. This mentioned "innovation" only twice. It was not clear which, if any, of the resources listed were open access. This is another example of the problem encountered with the MIT OpenCourseWare system: the open materials contains just a brief summary of something which is not, itself, open. The second document is an 88 page "Little Book of Enterprise" from Leeds Metropolitan University. This resembles a self help book with tips on work skills. While this might be a useful supplement to some workshop exercises it is not core course material.

Examining the help file for the Jorum search showed that by using double quotes around the search terms the search had been limited to the exact phrase ("Entrepreneurship and innovation"). Removing the quotes and changing "and" to upper case (Entrepreneurship AND innovation) resulted in a further nine documents, making eleven in total.

One document found with the Jorum search was "Social Enterprise and Changemaker Campus", a video by Tim Curtis and Wray Irwin (2014) . Curiously the video on YouTube is categorized as "adults only", requiring the Safety Mode to be disabled, which is likely to make the video inaccessible to schools (even though it does not contain any content unsuitable for children). The video does not have closed captions provided (as required by accessibility education policy in the UK, Canada and Australia) and the automated YouTube captions and not accurate . The video is a two people talking (a lot), without any interesting visuals, making it of very limited value.

A second document found was "Embedding Business Start-Up in the University Curriculum" from Plymouth University (2011). At first this appeared to be a useful guide, but on closer examination it provides just a simple overview of the issues with no directly implementable content. The next document "Exploring the Motivation and Skills of Entrepreneurs", also from Plymouth University, appears to be similar.

The Open University's "Invention and innovation: an introduction" appears to be an IMS Content Package. This shows a problem with the Jorum repository directory. Each file of the IMS Content Package is displayed separately, rather than indicating this is one coherent unit. On their own the package components make little sense, but the repository did also allow the download of the full 72Mbyte package. There does appear to be any way to preview the contents, as can be done, for example with the Australian Flexible Learning Toolboxes. So the IMS content package must be downloaded and installed in the LMS to view the contents.

The OU innovation package contains a table of contents, text, images and video. The text content has a standard IMS table of contents with items in a strict hierarchy, typical of a self-paced learning module:

"Part 1: 4 Key concepts

4.2 Inventors and inventions

An inventor is an individual or group able to generate an idea for a new or improved device, product or process. ..."

From: "Invention and innovation: an introduction", Open University (2010).

Most usefully there are learning outcomes provided:

"On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  1. explain invention, design, innovation and diffusion as ongoing processes with a range of factors affecting success at each stage;
  2. explain how particular products you use have a history of invention and improvement, and appreciate the role that you and your family, as consumers, have played in this history;
  3. define key concepts such as invention, design, innovation, diffusion, product champion, entrepreneur, sustaining and disruptive innovation;
  4. explain the role of intellectual property in invention and innovation and list the various ways that inventors can protect their ideas;
  5. identify the range of reasons that motivate individuals and organizations to invent;
  6. explain the creative process by which individuals come up with ideas for new designs and inventions;
  7. explain the technology push, market pull, and coupling models of the innovation process and decide how well they offer a satisfactory explanation of the innovation process;
  8. identify and discuss the technical, financial and organizational obstacles that have to be overcome to bring an invention to the market;
  9. discuss the importance of choosing an appropriate design, materials and manufacturing process for a particular new product;
  10. explain the factors that influence how well an innovation will sell and how rapidly it is likely to diffuse into the market;
  11. give examples of disruptive innovations that can introduce a new way of operating in a particular industry, that can challenge existing companies and that can open up new markets for innovative products."

From: "Invention and innovation: an introduction", Open University (2010).

An eight minute video "Total beauty of sustainable products" is also provided. This comes with a full transcript and still images for those who can't access the video:

"[still of electrical products in shop]


There are millions of different products on the world market. But few, if any, have

been designed to be truly sustainable. ..."

Excerpt from OU video transcript "Total beauty of sustainable products" (2008).

The video is well produced with captions and quality graphics, but is provided at only 320 x 240 pixel resolution, which may not be considered acceptable by today's students. This is only one quarter the resolution of standard definition TV and much lower than the resolution of current smart phones.

Also included in the OU modules are self assessment questions:

"Part 1: 6 Self-assessment questions


Given the definitions you have learnt in Part 1, would you classify the following as an invention or an innovation?

(a) BIC ballpoint pen
(b) Flettner's rotor ship
(c) Edison's tinfoil phonograph
(d) Edison's bamboo-filament light bulb. ..."

From: "Invention and innovation: an introduction", Open University (2010).

Also by OU "Entrepreneurial behavior" (2010) appears to be a similar IMS package, which may also be useful:

"Learning Outcomes

After studying this unit you should:

From: "Entrepreneurial behavior", OU, (2010).

The OU modules in the Jorum repository appear to be copies of old materials which are not being updated. It is not clear how much use this material would be or where the latest version is available. While the "Share Alike" Creative Commons license obliges those modifying the materials to make their changes available, they are not required to deposit them in the same archive, or to make them easily findable. Also the OU materials contain citations, but not the corresponding list of references. These citations are of older, non-OER paper based materials which, even if the student was able to find the reference for, would not be able to access easily.

JISC, announced in June 2015 that the Jorum service will close in September 2016. The announcement says JISC is looking at "bringing together existing resources and enabling educators to discuss, rate and use items". This might allow scholarship to influence openness: rather than just dumping some OER in a repository after you had finished it, there might be a dialogue between developers and users.

Open Tapestry

Unfortunately it is not clear what "Open Tapestry" is. The about us page says:

"Imagine if you could...
  1. Find educational content that you can use and adapt however you please.
  2. Insert a relevant video and a quiz on triangles right into a web page that explains how to use the Pythagorean Theorem.
  3. Find online safety training materials and insert them into a page, along with a certification test.
  4. Arrange content you find online into a sequence and present it to a group as a slide-show.
  5. Build a page using a template and insert a great physiology learning tool you find online, along with an article on the skeletal system.
  6. Have a shared collection where you and others can contribute online content for a group project.
  7. Automatically save posts with specific keywords from your favorite blog. "

From: "About Open Tapestry"

This implies that Open Tapestry is index and repository of open content, with some tools for sharing. A search for "Entrepreneurship and innovation" returned 21 thumbnails of web pages. The content on the thumbnails is unreadable and this format just makes it harder to read the headings. The hypertext links for the first four resources listed returned no documents. At this point testing of Open Tapestry was abandoned.

OER Commons

OER Commons offers material with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. This is more restrictive than some other repositories as it does not permit commercial use of the material. The website does not clearly state what the entity providing the service is: is it a for-profit company, a university consortium? Who or what is providing this service? A footnote says "a project created by ISKME", but not what that is.

A search for "Entrepreneurship and innovation", returned no resources. An advanced search for the keywords "Entrepreneurship innovation" found 35 resources. Like Open Tapestry, OER Commons displayed an unreadable thumbnail for each resources, but unlike Open Tapestry it accompanied this with readable text and working hypertext links (the thumbnails can be turned off). The first four resources looked useful (the next six were not in English):

  1. Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    This video lesson introduces students to the worlds of engineering innovation and ... More
    Subject: Business, Mathematics and Statistics, Science and Technology
    Material Type: Video Lectures
    Provider: MIT Learning International Networks Consortium
    Provider Set: MIT Blossoms
    Author: Diane Amanti

  2. Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship
    This book is suited for the Entrepreneurship or Innovation course with an ... More
    Subject: Business
    Material Type: Textbooks
    Provider: University of Minnesota
    Provider Set: University of Minnesota - Open Academics Textbooks
    Author: Andrea Larson

  3. Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Spring 2008
    This course discusses the basics every manager needs to organize successful technology-driven ... More
    Subject: Business
    Material Type: Full Course, Homework and Assignments, Lecture Notes, Syllabi
    Provider: M.I.T.
    Provider Set: MIT OpenCourseWare
    Author: Murray, Fiona

  4. Green Design Challenge Activity
    The Green Design Challenge is to brainstorm, prototype and present a design ... More
    Subject: Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences
    Material Type: Activities and Labs
    Provider: ISKME
    Provider Set: ISKME

Setting the language for search to English returned 18 resources. The first "Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship" is a video by an MIT student and would be of limited use. The next "Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship" is a free 564 page PDF textbook (13 Mbytes). There may be something of use in the book, but as is the text seems to range over too many topics and extracting anything useful from the large PDF file would be difficult. The next resource was " Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship" an MIT OpenCourseware course. This course was found with a previous search of another tool and was found to lack OER content: it is a brief summary which then points to non OER readings. This perhaps indicates a problem with these OER indexes: there are many indexes pointing to the same limited amount of content.

Flickr Creative Commons Search

A search of Flickr for images with a Creative Commons license and the keywords "Entrepreneurship innovation" returned 5,155 images. Some of these were diagrams, which are of limited use on without an accompanying text, or metadata, for context. An example is Gaurav Mishra's diagram "Entrepreneurship in India" which looked interesting but the website it is from appears lost:

Also it should be noted that while this diagram is tagged with a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0) in Flickr, this image itself contains a copyright notice and no mention of Creative Commons, making use of the image problematic.

Most photos found in Flickr were of individuals apparently giving presentations or groups at innovation events, in a typical post-it note rich environment. These might be useful for illustrating a course presentation.


While most of the OER sources examined so far are not-for-profit consortia of universities and Flickr is a for-profit company, a "hybrid organization" being a for-profit company supported by advertising but aiming to provide public benefit. A search of WikiHow for "Entrepreneurship innovation" returned five resources, the first four of which were on topic:

  1. How to Develop Entrepreneurial Leadership: 6 Steps Entrepreneurs typically have innovative ideas, create new products and continually ... Look at change as a necessary component of innovation and creativity.
  2. How to Become a Successful Internet Entrepreneur: 6 Steps How to Become a Successful Internet Entrepreneur. These days, the Internet is a major part of both small and big business. With extensive traffic on the web, ...
  3. 3 Ways to Be a Successful Entrepreneur - wikiHow However, entrepreneurs incur huge risks since there's a high likelihood of failure. To be ... A small innovation on an existing product is a great way to differentiate ...
  4. How to Come Up With a Business Idea: 14 Steps - wikiHow Successful entrepreneurs are innovators. They don't stick with old methods or technologies, but rather look ahead and see what will be successful in the future.
  5. How to Get Into Stanford (with Pictures) - wikiHow The committee has seen it all, can easily call BS, and won't be impressed by anything other than innovation, genuineness, and honesty. It is possible to write an ...

However, while these items were mostly on topic, the step by step approach does not suit a topic as complex as innovation and entrepreneurship. This approach may be suitable for some forms of vocational education, or skills for higher educated.

The incorporation of advertisements was not too distracting. However, this may be a problem for an institution, or consortia which offers for-fee education. WikiHow offered degrees in Entrepreneurship innovation from Australian universities. Those contributing to the repository would have to take care their content was not show alongside advertisements for rival institutions. Also there is a risk of "we will write your assignment for you" advertisements being shown, which would detract from the reputation of the suppliers of the content.


Searching for OER on "Entrepreneurship" identified a 96 page ebook "Entrepreneurship: A group of ideas around entrepreneurship". This has an excellent summary, with images and references. Further examination showed this to be a "Wikipedia Book", that is is collection of Wikipedia entries, which have been rendered to book format. A modified book was produced, with further Wikipedia entries, resulting in the 192 page "Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship: Technology, Business and People", which was then added as a reading in the course notes. The re-purposing of Wikipedia content in this format may go some way to reducing concerns from teachers over its use. The selection of the Wikipedia content for the e-book can be curated by the course designer and once rendered to a PDF book the content is fixed and not subject to change. Also, rather than tell students not to use the Wikipedia, this shows an acceptable academic use.

Adapting Content

Text Adapted from OU

The most suitable source of OER found was Open University UK. However, the copy of "Entrepreneurial behavior" in the Jorum repository is dated 2010. A later copy is available from the OU website (2013). What is provided are the HTML (web based) notes, rather than an IMS Content Package. As a result while the Flash based quiz questions function, it is not possible to download the question for reuse (It was necessary to transcribe the questions to reuse them).

Adapting Work

The web content from OU UK was copied and pasted into the Moodle book editor. The creative commons license at the bottom of the document was then modified to indicate this is a derived work. One difficulty was that the OUUK document also contained so copyright material which had to be deleted. To this had to be added some new video (as the OU video was of too low resolution), activities and adapted questions.

Sizing Work

The OU UK course notes are 6,925 words (equivalent to 15 pages). This is far in excess of the amount of material needed for a one to two hour learning module. McEwan (2012, p. 80) notes:

"Typically, a student with an overall 6.5 IELTS score will have a reading speed for comprehension of approximately 80 words per minute as compared to 400 words per minute for native speakers."

Just reading the text, without allowing for videos or activities, would take the student between 17 minutes to one and a half hours. The approach adopted to adapting the material was therefore to delete unsuitable (for example because it is not open access) and verbose text, to make way for other OER content. This reduced the notes to about half the size (3,200 words, six pages). The images in the OU module were also too low resolution to be usable and have been omitted and new images added from OER sources. The OU notes used images to show tables, contrary to web accessibility guidelines, so some of these had to be transcribed (others omitted). The notes also contained more student exercises than could be undertaken in 90 minutes and two thirds of these have been omitted.

The original text is somewhat verbose. As an example the module starts:

"There are literally dozens and dozens of different definitions of 'the entrepreneur' and the concept of 'entrepreneurship'. Researchers and writers often seem to pick the definition that best fits the area they are discussing."

Saying there are " dozens and dozens of different definitions"will frustrate the reader if at least one definition is not then provided. Therefore this has been omitted and the introduction instead just gives the student one definition of entrepreneurship.

Adding student Interaction

The OU course materials included interactive quizzes for the student. However, these where simply free-form text questions. Without anyone to provide feedback to the student, there are of little value. As a result the quiz questions have been adapted to forum topics for students to answer and then discuss in a Moodle forum with other students. Students can then rate the responses from each other. Where the OU quizzes were, a new multiple choice quiz, using some of the course content has been added.


Searching for OER proved a time consuming and frustrating process. The repositories do not appear to be well maintained, with out of date materials and material which is more for marketing proprietary closed content than for genuine open use. The most useful strategy was to use the repositories to find organizations likely to have content, but then search that organization's list of material to find content. None of the content found was usable unmodified, due both to the format used (which did not meet accessibility standard) nor content (which was too detailed). While OER content might be "free" (usable without a charge) the cost of effort required to find and adapt this material is a considerable use of resources. However, traditional closed proprietary content, such as textbooks, also require selection and modification. It would be rare for a course designer to find one textbook which was sufficient for a course without supplementation. In the end the content of one OU course was used, along with an MIT video. However, the OU materials had to be shortened, the "quiz" modified into a forum exercise and new quiz added. This took considerable work to find, select and adapt the OER and was not the "plug and play" experience which might be assumed.


Curtis, T., & Irwin, W. (2014). Social Enterprise and Changemaker Campus. Retrieved from

McEwan, M. (2012). Evaluating and enhancing the feedback process: an international college case study. Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 7(1), 79-95. Retrieved from

Reed, P. (2012). Awareness, attitudes and participation of teaching staff towards the open content movement in one university. Research In Learning Technology, 20. doi:

Next: Mobile Learning.

About the book: Digital Teaching In Higher Education

Higher Education is a global industry, driving a new technological, industrial revolution. However, it is important to remember education is about teachers helping students learn. This work is a collection of short essays exploring how to use digital technology to provide a form of teaching which will meet social and economic goals, and make use of technology, while still having a place for the academic as a teacher. Drawing on work undertaken for a Masters of Education in Distance Education, this book charts one future for Higher Education, including instructional design, planning and management, catering for international students, using Open Education Resources and Mobile Learning. E-learning designer and computer professional, Tom Worthington MEd FACS CP, uses as a case study his award-winning course in ICT Sustainability and the design of a new innovation and entrepreneurship course.

Edition Notice

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2017

Cover pictographs ebook, talk, issues and approved, by Carlos Sarmento from the Noun Project (CC BY 3.0 US).

First Printing: 2017

TomW Communications Pty Ltd., PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Worthington, Tom, 1957- author.
Digital teaching in higher education : designing e-learning for
international students of technology, innovation
and the environment / Tom Worthington.

ISBN: 9781326947859 (Hardback)
ISBN: 9781326939922 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781326938826 (ePub eBook)
ISBN: 9781326967963 (PDF eBook)
Amazon Kindle eBook (No ISBN).

Education, Higher--Effect of technological innovations on.
Education, Higher--Computer-assisted instruction.
Educational technology--Social aspects.
Education, Higher--Electronic information resources.
Instructional systems--Design.

A web version of this book is available free on-line, under at Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license at