One of the things I was most excited about in attending my first InstCon, was the unconference. I’ve attended a couple of THATCamps now, and I find the peer-to-peer, unconference format can be more participatory and active than the traditional sage on a stage conference format. Below is my recap of the sessions I attended this morning. This is largely a set of notes for myself, but I hope it is useful for those that attended other sessions or weren’t here this week and want to follow along.

In the first session of today’s unconference, I attended the LTI and HTML Hacks session. Participants discussed some LTI integrations they are working on, some that they would like to see, and some that they have found troublesome.

I’m hiding in the back on my laptop in the picture above.

An Elsevier representative used the occasion to give some user input on what they would like to see in a publisher LTI. This provided a jumping off point for discussion of external links and more fully integrated LTIs.

In the HTML hacks session, we heard about a Canvas Commons Course that has been set up to share HTML Hacks called Do Not Fear the Code! One of the things I like about Canvas is this ability to write the HTML code for pages and other resources. This provides more control over layout and flow of the pages.

In the second session, I participated in a discussion of Open Educational Resources within Canvas. Canvas has a built in area called the Commons in which you can share courses, modules, resources, assignments, or whatever else fits into the LMS.

One of the limitations on Commons and OER use is fear from the instructors and administrators. Instructors sometimes feel the need to protect the resources they’ve built, whether that’s a syllabus or lecture slides, or whatever else they’ve spent time vetting and incorporating into their classes. Faculty wonder about the IP rights and ownership of the material they’ve created. Faculty are often uncompensated for the materials they’ve produced, but they can they sell them through a market like Teacher Created. In other cases, there are stipends provided by the school to produce materials, in which cases the school usually has a share of the IP rights and can push for either monetization or OER sharing.

Faculty also have a fear of copyright issues when they use PDFs or other materials in their courses. While the copyright issues are no different for limited use in a face-to-face or a fully open, online course, there  is a difference in discoverability. Faculty know they can get away with liberal use of copyrighted materials when they only distribute paper copies or even digital copies in a closed LMS, but they worry that they will get in trouble for these same materials in an open course.

The short and painful answer is just to familiarize yourself with copyright and follow it in all courses.

One of the strengths discussed about OER is the ability of the instructor to cherry-pick resources for their class rather than being locked into a textbook  that is often expensive or out-of-date and necessarily limited in scope.

OER is also flexible. The creator often retains rights to the material that they created and can produce, for example, a textbook that is both free to download but also pay for printed copies.

Most of the OER session was a discussion of what is and how to find OER, both generally and within Canvas.