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New technologies, software, and effective practices have increased access to information while new policies and philosophies that explore openness have accelerated that change. The growth of social networks and virtual communities has transformed the learning environment into an interactive place to share and build content and community. The pursuit of open content prompts many questions: What are the opportunities and the challenges associated with open educational content? What are the models for sustaining, maintaining, and promoting open resources? How can we, as a community of teaching and learning professionals, collaborate to realize the full potential of open content? What evidence do we have that the trend toward open content is having the impact we hope for?

At "Open Educational Content: Addressing Challenges and Seizing Opportunities," the ELI 2011 Online Fall Focus Session, we engaged the teaching and learning community in exploring initial questions around open educational content. We toured institutional examples of high- quality content development, maintenance models, and delivery and organizational options that support adoption. Through interactive sessions and various case studies, we:

  • Defined what open educational content is and is not
  • Examined the technology trends that, over the past 10 years, have begun to serve as enablers of open content (e.g., mobility, software, the cloud, lower technology costs)
  • Addressed models of authoring and participation in open content use (e.g., delivery and organization issues)
  • Reviewed models for assessing the impact of open resources on student success

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