There are some very exciting things happening in my life right now.


1. I’m extremely humbled and excited to have been awarded a Shuttleworth Fellowship. These Fellowships provide a year’s salary replacement, allowing each Fellow to focus completely on creating a particular kind of social change – without other distractions. In my application, I characterized the change I want to create this way:

I want to push the field over the tipping point and create a world where OER are used pervasively throughout secondary schools, community colleges, and universities. In my vision of the world, OER supplant traditional textbooks for all high school, associates degree, and undergraduate general education courses. Organizations, faculty, and students at all three levels collaborate to create and improve an openly licensed content infrastructure that dramatically reduces the cost of education, increases student success, and supports rapid experimentation and innovation.

And set what I believe to be audacious, but achievable, goals:

I will dedicate my fellowship year to hands on work with secondary and post-secondary institutions, supporting and evaluating their adoption of OER. I will do on-the-ground work with at least 20 postsecondary and 20 secondary schools and help move at least 100,000 students off expensive, traditional textbooks to OER-based replacements. By the end of the fellowship year, at least one post-secondary institution I support will launch a completely OER-based associates degree.

By itself, the Shuttleworth Fellowship is an almost unimaginable opportunity for which I am extremely grateful. But it coincides with a number of other synergistic happenings that will amplify its effect significantly.

2. BYU has granted me a sabbatical starting January 1. This will allow me to focus in the way intended by the Shuttleworth Fellowship. I’m extremely grateful to everyone at BYU, particularly my ever-supportive Dean Richard Young, for helping this happen in the necessary timeframe.

3. I have stepped back from some other commitments. I am ending my term as Senior Fellow for Open Education at Digital Promise in Washington, DC at the end of 2012. And after much thought and emotional struggle, I have also ended my relationship with Flat World Knowledge.

4. I will continue my Gates Foundation-funded work researching the effectiveness of open textbook adoptions in post-secondary settings. I will also continue my Hewlett Foundation-funded work researching the effectiveness of open textbook adoptions in secondary settings. These two grants synergize perfectly with Shuttleworth Fellowship, because the Shuttleworth Foundation does not fund research per se.

5. I will also continue working with my good friend and partner-in-mayhem Kim Thanos on the NGLC-funded Kaleidoscope Project follow-on grant, which supports pilots of the Kaleidoscope model for open textbook adoption at post-secondary schools. Kim and I are also hard at work on what we call “Textbook Zero,” which is our model for a completely OER-based associates degree (which I described previously, albeit with a less catchy name).

6. Finally, I will also continue working with the Saylor Foundation, who are doing incredible things for the cause of open education and open textbooks, in a newly formalized role as Senior Fellow for Strategy. I anticipate using many of the OER materials they’ve curated, aggregated, and collected during my Fellowship year.

I’ll be sharing more details about all of this (and the other things I’m sure I’m leaving out) in the future. As you can see, there are several streams of work I’m trying to bring together here. And hey – crossing the streams seems like it’s always been a great idea in the past.


Many thanks to everyone who has supported me in pulling this all together, especially those of you who wrote reference letters for my Shuttleworth application on extremely short notice (you know who you are!). Ghostbusters references aside, I take this work very seriously and mean to be a responsible steward of this unbelievable opportunity. Wish me well; or if you’re the praying type, send a request Heavenward on my behalf. I look forward to working with many of you this coming year as we keep trying to make the world a better place.

8 thoughts on “Changes”

  1. Congrats David.. and glad you are continuing your association and leadership with Association for Educational Communications and Technology.. Charles White, AECT Past President

  2. Great David: Congratulations! I wish you the best for your new adventure. I’m sure you are the right person for this ambitious work!. Pedro Pernías from University of Alicante, Spain

  3. Congratulations David, I’m so interested in and proud of all the work you are doing. I look forward to updates on all the change you’ll continue to make in the world of education.

  4. Any chance of including some secondary schools in Taiwan? Lots of possibilities here. Just let us know and we’ll hook you up.

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