If you follow digital learning developments you know that Open Educational Resources (OER) is a common topic of discussion, as free and open digital education resources are rising in quality and quantity. As we have seen on the open source front of software industry (SW), where formerly leading proprietary and commercial SW players have increasingly embraced and adopted at least some use of open source code, we are now seeing growing recognition of OER by major proprietary and commercial players like Pearson. We will no doubt see continued growth in open and free OER, and students and financially strapped schools and school districts will benefit.

But this post is not about “conventional OER” which is mostly about digital, course-based content. Instead, I want to highlight the valuable educational resources that are freely and openly available at Stanford University, and encourage you to take advantage of what this university offers to all of us. I will highlight some of the resources that I personally take advantage of on a regular basis, and I suspect this only starts to scratch the surface of what is available at this world-class university in Palo Alto. 

Some Key Resources 

These are some of the resources that I take advantage of at  at Stanford and that I see as part of “OER” since they are really tremendous learning or educational resources, openly available and free to anyone:

  • Education’s Digital Future. This is great initiative at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, and is a course (referred to as “403x”) launched last fall to examine how (digital) technology will impact both K12 and Higher Education. The Dean of GSE, Claude Steel, is a key supporter of the initiative and the key two instructors and central figures of the initiative are Roy Pea and Mitchell Stevens, both professors of education at GSE. Roy and Mitchell lead all the sessions, many of which consist of panel discussions with education and technology experts, often from leading educational institutions and companies around the US. While the class has students from various schools and departments take the class for credit, a number of people from outside organizations are invited to participate and join the discussions. And even if you are unable to attend in person, you can still take advantage of the valuable digital resources made openly available at the 403x website
  • European Entrepreneurship and Innovation Thought Leaders Seminar.  This is a seminar series that Burton Lee had led the last 5 years and he always does a great job in bringing in very interesting guest speakers to address a range of issues around European entrepreneurship and innovation. I have attended this winter quarter seminar series for a number of years and have always enjoyed them, and they provide excellent opportunities to hear first-hand from leading experts in Europe who come over to participate in the seminar. Burton has also done a terrific job in not only making all the presentations available on the seminar website but he also has taken advantage of social media to create very popular LinkedIn and Facebook communities with ongoing discussion around different issues of European entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Entrepreneurship in Asian High-Tech Industries Seminar Series. This is another excellent seminar series, led by Professor Richard Dasher in the US-Asia Technology Management Center at Stanford. I have attended it for a number of years together with Stanford students and industry participants, enjoying the impressive lineup of speakers that Richard always puts together. As an example, here are a few of the presentations of last year’s series:
    • Incubating Asian Start-Ups in Silicon Valley
    • What the Rise of the middle class in China means for entrepreneurs
    • The Role of Asia Culture in Successful U.S. Entrepreneurship Teaching entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia
    • Teaching entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia
      • Media X Seminar Series. Over the years I attended numerous seminars held in the Wallenberg Hall at Stanford and organized by Media X, typically with speakers from Stanford and Silicon Valley companies. Media X is an industry affiliate program to Stanford’s H-STAR institute (the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute,) a Stanford interdisciplinary research center focusing on people and technology and a home of many Nordic visiting scholars over the years. Media X helps its industry members “…explore how the thoughtful use of technology can impact a range of fields, from entertainment to learning to commerce” and researching innovative ways for people to collaborate, communicate, and interact with the information, products, and industries of tomorrow.
        • Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) and Entrepreneurship Corner.  For anyone interested in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology I hope you already know about the great repository of videos and podcasts of presentations given by top notch entrepreneurs and thought leaders and accessible at the eCorner site [http://ecorner.stanford.edu/]. Silicon Valley has more experienced (serial) entrepreneurs than anywhere in the world, and a good many of them have spoken at the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar that Tina Seelig, the Executive Director of STVP organizes each quarter. Many other universities have similar offerings but IMHO Stanford has one of the best resources available.

        The Future Role of Universities

        As innovation and entrepreneurship becomes increasingly important for economic growth and job creation, universities like Stanford will likely become increasingly important “innovation hubs” and drivers of regional economic growth. This is an topic close to the heart of Jim Sphorer (Innovation Champion and

        Director, IBM University Programs World-Wide) and others working on building university-industry collaboration. While the future role of universities in teaching is fuzzier—as more formal education moves online (and perhaps into Massive Open Online Courses discussed in earlier blog posts)—universities will likely become an increasingly important source of entrepreneurs (which is illustrated very well by the strong interest in entrepreneurship among Stanford students) and innovation.

        The important role that Stanford University has had, and continues to have, in Silicon Valley is well known and well documented (a report describing this was released just last fall: Stanford University’s Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship) but its many easily available resources for local residents and for others around the world are, I think, less well known.

        Eilif Trondsen


        January 13, 2013