The Kaleidoscope Project commits to use only open educational resources (OER) in its course designs. OER will not only reduce the cost of textbooks, but will also create course designs that we can share, evaluate and continually improve. Our use of openly licensed content provides us with greater control and affords greater creativity in changing materials to match student needs and faculty preferences.

We have encountered challenges in the area of humanities. This challenge is not surprising. In the sciences there is a base set of facts that are taught in the courses. This factual content is openly available. Many different authors have provided an expression of the content using a range of materials and licensing models. In the humanities the expression itself is the object that we seek rather than the facts or content behind the expression. We cannot identify an OER for a Ray Bradbury short story, or for the writings of Malcolm Gladwell. This creates a challenge where these expressions are a core element of the curriculum.

Project Kaleidoscope is implementing a set of fully open general education courses across eight colleges serving predominantly at-risk students. The project will dramatically reduce textbook costs and allow collaborative improvement of course design to improve student success.

While the project is quite complex, there are four key attributes that define the approach:

Kaleidoscope is a cross-institutional collaboration. The Kaleidoscope course designs are created by cross-institutional teams. Each course design is being developed by at least two partner institutions, and will be adopted by faculty members from other colleges.
Kaleidoscope course designs use the best of existing open educational resources (OER). Rather than adding to the wealth of existing OER, the faculty teams are assessing and leveraging existing OER. Where adequate open resources exist, we will not include commercial textbooks or materials in the course design.
Kaleidoscope course designs use a common assessment process. The course designs are created with assessment embedded throughout allowing faculty teams to understand where the course design is supporting student success, and where opportunities for improvement exist. The courses designs also enable rubric-based assessment of deeper learning outcomes.
Project Kaleidoscope will close the loop on improved course design and student learning. Using OER and a common assessment process will allow faculty teams to improve the course design and learning results based on analysis of embedded assessments and deeper learning results. Actually, the project requires this on-going, iterative review and improvement.