Announcing the Democracy Learning Channel

October 4, 2018

The Democracy Learning Channel will provide free tools and guidance for college instructors to advance student civic learning; first course, “Democracy in Troubled Times,” set to release this fall.

Campus Compact and panOpen, a learning platform that supports institutional use of Open Educational Resources (OER), announced a partnership to launch Democracy Learning Channel (DLC), an area within the panOpen platform, dedicated to providing college instructors with openly accessible tools and guidance to advance student learning about democracy.

Materials provided through DLC will be organized around particular themes, ultimately creating a cross-disciplinary range of curated OER courses and individual modules focused on student civic learning. Courses and modules will include materials such as original and interpretive documents, prompts for projects and writing assignments, and guides for experiential learning activities. All materials will be available under Creative Commons licenses and will be free to use, share, and adapt for the classroom.

The open character of the initiative is intended to foster collaboration and dialog among scholars, researchers, civic organizations, instructors, and students. While the initial content will be released by a founding group of content partners, instructors will be able to modify the materials to meet their own teaching needs and interests. Modified course materials can then be shared through DLC so that other instructors can make use of these alternatives.

“With Open Educational Resources as the foundation, Campus Compact and panOpen are kicking off a national effort to improve knowledge about and appreciation for our democratic institutions,” said Brian Jacobs, founder and CEO of panOpen. “In the spirit of the democratic process itself, we are offering a venue and a starting point that are inherently participatory, and the project will be a great success if we begin to gain new insights and perspectives from each other.” 

“For more than thirty years, Campus Compact has been educating students for democracy,” said Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact. “This partnership with panOpen will multiply the impact of our efforts–to the benefit of our students, our communities, and our country.”

“If the Democracy Learning Channel did nothing more than make high-quality materials for democratic learning widely accessible, that would be a major contribution,” said Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene Professor in Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. “What makes this project potentially transformational is that the Open Educational Resource framework enables widespread participation in creating and re-creating those materials. It puts the practice of democracy into educating students for democracy.”

“In bringing together Open Educational Resources and democratic learning, Campus Compact and panOpen are recognizing that enabling all students to have access to the learning necessary for full participation in our democracy is a crucial equity issue,” said Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., and president emerita of Montgomery County Community College. “Democracy Learning Channel is a forward-looking initiative that will serve all of higher education and will have special significance to students at community colleges–nearly half of all students in the United States.”

“The launch of Democracy Learning Channel could not come at a better time,” said Thomas Ehrlich, faculty member at Stanford University and president emeritus, Indiana University. “College and university faculty are eager for the best teaching and learning materials to educate their students about our democracy and to prepare those students to be engaged actively in public policy issues and politics. DLC will be an open-source platform for the materials, one that will develop and strengthen over time. I am pleased to contribute my own materials to this important effort.” 

The first OER course to be made available through DLC, “Democracy in Troubled Times,” will be released this fall. Curated by Campus Compact and panOpen, course modules will include activities and resources centered around the evolution of democratic ideas, the spread of democratic beliefs, and the characteristics of democracy during periods of stress and crisis. Students will be encouraged to explore the past through deliberative forum and debate, immersive activities, and examination of key documents. Themes will include historical inquiry into the conflicts at the origin of our democratic institutions, and strategies to foster critical thinking regarding claims presented in the media, whether through major news outlets or social media.

This work is a component of Education for Democracy, Campus Compact’s non-partisan initiative that aims to help heal and reinvigorate democracy by engaging students in courses, programs, and activities designed to develop the knowledge, skills, and motivations essential for responsible and effective participation in democracy. Learn more at compact.org/education-for-democracy.

About panOpen:

Designed by educators, panOpen is a learning platform that realizes the promise of open educational resources (OER) by providing all of the components required for their widespread use. panOpen offers complete peer-reviewed content, customization tools, assessments, analytics, LMS integration, and a means of financially sustaining campus-based OER efforts. With panOpen, faculty will adopt enhanced interactive OER as they would a commercial textbook, with confidence in the quality and reliability of the content. panOpen preserves the virtues of OER—radically reducing textbook costs and freeing faculty from the constraints of commercial copyright—while delivering the quality, features, and ease-of-use faculty expect from their learning materials. The result has enormous implications for pedagogical practices, changing the relationships of instructors and students to their educational content. For more information, visit www.panopen.com and follow @panopen on Twitter.