Plenaries

Morning Plenary: Invigorating Innovation (9 am – 10 am, Perkins 217)

Afternoon Plenary: The Potential of Open Educational Resources (2:45 pm – 4 pm, Perkins 217)


Invigorating Innovation

Steve Nowicki, Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Duke University

Steve Nowicki’s position as Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate

Education was created three years ago to better integrate the many and varied curricular and co-curricular dimensions of the undergraduate educational experience. One of his interests is to promote excellence in teaching and to build support for innovation. Having served as a faculty member at Duke for more than two decades, Nowicki knows firsthand the barriers that can prevent professors from trying something new, and that it’s not just what we teach that matters, but also how we teach it. His keynote will emphasize the importance of connecting the classroom to the real world and of exploring new models for engaging students. Nowicki will describe some of the new models for teaching and learning that are emerging at Duke and peer institutions and will highlight opportunities for faculty to experiment with innovative teaching strategies.

Speaker Bio:

Steve Nowicki is Bass Fellow and Professor in the Departments of Biology and Psychology & Neuroscience in Trinity College at Duke, and in the Department of Neurobiology in the Duke School of Medicine.  Nowicki holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tufts University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.  He joined the Duke faculty in 1989 and was appointed Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in 2007.  Nowicki is the author of numerous technical articles on neurobiology and behavior and co-author of The Evolution of Animal Communication (2005, Princeton University Press).  His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, among other organizations. In 1999, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Nowicki’s work in developing and teaching a new neuroscience course when he first arrived at Duke led to him being awarded Robert B. Cox Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.  In the mid-1990s, Nowicki comprehensively revised the introductory biology program at Duke, including the development of a new teacher-training program for graduate students who served as mentors to student learning teams; this program was recognized as part of the NSF-RAIRE award Duke received in 1997 for innovation in science education.  Nowicki is the author of The Science of Life, an introductory biology video lecture series (2004, The Teaching Company).  He also is the author of Biology, a high-school textbook (2008, Holt-McDougal), and frequently gives workshops for high school biology teachers on student engagement.  In 1999,  Nowicki was awarded the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professorship in 1999 in recognition of his distinction in both teaching and research.  Nowicki also serves as a member of the Duke University Pep Band, balancing his professional time between research, teaching, administration, and basketball games.

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The Potential of Open Educational Resources

Joel Thierstein, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Provost, Rice University and Executive Director, Connexions

Michael Boezi, Editorial Director, Flat World Knowledge

Dr. Joel Thierstein Michael Boezi

Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials used in teaching and learning which are freely available on the web, and include journals, full courses, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques that are critical in the learning environment. Although OER alone are not “courses,” and using OER usually does not provide actual course credit, the availability of OER has obvious benefits for learners around the world, both outside of and within traditional institutions of learning. Use of OER fits within and logically connects with the Open Access movement at Duke; creating OER is also another way for faculty to support globalization and knowledge in service of society.

Faculty who are not ready to create OER may still take advantage of existing OER content, by choosing to use OER along with or in place of a traditional textbook. Advantages of OER include low cost for students and potential adaptability to faculty teaching needs.

Our panelists will explain OER and the philosophy behind them, will give examples of several OER models, will highlight how faculty are currently using and creating OER on different campuses, and offered suggestions for how Duke faculty can further engage to support OER.

Speaker Bios: Dr. Joel Thierstein

Dr. Joel Thierstein is Associate Provost for Innovative Scholarly Communication at Rice University and Executive Director of Connexions. Prior to coming to Rice, Dr. Thierstein served as an Associate Professor and Director of New Media Communications at Oregon State University. He also served as a professor at Baylor University, Purdue University Calumet, and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Dr. Thierstein served as a visiting professor of Communications Law at Syracuse University.

Dr. Thierstein has nearly 10 years of media experience in radio, television, cable television, and newspaper. He has  worked on projects with companies and organizations including Sony, the Pro-MPEG Consortium, and the National Association of Broadcasters. Dr. Thierstein began working with the Advanced Television Systems Committee (the standards setting body for digital television) in 1999 and sat as a voting member from 2002-2009.

Dr. Thierstein has written extensively in telecommunications. His books include Birds In Flight: Satellites In The New Millennium, 3rd ed. and Religion, Law and Freedom: A Global Perspective. He has presented numerous conference papers, been quoted extensively by the press as an expert in education and telecommunications, and has been an invited panelist and guest speaker on numerous occasions.

Dr. Thierstein has produced numerous high-definition video projects for such organizations as National Geographic and the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming World Finals.

Dr. Thierstein has a Ph.D. from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and a J.D. also from Syracuse University.

Dr. Thierstein has served as a Board member of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center since 2000 and as the Board Chair from 2003 to 2009. He has also worked extensively with the Conservation Centers for Species Survival.


Michael Boezi is the Editorial Director of Flat World Knowledge, the leading publisher of commercial, openly licensed college textbooks. The emerging trend of open content is reshaping the publishing landscape, and Flat World’s unique business model removes barriers to higher education by increasing the affordability, accessibility, and quality of textbooks.

Michael’s primary role as Editorial Director is to attract new author talent. He has 14 years of experience publishing and marketing college textbooks. As Executive Editor at Pearson Education, he was in charge of publishing textbooks for the U.S. history course, one of the largest enrolling college courses in the country. Prior to that, he served as a mathematics editor at John Wiley & Sons, and as a marketing manager at Addison-Wesley for mathematics and statistics textbooks.

Flat World’s growing catalog consists of 20 published titles written by top experts in their fields, including business, management, marketing, and economics. Many new titles are under development covering general education subjects such as algebra, psychology, sociology, and English composition.

About Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Founded in 2007 by senior textbook industry executives, privately held Flat World Knowledge is the leading publisher of commercial, openly licensed college textbooks. More than 50,000 students in over 500 universities and colleges are learning with Flat World textbooks. Written by the world’s leading subject matter experts, Flat World books are peer reviewed, and professionally edited and developed. Educators have the freedom to use the books as-is, or to modify them to suit their requirements. Students can access the books for free online, or purchase low-cost print-on-demand, audio and downloadable versions, as well as a variety of study aids at a fraction of the cost of traditional textbooks.

Flat World Knowledge was recently cited as being at the forefront of the open education movement by “The 2010 Horizon Report,” a research project of the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. bNET News named Flat World Knowledge a “Publishing Industry Innovator of 2009.” Outsell, a media industry analyst firm, named Flat World one of “30 Innovators to Watch” (alongside Apple, Google, and Hulu). In addition, “DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education” just named Flat World Knowledge one of the first true “edupreneurs” — a for-profit company with a disruptive business model for the higher education market.

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