Tooling Around in the Open



The purpose of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Explore a few tools that can be used to create and provide Open Education Resources
  • Experience a few tools that can be used in Open Educational Practices
  • Collect and share ideas and uses for Open Tools

Day 8 - Tooling Around in the Open

image of a person holding a paint brush and a pencil with multi-coloured paint spread around

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash


The purpose of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Explore a few tools that can be used to create and provide Open Education Resources
  • Experience a few tools that can be used in Open Educational Practices
  • Collect and share ideas and uses for Open Tools

Who’s “Creating” Today’s Module?

Hi! I’m Terry Greene. I’m a Program Manager at eCampusOntario (on secondment from Fleming College, where I’m a learning technology specialist). I am no super expert in Open Tools. I’ll point you to others who are not just using, but creating, open tools. I certainly am an enthusiastic user of open tools, though. You’ll realize why “creating” is in quotation marks in the section header in a moment. A little hint: it’s because being open is awesome. You can find me on Twitter @greeneterry

What are Open Tools?

We could probably debate for days what constitutes open and what constitutes a tool. Put those together and we have ourselves a lot of arguing to do. So let’s keep it simple. For this module, an open tool is some kind of software/program/thing that you can use for free, with no time limit, without providing a credit card number and which does not limit what you can take out of it. Maybe you need to give up an email address.

There are great “free” tools out there that you can make amazing visual elements and what not with, but if at some point they want some money from you to get the sweet stuff, they are not invited to our Open Tool party/module. Feel “free” to use them, though!

Now, here is the reason why, as it turns out, I am not the one who is really going to tell you much of anything about Open Tools myself. This is an experience of one of the massive benefits of the open education movement: People, like, share stuff! When I sat down to create a module on Tools for Open Education, I thought “Huh, maybe someone has done this before. I’ll tweet out a query.” And here is what happened:

And guess what? The module created by JR Dingwall, Instructional Designer at the University of Saskatchewan’s Distance Education Unit, covered not only what I was looking for, he did it far better than I could have done. It’s a web presentation that he created for the Alberta Open Educational Resources (OER) Summit 2017.

So we are going to head over to the site he created to enjoy his work on OER tools and then come back here to do an Open Tool activity.

One side note, JR has chosen a nice mix of open tools, including some very interesting independent ed-tech. He even made the site itself with an indie ed-tech tool known as a SPLOT (read a little about them here: You just need to know one little inside joke: There’s purposely no consensus on what SPLOT stands for, it just generally means a small, open tool that just does one thing with no bloat. If you think of an LMS that has 47 tools in it; this is like one of those tools, only actually useful. You can decide for yourself what SPLOT stands for. The title of every page of JR’s OER Tool module includes a variation of SPLOT. He’s Simply Providing Lexical Options To (you).

Ready? Head on over to JR’s site to learn about some independent ed-tech tools that help:

  • to find and share images to complement your work;
  • to create interactive content for your course materials;
  • to publish open materials like textbooks and modules.
Here's what you'll see

  1. The first page covers where to find open images and how to attribute the images you find
  2. The second page covers (with excellent examples) some of the content design and assessment tools of h5P
  3. The third page covers Pressbooks (we recommend the official website as a starting place, installing your own open instance of Pressbooks is some advanced fancy dancing)
  4. The fourth page covers examples of SPLOTs that highlight a few different social learning pedagogies – generally focused on advanced work using Wordpress.

The examples are worth the price of admission, including the site in which they are housed. Click this link or the image below and enjoy! SPLOT the OER Tools

Don’t forget to come back here once you have gone through everything!

photo of a light source (likely a sparkler) waved around against a dark background to create a multi-lined light circle

Photo by Luiz Hanfilaque on Unsplash

Day 8 Activity: Make Something in an Open Tool

Here is what I am asking you to do as an activity for today: Using an open tool, create an Open Educational Resource that helps newcomers to Open Education distinguish between an open and a closed tool.

You are the master of your own domain, so we want you to do your own thing here. You get to decide what and how to do this.

  • A single presentation slide with an open image?
  • A short H5P activity?
  • A Google Doc that could be shared to other OER or into a Pressbook?
  • Submit an “Open vs Closed” activity to The Ontario Extend Activity Bank (this is much like the ds106 Assignment Bank that JR mentioned.)
  • Make something with a SPLOT

You can choose to share you work in the Day 8 discussion forum, in a chosen social media space (blog, tweet, Instagram - pop the link into the discussion forum, too if you want!), or just save it for your own reflection.

Advanced and Cool Examples

Before heading out into the wild and making some OER with an open tool, let’s put this in perspective to see just how far one can take this. Head on over to Dennis’ Blogatorium, the web space of Dennis Vanderspek, faculty member in General Arts and Science at Fleming College. There you will see some really independent ed-tech. If Dennis doesn’t like how something works enough times, he just makes his own program that does the thing and then shares it with anyone openly. Now, I know that not many have the skill set to do this (I absolutely don’t), I just wanted to make what I’ve asked you to do doesn't seem so crazy. Seriously though, check out the tools like the BlogTron300 and marvel at the awesomeness of it all. We don’t necessarily need big corporate educational technology.

Explore More

Go back to the last page of JR’s Open Tool site and follow some of the links to see how open tools have been used. Also pop back over to Dennis’ Blogatorium and explore his other home made ed-tech like YodaPad, the program inspired by AODA legislation!

Also, let’s explore together right now! Other than SPLOTs, H5P and Pressbooks, what Open Tools do you know and use? Post to the discussion board or Tweet to the #MakingSense18 your suggestions for further exploration of Open Tools.



Content for Making Sense of Open Education Day 8 by Terry Greene is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license (unless otherwise indicated with citation and/or attribution).

Last modified: Saturday, 2 June 2018, 6:57 PM