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Sarah Hansen: Today on the podcast, we're highlighting the
power of open educational resources or OER.
Elizabeth Siler: I love using OER.
One thing I love about teaching OER is that I get to teach what I want to teach.
What I think my students need to know, in the way they need to learn it.
Instead of just defaulting to what the textbooks say.
Sarah Hansen: In this episode, I invited two instructors
in to talk about open educational resources.
One of them teaches negotiation and management here at MIT and shares her course materials
in MIT OpenCourseWare.
The other recently adapted those materials for use in her own course at another university.
An organizational ombudsperson at MIT for 42 years, adjunct professor Mary Rowe was
among the very first instructors to put her course materials on OpenCourseWare almost
20 years ago.
That course is titled 15.667, Negotiation and Conflict Management.
Associate professor Elizabeth Siler has used and adapted the materials from this course
inner teachings at Worcester State University.
When we brought these two instructors together, something really special happened while much
of the conversation did center on negotiation itself.
Mary and Elizabeth simultaneously began a real time collaboration about how to teach
negotiation with OER from Mary's course.
Sarah Hansen: The conversation brought forward so much of
what we at OCW hope OER can do for educators.
Things like creating community, shared ownership of learning materials and fuel for inspired
teaching, that we just really wanted to share it with you.
We hope it will help you find new inspiration for using OER in your teaching.
So without any further ado, let's jump into the conversation.
You'll hear me talking with Elizabeth first and we start with one of my own insecurities
about negotiation, an anxiety some of you may share.
When I think about negotiation, I like freeze up.
I'm like, Oh God, I have to negotiate a salary.
I'm never going to get what I want.
I can't ask for what I want.
Elizabeth Siler: Well, that's one of the reasons that I really
like this course learning it and teaching it.
It's one of the things that...
This is probably true for most students and most people, they don't really like to deal
with conflict, but learning about negotiation as a way that you can learn that there are
different ways to handle a conflict, or handle a negotiation without changing your personality,
Without being something that you're not.
It's their skills and their behaviors, but they're not personality traits.
You can be shy and still be clear in what you want and ask questions.
You can still be a successful negotiator and still not like speaking in public.
Mary Rowe: I think that's a wonderful example of how
negotiation specialists try to build options, which is that those who get into negotiations
about anything, including bedtime for children, want to come up with options.
Sarah Hansen: I'm taking that to heart as I think about
my three-year-old tonight.
So the course 15.667, the one we have on MIT, OpenCourseWare it involves a number of case
studies and simulations, which you've made openly available Mary to the world.
Tell us about the role of case studies in the course?
Mary Rowe: So case studies and discussing real life is
how you learn negotiations.
It's absolutely essential.
Elizabeth Siler: There's one of them called dealing with an
aggressive competitive negotiator.
And this was a case, the main character's named Mr. Canny.
And he just wants what you're selling, but he won't admit it and he won't give in.
He won't, he keeps asking for more and it, I mean, he's a real pain.
But what I love about this is that the students read this and they're like, "Oh, what do I
do this person?
How do I deal with this person?
What's going on?"
And then they talk about it with each other and they start to see that, okay, there are
some things we could do.
And then we start to apply that process of, well, what are his interests?
What does he want?
What's going on behind the scenes?
Elizabeth Siler: He's being very aggressive, but why is that?
And what does he like?
How might you talk to this person, so he'll be more likely to take you seriously.
And so the two things I like about this is, one is that the teaching notes for some of
these are really thorough and lovely and wonderful, is this list that's like two pages long of
things that you could do to address this situation.
But the other thing about it is that this is written so strongly that my students had
some really visceral reactions to this.
Some of them felt really angry.
We did this at the end of the class, the end of the semester, so that they were comfortable
talking about...
They were more comfortable with self disclosure about how they were feeling and what went
And some of them got really angry.
Some of them got really scared.
I was thrilled when this very articulate, very kind of cool hockey player guy in my
class said, "I'll admit it.
You know, I was a little nervous when I was reading this."
Like, yes.
Okay, good.
Elizabeth Siler: And so they could talk about how you have
to deal with your own emotions right before you can go on and negotiate, which in business,
so much... emotions are treated like they are bad, or that people don't have emotions.
But you can't really negotiate well if you're afraid.
Or you can't negotiate well with somebody if you're angry.
So one of the things we talked about at the end is, okay, here's how you felt about this.
What are some things that you do?
I mean, there was money involved in it, but the thing that was really important about
that one to me was to get the students to acknowledge their emotions and figure out
how to deal with them.
And then to see that there's a whole lot more things they could do in the situation than
they thought of, than they had thought about before.
Mary Rowe: It's hard to imagine, Elizabeth, more skillful
discussion of teaching that case.
Listening to you, I notice two things.
One of them is that you've illuminated perfectly, that we're all negotiating with ourselves
and how we're dealing with our negotiation, with our, our dealing, with our emotions.
We've got two different points of view.
I've got to make this work and I'm panicked or I'm furious.
So you're opening up a discussion at the end of the class about even not just how I noticed
that negotiations are important, I guess they should have been.
My first point is that emotions are important that after all relationships between people,
are almost always the most important thing going on, even more so than money.
But secondly, that in dealing with my emotions, that I might be negotiating with myself, I
loved your description.
Elizabeth Siler: And I love how you could tie that back to
the theory.
negotiating with yourself because...
Well, that's, frankly, that's one of the hardest things I find about teaching is until I really,
really know, like until I've taught the course a lot or really know it, it takes me longer
to make those connections from the student experience to the theory.
So it's really helpful to see that.
Mary Rowe: Well, and it's helpful to me to listen to
you and see it.
So always learning.
Listening to Elizabeth again now reminded me of how every student who plays has a chance
to learn their own strengths and their own vulnerabilities.
And I think that could be elucidated better in the teaching.
I used to say at the beginning of the course, that I have no idea whether we can teach people
to negotiate better in the sense of getting more of what you want.
I was pretty sure that we can teach how you and your team can lose less in working with
other people.
I'd like to think more about that in revising the course.
Mary Rowe: We, haven't actually proven that we can teach
people to negotiate better, in part because how well you negotiate is for you to decide.
And I can't tell you how you would think of it.
You might watch me negotiate and think I'd given up the store and I'm pretty happy about
it because I've maintained the relationships that mattered to me.
But I think we can teach people to defend themselves better and that we can prove that.
Anyway, you're right on the fringe know of what I've been thinking about.
Sarah Hansen: The case studies and 15.667 are designed for
graduate students in the MIT Sloan School of Management.
And many of these students come to the course with previous management and business experience.
Elizabeth Siler: My students have not had the same kinds of
work experience that a graduate student would have.
So I would add some things in to explain, well, this is how a law firm works, or this
is what a defense contractor does.
And this is the way the organization is structured.
So when you say this, this is what it means.
It, when it says this, this is what it means.
And it was just really helpful because that's the stuff that they would need to know to
make a decision, but they don't need to know it to learn how to negotiate.
I try to get the confusing things out of the way so they can concentrate on what are the
interests, and what am I going to say?
Mary Rowe: Very good ideas.
Sarah Hansen: It seems like you're touching on an important
aspect of what it means to teach with OER.
What it means to really discover something and then to change it, to make it work for
your students.
Elizabeth Siler: Yeah.
I love using OER.
One thing I love about teaching OER is that I get to teach what I want to teach.
What I think my students need to know in the way they need to learn it.
Instead of just defaulting to what the texts books say.
And sometimes that means using a textbook that's an open resource and just adding things
Sometimes it means pulling from more than one textbook.
Sometimes it means pulling things from...
Writing things and pulling in podcasts and articles and-
Mary Rowe: And the newspaper from yesterday.
Elizabeth Siler: ... Newspaper from yesterday.
Sarah Hansen: I asked Elizabeth if she had any tips for
educators who wanted to begin teaching with OER.
Elizabeth Siler: The first thing I would do is to talk to your
librarian, because librarians are pretty much at the forefront of open education resources.
The next thing I would say is to find somebody to work with find some community, which is,
Mary's nodding.
It's a lot easier if you were starting a course kind of from scratch the way I was with this
course to find somebody to work with, because it helps split up the workload and it gives
you somebody to bounce ideas off of.
And the other thing is just to think about what's working and what's not working about
your current course.
Because if something's not working, you can probably find something else to replace it.
It's not just about using a textbook that's free, so that your students will have it.
It's also about being able to teach what you think they need to learn.
Elizabeth Siler: The other thing is, if you're using open educational
resources that you can mix and match.
There are several meta search engines for OER materials right now.
And the good news is the bad news that there are so many of them, you might have to dig
through to find what you're looking for.
But the good news is that there is a lot out there.
And if there's not, then you can write it.
Sarah Hansen: Elizabeth, what plans do you have to share
the materials you've adapted from Mary's course with others?
Elizabeth Siler: Right.
That's part of open education resources overall is community again, and it's doing what you
have and sharing it with other people.
Once I finish, I'm probably going to work with the instructional designer at my school,
actually to put things in a word document and PDF documents.
So that they could be in a format that can be easily adapted by other professors and
then find a platform for it.
Sarah Hansen: Before we ended our conversation, I asked
Mary and Elizabeth, if there was anything else, they wanted to ask each other about
teaching with the OER in 15.667.
Mary Rowe:
Well I would like to ask, Elizabeth, did you use the task of writing a perceived injurious
experience letter?
Elizabeth Siler: Oh, yes I did.
Mary Rowe: The reason I ask is that of everything that
I ever stumbled into, of course, everything you've heard from me is hindsight.
I never had the wit to plan it, but of everything that I ever came up with in teaching negotiations,
the perceived injurious letter and various variations of it, flew by far the furthest.
I would get requests, I remember one from Canada to reproduce the instructions in 500,000
copies for school, for elementary school or something.
And still on my website at Sloan, it's now called ideas to consider if you've been harassed,
But basically the notion of how to deal with a situation where you have felt injured or
So I'm very interested in your experience with it.
Elizabeth Siler: Yeah.
From one of the last assignments in this semester, the students could write the perceived injurious-
Mary Rowe: Experience.
Elizabeth Siler: ... experience, right.
They could write a PIE letter or they could write an apology letter.
They could choose, and they could write about something from themselves and their own life.
Or they could write about something from one of the cases, because not everybody has the
same level of comfort and disclosing and that's fine.
They can still learn.
And what I found out was, first of all I was really surprised still, even with being around
hundreds of undergraduates every day, just how much, how personal people were willing
to get at this.
I mean, it was clear I was the only person who was going to read this.
Nobody was ever going to do it.
They didn't have to send it.
But people got really personal and I thought they would be getting personal more about
how they'd been injured, but they got really personal and really explicit and really thoughtful
about how they had hurt other people.
Elizabeth Siler: And that was really powerful.
I mean, I was kind of blown away by how willing they were to take this on and the things they
And I wish I had done it earlier in the semester so that I could find out some more, how did
they react to that?
Like what did they get out of it?
Going back to the beginning of this, I think that maybe why this spoke to me so much, it's
because it was everything every day.
And that there are a lot of things you can do in business classes with a very low amount
of emotions involved, and that's great, but this isn't one of them.
And we don't really talk about it much in any other business classes, but we're human.
As my finance professor said, Annabel Burrell.
And she said, we are more than rational beings.
And I think this is one of the places where that's incredibly clear.
Mary Rowe: You remind me also that it's the basis for
To the extent that management training includes a discussion of leadership, emotions had relationships
are profoundly fundamental.
Sarah Hansen: You two have completely changed my perspective
on what negotiation is.
I feel like you've created a pathway for me to explore this area more.
I feel like it's accessible to me that I might actually be good at it.
Mary Rowe: Oh, yeah.
Sarah Hansen: That I might be doing it already without knowing
If you're getting the same feeling that maybe you or your students might already be, or
it could become good at negotiation with the right tools, and want to learn more, you can
explore, download, reuse, and remix all of Mary's teaching materials from our MIT OpenCourseWare
On our website and in the show notes, you'll find the case study about dealing with an
aggressive competitive negotiator, like Mr. Canny and guidelines for writing a perceived
injurious experience letter.
If you, like Elizabeth use these or other OER from OpenCourseWare in your teaching,
we'd love to hear about it because when you share your story of using OER, you inspire
And that's what we're all about.
Thank you for listening.
And we hope you enjoyed season one of Chalk Radio.
We're already hard at work on season two.
If there's a professor you'd like to hear from reach out and let us know.
Until next time I'm Sarah Hansen from MIT, OpenCourseWare.