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Week 16 In Review

Presentations, Workshops, Courses

  • Working on upcoming BCNet presentation on (what else) open textbooks.
  • Met with Gill and Barbara about our Open Textbook Summit presentation on the Geography booksprint.
  • Submitted proposal for OpenEd15 this fall with Gill and Barbara to present on same topic (ok, not quite done this yet, but will beat today’s midnight submission deadline).
  • Co-facilitated a live webinar with David Porter and Paul Stacey (Creative Commons), part of a 12 day Open Education course I am co-facilitating with Commonwealth of Learning and BC Ministry of Education.
  • Prepped for a Monday webinar with Megan Beckett (Siyavula) for same course.

Projects

  • Finished up a testbank for the Noba Project (a great Psychology open resource). They co-sponsored the Psychology TestBank Sprint last summer that Rajiv put together. I’ve been working with Respondus to make LMS import packages of the question banks for them. They have been very patient with me waiting for these files as it was one of those projects that always seemed to get delayed by the tyranny of urgent. Was nice to be able to do something that was a bit edtechish.
  • We’re planning a revamp of the Open site this summer and I’ve started brainstorming some notes on things I’d like to see changed.
  • The night before the Open Textbook Summit, we’ve decided to hold a thank you event for authors and adapters who have worked on open textbook projects we have funded. Did some work on that event, although Amanda and Lauri are handling the bulk of the work.

Reading

  • The Portable Z: We’re Doing Five Blades by Richard Sebastian. Following on the success of the Z Degree at Tidewater Community College, the state of Virginia is going to be rolling out Z Degree programs at all 23 state colleges. This is really exciting stuff; entire programs with $0 textbook costs, scaling up to cover an entire statewide system.
  • Finding the Problems OER Solves Martin Weller. I tend to think of myself as a pragmatic dreamer (a recipe for cognitive dissonance if there ever was one) leaning a bit heavy on the pragmatic side. Which is why I appreciate Martin’s perspective so much. This pragmatism was also evident in a presentation of Martin’s that I watched this week on The Battler for Open (which I am three chapters into) when he responds to the criticism that, after 10 years OER’s haven’t disrupted education with “has it just been useful?
  • The Defining Characteristics of Emerging Technologies and Emerging Practices in Online Education Geroge Veletsianos. Looking forward to the new edition of the book.
  • I read some posts about the Microsoft/McGraw Hill partnership, but honestly I tuned out after I heard Powerpoint. I probably should care more since McGraw-Hill does a lot of openwashing in their press release “McGraw-Hill Education’s embrace of open learning.” Yeah, right. Embrace. Call me cynical, but I don’t think we’ll see a lot of openly licensed content come out of this arrangement.

Other stuff

  • Took some time with the rest of the open textbook team this week for a celebratory lunch.
  • Met with the Faculty Fellows this week. All are going to be busy at various events around the province in the coming months presenting and talking about open textbooks. We have also been going over the findings of the faculty survey we did earlier this year with the OER Research Hub. The findings will form the basis of their presentation at the Open Textbook Summit in May. We’ll also be releasing the results on the open.bccampus.ca website over the summer.
  • Got the new @bcopentext Twitter account up and running.
  • Annoying login problem popping up with Pressbooks Textbook since we changed the login path in an attempt to stem the brute force attack that shows no signs of waning. Basically, if you are in as an editor or author in multiple books on the platform, you are being forced to log in twice. It may be an inconvenience we have to live with on our local platform (others who install Pressbooks Textbooks won’t have this issue – it’s something specific to our instance as a result of the persistent attack we have on our servers). Times like these, I am so grateful to have the skills of seasoned network administrators to rely on. I’ve spent too much time in the six stages of grief throughout my WordPress loving life.
  • Attended a presentation at my kids school on Internet Safety for Parents by Darren Laur. I was dreading this presentation since it was pitched to our school PAC a few months ago thinking it would be full of fear mongering. It didn’t make me feel much better after Googling about the presentation and finding out that Darren puts on the persona of a white hat hacker and creeps kids social media profiles befriending them as a 16 year old girl prior to doing his school presentations. Ick. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see Darren present a pretty balanced view of digital citizenship. He made it a point to stress to the 50 or so parents in the audience that “your kids are doing some amazing things” and being positive digital citizens. I wish there was just as much emphasis on the role that schools should be playing in helping to create those digital citizens (I am still appalled at the lack of digital literacy education in my kids school curriculum) rather than placing the entire load on many parents to cultivate digital citizens, but overall I thought the presentation was good and not as fear monger-ish as I had expected.

Next week: packing my hiking shoes and off to Banff for OE Global, followed by a few days in Vancouver for the annual BCNet conference.

Week 14-15 In Review

MIC-KEY

Supporting the big bad mouse. I had to revoke my copy of No Logo at the gate.

Was on vacation with the family for most of last week and the early part of this week. Add in Easter. This summary covers 2 very compressed weeks.

Presentations

  • Talked about Pressbooks TextBooks as part of a CCCOER presentation on OER authorng. Slides on Slideshare.
  • Prepping for upcoming presentations & workshops at BCNet & Thompson Rivers University.

Meetings

  • Ministry update meeting.
  • Met with ROER4D project. They are kicking the tires with Pressbooks Textbook.
  • Took part in a Mozilla Community Education working group call with Emma.
  • Open textbook project meeting. Lots of planning for the upcoming Open Textbook Summit. We’re also planning on doing a special thank you event for our authors and adapters the night before.
  • Amanda and I met with CAST to talk how we can work together on accessibility.

Travel

  • Booked travel & accommodation to Kamloops for TRU faculty workshop in May, and Vancouver for BCNet (end of April) & ETUG (June).

Reading

  • Audrey Watters talk at Western Oregon, which lead me to Justin Reich’s article “Open Educational Resources Expand Educational Inequalities”. After reading the article and the research,  I don’t think the headline is accurate and unfairly throws OER’s under the bus.  Justin’s research isn’t at all about OER’s, but is actually about educational technology and (more specifically) the use of wiki’s as a teaching tool with his students.  A more appropriate title should be “educational technology expands educational inequalities”, not OER’s. In the comments, I found Justin does acknowledge that the headline is misleading, and that the original title of the article was “Will Free Benefit the Rich?” Not sure how OER got dragged into the mix, unless I am missing something in my reading of the research.
  • Open Ends? from Brian Lamb. Incidentally, the video of Brian and Alan’s presentation The Open Web at UVic a few weeks ago for Open Education Week is now available.
  • Finished We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Stumbled across this book (which heavily influenced both Orwell’s 1984 & Huxley’s Brave New World) after seeing an interview with Noam Chomsky where he mentioned it. Can’t believe I have never come across it before.
  • Started Martin Weller’s Battle for Open.
  • Data on Textbook Costs from Alex Usher. 1350 Canadian students interviewed on how much they spend on textbooks. The interesting tidbit for me wasn’t with how much they spend (although it is interesting), but instead that “Overall, two-thirds of students said that they bought all of their required textbooks” Meaning 1/3 of students try to get by in their courses without purchasing the required material. I am not sure if that includes illegally obtaining copies of their material, borrowing from friends or the library, or just plain going without.

Other stuff

  • Connected some BC Physics faculty with OpenStax, who are looking for contributors for their new Physics book.
  • Working on another iteration of the Exploring Open Education with the Commonwealth of Learning and BC Ministry of Education.
  • Registered a new Twitter account for the BC Open textbook project @BCOpenText. I wanted to use the phrase OpenEd, but it is proving problematic to use that phrase in Canada.. I’ll have more to say about this at some point in the future, but it absorbed some of my time this week.
  • Ordered the Noun Project commemorative Creative Commons shirt.

Week 13 2015 in Review

Bamboo sunset

A gratuitous photo that has nothing to do with the post, but one I took & like.

Yeah, I’ve fallen off the wagon. back on now. Thanks, Tannis. Ironically, I am on holiday next week so just when I get back on….

  • Meetings with Campus Manitoba and Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Ed talking open textbooks & other open education initiatives.
  • Open Textbook Summit. Finalized presentation proposals with Amanda and Lauri. Very happy with the response to the call & such a great bunch of people coming to Vancouver at the end of May to share what they know about open textbooks.
  • Prepping Pressbooks presentation for CCCOER webinar April 8th on publishing tools.
  • Budget meeting. That time of the year.
  • Site visit for our co-op student with her program. Can’t rave enough about the work that she is doing for us. Nice to have someone with some programming bg helping out Brad on Pressbooks development.
  • Wrapped up PDF project with FunnyMonkey to add an open source PDF output egine (mPDF) to Pressbooks. Watch for that option coming to PressBooks Textbook in the coming weeks. Brad is just doing some finishing work on our end and then it gets released.
  • Signed development contract with Pressbooks to create an ODT output for Pressbooks. This will mean that you will be able to choose an output from Pressbooks that is Word compatible (our goal to make adaptation by faculty just that much easier by making a format that they may feel more comfortable working in).
  • Project update meeting with the Ministry. I have to say, when I took on this new (temporary) senior role in the fall, the thought of these meetings caused me anxiety. I had no idea what they would be like, or who I would be dealing with, despite Mary’s reassurances. I didn’t sleep the night before my first one. What has actually happened is that something I dreaded so much ahs turned into one of my most enjoyable meetings. I feel very fortunate that we have such wonderful support at the Ministry and are working with a crew of very supportive people. I sleep soundly the nights before our meetings now.
  • Prepping another offering of EdTechOpen workshop with Commonwealth of Learning & Ministry of Education April 17-22.
  • We released 2 new books. Our Criminology book developed by JIBC and SFU, and a very interesting and unique open textbook on First Nations economics that came to us from the Tulo Center.
  • Happy & proud of the recognition the entire open textbook team got this week.
  • Faculty Fellows meeting with Beck Pitt from OER Research Hub to discuss preliminary findings of our faculty research project on open textbooks and open education. Some excellent findings already that will help inform our future direction for the open textbook project, as well as help others.
  • Bit of work on a draft budget for OpenEd 2015 (proposals now open).
  • Invited by Colin to attend a faculty development workshop at TRU in May. Submitted workshop abstract for the session I am doing on OER.
  • Booked travel to Open Education Global conference in Banff next month. Looking forward to connecting with many open educators I have yet to meet IRL.
  • What would the BC Open Textbook project look like in 5 years? I’m writing this now.
  • Reading: How Much Do College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks? and postscript by Phil Hill. Also The Remix Hypothesis by David Wiley. David’s post has really resonated and one I hope that gets further exploration by researchers. The case study I often talk about in presentations  (and one that I suspect helped David formulate the remix hypothesis) is the  Houston Community College example of Carol Layman  where remix appears to have been a contributing factor in improving student outcomes.
  • Picked up a couple tickets to the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver in June. Really looking forward to taking my son to the games. We’ve been to a few internationals (not many roll through our neck of the woods) with a hilight being Canada vs. Mexico at the 2013 Gold Cup in Seattle. Such an awesome memory for both of us.

2013-07-11 19.33.09 2013-07-11 21.35.22

 

Photos for Class provides safe search and auto-attribute for Flickr images

Came across a site that may be a good one for k12 teachers looking for a way to safely search Flickr for Creative Commons material, and for anyone looking for an easy way to attribute Flickr photos.

Photos for Class is a site that uses a combination of Flickr’s Safe Search filter and a few in house filters and allow you to search Flickr for G rated CC licensed photos. Which is useful in itself, especially if you are in a k12 environment. But the bit that everyone will find useful about Photo for Class is that when you download the photo, the CC attribution is automatically added to the image using the CC recommend TASL (Title, Artist, Source, License) format for correct attributions. Which works great if you are simply wanting to find and use an image without modifying it.

I did a quick search for the phrase totem pole and came up with a number of images.With each image there is an option to download, view on Flickr or report (if an inappropriate image has slipped through the filtering process, there is community moderation). I downloaded the first result and got this photo with the attribution automatically added at the bottom of the photo.

7975351242

One of the things I hear often from people new to Creative Commons licenses is how to attribute resources. Here is a nice tool that makes it very easy to find and correctly attribute a CC licensed photo on Flickr. There are other tools, like the OpenAttribute browser plugin, the Washington State Open Attribution Builder and Alan Levine’s Flickr specific attribution bookmarklet also available to help make it easier to attribute CC resources correctly.

h/t to Dr. Jo Badge blog post on teaching children about Creative Commons licenses.

Learning about digital learning through photography

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about purchasing my first DSLR camera. In February, I took an insane amount of photos with it. 1176 to be precise as I learn how to use and understand a piece of new (to me) technology.

The thing I love best about the new camera? It allows me to shoot 1176 photos in a month.

I used to shoot with film. I was by no means a good photographer, but I had fun fiddling with film, although I often found shooting with film a stressful experience to get the shot just right.

And this is the thing that has struck me most as the biggest difference between film vs digital photography: the scale. It has nothing to do with the actual quality or types of photos I can take, but instead it is how cheap it is to experiment with digital. In my film days, I would have never shot 1100+ photos in a month. Heck, I probably never shot 1100 photos in the entire time I shot with film. There was the cost of film and the cost of developing film that was a real barrier to experimenting freely with my film camera.

But with digital, that cost to experiment has been greatly reduced to the point where it costs me no more to take 1100 pictures than it does to take 1. Digital has allowed me to scale up the number of photos I take with little regard for monetary cost (the mental cost of sifting thru 1100 photos is another story). Digital has given me the ability to more freely experiment and, more importantly, the freedom to fail since the dollar cost of failure is very low.

I never felt that type of freedom to experiment when I was shooting film. When shooting film, there was always that nagging bit of pressure to get the shot right because every shot cost, not to mention the disappointment of  getting a developed roll of film back and discovering too late that you don’t have a single decent picture because you decided to use an ISO 100 film instead of 800. Money wasted. A barrier to experimenting with film.

Whoops. Didn't get that lighting right

Whoops. Didn’t get that lighting right

But that freedom to experiment afforded by digital photography alone doesn’t make the learning happen. Taking tons of pictures and having the freedom to fail is just the start. In order to learn, you also have to take the time to examine why you failed; why did that photo turn out so dark when the lighting in one 3 dial tweaks later turn out fine?

Le there be light!

Let there be light!

In order to learn, I need to be able to examine why one setting worked and another didn’t. And, in the world of digital photography, that means looking at the metadata. Digital photos give me so much more information(feedback) than film did about what was happening when the photo was taken. What was my aperture setting when I took that photo? Shutter speed? ISO setting? What lens was I using? All this metadata is automatically captured when I snap a picture and called up later by my software when reviewing my photos, allowing me to see exactly what settings worked and didn’t work in certain situations. From this information, I can make better decisions in the future.

Now, so far my digital photo learning has been pretty technical and fairly autodidactic. Other than a few tweets and reading some websites, I haven’t really begun to explore the social side of learning photography where I actively solicit feedback from others on the photos I take, and vice versa. At some point, I’ll need the input of some MKO’s about the things that the data can’t tell me. Things like composition that you can’t learn from just looking at data and taking lots of pictures. And I’d like to share what I have learned with others. Thinking my long underutilized Flickr account is about to become my learning network of choice for the next little while.

All in all, so far my new camera has been a wonderful edtech meta learning opportunity for me. It’s an example to me about how digital affordances give us the ability to freely experiment, fail, and try again at a scale that wasn’t possible in the analog days, all while providing both a rich set of data and access to a network of peers to help us improve. But above all, it’s a heck of a lot of fun, which makes for the best kind of learning.

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