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What Pressbooks EDU means for BCcampus and Pressbooks Textbooks

Open Textbook Summit 2015

Hugh getting ready to talk Pressbooks and LibriVox at the Open Textbook Summit

A few weeks back at the Open Textbook Summit, Hugh McGuire from Pressbooks announced a new hosted Pressbooks offering aimed at institutions called Pressbooks EDU. Since that announcement, I’ve had a few emails from people asking what this might mean for BCcampus and our work with Pressbooks Textbooks.

In a nutshell, Pressbooks EDU does not change the work we at BCcampus are are doing with Pressbooks. BCcampus is still actively involved with development of the Pressbooks Textbooks platform, and will continue to contribute our code back to the core Pressbooks code base. This means that much of the work we (and by we I mean Brad) do in BC on Pressbooks Textbooks could eventually trickle down to this new hosted Pressbooks EDU instance, however individual decisions about what features and code we develop get merged back into the PB core are made by Hugh and his development team.

While we do share our work openly for the wider community to use, our primary mandated area is to serve the post-secondary institutions within British Columbia. BCcampus will continue to support faculty authoring and adapting open textbooks in Pressbooks as part of the BC Open Textbook project and, later this summer, we will be piloting a self-serve instance of Pressbooks for faculty and staff at BC post-secondary institutions to use.

Hugh’s new service now gives an option to institutions and organizations in other states and provinces who may not have the internal support or resources to set up and host their own instance of Pressbooks (and if you are from a post-sec in BC and are interested in Hugh’s hosted option, by all means contact him). Now institutions have a service provider to support them rather than have to take on the technical support of setting up an instance themselves which, of course, could happen as well as all the code is open source and institutions with the resources could set up their own instance of PB.

I see this as a great move by Pressbooks as it will likely bring some more interest to the platform in EDU now that there is a hosted option available. It will also provide Pressbooks with a source of funding to help grow Pressbooks, the business. In my opinion, a healthy business model for Pressbooks, the company, means a much healthier open source product in Pressbooks, the software.

We have worked closely with Hugh and Pressbooks in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Hugh and Pressbooks have been wonderful partners, and I am continually impressed with Hugh’s vision around what a book can be in a networked digital world, which he spoke about again recently at the Open Textbook Summit.

All in all, I see this as a wonderful development for Pressbooks in education, and for the open textbook publishing ecosystem as a whole.

Positive moves from University of Guelph on OpenEd

Some positive news today from the University of Guelph on the Open Ed situation.

The UofG was not opposed to sharing the mark more broadly within the post-secondary sector as evidenced by our efforts to provide a license to BC Campus. However, it is evident that the various meanings of the term ‘OpenEd’ will be challenged to co-exist and therefore, the University of Guelph is taking steps to release the official mark in its entirety, although this will make the mark available for others to attempt to make it their official mark or to apply to register it as a traditional trade-mark.

 

Teaching with WordPress

I am going to try to participate in the Teaching with WordPress course being offered by UBC’s Will Engle and Christina Hendricks. The course runs for the month of June. Earlier today, my BCcampus colleagues Amanda Coolidge, Tracy Kelly and Mary Burgess helped Will and Christina kick off the course with a live Collaborate session on open pedagogy.

This post is to get something into my new twp15 category which will (with any luck) have a few blog posts related to the course by the end of the month.

Week 22 in review: the #otsummit edition

Keynote speaker with slide that sayse don't just adopt an open textbook, foster a textbook

Rajiv encouraging faculty to not only adopt an open textbook, but foster an open textbook.

Last week was all about the 3rd annual open textbook summit in Vancouver.

The summit was bigger than ever this year and marked a number of firsts for us; the first time we have done a more traditional conference format, soliciting presentation proposals from the wider community for concurrent breakout sessions. For the first time, we hosted a pre-conference event celebrating our authors, adapters, reviewers and project partners, and it was also the first time we charged a modest conference fee ($150) to help offset costs. This last bit had me especially worried as I have always seen a free event as a way to attract the interest of those on the periphery of open textbooks. I wasn’t sure we had hit a kind of critical mas in interest to justify charging just yet for a conference. I didn’t want to put up any barriers, and cost to attend a conference can often be a barrier.

Boy, was I wrong.  Over 170 participants (40+ more than last year) joined us in Vancouver to talk open textbooks. In the end, we had 31 sessions and 2 exceptional keynotes from KPU’s Rajiv Jhiangiani on day one, and students Chardaye Buekert (SFU) and Erik Queenan (Mount Royal University) on day two. And the BC Minister of Advanced Education came by to share a few words with the attendees.

We’re just in the process of gathering all the slides and keynote videos and will post them on the OT Summit website in the coming weeks (we’ve started posting some photos on our Flickr site and here is the hashtag archive).  My own takeaways in scattered, bullet form…

  • The keynotes. I could not have been happier with both. I have glowed many times about Rajiv, and he bowled me over with his keynote that was equal parts gracious, thought provoking, challenging and funny.  The man is truly an all-rounder, clearly and passionately engaged with the scholarship of teaching and learning and his discipline, plus a formidable researcher. His framing of open textbooks as a social justice issue resonated with many in the crowd.
  • It is not an easy task keynoting a conference, let alone being a student asked to speak in front of a room full of faculty (and the Minister of Advanced Education),  but our student keynote went even better than I hoped for, thanks to our extremely eloquent, passionate, informed and charming student keynotes. They both did a superb job in presenting a student perspective on how OER and open textbooks can address inequalities in education.
  • We had a strong student turnout. In addition to the keynotes, there were 18 other students from various post-sec’s in attendance.
  • Both Jessie Key and Christina Hendricks (who, along with Rajiv, make up our trio of Faculty Fellows) were busy presenting, meeting and connecting with others at the conference. Along with Beck Pitt from the OER Research Hub, we set aside some time to talk about writing a report with recommendations based on some of the findings from our faculty OER survey from last fall and this spring. We’ll be co-writing and releasing a report looking specifically at institutional barriers faculty face when using OER and open textbooks, and try to make some recommendations on what institutions can do to help remove those barriers.
  • My colleagues Amanda Coolidge, Lauri Aesoph, Christy Foote and Barb Murphy did most of the heavy lifting to make this thing happen. Thank you. I work with exceptional people.
  • Met with Janet Welch (eCampus Alberta) and Trisha Donovan (the Alberta OER project) to talk about the OER initiative in Alberta and how we may collaborate on some specific initiatives under the tri-provincial Memorandum of Understanding around OER’s that was signed by BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan 2 years ago.
  • Gill, Barb (who got up at the ungodly hour of 3am to co-present live via Skype from Tokyo) and I did a presentation on the BC Geography Textbook Sprint. We’ll be doing this again at OpenEd in the fall. This caught the attention of some BC institutions who are intrigued by the model and have asked me to follow up with them. Adam Hyde from BookSprints was  at the summit and I finally had a chance to meet him f2f and hang out. The way he thinks and talks  about information, knowledge production, ownership, authorship, books and communities resonates strongly with me, and I am happy to have made the connection.
  • Speaking of progressive thinkers about the future of books, Hugh McGuire from Pressbooks attended and made an announcement about a new Pressbooks EDU hosting service he has set up specifically for educational institutions who are interested in using Pressbooks, but may not have the internal IT resources to set up an instance themselves. Hugh has been a terrific partner with the open textbook project, and I am really happy to see him launch this initiative as it provides another way for faculty and institutions to engage with open textbook creation and hosting.
  • Met with our print on demand service providers, SFU Document Solutions, on some new initiatives around print books that we have in the works. SFU is big on Bitcoin, and we are exploring the possibility of making Bitcoins a payment method for students who order the low cost, print on demand open textbooks. As well, we are exploring alternative ways of shipping physical books using the existing inter-library transfer system. KPU and SFU have been testing this out as a way to reduce the sizable shipping costs of open textbooks, especially around the lower mainland where there is a concentration of institutions and students sometimes pay up to $15 to have a physical textbook shipped just a few blocks away.
  • Post-conference, I met with the BC Earth Sciences articulation committee. We have funded the development of a Geology textbook (being created by Steve Earle from VIU/TRU-OL), and the articulation committee has been involved with the development of the book by acting as the peer reviewers on the book. As a result, the interest is high among this group in adopting the book once it is released. I think including the provincial articulation committee in the development of the resource is a fantastic move as this is the community that will make the book stronger and be the group who ultimately has a lot of influence in the adoption of the textbook throughout the province.

Finally, I had some fun last week getting ready for the conference riffing off some of the themes in Rajiv’s keynote. A few weeks ago when I was at TRU-OL for their faculty event, Rajiv and I had lunch together and had this fun idea of making an infomercial around the current textbook sales model. We had a laugh and I thought nothing of it until later on in the afternoon, Rajiv emailed me a script he wrote. I put my old hardsell radio voice on, went digging around Flickr and had some wicked fun making this to close the conference.

 

Week in Review: Week 20/21

Open Textbook Summit 2014 Day 1

Brad getting excited for next weeks Open Textbook Summit. CC-BY BCcampus

Covering the past 2 weeks.

  • Prep for next weeks OT Summit and authors thank you event. We have over 150 people coming for the Summit and another 70+ to the authors thank you event. Super happy with these numbers as this is the first year that we have run the Summit more like a conference with session proposals. It is also the first year that we have charged a registration fee for the event, and I was very concerned that would hurt our numbers. But we’ve surpassed last years numbers and I expect we will still have more once the final numbers are collected.
  • Met with the Noba project, an open textbook Psychology project. Noba co-sponsored the testbank sprint last summer and now have a copy of the textbank for faculty who use their open textbook. We’ve both been fighting with Respondus trying to use it to make our testbanks. It;s a beast. If anyone knows of a better tool to make test question pools for numerous LMS, please let me know. I am dying to find an alternative that will make multiple testbanks for multiple LMS’s from a single source.
  • Completed a first draft of an open textbook sustainability plan and a draft three year tactical plan for open textbooks & circulated to a few BCcampus team members for feedback.
  • Working on a video project with Rajiv. My editing skills are rusty and I hope I can pull this off in time for the OT Summit cause his idea is very funny and I want to do it justice.
  • Saw a noticeable upswing in number of faculty review requests this week, which is fantastic. We are always looking for faculty to review open textbooks, and it looks like a few BC faculty are adding an open textbook to their summer reading list.
  • Met with our Faculty Fellows. They are going to be busy over the next few weeks at various events around BC. We are planning to meet f2f with Beck Pitt from the OER Research Hub next week in Vancouver to start working on a report with the findings and recommendations from our open textbook faculty survey that wrapped up this spring. I am hoping we will be able to release this report this summer.
  • Met with Nicole Allen from SPARC last week. Nicole and SPARC were involved in organizing OpenEd in Washington last year, and she had some good tips for us as we continue planning OpenEd 2015 in Vancouver this fall.
  • Mucking around with embedding interactive Excel spreadsheets in Pressbooks. Also had some PB frustration tracking down more security headaches. This one actual affected an author who lost a few hours of writing after he was inadvertently locked out of PB. Took the better part of a morning figuring out what happened and seeing if we could recover his stuff.
  • Updating & reconciling OTB budget.
  • Was Victoria Day in Canada last weekend and I took some extra time around the weekend to hang out with family and friends, do some biking & bbq’ing.

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