Week 48 Week in Review

Truncated week as I took Monday & Tuesday off after OpenEd.

  • Shortlisted candidates for an 8 month co-op gig we have with the open textbook project. Brendan Lane, our current co-op (and an awesome one at that) is leaving at the end of the month after working on open textbooks for the past 8 months. I am sure he has cleaned up enough bad html code to last a lifetime.
  • Met with Ministry of Advanced Ed in Saskatchewan to talk about open initiatives in that province. We’ve recently opened up our textbook review process to both Alberta and Saskatchewan faculty and are looking for ways to make more collaborative moves under the tri-provincial MOU.
  • Brainstorming meeting yesterday on how to promote and support Open Pedagogy projects (like many of the UBC student as producer projects that Will and Novak talked about in their OpenEd presentation). We also talked about developing more localized sprints along the lines of the work being done by Lumen Learning where we go to institutions to build local capacity by engaging in a textbook adaptation project.
  • After OpenEd I came back wanting to have someone else check over our attribution statements for textbook adaptation projects we have done, and to ensure that we have done things correctly as per the CC licenses. Working on adaptations on projects (or, even more challenging remix projects) is complicated when you are mixing and matching sources of content with different licenses, so I have reached out to Creative Commons to see if they can help us by checking over our work on the first adaptation projects we are rolling out the door.
  • Our fantastic Communications Director, Tori Klassen, is leaving BCcampus & heading over to Vancouver Community College, so we had an impromptu office goodby lunch for her yesterday.
  • Began working on venues for OpenEd 2015 in Vancouver.
  • Open Education Week is coming up in March, and it looks like we are going to try to put together a series of lunchtime webinars for the week with different open textbook groups (faculty, librarians, students, adapters & others) participating in the webinars. I may be tapping some of you on the shoulder in the coming weeks
  • Heading to VIU to do a workshop with Jessie Key on Open Textbooks on January 15th. Also have booked presentations for UNBC and Selkirk College in the new year. The virtual open textbook roadshow is coming to an institution near you.
  • Getting ready to move the new Nursing and Mental Health textbook I’ve been working on to the editors for release early in the new year.
  • Added a cap of 5 reviews per faculty to our textbook review process to try to encourage a greater diversity of voices in our textbook reviews.
  • I’m facilitating a couple of open online courses – a one week course on OER’s starting Saturday with EdTechOpen (register here), and another longer, 4 week course on adopting open textbooks. Did some work prepping for those.
  • Did an interview with a group doing an evaluation of the work of the OER Research Hub. They wanted the opinion of a partner who has worked with the Hub about what it was like working with them. Really, if it wasn’t for Martin, Beck and the rest of the OER Research Hub reaching out to us after I flailed trying to organize some research on our project, I think we would have missed a valuable opportunity to add to the body of OER research that is in demand by practitioners around the world. For that I am eternally grateful for their help and support. I’ll add Rajiv to my grateful OER researcher list as well as he, too, helped push the current research project along.
Proudly sporting my shiny new OER Research Hub t-shirt.

Big fan. Proudly sporting my shiny new OER Research Hub t-shirt.

 

Week 47 Week in Review

It was all about OpenEd 2014 last week in Washington, DC. Brad and I presented on the work he has been doing to add an api to PressBooks. Amanda and Lauri also presented on managing an Open Textbook adaptation and how we have been doing things here in BC.

David announced that OpenEd 2015 will be held in Vancouver, BC next year & we (BCcampus) will be helping to host the event, so I was taking lots of notes on logistics organizing an event for 500+ people.

I wrote a blog post about OER efficacy after seeing John Hilton’s presentation on OER research.

I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with some people as I had hoped to, but am grateful to have finally met folks like Audrey Watters, David Kernohan, Vivien Rolfe, Tim Owens, Pat Lockley, Rob Farrow, Bea de los Arcos, Mikhail Gersovich, Nate Otto, Mike Caufield, Rolin Moe and so many others in person after connecting online for many, many years.

And such a great representation from BC at OpenEd with excellent presentations from UBC’s Will Engle & Novak Rogic, BCcampus faculty fellow & UBC faculty Christina Hendricks, RRU’s George Veletsianos., and JIBC’s Tannis Morgan (who’s 11 year old daughter wins the award for best graphic illustration of a presentation with this beauty of Brad from our session)

While I was deep into conference networking mode for the majority of the week, Brad & I did get a chance to see some of Washington & spent a day playing tourist.

The backside of the White House with Washington Monument in bg

The backside of the White House with Washington Monument in bg

Flight of beer at Churchkey at the end of a long day playing tourist

Flight of beer at Churchkey at the end of a long day playing tourist

 

 

 

Proven efficacy?

I am at OpenEd in Washington DC this week. Earlier today I sat in on a session by John Hilton from Brigham Young University called A Review of Research on the Perceptions, Influence, and Cost-Savings of OER In lightening sequence, Hilton presented 12 empirical research studies that showed that students who used open educational resources do as well and, in some cases, slightly better, in their class. 

Now, many of these studies were cautious in drawing direct conclusions that it was the OER alone that lead to the results of the studies (and I’ll post the full link of research studies he quoted here when the slides of the presentation are released), but 12 studies that all looked at classes using OER’s returning similar results is encouraging, even if that result is, in essence, no significant difference. Because if there is no significant difference between learning outcomes with students who use free open learning resources and a $200 commercial textbook, then why use the commercial textbook?

One of the interesting points in the presentation came at the end during the Q&A when David Kernohan asked John if he knew of any studies that looked specifically at the efficacy of publishers textbooks. John’s reply, essentially, that he wasn’t really aware off the top of his head, but he may have come across 3 or 4. But there isn’t much.

Which is a similar finding that I discovered this spring as I was doing some research on what makes an effective textbook as I was preparing for our Geography book sprint. There is not a lot of research on efficacy of textbooks, period. One paper I looked at was from 1996 titled Student’s Perceptions of Textbook Pedagogical Aids by Wayne Weiten, Rosanna Guadagno & Cynthia Beck which stated that

“virtually no research has assessed the usefulness of the numerous pedagogical aids that are now standard far in psychology texts”.

Meaning that, in the views of these researchers, the features of a textbook that have been put in place to help student learn weren’t put there because they have been shown to help student learn.

Now, I noted at the time of that post that the research I was looking at was 20 years old, but the scans I did at the time showed something similar to what John Hilton had discovered – there are not a lot of research studies showing that publishers textbooks help students learn better (and if you know of studies, please point me to them).

Contrast this lack of empirical research on the efficacy of publishers textbooks with what the recent Babson report on OER’s said is the most important factor faculty consider when selecting teaching resources – proven efficacy. And not just a few faculty, but 59.6% of faculty said “proven efficacy” is the number one consideration for them when choosing teaching resources. Which is a huge disconnect for me. You have faculty saying they pick resources because they are proven effective, but yet reviews of the literature don’t show a lot of “proven efficacy” of publishers textbooks. Which should start to make educators reframe the question from “show me the proof that open educational resources are effective” to “show me the proof that publishers resources are”.

Weiten, W., Guadagno, R. E., & Beck, C. A. (1996). Student’s Perceptions of Textbook Pedagogical Aids. Teaching of Psychology, 23(2), 105-107. doi:10.1207/s15328023top2302_8

 

Introduction to Sociology: An Open Textbook Adaptation Story

One of the promises and potentials of open textbooks that has always intrigued me the most is the ability to customize and adapt the book, enabled by open licenses. To me, this is a powerful pedagogical tool that, in the right hands and used effectively, can contribute to better student learning outcomes as some research suggests*.

When the opportunity to work on the BC Open Textbook Project came up, I made a conscious effort to try to promote adaptation over creation of new resources and try to work on how adaptations might work beyond the theoretical promise. This is why our first funded projects were adaptation projects of existing open textbooks.

Here is one of the adaptation projects that, I think, shows how open licenses combined with some fairly informal connections can lead to a type of autonomous collaboration (oxymoron?) to create customized learning resources from a single root source.

OpenStax Introduction to Sociology

Our first adaptation project was released earlier this week, Introduction to Sociology: 1st Canadian Edition. The original Introduction to Sociology textbook was released by OpenStax College. We added it to our collection and solicited reviews from BC faculty on the book. From these reviews, we determined that the book needed to be revised to fit our local (Canadian) context.  Some comments from the reviews:

This is a text that I would use, if it was adapted to the Canadian context. It is very clear and understandable, and all of the sections lend themselves well to illustrations, discussions, and other activities. So, while I do like the text, the issue of using a text with American content in a Canadian college course is very problematic.

and

a) The context is American: Substitute the American context with a Canadian context.
b) There is no single “feminist theory”. Therefore this textbook defining and applying the feminist paradigm as “feminist conflict theory” or simply “feminist theory” limits the contributions of the feminist paradigm to the development of sociology.

From these reviews, we developed a call for proposals to adapt the textbook based, in part, on these reviews. Dr. Bill Little (University of Victoria & Thompson Rivers University) with Ron McGivern (TRU) undertook the adaptation process. Dr. Little was our first textbook adapter and lived on the bleeding edge. This was no small undertaking. You can see for yourself all the changes made in the adapated textbook, but here is a small sampling to show you the type of work that went into this revision. These are the changes made to a single chapter (of the 21 chapter book).

Chapter 1

  • Figure 1.1 changed
  • Added new figure 1.2
  • Added figures 1.5, 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.15
  • Added information about Vancouver hockey riots
  • Enhanced definition of Sociology with Dorothy Smith reference
  • Enhanced and expanded  with micro- and macro- definitions
  • Enhanced and expanded section on to include reference to C. Wright Mills, obesity rates in Canada.
  • Added information about rectification
  • Removed information about U.S. housing crisis and Food Stamp Use in the U.S.
  • Added in reference to CBC program The Current and information about aboriginal incarceration rates  in Canada
  • Removed title Studying Part and Whole and merged with Studying Patterns section
  • Removed reference to the practice of religion
  • Removed section on Individual- Society Connections
  • Enhanced section on Greek philosophy
  • Enhanced section on Eastern philosophy to expand section on Khaldun
  • Enhanced section on 19th century sociology to include contributions to discipline by Mac Weber and feminist contributions by Mary Wollstone.
  • Enhanced and expanded Comte section
  • Renamed, expanded and enhanced section on Karl Marx
  • Broke apart the Creating a Discipline section and added separate and expanded biographical sections for Harriet Martineau, Emile Durkheim, Max Webber, and Georg Simmel
  • Expanded Working Moms section and replaced American references with Canadian
  • Rewrote and expanded the section to include Positivism and Quantitative Sociology
  • Expanded Structural Functionalism and criticism of sections
  • Added Interpretative Sociology, Historical Materialism, Feminism & criticisms of each
  • Added Farming & Locavores case study
  • Removed Conflict Theory
  • Replaced Elizabeth Eckford introductory example with Canadian health care system example.
  • Rewrote and expanded introduction to include reference to feminist movement and aboriginal perspectives.
  • Expanded the “Please Friend Me” to include data on smartphone use
  • Updated Key Terms, Section Summary, Quiz, Further Research and References to reflect new chapter content

You can see the amount of work that Bill, Ron and the entire project team put into adapting this book to make something that was more regionally relevant to Canadian faculty. But as a result, we now have a Canadian edition of an OpenStax textbook.

During this adaptation process, I kept in sporadic touch with David Harris at OpenStax, informing him of the progress of the adaptation. I worked together with David to devise the copyright and Creative Commons attribution statements to satisfy the CC licensing requirements, which ended up reading like this:

Unless otherwise noted, Introduction to Sociology is © 2013 Rice University. The textbook content was produced by OpenStax College and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, except for the following changes and additions, which are © 2014 William Little and Ron McGivern, and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Changes to this book, as a whole, were made to achieve the following goals.

  1. Replace U.S.-centric content with Canadian content. This included examples, case studies, significant figures, perspectives and, more pragmatically, spelling, idioms, measurements and grammatical structure and style.
  2. Add feminist theory and feminist perspectives throughout the text.
  3. Add Canadian aboriginal perspectives and content.

Key Terms, Section Summary, Quiz, Further Research, and References in each chapter have been updated to reflect new chapter content.

For a detailed list of the changes and additions made to this book, see “1st Canadian Edition Changes”.

Under the terms of the CC-BY license, you are free to copy, redistribute, modify or adapt this book as long as you provide attribution. Additionally, if you redistribute this textbook, in whole or in part, in either a print or digital format, then you must retain on every physical and/or electronic page the following attribution:

Download this book for free at http://open.bccampus.ca

For questions regarding this license, please contact opentext@bccampus.ca. To learn more about the B.C. Open Textbook project, visit http://open.bccampus.ca

You can scroll to the bottom of this page to see the final wording of the CC licensing statement we came up with in context.

Our Adaptations become part of next OpenStax edition

While our book was being edited and finalized, I sent a draft copy to David and the OpenStax team so they were aware of the changes we were making. It was at this time that David informed me that OpenStax was working on a second edition of the Introduction to Sociology book, so they were very interested in the changes we were making to the content. It is now looking like some of the changes we have made will find themselves into the next OpenStax edition of the textbook.

Adaptations building upon adaptations. Revisions building upon revisions. This is what is supposed to happen. This is the power of open licenses in action. Now, this is still not at the granular level of, say, a department modifying the book to meet the specific needs of their students, as was the case with the Houston Community College example (and which is where I would like to see our book go next – into departments). But this adaptation does illustrate how two projects working collaboratively, yet independently, can both benefit from open licenses at a more macro, system wide level.

So often when talking about adopting OER’s the conversation seems to focus on the single faculty who undertakes these types of projects on their own. The lone wolf. And there are certainly great examples of that kind of adaptation and authoring of open textbooks. But I think those types of adaptations are few and far between. Open wins cam also come from collaborative projects where groups of faculty combined with support structures in place work together to adapt and modify OER’s.

Our authors have never met the original authors of the OpenStax books, and vice versa. Yet they have, in effect, asynchronously and somewhat autonomously, collaborated with each other to create multiple resources based on a single shared resource with the OpenStax project team and the BC Open Textbook project team acting as mediators. Autonomous mediated collaboration. Is that even a thing?

To me, this type of collaboration connects deeply with the spirit of what OER were designed to do. You take my stuff, change it to work for you. Oh, you want it back? Sure. Here it is. Use the new stuff if you want. This is the spirit of open and, as a result, both of our projects and the students & faculty we serve, are benefiting.

* I should clarify with this example from Houston Community College that I think the improvement in learning outcomes occurs not just because the faculty used an open textbook & replaced it with an open one, but because faculty in the department full exploited the potential of the open license to customize the book to meet the specific learning needs of their students. It’s not just an open textbook that contributed to better learning outcomes, but an open textbook combined with faculty who took full advantage of the open license to customize the learning resource that, I think, made the difference in learning outcomes.

 

Week 45: Week in Review

  • Met with Faculty Fellows & got some great feedback from them on their feelings around partnering with companies who could provide third party services (ie ancillary materials) for open textbooks. We’ve had a couple of preliminary discussions with some for-profit companies about making optional materials available at a low cost for open textbooks (think pre-built testbanks or other instructor resources). We’re still kicking around the idea of whether or not there is a role for those organizations within the scope of our project.
  • Got ethics approval for our research project with the OER Research Hub. Shooting for a release of the faculty survey this week so we can being our research.
  • Received a new proposal for a second Canadian History textbook. This one would compliment the Pre-Confederation textbook we have in the works with John Belshaw at Thompson Rivers University & focus on Post-Confederation Canadian History.
  • Met with AVED and the provinces Intellectual Property office to discuss how to approach CC licensing another project we are working on where the province of BC would own the copyright. Had an interesting discussion around the new CC 4.0 license and the new clause dealing with moral rights in the CC clause.
  • Worked on the Adopting Open Textbook workshop we are offering in January (pre-registration for this open online course is on right now)
  • Expanded our open textbook review program to include faculty from Alberta and Saskatchewan as per the tri-provincial Memorandum of Understanding on Open Educational Resources.
  • Rewrote our current calls for proposals to make them clearer and remove some confusing language. We have made all our calls ongoing and are still looking for textbook adaptation and creation projects in both academic and skills training areas. We’re also making a separate call for the development of ancillary resources to support an open textbook.
  • Worked on PressBooks presentation for OpenEd.
  • Started planning my OpenEd experience, both formal and informal.
  • Updated the OTB budget to include September expenses.
  • Submitted a couple of chapters of the Geography textbook for Amanda to include in an accessibility review of our open textbooks we are doing with CAPER-BC in the new year.
  • Reviewed a scope document for the replacement of Pressbooks PrinceXML requirement.
  • Met with Brad & Mary about setting up a separate instance of PressBooks as a self-service shared service for faculty in BC who might want to author a textbook outside of the scope of a funded BCcampus project.
  • Got approval from the ITA to use some of their previously released material for a trades common core open textbook being developed by Camosun College.