Week 39: My Week in Review

Another week down, another 2 new books in our open textbook collection! Kudo’s to Amanda, Jessie Key, Rajiv Jianghiani and Hammond Terry who, between them, rolled out 2 new BCcampus adapted textbooks this week: the first Canadian Edition of Introduction to Chemistry and an internationalized version of Principles of Social Psychology.

My week

  • Met with OpenSchoolBC about some resources they have developed for trades curriculum that could, potentially, be adapted into open textbooks.
  • Finalized the open textbook budget for the next year.
  • Reviewed open textbook creation proposals in skills and trades training
  • Did some outreach work with provincial college Deans in the Trades & Tech areas informing them of the Open Textbook project and the current call for proposals focusing on trades.
  • Attended the September advisory meeting of the CCCOER & contributed the BC Open Textbook Adoption Toolkit to the CCCOER beta campus toolkit under development.
  • Had first planning meeting on the 2015 Open Textbook Summit. I think we are going to try to go a bit narrower with this one and really try to engage the people who make adoption decisions – faculty, chairs and department heads.
  • Wrote a bit of a book length comment on this post from Anne Marie Cunningham on what OER’s can “replace” in higher ed. The convo was sparked after I was tagged in a Twitter convo, which lead me to a really interesting presentation from Norm Friesen on lectures as trans-media pedagogical form. THIS is the reason why I still love Twitter. To be openly tagged and brought into an interesting conversation, which then leads you down an unexpected path of discovery.
  • Attended an all BCcampus staff meeting with our new Associate/Assistant (still not exactly clear what the A in ADM means) Deputy Minister
  • Created 2 new PressBooks sites. One for a health related textbook (our first skills training project that had already been developing their book at PressBooks.com! FTW!), and one for one of our Geography textbook authors.
  • Sent a copy of the open Psychology testbank that we created this summer to a prof at University of Winnipeg.
  • Continued working on an “open textbook by the numbers” blog post for the open site.
  • Will be doing a virtual presentation with the OER Librarin group on how librarians can support a book sprint at the October 27th OER Librarians Event at Douglas College (know of a librarian interested in attending? Registration is open).
  • Spent much of Tuesday documenting the first 7 chapters of changes we made to our Canadian adaptation of the OpenStax Introduction to Sociology book (coming soon) before handing it off to Brendan, our co-op, to complete the next 14. Sent those off to OpenStax who may fold some of our revisions into their next version of the book. ’cause that is how open works.
  • About 35% of the way into To Big To Know by David Weinberger and am struck by the similarities between Weinberger’s thinking & connectivism.

And then there is Brad


Brad rolled out a killer PressBooks Textbook update that turns PBTB into a PressBooks eco-system with the potential to conduct a federated search across other PBTB installations and import CC tagged open content from those installations. It’s crazy what that guy is doing with api’s. I wish I could keep up.



Week in Review: Week 38, 2014

I’m trying to get into a habit of doing these week in review posts on Friday’s, but last Friday was a bit busier than expected as my Dad and his girlfriend arrived in town for a weekend visit.

  • Amanda and I had our first meeting with the Ministry of Advanced Education as part of my new (temporary) role at BCcampus.
  • Met with the OER Research Hub and one of our Faculty Fellows, Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani. Rajiv is going to work with Beck Pitt to conduct research with BC post-secondary faculty on open textbooks.
  • Started developing the faculty survey in LimeSurvey.
  • We released 2 new open textbooks, the BC in a Global Context open geography textbook, and an adapted Canadian Edition of Mastering Strategic Management.
  • Finalized the open textbook newsletter layout with our communications department.
  • Fixed the wording on the newsletter unsubscribe page.
  • Compiled some new open textbook stats for the Ministry meeting., The one that jumped out at me was that out of 962 students in BC using an open textbook, less than 19 physical printed books were ordered from our print supplier, Document Solutions at SFU. That represents less than 2% of students purchasing printed textbooks (and we can’t confirm that all the orders are actually students as many faculty are ordering printed review copies for themselves, so the 19 orders may also include faculty). We’ll be posting some of the stats over on the BCcampus OpenEd site. * this post was edited after originally published. See below.
  • Reviewed 7 open textbook applications from institutions and organizations for the call for proposals on developing textbooks for trades and skills training open textbooks.
  • Met with College Open Textbooks to discuss ways we can cooperate and share adoption data as this information is very difficult and time consuming to collect.
  • Met and had lunch with Tony Bates on Friday to discuss his experiences with Pressbooks Textbooks. Tony has been a beta user as he openly authors his latest book, Teaching in a Digital Age, and he had some very useful feedback that will help influence future development of the platform.
  • Reconciled the open textbook budget and did some financial forecasting for the next year. As much as this might sound like drudgery for some, I find I really enjoy cracking open a spreadsheet and both plan and reconcile the financial bits and pieces of the project.
  • Met with our new Manager of Professional Learning, Tracy Kelly, to discuss and plan the next 6 months’ professional learning activities and how the PL team can support the work of the OTB team.
  • Started working on fall offerings of the Adopting Open Textbooks online course.
  • Developed some research questions for our Faculty Fellows, who will be coming to Victoria on October 6 for a day long kick-off meeting with us.
  • Reviewed the application process for a Hewlett grant. We’re considering an application for some funding to support some of the activities of the OTB project that we don’t have the ability to do right now..

Finally, here in British Columbia, the labour dispute between provincial k-12 teachers and the provincial government that has kept kids out of schools since mid-June  was finally resolved. Today my kids did what many other kids across Canada did weeks ago and headed to school to start their new year.

Back to School* This post was edited to fix the reference to the number of students who are using open textbooks in BC. The original number posted was 2630. This was incorrect (I included students who will be using open textbooks in upcoming terms). The correct number of students using an open textbook is 962. I’ve also adjusted the % of orders of physical books. The number remains 19, but the percentage changes from <1% to <2% (1.9% to be accurate).


Our open Geography textbook is alive!

BC in a Global ContextWell, this is a few weeks later than I was hoping thanks to some last minute wrangling we needed to do with the PressBooks PDF output and image sizes, but it is finally ready for use.

British Columbia in a Global Context is a first year Geography open (CC-BY) textbook that was created by a group of faculty, designers, librarians, instructional designers and other open educators during in a four day book sprint held earlier this summer.

This first year Geography textbook takes a holistic approach to Geography by incorporating elements of physical, human and regional geography, as well as bringing in methods and perspectives from spatial information science.

The process of how this book came about has been well documented so if you are interested, you can check out the posts on the BCcampus Open Education site. For now, I just want to get the word out and start finding Geography faculty who might be interested in reviewing the textbook.


My week in review: Week 37 2014

  • Interviewed by the SFU student newspaper The Peak on open textbooks.
  • Was also interviewed (wearing my Dad gamer hat) by a Wall Street Journal (?) reporter about the Minecraft sale to Microsoft after a reporter there saw a tweet I made about the potential sale. As my daughter would say “that was random”.
  • Attended the regional Premier’s Awards for public service excellence where our open textbook was a regional finalist for the award. Even though we didn’t win, it was very nice to have our project highlighted to the pubic service across the province and make it to the finalist stage. They made a video about our project.
  • Worked with Amanda and Lauri to develop the final checklist for an open textbook release.
  • More working on wording of CC licenses for our derivative textbooks. I have a blog post on the Open textbook site coming soon about the complications of licensing a derivative version of an existing textbook.
  • Registered for OpenEd By the way, if you are going to OpenEd and are interested in the logistics of adapting open textbooks in our project, I highly recommend attending Amanda and Lauri’s presentation on our operational procedures around adapting open textbooks. The work they are doing as project managers is really on the ground nuts and bolts get it done stuff.
  • Presentation was accepted for COHERE, so registered and made travel arrangements for Regina.
  • Worked with Hilda to develop and Open Textbook email newsletter that we can send out to inform faculty once we release the newly adapted Canadian versions of our textbooks.
  • Working on some changes to the open site to make it easier to identify books and their child adaptations, and create some way to cross link the two to make people aware that the books have derivative versions.
  • Also with open site, we’re adding a “do you want to adapt this textbook?” type link to start opening it up for BC faculty who wish to make their own adaptations of the books. It’s still a manual process for us to set this up (this will not scale!), but we want to start seeding the idea that you don’t need us to adapt an open textbook, and see if we can get some early adopters into adapting a book on their own.
  • Continued reviewing new textbook adaptation creation funding applications, although this is primarily handled by Amanda.
  • Wrote blog post on 10th anniversary of Wikimedia Commons. Also contributed a couple photos for their Historical Monuments project.
  • Attended Amanda’s CCCOER presentation on open textbooks.
  • Met with our Equella reps.
  • Budgets are going to be a bigger part of my life with the recent org changes. Not a bad thing, but more administrative work as I need to set up a tracking system to keep me on track with budgets.
  • Great convo (as always) with Brian this morning that has my head swimming in the clouds in a really awesome way. And also wondering if we can build stuff with Alan while he is in BC this fall.

Random notes on my new productivity systems

My “check email 2x a day” system fell apart this week as I realize that the increased demands of juggling administrative tasks required more email checking. I still am hoping that “11and 3” will work for me, but I might have to adjust as I felt myself pulled into email more than I hoped this week.

And finally

Those who know me know I am a Canadian soccer fan (yes, there are a few of us) and this week was noteworthy because I watched as we ended a 2 year winless drought and won an international soccer match beating Jamaica 3-1.


Even Toronto Maple Leaf fans haven’t felt the pain of going 2 years without a win. Good on ya, boys. And because Getty Images now lets you embed images, I can even include a nice pic of the occasion.

Allez la rouge! That should bring up our FIFA ranking to, oh 120th or so in the world.


Happy Birthday Wikimedia Commons

Sunday was a big day for the Wikimedia Commons.

Wikimedia Commons is turning 10 years old this Sunday — will you help celebrate? We’re asking everyone to join the Wikimedia community by sharing a freely licensed image with world.

You know, I have contributed, edited and created Wikipedia articles. And I have spoken of the love I have for higher education researchers & faculty who engage with Wikimedia and create clever and creative methods to add content to Wikipedia and the Commons. But, for some reason, it has never crossed my mind to actually contribute something to the Commons. I do contribute photos to the greater “commons” (the web) via my Flickr account where I license many of my images with a Creative Commons license, but I have never contributed something to the Wikimedia Commons.

So let’s fix that right now….

The Wikimedia Commons maintains a page listing image requests. There are a lot of image requests that post-sec faculty could contribute, especially in the sciences. So, if you have any of these specific images (or any image for that matter) consider uploading it to the Wikimedia Commons and improving the Commons.

Or, you can do what I did and contribute a photo of an historical monument in your community. Right now,  Wikimedia Commons has a contest running encouraging Canadians to upload a photo of a Canadian monument. So, over lunch I poked around the Wikimedia map of heritage monuments in my city, found a couple close to my house, took a walk with my phone, snapped a couple shots of the historical monuments in my neighbourhood and uploaded them to the Wikimedia Commons.

In the process, I even learned a bit about a (what I thought was) common structure that I have seen on a regular basis for close to 20 years going back to when I first started working at Camosun College. Turns out, this structure….

Richmond Road Streetcar Shelter - front

…which I have walked by and through hundreds of times over the past 20 years on my way to work when I worked at Camosun College (and was/is used by students as a smoke shelter), is actually a historically significant structure in my neighbourhood. Apparently, this little structure is a leftover from the days when a trolly used to roll up and down Richmond Road.

The heritage value of the Streetcar Shelter is as one of the last two remaining streetcar shelters in Victoria, the third Canadian city to have streetcars. The Victoria and district streetcar system was inaugurated by the National Electric Tramway and Lighting Company in 1890. The system was later bought in 1897 by the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) Company Limited, who operated it until 1948, when streetcars made their last runs. This shelter was constructed to service the Number 10 Streetcar, which made two trips a day to service the University School and then the Provincial Normal School.

I had no idea this little shack I used to walk through to get to work everyday for years was anything more than a fancy smoking structure.

I also grabbed a shot of another heritage structure at that location – the Provincial Normal School, now known as the Young Building at Camosun College, and contributed that.

Provincial Normal School (now known as Young Building)

But I digress because this isn’t about heritage structures. It is about contributing something to the greater good; something with educational value. By contributing to the Wikimedia Commons, I am, in a small way, making a bit of knowledge that much more accessible by making it visible in the web’s largest information repository. And it got me to thinking about why I share and how I share the stuff I create.

Like many of you, the reasons why I share my stuff on the web is multi-facted. To connect with others, to build relationships, to learn. But one of the really important reasons I share on the web is because I am an educator. I want others to be able to use the stuff I share to better understand their world. If a word I write, or a photo I take or a video I make helps someone somewhere understand something a bit better, then I am a happy man.

So, if by now I haven’t subtly encouraged you to contribute to the Wikimedia Commons, let me blatantly say it: contribute something to the Wikimedia Commons (which, right now, sits at around 22 million images in size). I know quite a few people who read this blog on a regular basis who share and contribute their content around the web (sometimes at the cost of using a particular service for free). Well, here is a chance to contribute something to a project that is a) non-commercial and b) educational. Share your content with the Wikimedia Commons and make it a stronger, better repository.


Week 36 2014

4 day work week this week with Monday being labour day. This week was dominated by 2 events; one at home and one at work.

  • At home, the BC teachers strike – which began last June and closed schools down and started summer 2 weeks early for my kids – continued into the fall and looks like it is not going to be settled for quite awhile. On Tuesday, I joined my family for a day of protest on what should have been their first day of school.

Christy's Classroom protest

  • At work, it was announced that my current Director is going to be the Acting Executive Director for our organization for the next 6 months. Our current ED announced 6 months ago that he was leaving BCcampus, so it was no surprise that this was coming. Although with that change means a change in my role as she steps away from the Open Textbook project and focuses on the wider organization. This means my colleague Amanda Coolidge and myself will be picking up more responsibilities on the Open Textbook project, and we spent time this week working on what this will mean to our current tasks and projects.

Some other stuff that happened this week.

  • Welcomed my old colleague Tracy Kelly to the BCcampus team. Tracy is going to be working on the Professional Development portfolio at BCcampus. So happy to be working with her again.
  • Fixed the output errors and finished our open Geography textbook. Shipped it off to our POD service. Once they process, I’ll be able to add it to the open.bccampus.ca site.
  • Did some research on copyright and how it applies to screenshots of products we include in our Database Design textbook (Microsoft spells it all out pretty clearly. We’re all good to go.)
  • Got clarification from Creative Commons on the wording of our license for the OpenStax Introduction to Sociology book we are adapting.
  • I got VagrantPress working with Pressbooks (thanks to this tip about Apache config changes in Apache 2.4.7). I updated the VagrantPress mutisite install page with the solution I found in case others had this same issue.
  • Also upgraded the .Net framework on my PC, which fixed an issue I was having with the GitHub Windows app (in short, it wasn’t working. I was running into this issue. Now it is. Yay)
  • Discovered AppOpusBuilder, a tool for converting ebooks to Android apps. Haven’t played with it yet.
  • Came across a whack of open textbooks and other OER’s related to Health, Nursing and Emergency Services.
  • Worked with Amanda to flesh out some of the tasks for the three Faculty Fellows who will be joining our project for the next year. Think there is an official news release about the fellows coming from our communication people in the coming days.
  • After speaking with OpenStax, I’ve changed the covers on the OpenStax textbooks in our collection so they are consistent with their standard brand.
  • Decided on how to list adapted textbooks on the open.bccampus.ca repository site. Got some work on the open site to do with Brad to make this happen.
  • With Amanda, began reviewing proposals for projects to develop textbooks for health, skills & trades training. Think this will be a big focus of our fall.
  • The Open Textbook Summit 2015 edition came up a few times in conversation this week. We’re starting to think about a third annual one in the sprint of 2015.

And finally, going to drink some good, fair and bad beer with Brad at the Great Canadian Beer Festival in a few hours.