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 19 In Review

I like sharing some personal stuff about my week in the reviews. Normally, I do it at the end of the post. But this week’s overriding memory is a personal one. My 8 year old son, after living with an egg allergy for his entire life, was given the green light to eat eggs by our allergist after a successful oral challenge.

The immense impact of this on our family is difficult to fully explain as we have lived with dietary limitations for his entire life. For the first 3 years, his total avoidance allergy list was all nuts, eggs, soy, dairy and wheat. Slowly, over the years this list has been reduced to where it is now just nuts and dairy. This development means a pretty massive change for our family, and will likely go down as our families biggest collective memory of 2015.

Onto work stuff.

I was invited by Colin Madland at TRU-OL to participate in their annual Open Learning faculty development workshop. TRU is a fantastic supporter of the open textbook project, and open education in general. I presented on the open textbook project with a few people at TRU who are involved in the project, Rajiv Jhangiani (who gave one of the clearest explanations on the basics of cricket that I have ever heard using a set of flight beer glasses), John Belshaw (who authored the new Canadian History textbook in our collection), and TRU librarian Brenda Smith (who has been involved with the BC-OER librarians group). I also facilitated a couple of f2f workshops on finding and using OER. Slides from my plenary presentation, my workshop, and the workshop outline.

While at TRU, I also met with Irwin DeVries and the instructional design team at TRU-OL on how they can use open textbooks in their course development and redesign courses around open textbooks. I also met with Val Peachy, who is the Director for Program Delivery at TRU-OL. Also met with another open textbook adapting author at TRU Bill Little (Intro to Sociology) to do a bit of a f2f Pressbooks overview with him. Spent some time with Nancy White &, of course, hung out with Brian. Also good to see Grant Potter and Jason Toal.

OpenEd 2015 proposal reviews. Coordinated an external review panel of BC post-sec folks to evaluate OpenEd 2015 proposals. We had a quick turnaround time as proposal acceptances are going out this week. Thank you to the group of you who helped with the proposal evaluations. There are just shy of 150 proposals for OpenEd this fall – a phenomenal response.

Other OpenEd 2015 work: put together outline of possible roles for BC (and especially Vancouver based( higher ed folks as I continue to work towards getting a local organizing committee together for the event.

Spent a day working on both an open textbook sustainability plan, and an open textbook tactical plan for the next year. This summer we will be wrapping up the creation phase and will have met the official goals of the project (textbooks that align with the top 40 academic subject areas in BC and 20 textbooks for skills and trades training) and now need to start looking towards what is next for the project. These 2 documents are my big rock projects right now.

Attended a webinar from John Hilton III about efficacy of open textbooks. Prompted a blog post from me.

We’re working on a self-serve stand alone instance of Pressbooks for BC faculty. The idea behind this instance is that faculty (or anyone with a BC post-sec institutional account) can sign up for their own Pressbooks site and use it to create a textbook. These books won’t be added to the curated collection at open.bccampus.ca, but will be connected with the larger collection in the sense that faculty who sign up for an account can create a copy of any book in our collection and use that as a starting point for their own textbook. This is a way to support faculty who have the technical skills and knowledge of open licensing a venue to D.I.Y. an open textbook. I’ve got the keys from Brad this week and have been playing with it in preparation for a limited summer launch.

Working with Lumen and University of Minnesota on textbook conversion program. We are trying to coordinate our efforts on converting existing open textbooks in the commons into our common Pressbooks platform. First step was a list of what we are all working on in terms of conversion projects and we got that done last week. Next step – how to best share these resources so we don’t duplicate efforts.

Ministry meeting to give them an update on our activities.

Registered for ETUG at SFU in June.

The OT Summit is just a few weeks away. Registration closes May 25.

Was involved in a few emails with folks around rebooting Creative Commons Canada.

We added a number of books to the collection last week as the 20 skills and trades training books continue to roll off the shelves. Notably Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC, and an ABE English textbook and accompanying reader.

One more personal note. Celebrated not only Mothers Day this weekend, but 12 wonderful years of being married to my wife, Dana.

Image credit: Happy Face by abhijith CC-BY-NC-SA


Week 18 Review

  • Attended & presented at BCNet in Vancouver this week (slides). BCNet is a large regional conference aimed at higher ed IT folks. I wasn’t sure how a presentation about open textbooks would go over considering the audience is mostly sys admins, IT helpdesk and CIO types, but a few showed up and seemed to be engaged with the presentation.
  • My attendance at BCNet prompted a blog post that wasn’t a week in review post, but an observation that the new “notice and notice” requirement of the Canadian Copyright Act that kicked into effect in January of this year is a bloody hassle for higher ed to deal with.
  • Also some excellent conversations in the backchannel around lack of diversity on stage at the conference exactly (1 of the 8 keynotes was a woman), and an off colour off the cuff remark made by the first day keynoter about Bruce Jenner. To his credit, he quickly realized how inappropriate his comment was and publicly apologized.
  • Love this random act of YouTube comment karma initiated by Tom Woodward after he stumbled upon a video I made 6 years ago to help show a student in my Masters program how to add a hanging indent to a WordPress blog post.
  • Started coordinating some work with U of Minnesota and Lumen on getting existing open textbook collections that are in the commons (like) into Pressbooks.
  • Work on OpenEd with David on proposals. Also started putting together list of potential roles for local organizing committee. Some of you may be hearing from me soon 🙂
  • On the OpenEd front, had a great lunch with Scott and Brian where I hijacked the convo asking them about the lessons they learned from previous Vancouver OpenEd conferences (2009/2012). Everytime I speak to these two I am again struck by how important they have been, and continue to be, to not only the local BC OpenEd community, but the larger OpenEd community. They have been in this a lot longer than I have and I always benefit from their perspective and advice.
  • A great, simple little initiative coming from  Kwantlen librarian Caroline Daniels. Kwantlen students use a lot of open textbooks, and some do like to order print copies from our print partner SFU just up the road from Kwantlen. Well, the books (while inexpensive) can be costly to ship via standard mail (around $10). There is already an existing courier system between higher ed institutions to facilitate inter-library loans where material can be requested by one library and shipped to another. Caroline contacted a librarian at SFU, who then contacted me about seeing if there was a way to leverage this existing courier service to remove shipping costs for physical versions of the books. Document Solutions at SFU (who do our printing) came on board and it looks like a process is now in place to ship books from SFU to Kwantlen via the inter-library loan system for free. Wonderful initiative from Caroline and Kwantlen to recognize this opportunity and act on it, and to SFU for being willing to facilitate the request.
  • Spoke with Alex Berland about his OER nurse educator project in Bangladesh.
  • Reading this week:
  • According to that stupid app I’m 68. Stupid app.
  • Kids school musical this week. The drama geek in me sure gets a kick out of watching them perform on stage.
What the person sitting behind the choir conductor sees

What the person sitting behind the choir conductor sees. Clint Lalonde


Week 17 In Review: The #oeglobal Edition

The view

The view for much of my week in Banff, Alberta, where I attended the annual Open Education Global conference sponsored by the Open Education Consortium. This was my first time at the conference and a very enjoyable, informative conference it was. Here are some of my personal memories of the conference.

While it was a global conference, there were many more people from our local network than I expected, which was fantastic. I had some great discussions with our colleagues from the Alberta OER project, Washington State and Oregon.

Notable sessions included a session from BC’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University where Salvador Ferraras and Thomas Carey outlined how open education fits in the institutions strategic plan. It was notable because here were two high level administrators from the institution articulating an institutional open policy that goes beyond OER and Open Access and attempts to embed open practices within the institution. Some very forward, strategic institutional thinking about open education happening at Kwantlen. I knew that Kwantlen was into open, but I don’t think I realized just how deeply it was being embedded in the culture there until I saw the presentation. The paper.

I also enjoyed the session from Paul Stacey on large scale national OER initiatives.  I’ve been struggling trying to do some big picture conceptualization and come up with a plan for system wide open initiatives. Paul’s framework was like manna as it provides a solid starting point for me to do both some big picture thinking, and articulate that big picture to a large system.

Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, delivered the final day keynote and was fantastic (Stephen Downes blogged the keynote), talking about the threats to the open web and the increasing power and control that a handful of digital corporations (the Apple, Google, Facebooks of the world) have over our lives. I think Mozilla has done an excellent job of both grounding and articulating their learning model.  I’ve been loosely connected to Mozilla Webmaker initiatives here in Victoria for a few years, and have been watching with interest as Mozilla increases their informal learning activities around web literacy.  The thing that  connected a lot of dots with how Mozilla works (at least in their webmaker and teaching & learning efforts) was when Mark talked about his punk background. You can see that punk ethos reflected in both the D.I.Y. ethos of their webmaker initiatives, and the wider social and political anti-oligarchy perspective that influences Mozilla’s proactive work on open. Mark hit all the right notes for me, including a nod to both McLuhan and the other, often forgotten Canadian media theorist Harold Innis. 

Was honoured to have the BC Open Textbook project recognized with an award of excellence by the consortium. But the winning project that really impressed me was Tony Coughlan‘s CYP (Children and Youth Programs) project, which is a repository/referatory of  open resources for teachers and trainers working in that field. What is so fantastic is that Tony created it for about $30. $30! And he receives thousands of hits from around the world. This is such a wonderfully illustrative example of how powerful – and important – a simple, well curated, well targeted collection of open resources can be to educators. And it was done by one smart person using a WordPress site. For $30. We need more projects like this.

As always, people are the heart of any conference and this one was no different. I especially appreciated having some one on one time with David Wiley over lunch where we talked about the OpenEd conference in Vancouver this fall,and strengthening the relationship between what Lumen is doing and the work we are doing at BCcampus. One of the items we talked about was our shared use of PressBooks (which Lumen has rebranded as Candela for their purposes) and how we can work closer together in development. Dave Ernst from University of Minnesota was also there (and the open textbook network he has been working on that came out of his stint at the Institute for Open Leadership looks like it is taking off) , and the three of us discussed the possibilities of having some kind of PressBooks specific event, like a code sprint with our developers, around the open textbook summit in May. We have agreed that, to be effective, we need to find a project that benefits all three of us, and I have pitched the idea of extending the API’s that Brad has been working on to see if we can created this federated model of PB instances where we can each search and copy content from our respective instances into our own instances. Conceptually, Brad has done the groundwork to enable this and I think that if we can make this happen it would be a good win for all of us. But this is something that is still in the very nascent stages, and a few things have to fall in place before we can make this happen at the summit. A more likely timeline might be OpenEd in November. Where the three of us have agreed to work on immediately is sharing the load in getting existing open textbooks that are in the commons into PressBooks. We all have people who are on deck to work on converting existing open textbooks into Pressbooks, and it makes sense that we don’t duplicate our efforts. So, we are sharing lists and roadmaps on making this happen over the next 6 months or so, greatly increasing the number of titles we collectively have in the platform.

Also very much enjoyed spending some time watching hockey and hiking mountains with Martin Weller from the Open University & the OER Research Hub. We have been working with the Hub on a research project for the past year, but I’ve followed and admired Martin’s work virtually for many years (and if you haven’t yet read The Battle for Open, it is a wonderful read that encapsulates so many of the issues we in open education are grappling with at the moment), so to have the opportunity to spend some time hanging with Martin was wonderful after connecting in virtual spaces for all these years.

Also great to again see and hang out with Richard Sebastian from Virginia Community Colleges (heart of Z Degree land), Heather Ross from USask, Una Daly from CCCOER, Barb Illowsky (who brought a game that has been developed by their librarians to help spread the word about student textbook costs – very clever!), David Porter, Paul Stacey, Danielle Paradis (who did a bang up presentation on her Masters research), Irwin DeVries (busy videotaping a whole bunch of early open education advocates for a project he is doing with UVic’s Valerie Irvine), Rob and Bea from the Hub, and a whole host of others that, as soon as you start making a list like this, you inadvertently and unintentionally leave off as conference blur sets in.

Finally, really enjoyed meeting & spending some time with Marc Singer from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey. Marc and I were seated next to each other on the 1 1/2 hour bus ride from Calgary to Banff, and Marc was the third of the hiking trio up Tunnel Mountain.

Tunnel Mountain Hike

Banff, you are much younger and have a more pronounced Australian accent that I remembered the last time I was there. And your crosswalks, while a cool idea to cross diagonally and all at once, did mess with my “only cross on green light” trained mind.

Walk/Don't Walk

Next week, off to BCNet in Vancouver.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • 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



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




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.

Week 43-44: Week(s) in Review

I missed last week so here is the blur of the past 2 weeks.

  • Attended & presented at COHERE in Regina. I’ve been trying to go beyond the free bit when talking about open textbooks these days and look at some of the other benefits of open textbooks beyond saving students money. I grew up in Regina until I was 8 so always nice to visit the ancestral homeland of my people :). And put a lot of faces to Twitter avatars.
  • Also presented at the BCOER Librarians event on the role of librarians in an open textbook sprint (thanks to Alec Corous for lending me his office in Regina to Skype in my presentation to the event in Vancouver.)
  • As pat of Open Access Week, Leva and did a presentation on open textbooks to CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) on Wednesday Oct 22, the mrning things went apeshit in Ottawa. CARL headquarters are about 10 block from the hill, so that made for an interesting background for the presentation.
  • Still working on our trades project. Hoping this one gets off the ground, soon. So many moving pieces.
  • Met with Brad to discuss requirements to replace PrinceXML in Pressbooks. I want this thing to be fully open source and that PDF engine, as good as it is, isn’t.
  • Posted for a new co-op position in January to help us with the OTB project.
  • Met with Tony Bates and Leonora Zefi of Ryerson to talk about publishing platforms. Tony has been a bleeding edge user of Pressbooks Textbooks and is looking for other ways to incorporate rich media into his book, so we were talking to Ryerson about suggestions.
  • Administrata working on the language and timelines for our service agreements.
  • Worked on blog post with Beck about the upcoming research we are doing with Rajiv on open textbooks.
  • Finalized our incentives for that research (win one of 10 Kindles for filling out our survey!)
  • Also finalized the email distribution list of who will receive an invite to participate in our research.
  • Began work on a 4 week open online Adopting Open Textbooks workshop we will be offering in January
  • Lots of inter-provincial work with Alberta and Saskatchewan on open initiatives. Made contact with some key open textbook people at URegina while I was at COHERE.

Week 42: Week in Review


  • The BC Open Textbook project became a toddler this week, turning 2. I spent the early part of the week writing a lengthy blog post and working with our graphic designer Barb Murphy to create an infographic (see below) of how far the project has come in the 2 years since it launched.
  • Prepping for 3 upcoming presentations for Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) on Wednesday, the BC OER Librarians workshop on October 27th, and COHERE on October 28th.
  • Meetings with Camosun, OpenSchool and the Industry Trade Authority as we continue to work out the release of a major common core trades open textbook over the next year. This is a really exciting project, but intellectually draining as it requires me to do a lot of facilitating and get up to speed on long standing relationships between at least 4 different organizations. So far, everyone I have met and worked with have been positive, receptive, keen and eager to see this project happen. But facilitating these types of meetings really stretches the boundaries of my skills (definitely not in my comfort zone) and reminds me that I am an introvert. It was great having the meeting at Camosun as I spent many years working there and had not been back on the Interurban campus for probably 4 or 5 years. Over lunch I ran into a lot of familiar faces and old friends.
  • Met with Bill & Jeff at FunnyMonkey and Hugh at Pressbooks to talk about some potential collaborations in the very near future. We have some projects that we would like to knock of the Pressbooks “to-do” list and I think with the work that FunnyMonkey has done with Lumen and the deep knowledge that Hugh has with Pressbooks that we can get these done in the new year. Specifically I am hoping that we can get much more of the content we have in the open library into Pressbooks to make it remixable. Currently we only have about a dozen of the 76 books in our collection living in Pressbooks. The rest are in other formats and we want to change that. We also want to be able to build a Word exporter (I am still convinced that if we are really serious about giving faculty the ability to adapt OER content we have to give them content on their terms and, for the time being, that means Word). We also want to replace the proprietary PrinceXML PDF engine to make it a truly end to end open source package. Those are the goals.
  • ViaTEC, the Victoria Advanced Technology Council, named the BC Open Textbook Project their Techtorian of the Week, which is really nice recognition from our local tech sector of the work we are doing.
  • Backed 2 Kickstarter projects. BulletJournal is a productivity method I’ve been playing with the past 6 weeks or so. And the StandStand, a portable standing desk (thanks for the lead, Amanda).
  • A 4 day work week for Canadian Thanksgiving and I ate much turkey with my family, including my oldest daughter who traveled to Victoria with her 4 children to spend the night at our house for Canadian Thanksgiving. Our house was hopping.

BC Open Textbook Project turns 2

Open Textbooks Turns 2

The BC Open Textbook Project Turns 2 by BCcampus is used under a CC-BY license




Week 41: Week in Review

Our Faculty Fellows Jessie, Christina and Rajiv

  • Monday was the first meeting of our Faculty Fellows Christina Hendricks (UBC Philosophy), Jessie Key (VIU Chemistry) and . All three will be working with us over the course of the next year working on three themes within their institutions and disciplines: research, advocacy and providing feedback to our team as we move forward in the next year. The fog almost grounded our face to face meeting as flights from Vancouver were cancelled, but Rajiv and Christina showed a great deal of persistence getting here to meet. Rajiv has more.
  • Left comment on the NPR Planet Money piece on the high cost of textbooks podcast.
  • Amanda released a brand new open textbook this week, authored by Dr. James Sexton English Literature: Victorians and Moderns.
  • Lined up a virtual presentation with CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) on open textbooks for Open Access week (10am PST on Wednesday, Oct 22). Leva Lee, who has been working with the BCOER Librarians group, is joining me.
  • Finalized the contract wording for my Health OTB project
  • Hmmmm…can I figure out a way to go to this?
  • Attended CCCOER webinar where I watched the wonderful Kim Thanos of Lumen Learning talk about their course development process, which involved her showing some slides of Candela, Lumen’s LMS agnostic authoring platform. This tickled me to no end because Candela is a fork of Brad’s Pressbooks Textbooks plugin work revised by Lumen to meet their specific needs. That sounds familiar :).
  • Open Embeddable Assessments. Another thing I discovered during the CCCOER webinar.
  • Thanks to a tweet from Heather Ross, we heard of an adoption of an open textbook from the BCcampus collection by Assistant Professor Eric Micheels at the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Arranged an office shuffle in our Victoria office that will see all the OTB team (Amanda, Lauri, Brad and myself) in the same physical space. We only work together in the office 2 days a week, Tuesday and Thursday, but our offices were apart and down the hall. We were feeling that there was value in having us all in the same open space on those 2 days, so there has been some coordination and negotiations with co-workers for spaces.
  • Came across 4 new open Geography textbooks, thanks to a connection facilitated by Paul Stacey at Creative Commons.
  • Interview with another student newspaper, The Gauntlet, at D’arcy Norman’s home institution UCalgary.
  • Met with the ITA (Industry Trade Authority here in BC) to talk more about trades training materials.
  • Met with Janet Welch fro the University of Alberta. Janet is involved in an open project in Alberta, and is working to get it off the ground. We’re hoping to take this open thing beyond BC and into Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Janet is eager to see how we can all work together to make that happen.
  • Met with Hugh at Pressbooks to talk about the possibilities of adding an export to Word or Open Document Type (ODT) to Pressbooks. Also in early stages of thinking of other Pressbooks projects that we might go external with.
  • Brewed a batch of beer with Brad and a few others (although due to a scheduling snafu, I ended up arriving at the end, just in time to toss in the finishing hops). We bottle in 2 weeks.

Week 40: Week in Review

Felt like a big week of meetings this week.

  • Initial meeting with a new open textbook author who I’ll be working with to develop an open textbook in the area of mental health training.
  • Meetings with OpenSchoolBC, Camosun College and the Ministry of Advanced Ed to clarify deliverables on an open textbook project in fundamental trades training.
  • Spent a morning doing some research on cost of textbooks for students taking introductory mining courses at various institutions in BC – suggested retail price: $108.55 for one of 9 first term courses in this mining program. Add in the $212 Chem book you need in this course and the $165.80 Math book for this one, and your first term costs for textbooks is already close to $500…for 1/3 of the 9 courses you need for your first term…of a four term program. You only have 33 more courses to buy books for (I didn’t go any further).
  • Fleshed out some ideas for possible Hewlett funding application with Mary, Amanda & Lauri.
  • Completed the course on research ethics so that I can work with Rajiv and Beck on the OER research hub project we are doing this fall in BC.
  • Wrote a blog post  about the recent U.S. government announcement supporting OER
  • Also wrote a blog post on the release of the first adapted textbooks as part of phase one of the open textbook project.
  • Left a fairly long response to Tony Bates post on working with PressBooks Textbooks with us. I do want to follow up on that comment at some point with a bigger post here about advocating for more technical developers in higher ed focused on teaching and learning applications (of which I have a sense there are very few).
  • Followed up on a lead from our Ministry and rediscovered 6 Adult Basic Education Math Textbooks in SOLR that Amanda has now added to the open textbook collection. Score!
  • Open Textbook Summit 2015 planning meeting – looks like we have settled on May 28/29 in Vancouver for the OTB Summit. Save the dates. More details coming on that as we flesh out the plans.
  • Met with our open textbook editors
  • Set dates for next offering of Adopting Open Textbooks online workshop – January 12-Feb 2, 2015. We’ll see if we can’t get some interest from Alberta and Sask for that one as part of our tri-provincial agreement on OER cooperation.
  • Turned 48.

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.



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.


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.



Week 35 2014

A couple days ago I blogged about some new habits I am hoping to cultivate this fall (which, as anyone who works in education knows, is the real start of the new year). One of the habits was to start spending some time each week documenting what I did that week. I’m hoping that it can provide some motivation to GTD during the week and, hopefully, give me a feeling that I actually did accomplish some things on my (now manually tracked) to do list. Thanks Doug for the inspiration (and I noticed that Audrey does something similar so I feel in very good company here).


  • Finished creating multiple formats of the question testbank that was created at the Psych testbank sprint & can be used as ancillary material for an open Intro Psych textbook. Also wrote up a process for disseminating the bank to Psych faculty who adopt an open textbook.
  • Also finished the final review of the Geography textbook created at our June textbook sprint. I’m hoping to have that out the door and released next week (after we fix a few validation errors on the export).

Gawd, it feels good to be getting those 2 projects out the door.

Open Textbooks

  • Met with OpenStax to discuss best method to attribute our upcoming Canadian adaptation of their Intro to Sociology book (to be released in the coming weeks).

Fine Dining

  • Had a wonderful impromptu lunch with Jack Dougherty from Trinity College who did a pop-in to BCcampus this week.


  • Fought with VagrantPress to see if I can get a virtual instance of PressBooks running on it. No luck yet, but that’s probably due more to my hacking skills than Vagrantpress itself. To be continued.
  • Dug into Adobe Premiere to repair a broken PDF of an open textbook.
  • Attended an Equella seminar on the upcoming 6.3 release and noticed that the BCcampus SOL*R collection is among the (1 million+ holy crap) OER resources being harvested at oer.equella.com.
  • Mashed up a simple RSS feed using Yahoo Pipes (which I haven’t touched for a looooong time and forgot what a great tool it is) to create a feed for a new widget on the open.bccampus.ca homepage (the Open News & Resources widget)
  • Worked on reinvigorating my long dormant Netvibes account as I consider migrating some of my Feedly stuff back to Netvibes.
  • Also stumbled across MAMP, which has beta for Windows. Might give this a go as a local dev environment.


  • Submitted a proposal to present on open textbooks at COHERE in Regina in October. Thinking something along the lines of what I presented at the BCCAT JAM last fall – Beyond Free. Have a couple of nice local examples with the sprints to augment the collegial collaboration bit.

Other stuff

  • Started on my “only check email 2x a day” routine (11 & 3). I let the rest of my team know (and am still available on Skype). Really liking it. Side benefit: I know EXACTLY how much time I spent working on email-based issues & communication: 7 hours and 20 minutes (might be a tad off because I didn’t start tracking time until Tuesday, so Monday is an estimate). Another benefit: I found myself actually reading my email instead of skimming. I think this is because I had dedicated the time to dealing with email and had no other distractions pulling me away.
  • Attended a couple of internal meetings regarding sandbox apps we have running, and an upcoming Open Badges project.
  • Am totally digging using paper & pen again