Positive moves from University of Guelph on OpenEd

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

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



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.


The BC Open Textbook Sprint – the afterglow

Note: This is a cross-post from our BCcampus Open Education blog.

48,420 words. 8 chapters.

Day 1

The first BC open textbook sprint wrapped up late Thursday night after 4 long days of collaborative writing, researching, editing and reviewing. We’ll have a more thorough debrief of the event in the coming days. For now, here is what is happening with the book.


Over the next 2 weeks, we will be moving the book into PressBooks Textbooks, the platform we are using as our primary book creation platform. For the sprint, we did not use PressBooks but instead used a collaborative writing platform called PubSweet, created by the BookSprints team. After discussing whether to use the BookSprints platform or our platform, we decided to use PubSweet as the authoring platform for the sprint because the facilitators were familiar with the platform. And, given the mammoth task ahead of us to create a 1st year Geography textbook in 4 days, we decided that rather than add a level of complexity onto the process, we would stick with what our facilitators were familiar with working with. So, our first task post-sprint is to transfer the book from PubSweet to PressBooks Textbooks.

This should not be a huge issue as PubSweet exports the book in ePub and PressBooks Textbooks (thanks to the work of programmer Brad Payne) can import ePub files. We had a few moments of concern with our first attempts to import the book into PressBooks due to the way that PubSweet packages ePub files, but a few emails back and forth to the PubSweet developer by Barbara our facilitators and we think the issue is fixed. So, task one is to get the book into PressBooks.


After that, I’ll be undertaking a thorough review of the book looking closely at how the resources we used are attributed. During the sprint, attribution of resources was often noting more than a link to where we found it (after we reviewed to ensure that we could use them under the open license we wished to publish with). But these resources are not attributed correctly, so that needs to be reviewed and corrected.

We will also have copy editors review the entire book. We are still working on the details of the contracts with our copy editors so that has added a bit of a delay in the release of the book. But, with some luck, we should have the copy editing underway in July and completed early August.

Finally, we will release the book. It will be available for download and reuse immediately after it is copy edited (we hope this will be done in August). Once it is publicly released, we will be soliciting peer reviews from Geography faculty from around the province, like we are currently doing with all the books in our collection.

There are many people to thank for making the past week possible. First and foremost, the 5 Geography faculty who were brave enough to commit to locking themselves in a room with a bunch of strangers to write a book in an incredibly short amount of time. The first to sign on was Arthur Green of Okanagan College, followed by Britta Ricker (SFU), Siobhan McPhee (UBC), Aviv Ettya (UFV), and Cristina Temenos (SFU). These people worked incredibly hard, putting in 12-14 hour days, to create the book. Barbara  Ruehling from BookSprints facilitated the entire event, assisted for the first 2 days by Faith Bosworth. UBC librarian Jon Strang was a priceless resource. The BCcampus support crew of Amanda Coolidge, Hilda Anggraeni (who was our illustrator and created & contributed dozens of maps and graphs during the sprint), Brad Payne and Christy Foote. Each of these people gave tirelessly to see the book created in 4 days and make this project happen.

See photos of the 4 day sprint on the BCcampus and BookSprint Flickr accounts. We also tweeted about it using the #bcbooksprint hashtag.

Day 1

All photos from BCCampus_news used under CC-BY-SA license


Who is watching me? Shedding some light(beam) on my browsing habits

Last week, Mozilla announced the release of Lightbeam, a Firefox plugin that allows users to see not only the sites they visit, but also the third party sites that are tracking them on the web. Here is a screen shot of the last 10 sites I have visited and all the site those sites are connected to.

Lightbeam visualization

I love this tool for a number of reasons.

First, the obvious. It helps to make transparent all the sites I am actually “visiting” when I visit a website. In this day and age where privacy online is becoming more of an issue than ever before, it is important for people to know just how extensive the tracking of their behaviours is online. From what I have seen, Lightbeam doesn’t actually show you what information about you is being transmitted or tracked by those third party sites, just that there is tracking going on and with whom. But it is an important first step in understanding just how connected the web really is.

I’ll make the point, too, that just because you are unknowingly accessing third party websites while you view the web, it isn’t always to be tracked. As the development team suggests;

Third parties are an integral part of the way the Internet works today. However, when we’re unable to understand the value these companies provide and make informed choices about their data collection practices, the result is a steady erosion of trust for all stakeholders.

A tool like Lightbeam helps to make conversations about privacy and sharing of data more nuanced. Rather than painting all the third party connections with the same negative brush, I think it is important for us to have more specific conversations around the idea that maybe there are positives to having these invisible connections occurring behind the scenes. For example, many of the interactive features of the modern web require code libraries pulled from third-party sites. Is that Google connection to track you for advertising purposes, or is it to pull a font from the Google fonts collection to make the site you are on work better for you? These are important distinctions.

The second thing I love about Lightbeam is that it is a great web literacy educational tool, and extends the excellent work Mozilla is doing around web literacy by helping people understand how the web works. As building the web becomes more complicated, and the mechanisms of how the web gets built gets more obfuscated under the guise of “user-friendly” or “easy” (by no means are those neccesarily bad qualities, but obscuring qualities nonetheless), it is important that we don’t surrender the control we have over the web for the sake of convenience. Lightbeam represents a deeper dive for Mozilla into digital and web literacy than X-Ray Goggles or Thimble, but like those Webmaker tools Lightbeam exposes the inner workings of the web. Lightbeam, like the Webmaker initiative, are powerful tools to help educate people on how the web works.

Third, Lightbeam is an excellent example of an authentic learning exercise. Authentic learning (Educause PDF) exercises place a great deal of emphasis on having students work on real-world, complex problems and solutions, and I cannot think of anything more complex than the world of online privacy these days. Lightbeam was developed as a partnership between Mozilla and a research team at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver that was made up primarily of students. They have created an important (and beautiful) tool that is relevant, timely, and has real world applications.

Finally, Lightbeam is another reminder of how powerful the iterative web enabled by open licenses can be. I’ve been jazzed lately by the idea of generativity and the generative web, and just how critical open licenses are for driving iterative, collaborative development.  Lightbeam was based on a previous FF plugin called Collusion developed by Atul Varma. It was first released as an independent project by Varma (who now works at Mozilla). Because it was released with an open source license, Mozilla and Emily Carr were able to pick up the project and build upon the excellent work of the original plugin. Open licenses made the refinement of Collusion possible.


Trends that will impact education in the next 5 years

My colleague at BCIT in Vancouver, Kyle Hunter, recently asked the following question:

Here is my video response.

After I did the video I felt like singing that old Sesame Street song “one of these things is not like the other” as I have lumped Apple in with this fine batch of openness when, in fact, I have some issues with the open of Apple and iTunesU. But I still think that iTunesU and the announcement last week that they are going to offer full courses through iTunesU fits with the point I was trying to make, despite the open/closed distinction.

And I said Stanford Thrun when it is really Sebastian Thrun from Stanford University.