Week 1: What is Open? What is an Open Textbook

Experiences with openness

Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -
Number of replies: 25

What have your experiences been with using and sharing openly? In what ways have you benefitted? Have you found any great resources that someone else shared? What hasn't gone so well for you? Have you done an adaptation to make an open resource more applicable to your instructional setting? Have you tried unsuccessfully to find an open resource? Tell us about it! 

 
In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Susan Malmo -

I love the idea of open resources.  When I was first starting to teach, I felt totally unprepared at times; I still remember the thrill of finding another instructor who taught something in a great way and getting a copy (usually mimeographed -- does anyone else still remember mimeographs????)  I'm hoping that OERs will be the modern, and much more accessible, version of this practice.

I hope that quality and quantity of open resources will continue to increase.  I think the best practice would be to find basically applicable resources and then tailor them for the intended use -- as more and more resources become available, I think this will become much easier (and less time-consuming) than it currently is.

In reply to Susan Malmo

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

I share your hope Susan! I also agree that tailoring resources is one of the strengths of OER that sometimes gets missed in the conversations about them being available at no cost. Enabling instructors to revise resources so they're more closely aligned with the learning outcomes of a given course makes a lot of sense. 

What is your sense of instructor willingness to engage in this process? Would most of your colleagues be willing to spend time and effort on revision? Or are they already so overworked that they want something they can use "off the shelf" (whether it be open or traditionally published)?

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Renee Anderson -

These are great questions Mary. My experience, teaching in a BScN program is mixed. Some faculty feel the need for a text and require one for their course. Ironically none of us has found the 'perfect' text. Others are more willing to find on line resources and yet others use a variety of resources (purchased texts and open source).  In my experience many faculty are 'overworked' but I would hope that if they see how others are using open source materials successfully, more will adapt the practice.

I'm looking forward to learning more about this idea.

In reply to Susan Malmo

Re: Experiences with openness

by Megan Garvy -

I have developed two online courses recently using only supplemental readings rather than a textbook. (Although I believe that this is not an "open" approach because students must be enrolled in the college to access chapters from the eText and/or scholarly journals.) The design without a textbook cost has helped to market the classes. It also enabled me to identify text specific to my perspective of context to support specific course competencies. I do agree with this idea in the videos and readings for the week that students should not pay twice for the service. I have developed a few courses from grant projects. The public already paid me for these courses; students should not be required to pay “twice” for the course and the textbook. This conversation is perfect timing for a current discussion I am having with my colleague regarding a document that we recently created together. I believe that the solution will be a creative commons license. The knowledge in this document should be shared with everyone. It was made to share, to empower, to TEACH! There is a huge component to the topic of OER, which is payment to the authors. I need a paycheck. With course design, perhaps a stipend for courses developed with OER textbooks would be feasible. (If the course itself is not open.) The effort is put into the process to develop not the reproduction of the product. In reference to the document my colleague and I recently created, the tool and resources should be free and we may be compensated for training and mentoring. The video and readings also presented a framework that a good teacher shares knowledge clearly and effectively to students. So, we are great because of our craft to delivery content (pedagogy) not as a result of the content we are sharing. The content should be free to be explored, revised, remixed, reproduced and reused. So, I understand this topic or OERs more. I am muddy still on how open courses exist. Is it truly an act of generosity? Do the developers and instructors volunteer their time or are they compensated up front for the process? Do they grade and provide feedback voluntarily, too, or are these courses simply resource banks with discussions among students and quizzes that are automatically graded? I am eager to know more.

Helpful OERs: I coordinate an outreach project for the college and was guided to connect with faculty at our sister college that have developed two OER textbooks for math. The availability of this quality and reliable resource has been an asset to the program! I was able to redistribute the materials by packaging them as a math kit and train peer tutors to coach their tutees with the materials during real time training sessions. 

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Annie Swihart -

I am working as an Instructional Designer on a grant project through the DOL. One of the requirements of that grant is to try and find OER resources that students can use for their studies. Another part of the grant is that any content that is created under the grant must be shared using a CC license. 

So far it has been difficult to find OER resources. But I believe this is because of the content being in the IT field which is ever changing. But I definitely think that OER resources can be used to give students the basic or foundational knowledge they need to succeed in the IT field. 

In reply to Annie Swihart

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

Sounds like an interesting project Annie - just to confirm, DOL is Department of Labour? Is there a plan for how the resources will be used? Will instructors adopt them in courses or will they be used as supplemental resources student can select? Or both? 

An instructor recently sent us a link to some Open Computing Science texts that may be helpful in your work: http://www.opendatastructures.org

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Annie Swihart -

Yes, DOL is Department of Labor. 

Thank you for sharing the website. I can't wait to look throught it to see what I can find.

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Cynthia Alexander -

I had never heard of OER until an ITC conference in February 2012.  A couple of friends, James and John, were walking by my table as I was finishing up dinner and I asked them if they wanted to join me.  They told me they had others joining them and those others turned out to be Una Daly and Cable Green.  Listening to the four of them was really an eye opener.  I vowed to pay for my college's membership fees to the Open Courseware Consortium and also made a commitment to eliminate any more textbooks from my program's curriculum, at least as far as my classes went.  When I got back to my college, I checked and found that I could eliminate textbooks and then checked with the other instructors in my program and they were happy to stop using publishers' textbooks and instead use free resources.  Also, as I rewrite my courses, I add the CC BY to all of the materials I create.  I then became active in the CCCOER (Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources) and added a page to the campus web site linking to OER.  I became active in the Project Kaleidoscope and will be collaborating on the creation of a course for students on preparedness for taking online courses.

I cannot find any OER in my field, educational technology, but that is probably because it is changing so much and so rapidly.  I find that there are plenty of resources on the Internet that relate specifically to topics I cover and I have my students read these.

As far as the best links ot OER, I suggest looking at the CCCOER website (http://oerconsortium.org/).   Una does a fantastic job of keeping the list updated as she learns of new OER.

In reply to Cynthia Alexander

Re: Experiences with openness

by Claudia Da Silva -

Cynthia, I'm right there with you. I mainly teach web development and that area, especially with the growth of mobile devices, changes basically every single day! It's not that easy to find Open Resources that are reliable and a lot of times what I end up doing is that I base my classes in my readings, researches and I mention approximately 3-4 books to students as reference but never saying that only one of the books will be the complete resource for them.

I'm in the process of creating a very simple e-book of Introduction to HTML5, CSS and FTP - so students can be able to upload some of their work to a web server and see thier first pages in a browser. But even this simple e-book (I say simple as it will not have more than 50 pages), takes long for me to create because of time, because of being overwhelmed with a lot of other things I need to do during a semester. The idea of that e-book would be mainly to take out some extra dollars from the book that we are adopting that originally does not contain anything about these topics and then we needed to work with the publisher towards a customized edition, which, of course, makes the price be higher. I would not sell, I would simply use a service I learned a while ago and people would be able to download for free or simply make a donation if they wanted to.

So, I think that the most difficult part, at least in my area, is not to find resources but to find reliable ones that you can adopt as open-source text books because the experts in these area know that they can sell and live on the information they know as it's considered "hot topic", "hot information".

In reply to Cynthia Alexander

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

Wow Cynthia, pretty hard to get a better intro to OER than hanging out with Una and Cable! It sounds like you were really inspired and are having a very positive impact on students as a result! For those who don't know about it, you can read more about the work being done at Project Kaleidoscope here:

http://www.project-kaleidoscope.org

Thanks too for the link to the great CCCOER site!

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Tess Yevka -

I have not yet looked for open resources for textbooks. I do utilize the TED networks and other sharing sources for videos and other materials. I love that they are available.

I also have a very collaborative department at Clark College; faculty share resources and links to resources. We share teaching ideas, techniques, and rubrics. I am inclined toward this type of collabration in the whole at large as well.

Portland, Oregon is a community that includes a lot of collaborative exchange and simple, open resources: bicycles, tools, services, and so on.  It works.

I took a quick look at open resources but was a bit overwhelmed with trying to figure out where to go and what was realiable and what was not.

Tess

In reply to Tess Yevka

Re: Experiences with openness

by Carole Mackewich -

Hi Tess,

In my explorations I've found several open source texts for Psychology at Merlot.  I'm having a really difficult time finding even one text for Career and Life Planning. I'm hoping I can learn where to find "bits and pieces" that are open source, and then write the transitional text and add exercises that I've developed (and hopefully some my colleagues will want to share).

I feel the same way that you do about trying to access resources. It is overwhelming and it's entirely new terrain for me.

Maybe we can keep our eyes open for materials that might work for each of us?

Carole :o)

In reply to Tess Yevka

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

Tess, you may already know about this, but Oregon State University is embarking on their own Open Textbook Project - you can read more about it here: http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/oregon-state-university-open-textbook-request-proposal. 

By the way, I keep hearing how fabulous Portland is and I think I really need to get there!

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Tess Yevka -

Thanks, I'll look into that.

And, YES, Portland IS fabulous.

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Carole Mackewich -

Mary,

Tess and I are both at Clark College, which is just across the river from Portland (we are in Vancouver, Washington). I hope you'll visit us!

Carole :o)

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Carole Mackewich -

Mary and All,

I am very much invested in "sharing," but I do it the old fashioned way. My exercises (electronic or in-print) are available to all of my colleagues. When I create something new in my discipline, one of the best parts is sharing it with others and giving them permission to tweak it to their needs or use it as is.

It's interesting for me to realize that I have been less generous in terms of entire online courses I have developed.  I am happy to give them to someone "as is," but don't want changes to be made.  After reading and listening to the materials this week, I am going to be more open with sharing what I have considered to be my "intellectual property."  Okay, I admit it. I've been stingy about that.

Carole :o)

In reply to Carole Mackewich

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

Carole, thank you so much for sharing this. I think it is a very common way of thinking and one we are encouraged to perpetuate through the way traditional copyright works. I was personally quite inspired by the Wiley TED talk and the notion of education really being about the sharing of knowledge. It sounds to me like you are already incredibly generous with your intellectual property and I'm so glad to hear you're going to extend that even further!

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Suzanne Touahria -

I've only had a few experiences with open education.  I often look for TED talks to use in my class - and open source images to use in PowerPoint presentations.  On a more personal note - I've reaped the benefits of four MOOCs so far (Massive Open Online Courses) and enriched my subject matter expertise. 

In reply to Suzanne Touahria

Re: Experiences with openness

by Chris Wilkins -

I am in the same boat as the others who teach technology. We are trying in our department to find software that teaches software without the textbook aspect but we are just in the beginning stages of this experiment. It is still a cost to the students but it costs less without the book. I have also found some good free ebooks at Saylor.org the non-pofit that offers college level non-credit classes free. Here is a link to their bookshelf: http://www.saylor.org/books/ 

In reply to Chris Wilkins

Re: Experiences with openness

by Steve Foerster -

The Saylor Bookshelf is a phenomenal resource, and actually there's a story about how it came about that highlights the power of open licenses.  A company called Flat World Knowledge released all its textbooks as web pages under a BY-NC-SA license, but later had "opener's remorse" and stopped releasing them openly.  Since they had been made available at all, though, the people at the Saylor Foundation pieced together all of the web pages that materials and released them publicly in more useful PDF and Word document formats.  They've said they plan to release them in EPUB format also, but they haven't gotten around to it yet.

So the lesson is, once something is open, it's open forever.

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Shivanand Balram -

I will address sharing openly as a relative notion. At a local level, I have made all materials (detailed lecture notes, exercises, illustrations, etc) available to my students. The result is that although we have a course textbook, it is only used as a reference and usually a copy is on reserve in the university library. In this way, we have managed to still touch base with the traditional textbook resources.

Sharing at a global level is another matter. We are employees of the university/school and are under certain rules. It would be good to see institutional buy-in so that teachers/instructors can begin to leverage the sharing "officially" to a larger audience.

One of the challenges I have encountered is that some of the open materials are not in a file format that can enable re-mix or revise. For example, only a low quality PDF is available when a JPEG would be the best format to have.

In reply to Shivanand Balram

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments about format Shivanand! Clint (your facilitator for Week 4) wrote a blog post awhile back about pdf and how hard it makes remixing of OER and what we're trying to do about it on our project - you can check that out here: http://clintlalonde.net/2013/06/25/pdf-is-where-oers-go-to-die/

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Shivanand Balram -

Thanks Mary, the blog post is spot on. Is it feasible to ask the content providers to make their source files available? This may very well be the solution - the open source software movement is built around this idea.

In reply to Mary Burgess

Re: Experiences with openness

by Annie Swihart -

I wanted to share a couple other websites to find good OER resources. 

http://education-portal.com/academy/course/index.html

http://creativecommons.org/

 

In reply to Annie Swihart

Re: Experiences with openness

by Mary Burgess -

Thanks for sharing those Annie!

You all may also be interested in the Washington Open Course Library: http://opencourselibrary.org

This group has created 81 courses which are free to use and are licensed CC-BY (you'll learn more about licenses next week, but suffice it to say this is the most open license and allows for adoption and adaptation). 

In addition, Lumen Learning is creating open course frameworks which can be used as is, or adapted to better suit your needs. You can find those and learn more about Lumen here: http://www.lumenlearning.com