We would be delighted if a wave of a magic wand would mean every required textbook were open-licensed, flexible for instructors, and affordable for students. Unfortunately, it will take time before this happens. In the meantime there are some options to improve textbook affordability immediately even for classes with expensive required textbooks.
San Francisco City College student association decided that the students needed assistance with textbook costs far more than they needed additional recreation equipment or social events. So the association purchased a number of expensive textbooks and offered them for semester-long loans.
Foothill College Bookstore manager Romy Paule took a risk, invested in textbooks, and rented them to students. After a few terms, the investment was recouped.
Instructors can suggest that students visit the SlugBooks site where students can compare textbooks from several sources. Searching can be done by state/school/class or by textbook title or ISBN number. The site includes some open textbooks.
Revamping assignments to refer to topics rather than specific pages and problem numbers will allow students to use older versions of the textbook at substantial savings.
Suggesting that students form small study groups and purchase one textbook to share can mean not only cost savings but peer pressure to improve time management and study skills.
Administrators and instructors can contact the college foundation to see if corporate or foundation grants can be used to purchase more reserve copies of textbooks for the college library.
Comment below if you have additional suggestions for quickly improving textbook affordability.
Mentor Cloud and Open Doors Group / College Open Textbooks Partner to
Facilitate Sharing Best Practices Among the Open Education Community
New Community to Share Best Practices and Facilitate Mentoring in Open Education
Cupertino, CA, January 26, 2012 — In honor of National Mentoring Day, Mentor Cloud and Open Doors Group/College Open Textbooks announced today the availability of an education community that allows 24×7 discussion threads and broadcast email messages to all members by all members. Generally all members will be both mentors and mentees in keeping with 21st century models of learning communities.
Education in the 21st Century faces an enormous challenge:
Education in the 21st Century is afforded three important opportunities to meet the above challenge:
Collaboration tools are needed in at least three areas of open education:
OpenDoorsGroup.MentorCloud.com, powered by Mentor Cloud, is the tool that allows for all three of the above. During the beta period, OpenDoorsGroup.MentorCloud.com will be free of cost to individuals who are thought leaders and contributors in open education. Invitations will be sent starting in early February. There may be a fee for organizations that sign up 5 or more individuals as well as organizations looking to tap into the open education community. There will also be a fee for organizations that are looking for facilitators to drive conversations on certain topics and areas.
“There is absolutely a need for a central place for those in the open education community to share best practices” says Mitchell Levy, Co-Director, College Open Textbooks, who emphasizes that Mentor Cloud is a great tool to provide this level of service.
BC Campus and WikiEducator invite learners and educators to provide input input about credentials for the OER University. This exciting initiative was launched in early 2011 and is now backed by 7 institutions in 4 countries:
Scholars can join the discussions on a SCoPE seminar between August 29 and September 13, 2011. Results will feed to the planning meeting scheduled for November, 2011. OER University seeks to create pathways for learners who use OER materials to gain academic credentials from established educational institutions.
At the launch of OER University in February 2011, Anil Prasad commented: “I support Open Educational Resources movement. I firmly believe that Open Distance Learning (ODL) supported by Open Educational Resources (OER) would build the Inclusive Mainstream Education System in the immediate future.” Mr. Prasad is Nodal Officer (T&D), Finance Department, Govt. of Kerala, India. The two-day launch meeting in New Zealand featured lively theoretical and practical discussions. Professor Jim Taylor, from the University of Southern Queensland led discussions on the OER university concept and introduced the logic model shown above. He listed some of the factors driving new education models:
Professor Taylor summarized: “This is not theoretical speculation, it is entirely viable.”
Perhaps you are surprised that this post says ‘create’ rather than ‘write’? There are two reasons:
Why would anyone choose to take on a project this daunting? Confidence in your ability to help others learn is the number one reason. You must be confident that you can help others gain knowledge, skills, and wisdom that they want or need. There are many other benefits: career advancement, the joy of working with a team, and financial rewards, but only your passion to help others learn the subject will motivate you to finish the project.
Ms. Hedden teaches the online workshops “Taxonomies & Controlled Vocabularies” and “Creating Website Indexes” through the continuing education program of Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She is turning these classes into a book titled “The Accidental Taxonomist”. Ms. Hedden provides excellent advice for mapping a textbook to a class, for choosing the publishing option, for understanding the differences between online and physical textbooks, and for keeping the textbook current. To test your resolve, try writing a single open lesson. KairoNews provides the steps required in Creating a Single Open Textbook Reading.
In Using Open Content To Drive Educational Change, Bill Fitzgerald explains some of the differences between creating a commercial textbook and creating an open textbook.
Your marketing goal should be to have your textbook adopted by instructors. This requires providing online, printable, and bound copies of the textbook. Working with a quality open textbook repository/publisher simplifies this multi-format requirement. Adopting instructors also need ancillaries including test banks, homework, slides, instructor’s guide, study guide, and more. By starting with an existing class, many of these ancillaries will already exist. To add to the collection, consider creating an adopter community where all the adopting instructors can share ancillaries and collaborate on using your textbook in their classes. Watch this space; in a few days we will describe eight adopter communities.
This post is from James Glapa-Grossklag, Interim Financial Development Chair, CCCOER. His contact information is at the end of the post.
The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources is seeking technical and community colleges to partner on a grant application.
We aim to make the greatest possible impact in making college affordable and accessible by creating high-quality, open-source textbooks and courses.
The grant program is the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program (TAACCCT). Total available is $500 million, for a 3-year term
We are seeking colleges to participate in production teams, peer review teams, and a variety of standards teams. In addition, we seek colleges to adopt the content we produce and to assist in measuring student performance.
Production teams will:
Production teams will likely consist of faculty/subject matter experts, librarians, instructional designers, and institutional researchers.
Peer review teams will conduct and publish reviews of texts and courses developed at other institutions.
Standards teams will develop initial standards in technical specifications, assessments, and instructional design.
Prior to application deadline of April 21, partner colleges will need to provide data about local and regional industry needs and employment trends; provide letters of support from local industry; and sign an MOU detailing the work to be done.
To learn more about how your college can participate, please contact soon:
Dean, Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning
College of the Canyons
Interim Financial Development Chair, CCCOER
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
The mission of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) is to promote the creation, publication, dissemination, and use of high quality, open licensed learning and teaching materials (including but not limited to textbooks, courseware, lessons, question banks and other educational resources) primarily intended for use by learners, educators and institutions engaged in the first two years of post-secondary education. CCCOER has a membership of over 200 technical and community colleges in the US.
Yesterday Cisco Systems sponsored an Education Leaders Forum that included presentations by Salman Kahn, Gay Krause, and other noted educators. I recommend spending an hour reviewing the archive; the best parts are the videos of students and teachers.
One of the central messages is that technology makes it possible to do something new and wonderful: individualized learning. While I agree that individualized instruction is wonderful, I disagree that it is new. Decades ago, schools used the SRA system from McGraw-Hill. No fancy technology, only tape recordings and printed cards. Students advanced at their own reading and listening rates through color-coded material that increased in difficulty. I thought it was great. There was strong competitiveness to move to red and then purple as quickly as possible. (Though I did not realize it at the time, those stuck at the beginning yellow and orange levels must have been embarrassed and not at all pleased with the system). The SRA system is still available. Today it is stored on CDROMs instead of cards and the system can also be used online.
Even SRA was not the beginning of individualized instruction; the concept and practice are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years old. Every good teacher observes student learning and adjusts instruction to the student’s pace.
There is also much talk today about how learning and assessment are separated by weeks or months. We see this in the EDUCAUSE Next Generation Learning Challenges. Again, combined learning and assessment are centuries old. Instructors are constantly monitoring student progress as they introduce new information and skills. Anyone who has learned to play a musical instrument, speak a foreign language, ride a bicycle, or drive a car recalls the interleaving of learning and assessment.
So why are educational leaders proclaiming individualized instruction and combined learning and assessment as brave new discoveries? I think it is because they want to be able to provide these features remotely and with very few instructors. In other words, the leaders are looking for ways to increase education productivity. Hear! Hear! Food and manufactured products continue to increase in quality and affordability because of automation and other productivity improvements. However, services including education, healthcare, and others keep increasing in cost. Employment in the developed world is now only 4% in agriculture and 10% in manufacturing, yet we eat as much or more as past generations and we have more products than ever before. The 86% of the population engaged in providing services have much lower productivity than farmers and factory workers.
So let us use new technologies and new methodologies and also recognize that we stand on the shoulders of centuries of educators who have used individualized instruction and combined instruction and assessment.
This New York Times article last August about crowd-sourced peer reviews has caused buzz throughout academia and some alarm among publishers and peer reviewers. The Times focused on a crowd-sourcing trial by the 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly. While predictions of a complete change in the peer-review process are premature, there are implications for resource creators, publishers, reviewers, adopters, and users.
A fascinating spontaneous peer review occurred last summer. Julie Rehmeyer reported: “Vinay Deolalikar, a computer scientist at Hewlett Packard labs in India, sent an email on August 7 to a few top researchers … staking a claim on the million-dollar Millennium Prize offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute…The examination (by the crowd)… helped spur on a new model of research.”
Kathleen Fitzpatrick of Pomona College advocates crowd-sourced pre- and post-publication peer reviews in her forthcoming book Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. Dr. Fitzpatrick walks the talk by opening the manuscript to crowd review.
I think of crowds as well-meaning anonymous amateurs. In contrast, textbook and journal publishers assure that their anonymous reviewers truly are peers of the author. I am always uncomfortable with anonymous sources though their writings can be excellent. This outstanding post by someone named Mike presents arguments for both traditional and crowd-sourced peer reviews. I wish that Mike would share his credentials.
College Open Textbooks selects peers of the textbook adopters (i.e., people who teach the subject at the college level) and we share their names, credentials, and affiliations on our reviewers page.
There are three types of reviews:
1) reviews that result in the resource being improved prior to publication
2) in-depth post-publication reviews that cite the strengths and weaknesses of the resource based on well-defined criteria
3) thumbs-up, thumbs-down reviews that can happen before or after publication
College Open Textbooks reviews definitely fit into the second category. Our peer reviewers rate each chapter of the book on 11 criteria and provide comments. We publish the average rating for each criterion and a summary paragraph. Would-be adopters can receive the entire spreadsheet. We are moving in the direction of contacting the textbook authors, other creators, and publishers and encouraging them to improve the textbook based on the peer reviewers’ comments.
If crowd-sourced reviews are of the thumbs-up, thumbs-down type, they are a threat to the whole concept of peer review. Treating an academic paper or textbook like a movie, novel, or restaurant risks the complete erosion of quality standards. The Internet makes it far too easy to give a resource a cursory glance, click a rating button, and move on. People who dislike a resource are more likely to comment than those who find the resource useful. Amazon and Yelp reviews have this characteristic. So authors, publishers, and merchants rush to balance these negative comments with reviews by friends. Objectivity and standards are lost.
Throughout 2010 and moving into 2011, dozens of community college faculty and staff have agreed to advocate for open textbooks and provide workshops at their colleges. The College Open Textbooks Collaborative is honoring this group of talented individuals who have furthered the causes of improved learning and affordable education.
From the more than 50 Open Textbook Advocate/Trainers, we have singled out six who have gone well beyond the requirements and been named Outstanding Open Textbook Advocate/Trainers. Their accomplishments will be shared in webinars as follows:
Susan Amper, Associate Professor of English at Bronx Community College
Pheo Martin, Adjunct Faculty in Educational Development, Everett Community College in Washington state
Erik Christensen, Physics Professor, South Florida Community College
Ken Ronkowitz, Director, Writing Initiative; Adjunct Instructor, English, Passaic County (NJ) Community College (NJ); Communications Instructor, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Angela Secrest, Librarian, Houston Community College
Lisa Chamberlin, Online instructor at Walla Walla (WA) Community College, University of San Diego, and University of Wisconsin
In addition to honoring the Open Textbook Advocate/Trainers, the webinars will include valuable information on OER tools. See http://opentextbookadvocatetrainers.ning.com/events for details.
The webinars are at 11am Pacific Time. To join, find the webinar on this site and click on GO at the end of the row.
diamond photo open licensed by yago1