Faculty in the Mathematics Department at Scottsdale Community College have been working hard this year to create, revise, and organize materials for our OER project in several of our courses. This is exciting for all of us!
Our goal is to offer all of our MAT 09x Introductory Algebra, MAT 12x Intermediate Algebra, and MAT 150 College Algebra courses using OER materials starting this Fall 2012. During the 2011-2012 academic year, we have pilot tested our materials, formed a learning community of very talented mathematics faculty, and collaborated with each other to further refine the OER textbook, student support materials, and online homework assignments. This summer, several faculty (Bill Meacham, Judy Sutor, Jenifer Bohart, Donna Guhse, and Linda Knop) will be working hard to take what we have learned from our spring pilot and, once again, refine these materials. The exciting part of the refinement process is that we have complete control over the quality of what we adopt to support our classes! We love this!
Recently, our OER team received the SCC Innovation of the Year Award. Only 1 team per college in the Maricopa Community College District receives this award. As a result, we were invited to give a presentation in hopes of receiving the widely sought-after District Innovation of the Year Award. The presentation slides are available at: OER Innovation of the Year. Wish us luck that we are awarded our District IOTY Award very soon!
As part of our OER project, our learning community has restructured the course so that we provide meaningful support for students, both inside and outside of the classroom. Before class, students can complete a “mini-lesson” to help prepare them for the next class session. During class, they receive instruction and engage in paired board work. After class, they use iMathAS and problem solving activities to support their learning. The next class session then allows for more active learning and engagement with the mathematics. Outside of the classroom, students’ learning is supported by the OER textbook and video tutorials created by MathIsPower4U’s James Sousa, as well as the Khan Academy.
Students have been appreciative of our efforts to use free (or nearly free!) materials for their mathematics courses. In fact, feel free to watch a couple of student testimonials about their experience in an OER math class. It’s exciting to hear that they are using technology — their smartphone, their tablet, etc. — to complete online homework and to access the textbook.
It’s a wonderful time to be teaching college mathematics!
Education-Portal.com just announced the winners of their first annual OCW People’s Choice Awards, which honor the best of the Open Education Movement. Over 4000 people voted for their best educational resources in this inaugural contest.
College Open Textbooks was recognized as the OCW People’s Choice Winner for Most Open. According to Education-Portal.com, “Openness is a key part of any OCW – after all, it’s in the name. But what providers excel at giving their users a wealth of material to access and lots of different ways to do it? The nominees in this category all understand that to make courseware truly open, variety and depth are key.” The finalists included Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and UC Irvine OCW.
Other winners included Open Course Library, FGV Online, African Virtual University OER, Open Study, MIT Physics and more. For more information on the complete list of winners, go to http://education-portal.com/articles/OCW_Peoples_Choice_Award_Winners_Final_List.html
Suggested listening: Alice Coltrane, The Impulse Story
I write this now listening to the late harpist, pianist, organist, virtuoso Alice Coltrane cast spells in her ethereal “Journey in Satchidananda.” I am privileged to have seen her perform with her son Ravi and members of the original John Coltrane Quartet in San Francisco, November 2006, one of only two performances before her untimely death, and after her protracted spiritual reclusion from the stage and the public. For me, her music, especially this exquisite creation, is an analogue for the best of poetry: deft in its experimentation and breadth; precise in its openness; welcoming of warmth, musicality, emotion; wise in its scaffolding of history; innocent in its play; and, generous to both the creator and her audience for, as a work of high craft, when the work is ineffable, one is still encouraged to explain it for there is always something familiar in the seeming unfamiliar, always something intimate in the deepening canvas of seeming generalized experience. As a writer and artist myself, I know that Alice Coltrane did not choose her craft. Her craft chose her. And we are most grateful for this arranged marriage!
I speak to the luminosity of Alice Coltrane because her body of work as well as her actual life illustrate the profound gifts art offers the mundanity, discord, and ravages of daily human life. At this time in our present history, the public display of contempt for intellectual vibrancy and its artistic articulation in the verbal, written, visual, and musical arts is at an all-time high. One can look anywhere in our mainstream landscape and find disparagement of that which is sophisticated, complex, and beautiful in the way only the search for truth, wisdom, and humanity can be. This attack has now infiltrated the very protectorates of art, intellectual integrity, humane humanity, and those who teach and live within such purview: public colleges and universities. Specific attacks are now being waged upon disciplines that encourage free thinking, intellectual diversity, and artistic expression, especially humanities and arts.
Because of the current groupthink among powerful decision-makers such as private industry moguls, government officials, and college and university administrators, all of whom are now forming alliances for profit-centered, assembly-line educational models, then certainly those courses and disciplines most vulnerable are those that provide intellectual space for human expression and possibility, not profit generation. Nationally there are stories of humanities, arts, and social science courses being cancelled or usurped. There are now instances where entire programs such as creative writing or music appreciation are being discontinued. When colleges and universities become businesses and teachers become sales executives, then students become products, commodities for sale in the market of linear conformity. This sabotage will result in intellectual docility and, most disturbingly, artistic death. Without art, culture does not survive.
Musical compositions, philosophical dissertations, visual arts, and poems are not widgets. Humanity is not a widget. Though the leadership efforts are dramatically in this direction, human experience – and the minds creating it – are not yet entirely for sale. Poetry is an acute reminder and reclamation of that which can never be bought or sold: truth, justice, generosity, compassion, beauty, and love.
Thus, the open education movement provides critical resistance to such nefarious profiteering by making art – especially written art – widely accessible and free. Moreover, because poetry is the elegant articulation, defense, and honor of organic experience, its accessible and free status via the open course environment ought to remind wayward educational profiteers that there are better, creative, humane ways to save and generate money in the noble profession of education. For artists and teachers, the issue is moot: art is human and humane. Art, simply, is self-sustaining.
There are some fantastic things happening in literary arts inside and outside academia. Yet, the most robust resources are housed and nurtured by academic institutions. There are ample offerings in traditional and experimental poetics, within a variety of platforms, such as open courses, open formats, institutional programs, electronic archives and magazines, digitized books and papers, and the viral glee of social networking technologies. Below the closing poem is a brief listing of innovative resources, by no means exhaustive. Please use and share generously.
In acknowledgment of the redemptive and restorative energies that poetry gives the world, I will close with one of my favorite poems by Lewis Turco. This poem is written in the Japanese form called Somonka, an epistolary love poem made up of two tankas, an extension of the haiku, wherein each tanka follows a line syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7. The first tanka is a statement of love, and the second is a response.
Epistles: The Tarot IX of Swords
I am writing you
from a pit. It is quite dark
here. I see little.
I am scratching this note on a stone.
Where are you? It has been long.
Thank you for your note.
I do not know where I am.
I believe I may
be with you. It is not dark
here. The light has blinded me.
–Lewis Turco, Poetry Magazine, July 1972
Open Licensed Internet Resources for Poetry
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Courses (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license)
The Open University (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)
Free but not open Internet Resources for Poetry
The Poetry Archive (copyright license)
The Internet Archive – search for “poetry” (copyright license)
Electronic Poetry Center at New York State University, Buffalo (copyright license)
The Open Courseware Consortium (OCW Consortium) announced a new partnership with the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) to maximize the impact of open courseware to community college students, faculty, and learners worldwide. CCCOER has over 200 affiliated colleges nationwide and in Canada while the OCW Consortium has 250 colleges and universities worldwide, which will benefit from their combined resources.
Dr. Judy Baker, dean of Technology and Innovation at Foothill College and one of the founders of the CCCOER stated “Both CCCOER and the OCW Consortium serve to increase access to education for students with limited means, which makes this partnership powerful. When educators pool their expertise to foster a culture of shared knowledge, everyone benefits.”
The partnership between CCCOER and the OCW Consortium allows us to raise awareness and broaden access to higher education with new audiences”, commented Mary Lou Forward, executive director of the OCW Consortium.