Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO will be officiating the launch of “Global Open Access Platform” (usually called the Global Open Access Portal) along with the launch of the UNESCO OER Platform, the re-designed Open Training Platform, and the OER policy Guidelines. The Launch is scheduled for November 1, 2011 at 6:30pm Paris time (GMT-1) and 10:30 am PDT and will be live-streamed in:
English – mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_en.wmv
Français – mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_fr.wmv
Everyone knows how expensive textbooks are in the United States, but the cost of textbooks in developing countries is exorbitant for students and their families who make a few dollars or less per day. For many around the world, the cost of buying textbooks is unrealistic and limits students’ opportunities to learn.
The Global Text Project (globaltext.org) seeks to solve this problem by engaging academic communities to help build a library of free online textbooks. Co-directors, Doctors Richard Watson from the University of Georgia and Donald McCubbrey from University of Denver, established the non-profit organization in 2006.
The project uses an open-source infrastructure to publish free electronic textbooks online with a Creative Commons 3.0 BY license. This type of licensing gives professors the opportunity to remix the material so that it can be made country-centric. Also, anyone can reproduce the material and even charge a small fee for the cost of copying if needed.
With a grant from the Jacobs foundation awarded in 2008, the project ramped up book production. In 2010, the project created a competitive
internship program for students interested in learning about electronic publishing at the University of Georgia.
Today, university students and professors can work remotely around the world to create or enhance a GTP textbook. Under the supervision of a textbook’s author or the project’s
editor, professors or students may create additional material for the textbooks such as a new chapter or case study.
In the Global Text office, students work in all areas of production or help meet the organization’s needs in public relations, web design, database management, and business modeling. Student interns are gaining real-world experience while producing free textbooks and building a non-profit that directly benefits students in other countries.
The project intends to engage many for the benefit of many more. Students and professors that work with project are creating resources for their peers today and leaving a legacy of a freely accessible education for future generations to come.
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
Writing about the rising costs of textbooks here would be a classic case of preaching to the choir. So I will not waste time rehashing what you all know and will instead jump right to what we hope will be a valuable contribution to the efforts of this site and the OER community to provide cost-free textbook alternatives to students: the Saylor Open Textbook Challenge.
The challenge aims to license open texts for over 200 courses currently residing on Saylor.org used in twelve of the most popular college majors enrolled in by U.S. students. Before we delve into some details of the Challenge, let me give you some background on our Foundation.
The Saylor Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization working to drive the cost of higher education to zero. Working with over 150+ credentialed professors and peer-reviewers from higher-education institutions, we are compiling open-licensed course content styled after a traditional academic program.
In deciding which courses to offer, Saylor first devoted resources to develop courses that would fit under traditional college majors in popular, high-enrollment areas of study. We then engaged professor consultants to build course blueprints to fill out the majors. These courses are designed to route a student through the material he or she would need to know in order to earn credit from an accredited institution in the U.S.
The Saylor OER Approach:
We decided that we could best make a unique contribution to the OER movement by developing a structured content aggregation and curation process, by which our professor consultants seek, vet, frame, and—where appropriate—add to existing resources in order to yield complete courses, hosted on a central site and tied to user outcomes, assessments, and predefined learning taxonomies. Each course is also peer reviewed for further fine tuning.
Importantly, in addition to utilizing OER materials, we decided to include and link to copyrighted materials in our content aggregation process. Through our Permissions Initiative, many copyright holders are allowing us to host their materials on the site within the relevant course context. When permission to host is NOT granted (and when OERs do not exist), we work to paper over the gaps in each course and/or replace the linked resources by stimulating the development of original content and the Creative Commons re-licensing of complete and newly open texts.
Back to the Open Text Book Challenge:
To spur authors to openly license their work, the Saylor Foundation will offer a $20,000 award for submitted textbooks accepted for use in our course materials after a round of peer reviews. To be eligible for the award, the author(s) must agree to license the text under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY) license. We plan to formally launch the Challenge just after Labor Day so please visit our site at that time and keep your eyes out for more information. If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below – we would love to hear your thoughts!