Read Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. (nytimes.com)
We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks used in California and Texas. Here’s how political divides shape what students learn about the nation’s history.

📑 Highlights and Annotations

Conservatives have fought for schools to promote patriotism, highlight the influence of Christianity and celebrate the founding fathers. In a September speech, President Trump warned against a “radical left” that wants to “erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

I can’t help but think here about a recent “On The Media” episode A Civilization As Great As Ours which highlighted changes in how history is taught in India. This issue obviously isn’t just relegated to populist India.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:22AM

Pearson, the publisher whose Texas textbook raises questions about the quality of Harlem Renaissance literature, said such language “adds more depth and nuance.”

If they wanted to add more “depth and nuance” wouldn’t they actually go into greater depth on the topic by adding pages instead of subtly painting it such a discouraging light?

But Texas students will read that some critics “dismissed the quality of literature produced.”

Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:27AM

Publishers are eager to please state policymakers of both parties, during a challenging time for the business. Schools are transitioning to digital materials. And with the ease of internet research, many teachers say they prefer to curate their own primary-source materials online.

Here’s where OER textbooks might help to make some change. If free materials with less input from politicians and more input from educators were available. But then this pushes the onus down to a different level with different political aspirations. I have to think that taking the politicization of these decisions at a state level would have to help.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:30AM

How Textbooks are Produced

  1. Authors, often academics, write a national version of each text.
  2. Publishers customize the books for states and large districts to meet local standards, often without input from the original authors.
  3. State or district textbook reviewers go over each book and ask publishers for further changes.
  4. Publishers revise their books and sell them to districts and schools.

This is an abominable process for history textbooks to be produced, particularly at mass scale. I get the need for broad standards, but for textbook companies to revise their books without the original authors is atrocious. Here again, individual teachers and schools should be able to pick their own texts if they’re not going to–ideally–allow their students to pick their own books.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:33AM

“The textbook companies are not gearing their textbooks toward teachers; they’re gearing their textbooks toward states,” she said.

And even at this they should be gearing them honestly and truthfully toward the students.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:39AM

Alternate formats of An Urgency of Teachers by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris

I’m gearing up my reading list for the holidays. I wanted to add An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris. Seemingly I can only find .html, .azw3, and .pdf copies of the book, and I’d far prefer an .epub version. Fortunately the book has a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC 4.0), so I’ve spent some time this morning to convert an original and made myself an .epub version for my Android devices.

I’m happy to share it if others are looking for the same and don’t have the ability (or frankly the time) to make the conversion. I also have a .mobi version (for Kindle) of the text as well since it didn’t require much additional work. These are exact replicas with no changes and come with the same CC BY-NC 4.0 license. If Jesse or Sean want copies to make available on their site, I’m happy to send them along. 

If you have the means, please be sure to make a donation to help support the book and Sean and Jesse’s work.

Book cover of An Urgency of Teachers

Replied to Recommendations for (simple to use) Podcasting app? by Kim CarterKim Carter (Reclaim Hosting Community)
I am hoping to have a simple (to use) podcast where I can record pieces of lessons that are problematic and potentially have student guests for Q/A. Is there a domain app/plugin that is simple to use? What are you using?
In addition to all the other great recommendations, and in part to expose the idea, if you want to go really low tech, there are a variety of phone apps that will record audio in .mp3 format. If you give it a flexible enough license, you can upload/host your audio with notes and other meta data for free on Archive.org. (OER podcasting anyone?)

Then to quickly generate a subscribe-able podcast feed, create a free Huffduffer.com account (using the class name perhaps?) and use Huffduffer’s browser bookmarklet to save your Archive.org posts to your account. Huffduffer can provide podcast feeds out of individual user accounts, collectives, and even by tags, so you’ve got a lot of flexibility in how you and students can subscribe to content there. As an example you can subscribe to a “community podcast” for the tag A Domain of One’s Own.

If you create a custom/unique tag for the class, students can record and tag their own content to create an audio conversation back and forth if desired.

Read Opening Nouns & Verbs by Nate AngellNate Angell (xolotl.org)
The open education community I run with is filled with the kind of people who think words really matter. For a while now we’ve been debating what to call the things we care about and do: open practices, open resources, open pedagogy, open licensing, open this, open that. Our debate is hot enough to make some people turn away and others dig in. But when words matter this much it signals real tensions in beliefs, priorities, territories and relationships.
Read Opinion | How Professors Help Rip Off Students by Tim Wu (New York Times)
Textbooks are too expensive.
OER is a nice way to go, but I’ve also mentioned before how to restructure the textbook business so the economic balance is righted.

tl;dr: Professors aren’t doing the learning, so at most they should recommend one or more textbooks, but never require them. The students should choose their own textbooks or otherwise fend for themselves (many are already doing this anyway, so why disadvantage them further with the economic burdens) and direct market forces will very quickly fix the problem of run-away book prices.

Professors should not be middle-people in the purchase decisions of textbooks.

Some recent work in the feed reader and discovery space

I’ve noticed a lot of quiet, but very interesting and heartening feed reader and discovery work going on in the IndieWeb and related communities lately, so I thought I’d highlight it briefly for those who are interested in the topic, but may not have been following as closely:

  • Inoreader has been working on a beta product that will make following social feeds in Twitter, Micro.blog, the Fediverse, and even IndieWeb sites with h-entry easier and prettier.
  • Kicks Condor has been iterating and doing some interesting work on the FraidyCat reader over the past few weeks.
  • Malcolm Blaney has a fantastic little feed reader in his Unicyclic site (not to mention that he’s also got a cool looking IndieWeb as a Service site with i.haza.website that I desperately want to have time to try out).
  • The volume of different and interesting content going into IndieWeb.xyz as a discovery hub has been increasing lately.
  • I’ve been admiring the discovery/aggregation work of Terry Greene on his OpenLearnerPatchbook and OpenFacultyPatchbook sites within the education space.
  • CJ Eller and others have been contributing to Blogging Futures as an extended online conversation in the form of an aggregated blogchain.

And none of this even touches on the excellent continuing work on Microsub readers which continues to astound me. Even with all of this activity, I’m sure I’m missing some fun little gems, so please don’t hesitate to mention them.

Bookmarked The Open Faculty Patchbook | A Community Quilt of Pedagogy (openfacultypatchbook.org)
Fleming College faculty (and anyone else who’d like to add!) are building a community patchwork of ‘chapters’ into a quasi-textbook about pedagogy for teaching & learning in college. This space is that work in progress. Each patch of the quilt/chapter of the book (let’s call it a patch book) will focus on one pedagogical skill and be completed and published by an individual faculty member. Wherever possible, we’d like to have the student perspective embedded in the work as well.
Bookmarked Resources - Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning - Oakland University (oakland.edu)
CETL creates and organizes resources faculty need to develop their learning environments, including teaching and learning conference support, grants related to teaching development, guides to teaching strategies and frameworks, a library of books and articles, and OU handbooks and documents. For faculty development opportunities online, see our Virtual Faculty Development.
Referenced at OLC Accelerate
Followed Sadik Shahadu by Sadik ShahaduSadik Shahadu (The Open Advocate)

Sadik Shahadu

Sadik Shahadu is an open advocate and a professional project manager with over 4 years of experience in managing community projects. He is a certified professional at NTEN and currently volunteer in coordinating Wikipedia related projects in Ghana. He is the co-founder and Director of Communication and partnerships for GOI Foundation.
Bookmarked Open Education and OER: A guide and call to action for policy makers by Maren Deepwell, Martin Weller, Lorna Campbell, Joe Wilson (ALT Open Access Repository)
Executive Summary ALT has produced this call to action to highlight to education policy makers and professionals how Open Education and OER can expand inclusive and equitable access to education and lifelong learning, widen participation, and create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners, preparing them to become fully engaged digital citizens. Open Education can also promote knowledge transfer while enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing. One of ALT’s three strategic aims is to increase the impact of Learning Technology for the wider community and we are issuing this call to action for policy makers to mandate that publicly funded educational resources are released under open licence to ensure that they reside in the public domain and are freely and openly available to all. This will be of wide benefit, but in particular will enable education providers and learning technology professionals to: Keep up to date with the rapid pace of technological innovation Develop critical, informed approaches to the implementation of Learning Technology and the impact on learners Scale up knowledge sharing and its benefits across sectors.

👓 For-profit, faux-pen, and critical conversations about the future of learning materials | Rajiv Jhangiani, Ph.D.

Read For-profit, faux-pen, and critical conversations about the future of learning materials by Rajiv Jhangiani, Ph.D. (Rajiv Jhangiani, Ph.D.)
I remember the first time I heard the term “free riders” being used in the context of the open education movement. It was at the Open Education Conference in 2015 in Vancouver when, dur…

Of course the Open Education conference is just an open education conference and it certainly isn’t the only place to have these conversations. Regional events such as the Northeast OER Summit, the Cascadia Open Education Summit, Wisconsin’s E-ffordability Summit, the Statewide Colorado OER conference and others are wonderful options. Further afield, the OER conference and the Open Education Global conference are both events that welcome critical conversations. As do other events like Digital Pedagogy Lab and the many virtual conference hallway conversations facilitated by Virtually Connecting.

Nice list of open education and OER related conferences and communities.