👓 Why an HTML/CSS First Approach Works for #OER and why #OER Must Work for an HTML First Approach | Greg McVerry

Read Why an HTML/CSS First Approach Works for and why Must Work for an HTML First Approach by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com)
A few years ago I worked with a committed group of volunteers in Erode, India. For awhile I provided a bit of webspace as they learned the simple mechanics of running websites. using chalk to lay out websites We focused on HTMl first. Why? Mainly because we believed it to be the most equitable pathw...

This type of basic digital literacy is essential. Instead of teaching children D’Nealian or the Palmer method of cursive script in grade school, let’s evolve a bit and teach them some basic HTML.

👓 OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy | Inside Higher Ed

Read OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy by Matt Reed (Inside Higher Ed)
The difference between “tuition and fees” and “total cost of attendance.”

A nice highlighting of why administrators should be pushing for OER. Unfortunately lost here is the actual cost of the remainder of the enterprise. Where do these OER resources come from? Who creates them? Who gets paid to create and maintain them? Or quite often, whose resources, time, and effort are being exploited to use them? Additionally, who on the institutional level is being paid to talk about OER, push it, educate educators about it, and help professors adopt it?

While it’s readily transparent how his accounting works in this limited example, there’s a lot more accounting and transparency that needs to be taken into account.

Let’s not take the cost and just shift it to others who are also ill-equipped to handle it.

👓 Empower Teachers First | Hapgood

Read Empower Teachers First by Mike Caulfield (Hapgood)
Someone asked me today whether I could share any insights about OER creation. I have a few thoughts about that, but the one I always come back to is that you have to empower teachers first. You know that thing on planes where it’s like “In case of sudden decompression, put on your own oxygen mask first. Once it’s securely fastened, help those around you put on theirs?”

🔖 An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel

Bookmarked An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel (criticaldigitalpedagogy.pressbooks.com)
This collection of essays explores the authors’ work in, inquiry into, and critique of online learning, educational technology, and the trends, techniques, hopes, fears, and possibilities of digital pedagogy. For more information, visit urgencyofteachers.com.

👓 Fragment – ROER: Reproducible Open Educational Resources | OUseful.Info, the blog

Read Fragment – ROER: Reproducible Open Educational Resources by Tony Hirst (OUseful.Info)
Fragment, because I’m obviously not making sense with this to anyone… In the words of David Wiley (@opencontent), in defining the “open” in open content and open educational…

Reply to Think About Capabilities, Not Permissions

Replied to Think About Capabilities, Not Permissions by Nathan Smith (The Piraeus)
I suggest we can move OER forward by shifting the conversation from permissions to capabilities.

Thanks for this Nathan. I did write a somewhat longer response to a few critiques late last week that clarified my position. In some sense I wanted to raise the idea of version control and it’s power/value more so than to just add on another “requirement” on the permissions side.

👓 Think About Capabilities, Not Permissions | The Piraeus

Read Think About Capabilities, Not Permissions by Nathan Smith (The Piraeus)
I suggest we can move OER forward by shifting the conversation from permissions to capabilities.

👓 Another scenario for higher education’s future: the triumph of open | Bryan Alexander

Read Another scenario for higher education’s future: the triumph of open by Bryan Alexander (Bryan Alexander)

Let me offer another scenario for academia’s future. As is usual with the scenario forecasting methodology, this is based on extrapolating from several present-day trends – here, several trends around open.

In the past I’ve called this “The Fall of the Silos.” It’s a sign of our urban- and suburban-centric era that this rural metaphor doesn’t get a lot of traction. It’s also possible that contemporary American politics leads many to embrace silos. So I’ve renamed the scenario “The Triumph of Open.”

tl;dr version – In this future the open paradigm has succeeded in shaping the way we use and access most digital information, with powerful implications for higher education.

Following Catherine Cronin

Followed Catherine Cronin – open educator, open researcher, educational developer (catherinecronin.net)

I’m Catherine Cronin — open educator, open researcher and educational developer in CELT (Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching) at the National University of Ireland, Galway. My work focuses on open education, critical approaches to openness, digital identity practices, and exploring the interplay between formal and informal learning. In my recently completed PhD, I  explored the use of open educational practices (OEP) in higher education.

I am a member of the advisory board of the Open Education Working Group and a regular contributor to conversations and collaborative projects in the area of open education, within Ireland and globally. My academic background includes a BSc Mechanical Engineering, MEng Systems Engineering, and MA Women’s Studies (Gender & Technology). I’ve been involved in teaching, research and advocacy in higher education and in the community for over 25 years. Recent work, apart from my OEP research, includes creating an Open Education guidefor faculty and staff, collaborating to create the Equity Unbound curriculum, engagement in the global #icollab network, and facilitating workshops on open educationdigital identity, and digital wellbeing for educators and learners in different settings.

Please click on the link to my Blog or Contact above – or join in conversation with me on Twitter at @catherinecronin.

👓 University issues statement on textbook pricing | Louisiana.edu

Read University issues statement on textbook pricing (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette issued the following statement regarding the pricing of textbook and software materials needed for Accounting 201 and 202. It can be attributed to Dr. Jaimie Hebert, the University’s provost. “We want to make it very clear to our students and the public that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette makes every effort to ensure that the materials required for courses are affordable. “We welcome the opportunity to clarify some confusion that resulted from the pricing of materials for Accounting 201 and 202.

👓 University’s $999 online textbook creates confusion and outrage | Inside Higher Ed

Read University's $999 online textbook creates confusion and outrage (Inside Higher Ed)
An online textbook priced at almost $1,000 has infuriated students trying to navigate an already confusing textbook marketplace, but Louisiana-Lafayette officials insist they had "good intentions."

This reporting doesn’t drill in far enough. Surely there are a few dozen textbooks that cover all of the same material that are roughly equivalent. What are those textbook prices? What about OER textbooks and their relative prices? Why is the department or even the professors doing anything but recommending textbooks? Why aren’t the students given the freedom to choose their own textbooks?

The Sixth “R” of Open Educational Resources

The 5 R’s

I’ve seen the five R’s used many times in reference to the OER space (Open Educational Resources). They include the ability to allow others to: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and/or Redistribute content with the appropriate use of licenses. These are all some incredibly powerful building blocks, but I feel like one particularly important building block is missing–that of the ability to allow easy accretion of knowledge over time.

Version Control

Some in the educational community may not be aware of some of the more technical communities that use the idea of version control for their daily work. The concept of version control is relatively simple and there are a multitude of platforms and software to effectuate it including Git, GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, SVN, etc. In the old days of file and document maintenance one might save different versions of the same general file with increasingly different and complex names to their computer hard drive: Syllabus.doc, Syllabus_revised.doc, Syllabus_revisedagain.doc, Syllabus_Final.doc, Syllabus_Final_Final.doc, etc. and by using either the names or date and timestamps on the file one might try to puzzle out which one was the correct version of the file that they were working on.

For the better part of a decade now there is what is known as version control software to allow people to more easily maintain a single version of their particular document but with a timestamped list of changes kept internally to allow users to create new updates or roll back to older versions of work they’ve done. While the programs themselves are internally complicated, the user interfaces are typically relatively easy to use and in less than a day one can master most of their functionality. Most importantly, these version control systems allow many people to work on the same file or resource at a time! This means that 10 or more people can be working on a textbook, for example, at the same. They create a fork  or clone of the particular project to their personal work space where they work on it and periodically save their changes. Then they can push their changes back to the original or master where they can be merged back in to make a better overall project. If there are conflicts between changes, these can be relatively easily settled without much loss of time. (For those looking for additional details, I’ve previously written Git and Version Control for Novelists, Screenwriters, Academics, and the General Public, which contains a variety of detail and resources.) Version control should be a basic tool of every educators’ digital literacy toolbox.

For the OER community, version control can add an additional level of power and capability to their particular resources. While some resources may be highly customized or single use resources, many of them, including documents like textbooks can benefit from the work of many hands in an accretive manner. If these resources are maintained in version controllable repositories then individuals can use the original 5 R’s to create their particular content.

But what if a teacher were to add several new and useful chapters to an open textbook? While it may be directly useful to their specific class, perhaps it’s also incredibly useful to the broader range of teachers and students who might use the original source in the future? If the teacher who forks the original source has a means of pushing their similarly licensed content back to the original in an easy manner, then not only will their specific class benefit from the change(s), but all future classes that might use the original source will have the benefit as well!

If you’re not sold on the value of version control, I’ll mention briefly that Microsoft spent $7.5 Billion over the summer to acquire GitHub, which is one of the most popular version control and collaboration tools on the market. Given Microsofts’ push into the open space over the past several years, this certainly bodes well for both open as well as version control for years to come.

Examples

A Math Text

As a simple example, lets say that one professor writes the bulk of a mathematics text, but twenty colleagues all contribute handfuls of particular examples or exercises over time. Instead of individually hosting those exercises on their own sites or within their individual LMSes where they’re unlikely to be easy to find for other adopters of the text, why not submit the changes back to the original to allow more options and flexibility to future teachers? Massive banks of problems will allow more flexibility for both teachers and students. Even if the additional problems aren’t maintained in the original text source, they’ll be easily accessible as adjunct materials for future adopters.

Wikipedia

One of the most powerful examples of the value of accretion in this manner is Wikipedia. While it’s somewhat different in form than some of the version control systems mentioned above, Wikipedia (and most wikis for that matter) have built in history views that allow users to see and track the trail of updates and changes over time. The Wikipedia in use today is vastly larger and more valuable today than it was on its first birthday because it allows ongoing edits to be not only improved over time, but those improvements are logged and view-able in a version controlled manner.

Google Documents

This is another example of an extensible OER platform that allows simple accretion. With the correct settings on a document, one can host an original and allow it to be available to others who can save it to their own Google Drive or other spaces. Leaving the ability for guests to suggest changes or to edit a document allows it to potentially become better over time without decreasing the value of the original 5 Rs.

Webmentions for Update Notifications

As many open educational resources are hosted online for easy retention, reuse, revision, remixing, and/or redistribution, keeping them updated with potential changes can potentially be a difficult proposition. It may not always be the case that resources are maintained on a single platform like GitHub or that users of these resources will necessarily know how to use these platforms or their functionality. As a potential “fix” I can easily see a means of leveraging the W3C recommended specification for Webmention as a means of keeping a tally of changes to resources online.

Let’s say Robin keeps a copy of her OER textbook on her WordPress website where students and other educators can easily download and utilize it. More often than not, those using it are quite likely to host changed versions of it online as well. If their CMS supports the Webmention spec like WordPress does via a simple plugin, then by providing a simple URL link as a means of crediting the original source, which they’re very likely to do as required by the Creative Commons license anyway, their site will send a notification of the copy’s existence to the original. The original can then display the webmentions as traditional comments and thus provide links to the chain of branches of copies which both the original creator as well as future users can follow to find individual changes. If nothing else, the use of Webmention will provide some direct feedback to the original author(s) to indicate their materials are being used. Commonly used education facing platforms like WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Grav, and many others either support the Webmention spec natively or do so with very simple plugins.

Editorial Oversight

One of the issues some may see with pushing updates back to an original surrounds potential resource bloat or lack of editorial oversight. This is a common question or issue on open source version control repositories already, so there is a long and broad history of for how these things are maintained or managed in cases where there is community disagreement, an original source’s maintainer dies, disappears, loses interest, or simply no longer maintains the original. In the end, as a community of educators we owe it to ourselves and future colleagues to make an attempt at better maintaining, archiving, and allowing our work to accrete value over time.

The 6th R: Request Update

In summation, I’d like to request that we all start talking about the 6 R’s which include the current 5 along with the addition of a Request update (or maybe pull Request, Recompile, or Report to keep it in the R family?) ability as well. OER is an incredibly powerful concept already, but could be even more so with the ability to push new updates or at least notifications of them back to the original. Having the ability to do this will make it far easier to spread and grow the value of the OER concept as well as to disrupt the education spaces OER was evolved to improve.

Featured photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

🔖 Creative Commons, OER, and Open Practices | Féile Blackboard, CELT, NUI Galway | Google Docs

Bookmarked Creative Commons, OER, and Open Practices (Féile Blackboard, CELT, NUI Galway | Google Docs)

This guide accompanies a professional development workshop on Open Education offered by the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT), NUI Galway. The guide has five sections:

  1. Open Educational Resources (OER)
  2. Open licensing and Creative Commons
  3. Why use open practices?
  4. How to open up my practice?
  5. Summary

👓 Why a professor buys his books from the bookstore | Chuck Pearson

Read Why a professor buys his books from the bookstore by Chuck Pearson (Another fine mess)
Friday, I made a visit to my campus bookstore, and I bought my books. The guy who runs Tusculum’s bookstore, Cliff Hoy, is a great guy, and the work that Tusculum’s bookstore does is fi…