Author: apurva

January 2019 Office Hours: OER Policy Redux (Audio Transcript)

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. Huge thanks to Mei Lin for producing the captions and transcript for this recording.

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Audio Transcript


  • Billy Meinke-Lau
  • Jessica Norman
  • Michelle Brailey
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Jonathan Poritz
  • Mark McBride
  • Anita Walz

Zoe: So, we will be picking up on some of the threads out of that conversation and then also exploring a few new things as well. There’s an awful lot to talk about on the topic, so I’m excited to see how this goes and where we end up. Partly as well ’cause I did miss the first one. So, I’ve just been recapping myself on really interesting conversations coming out. So, for those of you who don’t know, my name is Zoe from the Rebus Community.

And we are delighted as always to partner with the OTN on these Office Hours sessions. And so, now I’ll hand you over to Karen to introduce our speakers for the day.

Karen: Thanks, Zoe. My name is Karen Lauritsen I’m a managing director with the Open Textbook Network, and like the Rebus team we are delighted to partner on these monthly Office Hours sessions, when we talk informally about issues related to open textbook publishing. As a reminder, these conversations are really community driven, and so if there are topics that you would like to cover in the future, things that you think of, please let us know, either in the chat or drop us a note in the future.

Today, our guests are going to share details about working within their campus, system, state, and regional context to develop OER policy. Today, we’re going to hear about other experiences, developing publishing policy, rolling out institutional OER policy via training, developing institutional goals to support open pedagogy, and pushing back against the collection and use of personal data along with other topics that will emerge.

We have three guests today, Billy and Jessica are returning from the July session and then, Michelle is new to join us. And then, I’m sure there’s many people who are in this call who can also share their experiences. So, I’m going to go ahead and give a brief bio of our three guests, and then turn it over to them. Our format here today is as always brief and informal. Our three guests will share three to five minutes about their experience, and then we’re going to open it up to all of you to drive the conversation with your questions and comments.

So, joining us today are Billy Meinke, he’s the open educational resources technologist at Outreach College and the Dean’s Office at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. We also have Jessica Norman, she’s the e-learning librarian and library liaison in construction, hospitality and tourism at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. And then, we have Michelle Brailey, who’s digital initiatives projects librarian at the University of Alberta. We’re going to start with Billy, so I’m going to turn it over to you.

Billy: All right, good morning, or good afternoon everybody. My name is Billy Meinke-Lau. And I am the OER technologist for the Outreach College at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. So, I’m just going to give my spiel right now about open policy, okay. Great, so a lot of my work has to do with building textbooks with faculty and supporting technology that allows that and looking at processes that support that. But what has come into play inevitably is policy.

And so, at two levels, I’ve had to work with policy at the institutional level. When I dug in and started to look at the existing textbooks that faculty were using and the shift towards inclusive access and textbook rentals, I found some problematic things. Having to do with the terms of service and the privacy policies associated with textbook rentals and the like. And so, I did quite a bit of digging and I’ve worked with counsel and I’ve worked with other policy makers to figure out what to do with this.

Essentially, at the first stage we are giving students more of a heads up in terms of what types of data collection, personal information is collected by publishers, when they do click through the terms of service, when they open their digital rentals. And the next step will be working with publishers to bring their terms of service and privacy policies in line. Because at the end of the day, data collection and extracting information about our students, about how they learn doesn’t really have anything to do with their learning.

And so, separating that and their business models associated with that from the learning itself and from the classroom experience has been really important. At a state level, here in Hawaii, things have been interesting. Last year, we had a surprise OER bill at the state legislature. And nobody saw it coming, and it was more or less the result of our students’ governments speaking with senators about what they really care about, and textbook affordability was one of the main items.

And so, we had a bill that we had to watch carefully as it made it through the legislature. That bill did not make it through and fell out of Senate. We’re not quite sure how it all happened, but I can drop a link into the chat if you’d like to read more about that. But the good news is that we have two fresh OER bills that were just introduced at the state legislature last week. So, both the house and the senate at the Hawaii State Legislature are interested in supporting OER, which is wonderful.

And after what happened last year, both chambers are now more or less in line in terms of knowing better how to support OER. Both bills at this point, they haven’t accepted testimony or anything significant yet. But both bills are calling for a taskforce or a council to be set up to assess the needs system wide, state wide here in Hawaii for OER. The University of Hawaii is the state university.

There are 10 campuses, I’m at the flagship campus, and the state legislation basically is to do a survey and say, “You know, if we want to do OER system wide how do we go about doing that? What’s it going to cost? Who has to be involved? What’s the nitty gritty of getting this done?” And so, having support at the top down level is really nice. And it’s giving us an opportunity to interact with legislators and open conversations about how they can support the university in a broader way, and how OER is part of that.

And so, I will drop in links to the two measures, if anybody is interested in actually getting in and taking a look. First one is our house bill and the second one is the senate bill. And if you look at the first link that I dropped in, there is a link from there to SPARC’s open education policy playbook. And inside that playbook they made a few recommendations as to at the state level what states might adopt in terms of legislation that support OER.

And one of the key pieces is setting up a taskforce, and another one is a grant program. And so, there is a possibility of that at this time. In terms of the two bills and the similarities and differences, those are calling for a taskforce assessment, about what would it take to do OER across the entire state. This senate bill is more specific in terms of specifying who is going to be on that taskforce.

And they’ve asked the vice chancellors of academic affairs from each campus, which is pretty hard to pull together. They did not yet add or designee to the end of it, which would be really nice. So, they specify who they want to be on the taskforce, but they actually have not included on that taskforce information technology IT people. They have not included a student voice, they’ve not included accessibility, or disabilities, that sort of expertise on the taskforce.

We may be asking for that at a later point. But at any rate, at the institutional level, helping students make better decisions, and helping faculty be more aware of data collection with regard to the kinds of textbooks that they may have been using, that they may be moving away from. That’s one part of it. And then, at the state level, on the policy front looking at the attention that the legislators are putting on OER as it approaches textbook affordability.

And helping make sure that legislation that goes through is actually useful, it’s actionable, it’s something that we can work with. And something that other states and jurisdictions might be able to model. Great. I will pass it along.

Karen: Thank you. Super. Jessica, I’m going to turn things over to you, if you want to unmute and turn your camera on, in case it’s off. There you are, we see you.

Jessica: Sure. So, hopefully the sound is okay. Excellent. So, as she said, my name is Jessica Norman, and I’m at the SAIT, otherwise known as Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, in Calgary Alberta Canada. We’re a two-year polytechnic, applied education institution with approximately 11,000 students enrolled, if that gives you a sense of our size. I’m currently the e-learning librarian, here in our library.

And OER is part of my position description, so it’s an explicit part of my job. So, when I was here in July, the discussion was around a newly adopted institutional policy. So, in May 2018, our board of governors approved an institutional OER policy here on campus. It clearly stated that our institution promoted the use of OER, which was a real change from previous culture.

It specified the type of open license that was preferred, clarified some of the other procedures around adopting, adapting, and creating OER. And also, clarified training and support measures, so that was really big for us. Since then, in the academic year we’ve really seen a transition on our campus from what is OER? To how do we do this effectively? So, the policy was really instrumental, at least for us to raise awareness with not only our faculty, but also our academic chairs and administrators and even with our students.

And it really shifted our culture to an answer of yes when administrators or faculty were thinking about new curriculum projects or developing content that OER was an option. What that means in a practical sense is we’ve seen an explosion of OER activity on campus. We had 13 small scale projects for adoption or adaption this Fall. And another five course textbook replacement projects, where the course went fully OER for all materials.

One of the projects that I worked on over summer and then Fall was to replace the traditional textbook in 88 sections of our communication courses. So, that was an immediate impact on 2,300 students this Fall semester. And we’re following that up with an assessment project on student perception and the use of materials. We’ve got approval to share the results from that afterwards.

And then, from a student perspective, we saw our first student association campaign to really educate and promote to the students the value of OER. It riled some people up on campus, it got some interesting rumors going. But it also really opened up some conversations, too with faculty, that we may not have seen otherwise. But the other interesting thing about all this activity, at least from my perspective, is that there was finally an acknowledgement on campus that for OER to be sustainable in the future, it can’t be a one-woman show. (Laughs)

So, I’m the only person on campus with OER in my title, or in my description on campus. And I’ve spent a lot of time this Fall talking to folks about how all aspects of our program so, advocacy, training, project management, content creation, assessment, renewal projects, how we can integrate those into institutional practices in other departments on campus. And one of my main projects starting this Fall is the development of a strategic plan for campus.

So, that we can document how we as an institution are going to support these activities going forward. And that we can distribute out the workload and the time required to make this successful. It looks like that I’ll be able to have those approved by March of this year and be able to really put that out there and start promoting those activities on campus. And also outside of campus with folks to help them better understand what we need to do to make this a really comprehensive program.

So, one of the first examples is simply going to be that we need to have a training program that will allow faculty and staff to have access to information on a scalable platform and it’s not just me giving workshops (laughs). ‘Cause there comes a limit to how many places I can be at once. So, that and several other areas that we’re going to be focusing on will hopefully set a foundation where we’ll have a long-term successful development project here at SAIT. That’s what we have been doing.

Karen: Thanks, Jessica. I’m sure there are several people out there who can identify with the idea of it needing to move beyond a one-person show. (Laughs)

Jessica: Sometimes you get caught by your own success.

Karen: (Laughs) Thank you. I would now like to turn things over to Michelle.

Michelle: Hi, can you hear me okay?

Karen: Yes, we can hear and see you.

Michelle: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for having me here. And thank you Jessica and Billy for sharing your experiences first. So, I’m at the University of Alberta, Canada. So, to give you an idea of the size, this is a large institution. So, there are six campuses, 40,000 students. So, practices and policies are often at a department level and they get quite complex.

So, I don’t have really an institutional wide policy to speak to, but what I thought I could speak to is some of our library publishing practices and how policy fits within that. So, specifically my role is on the library publishing and digital production team in the library. And on campus we also have an existing OER awards program, which is a partnership between the library and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

So, through these funded projects we started to see some needs emerge for OER publishing infrastructure. And that’s something a program we’ve been working to publish and build on our campus. So, working alongside that pilot project, the portfolio I’m in also has a strong existing open publishing program. So, we’ve been working on building our open publishing program, mirroring those existing practices that are already working as best that we can.

So, as well as working on things, practical things like technology, planning, workflows, all that practical stuff. We’ve also been developing memoranda of understanding, so MOU, really just a document that outlines the responsibilities of each partner. So, as the content creators know each other’s responsibilities and it creates an effective partnership. So, where the MOUs within other service is content creator is required to put the MOU before access to our publishing tools.

So, the kinds of things that are included in the MOU so some of our responsibilities are things like providing access to Pressbooks and establishing a unique account, allowing them to transfer content to our servers. We will be updating the software, providing OER hosting across, assigning DOIs, assisting with disability. And it allows for discontinuation of the services with six months’ notice.

For the content creators they’re required to, of course, make their content freely openly available with the CC license, that allows to create derivatives. They must be fully responsible for all aspects of creation and transfer and updating their OER content. They must provide us with contact for one designated contact for their project. And they’re responsible for obtaining if their party permissions are seeking copyright so that’s required.

And of course, they’re also able to discontinue the service with notice, as well. So, policy kind of fits within defining our goal within the libraries and how we’re supporting OER in our campus. Just speaking from what Jessica had mentioned, kind of a latter shift from those one-off workshops all the time, of going in and doing the OER show to being able to have a defined bubble for the services we can provide and where we fit within the OER spectrum on our campus.

Karen: Thank you, Michelle. And if you have examples of the MOU or some of the other resources you were discussing, I’m sure people on the call would really appreciate those links. Okay, now is when we put it to all of you to engage with our guests and ask questions about what they’ve shared so far or add your own stories. So, feel free to do that in the chat, or to unmute.

I think we’re doing okay with our audio and thank you for turning off your cameras, I think that really helps with what we’re all trying to do here in this big group together. So, I have not been monitoring the chat perhaps as closely as others. So, let me know, are there questions outstanding that we should start with here?

Zoe: We did have one in the chat that came while Jessica was speaking, from Cathy asking whether you have provided financial incentive for those projects that you were talking about that have been kicking off at great speed on your campus?

Jessica: So, that is a good question. The answer to that would be that no, we currently do not have a separate funding process or mini-grant process for OER. At our particular institution, the way that we’re currently looking at it is that OER is built into the ongoing curriculum development processes that already exist. The institution felt like their first step was simply to encourage folks to use OER while they’re developing new materials for classes.

And they’ll support that work, so if they get a contract to do a new course development and they develop OER as part of that, then obviously they’re being compensated. But, at this stage at least, they aren’t having a separate grant just for OER development. It is part of our strategic plan, so we’re looking at it as a phase two. But right now, they’re focusing more on existing processes and existing funding.

And then, just the big thing for us is putting the word OER into current grants, so we have curriculum development processes, and we have an in-house grant that’s really interesting. It’s called a Cisco e-learning grant, we offer up to five a year. It’s a $20,000 development grant plus a full semester of off-load time. And OER is now allowed to be one of the possibilities for that. So, I’m trying to be creative with current funding models, rather than getting new funding that we can apply.

Zoe: Thanks for that, that sounds like a great approach working with what’s already there.

Karen: Jessica, just to follow up on something you said in your intro, you mentioned that there is a preferred license, there’s some language around that. Can you talk a little bit about the preferred licenses at your institution?

Jessica: Sure. So, one thing that I should definitely highlight is that being at a two-year polytechnic we have a different model for IP or for intellectual property than maybe at a four-year university. In that our current policies and our faculty contract with our institution state that all work that’s developed during your employment is owned by the institution and not by the faculty member.

So, if we do create content during curriculum development, or other activities that relate to class, the material itself and therefore the license is held by the institution and not by the instructor. The reason why that’s significant for us is because historically that meant then, that the institution or its designee, so someone in our curriculum development group or maybe a dean would declare this is copyrighted, and we can’t or won’t share it.

The policy then, for us, in the Fall or last year was really significant, because it meant that our institution had a declared statement that said the default would be open and not traditional copyright. And therefore, the designee, the curriculum development person or the dean was allowed to then say, “Yes, we will license this through creative commons, and yes, we can make it available.”

So, the language we use right now says that in consultation with their dean or other designee the faculty member will apply the appropriate creative commons license. We as an institution have said that we promote the use of CC BY unless there is some outstanding reason not to. So, we’re not going to say it has to be a completely open license, there might be a few instances why we need it to be non-commercial or something.

But we have it clearly stated that we want it to be CC BY unless there is a compelling reason. And then, there’s a nice statement that says they should consult with me, if they’re not sure what to do and I will help them choose the most open possible license.

Karen: Nice. Billy, there’s a question for you in the chat from Rob, who’s asking about some of the benefits and challenges of getting legislature involved with OER.

Billy: That’s a great question. So, as I mentioned, last year’s OER bill at the state level, it was a surprise, nobody saw it coming. And at first glance, some people were saying, “Well, do we need a bill to make OER work here?” And that was the question we were grappling with this whole time, like is it going to help or hinder our progress with OER? And as the OER bill, as the waves of news spread out across the entire state a lot of people were like, “What’s OER? This is new, what are you guys doing?”

And a lot more people became involved and interested in it. And so, for that reason it was good to have something even just a proposed bill out there for OER. But still the question that we’re struggling with is do we need an OER bill at state level to make OER work here? And I’m leaning towards yes. And mainly it’s because University of Hawaii is a state school, we’re funded largely through the state. We have reporting duties to the state for this funding that they give us. And so, there’s a higher level of accountability.

And this isn’t to say that the state is going to give us funding directly for OER, but there is some oversight of the university’s activities with the state, and we need to improve that relationship, if we can. So, that said, I think setting up a formal taskforce, which is a part of both bills that are on the docket this year, I think that’s a good thing. And I think it will again, raise the accountability level and get more folks at the administration level involved and aware.

And having them help move their resources, people resources, too around to make sure that we have a report, we have a plan, we have a better idea at the system level. Because my work primarily is focused on my campus, but like I said, we have 10 campuses and OER expertise and OER leadership at each campus is a little bit different. And so, if we’re working at the system level top down, and if we can have the grassroots and bottom up support where they meet in the middle, I think that’s the sweet spot.

So, they can look up or over if you will, and say, “Okay, look, we have support from legislators.” And they can look over to the side and say, “Oh our peers are really interested in this, too.” And where they meet, I think that’s where we’re going to see most blossoming, the most blooming, the most really interesting work. But having that accountability and the support and maybe some funding down the line from the state, that’d be really neat.

But yeah, it’s still a toss-up, and not everybody’s in agreement over whether or not we need an OER bill for this to work. I know personally a few folks I work with they don’t think that we need a bill at all, and they’d rather see it move on, and not get passed. But at any rate, just having a bill, having policy at a high level around OER really just brought it to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

And now, they’re more closely associating OER with online learning, as opposed to OER being this amorphous abstract thing that’s on its own. Now, it’s like, “Oh, well, you can do online learning how you would like to do it anyways, and just have the content be open. And it’s a lot of what you want to do anyway.” But yeah, I hope that answered the question.

Karen: Thanks Billy. In the chat, there is a continuation I think Jessica, on your comments about licenses. So, Alexis is asking if a professor doesn’t want others profiting from their work, would that be considered a valid reason to make something NC, for example? Do you see that as taking away academic freedom if the answer is no? Have you ran into any case studies like that, yet?

Jessica: That’s a really interesting question. I just saw that in the chat. Give me a second, I’m reading through that twice. Let’s see. Profiting off the work a valid reason to make something in NC license. I see. And I have to give full props here to Cable Green, Creative Commons, and the rest of that crew, because I took the Creative Commons certificate this past summer. And one of the things that I learned there is that NC doesn’t mean what you think it means necessarily.

And so, I’ve actually spent a decent amount of time on our campus trying to clarify for folks why we want to be as open as possible. How labeling something as NC can really sometimes cause issues with using current material as well as sharing it back out. Because when you start applying an NC SA license, that share alike element can sometimes cause some issues in ways that people don’t expect.

I’ve also at least on our campus had several conversations around what it means to be non-commercial in terms of creating copies and providing students access to print and things like that. We actually did a small revision to our policy, it was officially approved in May with a statement that said that our institution would not print copies for students. Because some of the legal information they had previously was that somehow that would violate an NC and they didn’t want to go near it.

And luckily, I got some information through Creative Commons, in fact it may have been an email from Cable, along with some of the new outcomes from some of the court cases. And we were able to have our copyright officer write a statement in support of printing and providing access to the students in print. And we got a legal brief basically that officially said, “Yes, we can do this, this is still acceptable under NC.”

And so, we were able to have them revise our policy and open that part up and have it republished under the new language that says, “We can print things and that NC doesn’t eliminate that option through say a Xerox center or something.” So, I can’t really answer the question of taking away academic freedom or not. I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing that off the top of my head right now.

What I would say though, is that it’s really important to understand clearly what non-commercial really means. And that by locking things down under non-commercial I’ve found that it actually has a much bigger impact than you would originally think of.

Karen: Thanks, Jessica. And I invite anyone else to chime in, if they would like to. I’ve also had similar conversations lately about NC with Cable. So, I’m sure this is a big part of your life, Cable. I’m pausing to see if anyone would like to unmute and speak up.

Billy: I can speak a little bit to the licenses. So, I used to work at Creative Commons with Cable, and so I just want to reemphasize the point that the licenses are the lynchpin of why this is all working, why OER is so impactful. And so, the NC license debate and the case law some of which is still being mulled over, it’s very, very important. You shouldn’t be afraid of copyrights. Not every campus, not every institution has a copyright librarian, or a copyright specialist, we don’t at our institution.

But I’m not sure if we do throughout our entire system. But fortunately, the CC licenses are easy enough to understand, and when folks do have complex questions, there is a community to reach out to to get those questions answered. They usually come with a little disclaimer, like this is not legal advice, I am not your lawyer, but that’s just what they have to do to protect themselves, which is great.

Just to finish that thought, so we do an OER grant program at UH Manoa as well, and there are OER grant programs that are happening at the community college level as well. And we do prefer CC BY as what the license that the folks put on the outputs of their grant. But we do allow other licenses, if there is justification. In one, possibly two cases we did allow NC licenses, when there was content being developed and it hadn’t previously been OER, but they’re making a new version of it, and they wanted to make it OER.

And so, we funded them to do that, and they did choose an NC license, because there was some pressure from a publisher that was considering borrowing in big ways from the work. And they wanted to put that on hold, until they solidified their position and made sure everything was all good to go. And they’re looking at a later point licensing with a more free and more open license. But they’re doing a more tempered approach in the beginning with an NC license, with plans later on to revisit that conversation and to license it more openly.

Zoe: And I wonder if Michelle, you want to jump in? I think you mentioned that you’re allowing licenses, any of the CC licenses apart from ND? And so, I wonder if you could talk maybe about how you came to that position? And I was thinking from what Billy mentioned as well about who’s involved in the shaping of these policies, was that done with consultation with faculty? Or with others within the library system? How do you get to that within your arrangements at the moment?

Michelle: So, we’re fortunate on our campus that we do have a copyright librarian. While building our memorandum of understanding we worked very closely with copyright librarian. Our copyright librarian often our OER community, knowledge of the community. We were also looking at our of understanding we were already using for our OS program, the open journal publishing. And really, just adapting that as possible to fit with our—

So, giving them the freedom to select an appropriate license, but of course, to be an OER in my opinion, it has to not have that ND license. So, the understanding that with each project there will be some consultation to educate and determine the most appropriate licenses. That answer your question? Perfect.

Zoe: It does, thank you. And I think we’ve had another one from Cathy in the chat. And I’m not sure if this is targeted at anyone in particular. But she’s asking to what extent do you expect your creators, grant recipients, etc to participate in subsequent OER advocacy? Do you request it formally or informally? And then, for you Michelle, do you include in the MOU? Anyone want to jump in on that one?

Billy: I will jump in. So, I will say that we’ve had a little bit of a challenge in terms of turning our OER grant recipients into OER champions. And that’s not because they’re not enthusiastic, it’s because they have very little time. So, we’re an R1 research institution, and these faculty, our grants are up to $5,000 to adapt or create a new OER textbook. And in comparison to the other research grants that our faculty might be working under, that’s a drop in the bucket.

They have lots of duties, they have teaching responsibilities, they have to be publishing and this, that, and the other thing. So, what we did was build into the grants that they would be blogging about their experience. And that’s a way to put a marker and document their experience, and even if they’re not necessarily going to be the ones walking down the hallway talking to all their companions about OER, we at least have something to point back to.

And initially, I wanted to have all the faculty who received the OER grants blog on our site, and I realized that they don’t always want to do that. Sometimes they want to have more ownership over it, and that’s totally cool. I’m a huge fan of domain of one’s own, and those sorts of things, owning your own web space. And so, in some cases, we’ve had faculty that deferred to blogging on the Math Department blog, and we can just link to it, that’s great.

And we asked that they openly license that as well, so I can scrape the copy and keep it, in case that ever goes away, that sort of thing. But allowing people to be champions and support others in the departments in their own way, as long as it does sort of fit with the greater vision of having more people involve openness into their practice, and have OER be something they regularly work with, even if they’re not getting grant funding right away or at that point. That’s been our approach.

Michelle: I can jump in as well. So, for our OER awards program, it is part of that program that they’re required to share about their work. So, not as strong as advocacy, but just be open to sharing about their experiences with those projects. And as part of our OER publishing program, we don’t have anything formally established in that regards, yet. But we do have a strong relationship on our campus with our students’ union.

So, they’ve been actually the strongest advocate to pull in those faculty who are involved with OER projects and getting them to share their experiences with students’ union planned events. So, that’s how it’s fit in with the OER creation and advocacy. Actually, our OER advocacy committee is actually chaired by our students’ union. And they actively recruit members across campus who are involved with OER.

Jessica: So, I’m not sure if this is up and running, but I could share from our perspective what we’re doing, kind of like Billy said. We don’t want to formally set the requirements for advocacy, because it can look different to different people. We’re also very aware of the time commitments. I’m at a teaching institution, where our faculty are typically coming from a non-traditional background. So, they’ve been practicing in their profession, they’re plumbers, they’re welders, they’re bakers who are coming to teach.

And so, interesting enough what I find is I have a lot of enthusiastic folks who are adopting or creating content. But when I ask if they’re interested in being more of an advocate or speaking publicly, I often find I run into a lot of concerns about their expertise, and I have to spend time kind of reassuring them from perspective that well, the whole concept of being an impostor syndrome, right? That they’re saying to me, “Well, I’m not good enough at it, yet.”

Or, “I just wrote a video, I’m not really wanting to talk about it from a larger theoretical.” So, what we’ve done is we’ve gotten permission from folks to either record them talking about concepts, so that they can feel comfortable with the content, prep their conversation, maybe even if we need to edit the responses, so that they are okay with that. We’re also asking them not to blog necessarily but to either create a reflection piece, or in some cases we interview them and then write up the results from the interview.

And then, I can use that content to craft posters that we can use around campus with their image, or we can use the video clips during events and presentations. And we find that people are more comfortable doing that kind of work than being live in front of a group and talking about the process or having to find time outside of a class teaching schedule to come to an event. So, those kinds of activities have worked a little better for us.

Karen: Thank you all for sharing your comments. Cable is pointing to Jonathan. Jonathan Poritz, if you’re willing to share what Colorado is doing regarding the open education statewide council and how they’re working with their state legislature? That it could be useful since Hawaii is considering a statewide council, too.

Jonathan: Can you hear me? No.

Karen: Yes, we can hear you now.

Jonathan: Okay, great. There we go. So, yes, so what Billy describes is interesting to me that it came out of the blue. I guess it came a little out of the blue in Colorado as well, the committee of the state legislature got interested. And apparently it was a legislative aide who told the legislators, “Hey, don’t just jump into creating a program, do a little study first.” And so, the first bill they passed, which had a tiny budget just got a bunch of people from round the state to sit on a council and make a proposal.

We proposed a grant program, and an ongoing council to help coordinate efforts in the state. And now, we got into that legislature like that, and jumped on that. And so, we are now in our first year. We gave out grants of about $500,000 and supposedly we’ll have another $1 million in year two and another in year three. We’re trying to organize activities. I think we haven’t had as much student input as some people have said.

I don’t really know why, but we did a survey and there was a lot of student involvement in our survey. The state, the council is very active, and I think we’re meeting a huge amount of interest. And I think I really feel like there’s a critical threshold, once you cross it and it becomes on people’s radar, everyone starts talking about it, and everywhere you go. I can’t walk across my campus without faculty members stopping me and saying, “Hey, I’ve got this idea, could you help me?”

Literally, people see me, and they stop me. I’m thinking of wearing a disguise when I leave my building. But the state is, I think state efforts can be nice, it’s nice to have some money. I think as one of the previous speakers was talking about, we all have a lot of demands on our time. And the amount of money that typically is available for OER stipends or some kind of little bit funding, honorary almost, of funding to induce people to be involved or whatever.

It’s really it doesn’t it’s not a minimum wage job, if you do the computation of how much time you spend. So, my feeling is that the money is nice, but what really matters is a community and a support structure, if there are OER librarians or if there are people in the community that know, that can answer questions and do some of the work. I have colleagues who say, “I’m not going to spend the time.”

And I say, “Listen, I will come to your office, you will give me the content, I will type it into Pressbooks, I will do it all for you. Just use it when I’m done.” And they say, “Well, okay.” So, I think if I were redesigning things, I might give less money as direct grants to people in the project and provide more a well supported infrastructure. Anyway, I don’t know. I think it’s good to move forward, and I think it’s nice to have support from the politicians.

We have a new governor in Colorado, who was one of the co-authors of the United States Federal Appropriation that was spent and funded the Libre Texts thing. So, we’re hoping that we’ll get— I still haven’t a chance to meet him, but I supposedly we will have more input from the governor’s office. Anyway, thank you.

Karen: Thanks Cable for the suggestion, thanks Jonathan for hopping on and sharing your story. Cathy has a question in the chat. In any of your policies, do you include having the cost of textbooks stated clearly in the registration system, or is this more an institutional decision and not part of legislation? The students are working on it now at UConn, University of Connecticut. So, I put that to anyone who’s here.

Billy: So, I’ll just say, so our librarians at a number of campuses did a lot of work to at their own campuses standardize a way that zero textbook costs courses were marked in banner, which is our system for course registrations. And so, they worked on that for a year and a half, even two years, we talked about it for a while. But there was no system level change that would make that possible. And part of that had to do with the folks at the top, in IT, just not being able to do it right away, not having the bandwidth to it.

And part of it had to do with some pushback from faculty. You have the same courses taught by different instructors, and one of them maybe is using OER or a free textbook that presents some tension there. Tension also exists when you have the same course, one OER and one not, that’s taught at two different campuses because that can pull students from one to the other.

We have a lot of students take courses online, a lot of students who commute between campuses. They take courses when it fits their schedule. And so, there were some obvious, real reasons why folks did not necessarily want to have the cost of textbooks marked immediately. Obviously, we thought it was a good idea as part of the SPARC’s open education policy playbook.

And so, just back in November, December our ITS system level and a few librarians got together, and they made a dropdown menu inside a banner. Some courses are entered into the system, it makes it very easy to just select a marker and say this is zero textbook cost course. They integrate ZTC, but at the same time, because there are folks who are already using the comments section, using a somewhat standardized marker that way to mark zero textbook cost courses.

Then, the question came up of okay, cool, so we’re going to be doing this. But at each campus they can do one way or the other or both, which one do we choose? And so, we’re still having conversations about that. My thing is about giving students the most information as possible, to help them make an informed decision about which courses to take. And it maybe that they know the next semester the prof that’s going to teach this course is going to use an OER book.

And so, they may want to delay, they may not want to take the course now. They may want to do things a bit differently. But then, they need to make an informed decision and having the textbook costs, or a zero textbook cost marker on the course at the time of registration is huge. And so, if you’re at all able to do that, I highly, highly encourage it. Even if you come up against some bumps in the road in terms of how that is implemented, and how it’s done.

Anita: So, this is Anita Walz. I wanted to jump in and say that Virginia had legislation last year that was passed about OER and low cost commercially published course materials, which is something that was added by lobbyists in the first subcommittee and never taken out. And that there is another bill that is working its way through our general assembly which has to do with course markings.

So, I’m curious to know if other folks have had experiences where they think it’s valuable to mark OER instead of low cost or no cost. And then, how are you defining low cost? Because that’s pretty ambiguous (laughs). I think it’s unfortunate that it’s in our law, because it is really ambiguous and I’m just wondering if anyone has the silver lining on that, please.

Billy: So, I’ll just say so our administrators, their idea is that OER is one item underneath a larger textbook affordability umbrella if you will. And that is not necessarily how I think of it but that’s how they think of it. So, we have ZTC marking happening right now. We don’t have a low cost marking. I’ve heard— I don’t want to quote me, but I would have heard numbers of $30 per course, or $40 per course being a reasonable number to call it low cost.

And then, some cases you’re moving away from $150 textbook to a $30 book or set of materials is huge, that’s a big difference. That’s a big margin you’re gaining there. But at this time, I don’t see the value in doing that, I think that just sticking to ZTC or OER more specifically if you can, is a better route to go.

Mark: This is Mark, I’m from New York State, I’m part of the state university in New York system, SUNY system. I know one of the discussion points earlier was about state legislators and our state made a significant investment in OER two years in a row. And it looks like they’re going to make a third year of investment, which has really brought OER into full light here within the SUNY and in the CUNY system.

And we are really fortunate and trust us, we know how fortunate we are. But the one question that keeps coming up is about OER policies. And even though our state legislature has put money on the table, there has really been no discussion about policies. Within SUNY we’re kind of like a confederacy and so, our institutions all act essentially as their own institution, and though there are certain SUNY mandates that govern those institutions, for the most part they can govern themselves.

So, some campuses have gone through the process of putting OER into promotion and tenure requirements. Or acknowledging the acceptance of OER as worthwhile academic pursuit for faculty. And then, others have stressed the need to pursue OER to tackle textbook affordability, and then the discussion point that Anita brought up is exactly what we’re wrestling with right now.

And what Billy responded to is we have some campuses that really think that this is an affordability issue and that we should tackle student affordability with OER. And I don’t think anybody would argue against that. But we now have some faculty speaking up to say OER is more than just about affordability. And we’re in a unique spot where we think we can do some really decent analysis on the data that we’re getting from campuses.

So, that we can show what impact OER is really having on our classes, and especially our faculty, because our faculty are stating that it’s really helping them to customize the learning experience for students, that they traditionally could not do with commercial published textbooks. And I’m assuming everybody on the call is probably nodding their head, right?

Karen: (Laughs) Yes, behind all the turned off cameras, we can imagine many heads are nodding. Thanks for chiming in, Mark, really appreciate it. And Anita had actually the same question I did listening to you, which is do you know if any of the four years in the SUNY system have addressed tenure promotion or can you think of any campuses specifically that maybe we could take a look at what they’ve done?

Mark: So, one four-year institution, SUNY Delhi, it’s just a line inside the promotion at tenure requirements that comes out of their economic affairs office. It’s just kind of like an umbrella statement that OER should be considered a viable method for teaching and for scholarship. And I can share that link with the community, I wish I had it at my fingertips.

Karen: Super, thanks. And Jennifer is asking if you have a SUNY system OER policy?

Mark: No, we don’t, we just passed an open access policy at the system level, which means all our state operated campuses, because we’re a combination of state operated campuses and county controlled campuses. Our county controlled operations our campuses are what we call community colleges in the States. The state ops have to put an OER policy on their books by March 2020. So, we have the open access policy and maybe one day that’ll lead to an OER policy. We kind of hope so.

Karen: Nod, nod, more nodding. All right. We are closing in on the hour, we’ve got about four minutes left. So, if there are any last thoughts or questions anyone would like to try and fit in before we go? I think we also got a lot of ideas for future Office Hours topics, like on course markings, for example, perhaps revisiting tenure and promotion, and maybe hearing more from our SUNY guests and thinking about the statewide OER process. So, anything? Okay, I think we’re in a good spot here, I think we’re in a wrap up spot.

I see heads nodding, thank you. All right, so please join me in thanking our three guests and everyone else who chimed in today. We invited Billy Meinke, Jessica Norman, and Michelle Brailey. And we so appreciate hearing your stories, the ups and downs and where you think you may be going at your institutions. And thanks to everyone for joining us and asking your questions, sharing your resources. And we look forward to seeing you next month in our February Office Hours.

November Office Hours: License to…? (Audio Transcript)

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. 

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Audio Transcript


  • Robin DeRosa
  • Maha Bali
  • Amanda Larson
  • Cable Green
  • Jennryn Wetzler
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde

Zoe: Hi, everyone, it’s such a joy to see so many people joining us for this conversation. It’s one we’re really excited about. I’ll hand over to Karen in a moment to introduce our wonderful speakers. But I’ll start with one practical point, because we have quite a few people on the call, I have to say this a couple of times, but those who just joined us, if people could please leave their video off for the moment, so that we can make sure that it’s stable for the speakers.

And then, if we get really patchy, if you let us know in the chat, then we might look at turning off cameras for the speakers as well. But we’re hopeful that it’ll hold. So, I think there are forever conversations to have about licensing, there’s no end to them. This one in particular was really sparked by an exchange that happened on Twitter a while ago. But these are kinds of things that we see around the place all the time.

And so, when we approach these Office Hours sessions, what we’re trying to do is give space for some of those conversations that people are having and hoping to have. And someone’s trying to call in and have one of those conversations right now, maybe (laughs). So, we wanted to give some space to it, to pick it up in a different context, and really invite an amazing group of people who we’re really excited to have been able to get in the same place as the same time, ’cause they’re all very in demand.

And so, we’re hoping to have as I say, a conversation about licensing, about what role it plays in our ecosystem and then, see where it goes, as well out of in response to the perspectives that our guests are bringing. So, again, thank you. We’re really pleased to be here and doing this. And so, now, I’ll hand over to Karen to introduce our guests.

Karen: Great. Thank you, Zoe. My name is Karen Lauritsen, I’m with the Open Textbook Network and we are delighted to partner with Rebus on Office Hours and any other things we can come up with. So, as Zoe said, we’re really excited about this conversation today. We had a robust RSVP and so, we expect many people to join us. And we’re really happy to have four featured guests, each bringing their own perspective and role to this conversation around licenses.

So, we’re going to start hearing from Robin DeRosa, professor and director of interdisciplinary studies at Plymouth State University. Then, we’ll hear from Maha Bali, associate professor of practice, center for teaching and learning at American University in Cairo. Next, we’ll hear from Amanda Larson, open education librarian at Penn State University. And finally, we’ll hear from Cable Green, director of open education at Creative Commons.

If you’re new to Office Hours, our format is to hear briefly from our guests, from three to five minutes to give an orientation to their perspective and experience. And then, we really like to open it up to you and your questions and have a conversation as much as we can. Sometimes, when it’s really big, it’s a lot to juggle the conversations, so be patient with us. If we miss a comment in chat, and it seems like we’re moving on, please raise your hand again, just let us know.

And we’ll facilitate as much as we can. So, without further ado, I will hand things over to Robin.

Robin: Hello. Some waves. So, this is my favorite thing about working in open, is that you model your befuddlement on Twitter, and then before you know it, there’s a webinar, (laughs) in which you are starring with all of your befuddlement, so I think putting me at the front, to open this is really less about me telling you what I think than more explaining the source of my confusion about this.

And I’ve been working in open for a pretty long time, so my confusion is not actually about the terms of the licenses, per se. So, I feel pretty adept enough at figuring out what license goes with what artefact in order to let that artefact do what I want it to do in the world. The question that I started getting interested in was really about what license goes with the ecosystem that I’m most excited about teaching and learning inside of?

And is that a different license than might go on any particular one artefact that I’ve designed? So, I’m influenced in this question by things like the care framework, which maybe somebody can drop into the chat the link for that, if people haven’t seen it. But this is a framework basically for the kinds of ethos I think that we might hope to permeate open in order to produce a certain kind of ecosystem and a certain set of behaviors.

So, the care framework talks about the four pillars that surround open being about contribution, attribution, release, and then empowerment. And it’s that last one that I become most interested in, that’s where they talk about inclusivity and diversity. And how to get new and non-traditional voices into open. And I’ve been affected by folks like Tara Robertson in this work, some of the work that she did about, I think one of the things I remember was about “On Our Backs”, the lesbian porn work.

And the awesomeness of having that whole collection digitized and made public. But also, when that artefact first existed in whatever it was, probably like the 70s or something, people did not anticipate where that sharing might go. And we see this a lot with work that people are doing around indigenous communities and open. The question of whose knowledge it is to share and what the politics of sharing are might mean that open, fully open all the time, right?

My go to CC BY is maybe not always the best way to steward the ethos of inclusivity and empowerment in that care model. So, there was that, and then, the other piece that was really affecting me was the model of the commons, from people like David Bollier and Jim Luke who have talked about when the commons has been dismissed because some of the older research about the tragedy of the commons, which is really kind of about when things are open.

What happens if really aggressive and powerful people are able to exploit what’s open in order to do things that aren’t in that sharing model? And I see that happening, honestly, in open. And I worry about the co-opting of open, by really powerful, especially for-profit corporate entities. And I feel like I’m less interested in the sharing of a particular artefact than I am in if we wanted to build a system that truly worked for the public good, what is the public good?

And what kind of licensing do we need to do? So, I was actually asking a question about should I switch to NC? And by the time I finished this Twitter conversation, not only did I realize I was way more confused than when I started, but also, that I was leaning much more towards SA then NC. The main reason so far, I’ve stuck with CC BY is simply because I feel like when I get into SA territory, it gets a little harder for the remixing, which is really how I tend to participate most in open.

So, I have some concerns about the practical on the ground work that happens with SA. But in terms of the ethos of open, I think that’s where I’m leaning right now, but that was the conversation I wanted to open is what’s the ecosystem? And what’s the long vision for what we’re trying to build with open beyond any particular one artefact? And I think that’s what I got.

Karen: Thanks, Robin. Maha, I’ll turn things over to you.

Maha: Sure, thanks. And thanks for this Robin, ’cause I think when I was part of that Twitter exchange, I didn’t really get the part about the ecosystem as much as I got it now, when you said it now. I’m going to try to be very brief about mine, and hopefully we’ll have a discussion about this later. First thing, I just want to say is I think one of the most important things to think about what Catherine Cronin talks about in terms of open educational practice in general, being contextual cultural, continually negotiated.

And so, whenever I talk about a license, which is important, but not the key thing about why we’re open. We’re open and we use the license to fit our purpose. And yeah, the reason there are several licenses is that different licenses fit certain purposes. I think what happens is there happens some kind of license shaming in the open ed community sometimes. It’s like CC BY is the best thing, and why are you not doing that?

So, I think one of the first things that came to mind is we’re working with Rebus to create a textbook on sight reading for guitar. And the condition to get Pressbooks for free is that the book has to be CC BY. But the book is about sight reading for guitar, it’s got musical pieces by composers. And it’s not okay with them that someone takes those pieces of music and commercializes them.

So, what we eventually negotiated with Rebus was that those pieces would be CC BY NC. I can’t remember if we decided on no derivatives also, because maybe musicians don’t want that, ’cause it’s a different ecosystem (laughs) outside of what we’re trying to do as educators. They don’t owe us that. And their work can be commercialized, it can actually bring in a lot of profit in ways that sometimes our work isn’t.

And so, I thought that was a really good combination, is a work does not all have to have one license. Yes, it might confuse people, but that’s not the point. The point is we’re thinking about empowerment and exploitation. We want every person to feel like they’re getting what they deserve and what their rights are within that project. The other thing I think about is for example something like no derivatives, which not considered an OER.

And that’s fine not to consider it an OER, it’s like we decide what OER means. We decide what a planet is and that Pluto is or isn’t a planet. We decide, we construct these things. And I think some things would never be kept open if we didn’t allow people to say no derivatives, but you can access it. So, I think for example about my PhD thesis, I would not be comfortable with someone publishing a part of it without my permission.

It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t ever give my permission. But it means that I would need to know who that person is and for what purpose they were going to use it. And I would not be comfortable with someone taking a chapter out of it, putting it into a book, whether it’s commercial or not, without me knowing the context. I also publish a lot of stuff in different spaces.

And sometimes it gets republished, sometimes with and sometimes without my permission. But I am very sensitive about the images that they use as featured images for my articles. And even when I was an editor and a columnist for Hybrid Pedagogy, which is my favorite journal, I always asked them to check in with me about the image. They wouldn’t let me choose it, but they’d give me a choice among three or four of them.

‘Cause there are certain images like for cultural reasons I wouldn’t accept as images for my work. And so, that’s how a derivative can be taken out of—(silence). That part has been changed. One of the reasons people talk about the importance of allowing derivatives and commercial use and so on, often relates to allowing other people to translate your work. And a lot of educational work, yes, you want it to be open, you want other people to use it, you don’t want them to get back to you.

You want them to just translate it and use it and do whatever they want with it. But we forget that translation is also sometimes an act of violence. And that there is particular content that is sensitive and that could be translated incorrectly, and political problems happen because of poor translation or problematic translation. And it’s not a straightforward thing. So, sometimes you don’t want someone to translate it without your permission, without getting back to you, without you knowing that this is happening.

It’s not that you would never allow. It’s that you want someone to get back to you, yes, it’s an extra step. It decreases the openness of something but might be still in the spirit of what you’re trying to do more than that aspect of it. The last thing I want to talk about is cultural. I have a friend in Sudan, who once created her own science teaching textbook for her cousins and friends.

And when she found that it was helpful, she went to the government in Sudan, in the Ministry of Education, and told them, “I want to help you guys, I’ve got this textbook.” And do you know what she found? She found that someone else had sold it to the government. And now, she’s the person who created this, who wanted to give more of it for free, but they didn’t even want to talk to her, because they already had it. But that person who gave them that, a photocopy of it, couldn’t create more of it.

But what happened is there was a problem of attribution and copyright, you know, it’s a plagiarism and copyright violation. And all those violations. And the thing is when you’re in a culture where this kind of thing happens a lot, asking people to put stuff CC BY is like so far away from where they’re at. They’re not worried to just share something with their neighbor, lest the neighbor take it over and do something with it.

So, I think taking account of those things as well, is also really important. Like where you’re at, what kind of culture you have, what would someone do with something that’s given a very open license, when actually you’re in a culture where anything that’s put anywhere can be taken and anything can be done with it. So, those are my thoughts.

Karen: Thank you. I’m going to hand it over to Amanda now.

Amanda: Hi, so I spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. A large portion of my role as the open education librarian here is to help faculty think through what license is appropriate for whatever it is that their output is. And so, we talk not just about CC licenses but also about open software licenses, and then, the tribal licenses from local contexts. All of that is in the parameter of what I am thinking about when I’m talking to faculty about licensing materials.

And it’s really easy to be an open advocate and get on your high horse about CC BY being the best, and I started in that place. And have since moved into there’s a license for every context. And I really try to advise faculty to pick the license that they are comfortable with, for the material that they are generating. And if that takes multiple meetings and chatting about what they want to do with their work, what they want other people to do with the work.

And I’m fine with that, I’ve also advised people not to license their work openly, depending on how they answer questions about how they want it to be used. It might be better for them to have just like retain their copyright and have people come to them and talk to them about the materials that they want to share. Would I like them to make it open? Most times, yes. But that might not be what’s best for their context.

And I spend a lot of time walking them through the CC license chooser and showing them the differences between licenses and what that means. And a lot of times we do a lot of back and forth about what license might be best. And I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about vendors who are deciding to scoop up OER and put it inside proprietary systems and whether we should be advocating for an SA or an NC license.

Because if we go back to the thought about the commons, basically what they’re doing is enclosing our content within their system and adding a market value to it. And then, saying that they’ve added value, and then we have to question whether they are adding value that’s worth paying money for. And I’m in an interesting institution where OER is defined as not just open things, but also affordable things.

So, I have to also keep tabs of what’s happening in the inclusive access space and making sure that’s not going wildly awry here. And that is a very complicated ethical issue that I face daily. But so far, we have been able to say that affordable is a certain thing, and most inclusive access do not meet those criteria. But I would like for us to get back to the point where we are defining open as open content, and affordable things as educational content.

And so, that’s where I’m at, advocating within my institution now, is like can we go back and redefine how we’ve defined this? And I think that has a lot to do with also, the licensing component. I was reading the chat. And yeah, so I think that’s the best part of my work, though is working with faculty to talk about how they want to use their work and helping them figure out the best choice for them.

Every license has a purpose, and it’s important not to ignore those purposes, in the favor of one overall best license. I think it’s important to remember that these are nuanced situations. I think that’s about all from my context.

Karen: Thanks, Amanda. And to wrap up our featured guest comments, I will hand it over to Cable.

Cable: Hi, everybody, can you hear me okay? Good, okay. Well, thank you for inviting me, I really appreciate it. I think everybody knows Creative Commons is a global non-profit. And we’re in the business of helping everybody around the world share knowledge and creativity with these licenses that everybody’s been talking about. These simple, legal permissions really with the purpose of building a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world.

We certainly work with the open education community but also with open access, open data, open science, we work in the glam sector with arts and culture, and even more. We work with the open source software community on their documentation. So, we have a very broad purview. Most people know Creative Commons for our broad suite of open copyright licenses, and certainly, that’s an important part of what we do.

We also have programs, so Jennryn’s on the line, she runs the CC certificate program. We’ve got a whole open education program. We’ve got a copyright reform program, where we’re trying not to create new licenses, but actually to go right at copyright and try to make it work better for educators and scientists around the world. We try and do things like expanding existing freedoms and permissions in things like fair use and fair dealing rights.

And we try to blunt expansion of copyright terms that keep things out of the public domain. So, we have a broad look on the work that we do. For this particular conversation, I think the reason I got invited in was that most of the OER that’s in the world is either in the public domain, or it’s CC licensed. We’re very proud of that, we like to say we put the open in OER. And so, Jennryn and I spend a lot of our time in the open ed space.

The standard definition that most people use for OER is important for the licensing discussion. And I’m just going to drop in the one that we use into the chat. So, Creative Commons uses basically the UNESCO definition, which comes from the Hewlett definition, so they’re all kind of the same. They basically say for something to be OER it has to have two characteristics. One is that it must be freely available, or available at no cost.

And second, that you have to be able to modify it somehow, to meet local needs. And so, that definition that I just shared is the one that we use and it’s basically the one that UNESCO and Hewlett use as well. So, what that means in terms of licensing is that we have six licenses, as everybody knows, we have two no derivatives licenses. And I want to say I completely agree with what people have said about there’s a license for different purposes and for different people.

And we are 100% supportive of that. And we regularly recommend ND licenses when the situation warrants it, or when that’s the wish of the copyright holder, or the author. That being said, the two ND licenses are broadly recognized as not being OER compliant, because you can’t revise or remix an ND license work and then share that revision out with the public, which violates half of the OER definitions that are out there.

Then, the last thing I’ll say is that even though we certainly do defend all the licenses in court, in fact, we’re defending the non-commercial license in court in the United States right now. There’s a big court case on that, and we’re in there fighting to defend for people to use NC and for NC to be interpreted in a way that we believe that we’ve written the licenses. And we strongly support any license choice that people have.

All that said, we do as an organization regularly advocate for CC BY in one particular circumstance, and that is on publicly funded resources. So, when we’re talking with a foundation, but mostly governments, when we’re talking about publicly funded resources, usually what the funders, as we’re asking them what their goals are, they’re trying to maximize the impact, the positive impact that their public investment has.

So, they’re asking themselves about stewardship of public monies questions, they’re trying to maximize downstream revision and remix opportunities for the public. And I’ll share this link in one more time, when Robin started talking, she was talking about SA and thinking about the different remix opportunities. There’s a link to the CC remix chart on our FAQ and one of the things, a big thing that governments think about is how can the work that I’m funding with public money be used by the most people for the most purposes?

And usually, where they come out in that discussion is to offer it either as a work in the public domain, which is always what we advocate for first. But where copyright needs to sit with the grantee for whatever reason, and there are several reasons, that we recommend the least restrictive license that they’re able to tolerate in their policy. And if we can get CC BY, great.

If we can’t, we usually go to BY SA or BY NC and then, we go down the line from there. But we do push governments pretty hard to put works out under the fewest restrictions possible, because fewer restrictions tends to equal greater opportunities for revision and remix, just at a very tactical level. Thank you.

Karen: Thanks, Cable. And thanks again to our four guests. So, as Cable was talking, the chat exploded with the conversation that I think really tries to get at the challenge of this conversation around as Robin called them artefacts or the stuff. And this ecosystem that we’re considering and the larger system dynamics as Jim mentioned in the chat. And how do we think about building a world that we want, when we have a very flexible environment with lots of different licenses?

And we want to have, as Maha mentioned, two-hour consultations with faculty about exactly what they’re trying to do with that particular artefact. I certainly do not have the answer, but I think it’s one of the challenges that’s in this conversation with us. So, we have half an hour left together, and so I wonder if that’s where we would like to start, or if there are other notes that were made in the chat that someone would like to pick up and run with together? So, I leave it to the group to direct us here.

Robin: I might just say one quick thing, which is my academic training is in literature, so this will not surprise you when you hear what I say. But I am also interested in the licenses working on two levels. One is this technical and legal level and the other is this symbolic and rhetorical level, which is always the level that’s the level that interests me. I could care less really, about, just personally, I care about other people’s legal situations. I don’t care about my own.

So, when I think more rhetorically and symbolically about licenses, I actually come up sometimes with different answers than I would come up with in a legal scenario, for the same context. And one problem I have sometimes working in open is just finding the symbolics to communicate the complexity of this kind of way of doing education. And so, I have found actually the Creative Commons licenses to be the most helpful way of talking with faculty in particular about my vision.

About like the flag, that kind of helps people understand what we might be trying to achieve in a broader sense. And I think that sometimes inflects the licenses that I choose, because I think about them more as rhetorical tools, rather than legal tools. And it might be worth talking with people, when you’re choosing licenses about that dimension, like what do you think the purpose of licensing is?

There’s a lot of people who work in various contexts who are actually not that concerned about the legal trail of their stuff. What they’re really concerned with is what teaching and learning looks like after they openly license something. So, anyway, thought I’d throw that out.

Karen: Thanks, I wonder Amanda, do you have some thoughts on that, based on your variety of conversations with faculty?

Amanda: So, I actually start them with the why, why do you want to license it openly? And here, it’s still been largely about affordability, about it being able to make something affordable and open, especially at the Commonwealth campuses. And so, we just started our second round of our OER grant program, and we had some buy in this time from University Park, which is the flagship campus here.

And they’re way more interested in the rhetoric behind it. They want to make it free because information wants to be free. And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know about all of that, necessarily.” But I still always try to start that conversation with the why. What’s your motivation for doing it when it’s really easy just to make copyrighted stuff and not do that? But I think a lot of them are coming from a perspective of they do want to get back to the idea that education is a public good.

And they want to make their materials available to not only help their students, but also to share them back out with their colleagues. Because that’s something that has died a little bit, here, in higher ed. And that makes me feel a little misty and get all happy inside that that’s where they’re coming from. But also, it makes me think really hard about the license that I either recommend or that we come around to. I don’t know if that helps, but that’s what I got.

Karen: It does. This is a conversation, we’re probably not solving all of the problems in this conversation. (Laughs) So, hearing different perspectives is great, and I think like you, I tend to get misty when thinking about the public good and moving public education back to what we imagine it. But then, as one of our guests mentioned, I don’t remember who, how are we defining the public good? Public good is different in different contexts.

And here we are again, almost back at the starting point, it sometimes feels. So, again, there’s a lot happening in the chat. I encourage anyone to turn on your microphone and surface something in the chat, if you would like to get it going in voice. Or we can sit here quietly and type in the chat (laughs).

Robin: I saw that good question about resource sites. I don’t have one, with my students we actually just use that Creative Commons, choose a license, radio button site. And the more I talk about it, the more I realize as someone in the chat said earlier, we really need a different— I mean, that’s a great site for technically producing your license. But I’m usually just filling in the back story verbally to them, as we’re walking through that.

And it would be cool to have an interactive site popping out, Tara Robertson moments. Things like that, so that you could read a fuller accounting. Does anybody have, even if you’re not presenting, if you have something in the chat, put a link, it would be awesome.

Karen: Thanks, Robin. I agree. There’s probably a lot of resources out there, in the community from people in this call that they can share, including conversation starters with faculty. Questions to ask when sitting down and considering all the competing priorities and selecting a license. As Apurva said, you’re also welcome to drop questions in the chat and we can read them out for you.

Do we want to talk about the CC BY expectation? Or this pressure that a few people have mentioned around licensing CC BY in open education? Feelings?

Maha: So, in general if it was just a matter of rhetorical people preferring something over the other, I wouldn’t care too much. I think the problem is funders requiring it, means something. It means that if you have a very good reason [inaudible 0:31:41] OER and the definition of OER includes NC and SA. I understand why it doesn’t include no derivatives, but if it includes NC and SA, I don’t understand, I’ve heard this so often.

I’ve never sought funding for OER in a big way. But that I think is an important conversation. And publicly funded is different than other kinds of funding. And I think it is really important to think of people who are marginal or contexts where the culture is different, where maybe CC BY is not necessary. Okay, Cable, you go.

Cable: No, whenever you’re done, I was just putting my hand up for being next. Go ahead.

Maha: I was done, if you have an answer to that. Just a very quick question to Robin, also, when she says ecosystem, I was thinking ecosystem has the little components in it, anyway. And for me I don’t understand why I need a universal license for the entire ecosystem, as long as you can have little things for the little different things in between.

Robin: I want to talk about Robin Sitten too in the chat, here because that’s pretty interesting. But I think I don’t need a license for the entire ecosystem, but I really enjoy the marking of an ecosystem. And I’m trying to figure out how do you take something like a care framework or commitment to the commons and sign up for it? Like where? And so, I’ve been using the licenses that way for myself.

And partly as a way of now at this point, I’m working with a lot of institutions who are interested in making institutional commitments to open. And that’s really hard, because you have to encapsulate that in some way. And so, a lot of times I’ve been drawing on licensing as a way of talking about one way that we can represent what it looks like to commit to these ideals.

And that may be problematic, I know some people I really trust in open, when I start going this direction they’re always like, “Stop talking about licensing, then. Just stop talking about licensing, ’cause that’s not what you’re talking about.” So, and I get that, too. But I might just go back for a second, in the chat a little ways to Robin Sitten, my buddy, hi, Robin.

She says, “I’m really interested in the ethics of revising an open resource” and talks about Maha touching on this.

She’s interested in how much modification on an open resource is acceptable before it truly changes, like a game of telephone. And I think what she’s getting at there is what are the ethics of that? And in what context are there some real ethical challenges? In some cases that might be exactly what you want to happen, in other cases that might be more challenging. I don’t know if anybody wants to? Maha, if you want to speak to that? It’s a good question.

Karen: It is a great question, Robin. I’m sorry to insert myself here. But Cable has to go, and I know he wanted to make a comment about the funder question with open licenses. So, Cable, before you have to dash, do you want to pop in again about that?

Cable: Sure, thanks. And I can stay until I’m called (laughs), so if you lose my video, then Jennryn’s here and can answer questions as well. So, apologies if I have to jump out. Yeah, well, first Maha makes a really important point, right? These are not black and white issues, these are nuanced, and these should be nuanced issues. And part of the ways that Creative Commons tries to support the nuances is by having a full license suite.

Another thing we do specifically with vendors around the nuanced, and I’m going to share a resource in the chat, is that particularly with foundations there’s always nuance. Because they are working with grantees all over the world, in a whole variety of different contexts. And so, Hewlett’s a good example, where their default license requirement is CC BY. But all Hewlett program officers have permission and the full backing of their general counsel’s office to negotiate different CC licenses, when need be.

So, I’ll give you an example, well, I probably shouldn’t list the name of the grantee. I’m working with one of the Hewlett grantees right now, that doesn’t want to use CC BY. And they have some really good reasons. And so, the Hewlett foundation brought me in, they asked the grantee to list what their reasons were. And the grantee did that, and I read them, and I said, “Hey, I think the grantee’s got a really good case here, CC BY doesn’t work well.”

And the grantee wanted a mix of BY NC, BY SA on some stuff, and some BY NC SA on other things. And they had really thought about it, and they had good rationale and so Hewlett came back to me and said, “What do you think?” And I said, “Hey, I think you should let the grantee do what they want to do.” And so, the resource that I shared is a toolkit that we work with the Hewlett foundation to actually train their staff about these nuanced conversations.

Now, this grantee that I just worked with really, I thought was very thoughtful and had good reasons, and so got the licensing that they want. It’s also true that a lot of grantees will go to foundations and say, “Hey, I’m trying to sell what I’m getting the grant for, and so I want to put NC on everything. And I don’t want to do CC BY.” And a lot of times foundations will push back on that. And we tend to stay out of those conversations, to the extent that we get involved, we simply say, “Here’s how NC works, and here’s how it doesn’t work.

(Laughs) And here’s how it might protect your business interests, and here’s where it really doesn’t, where people can give away NC content as a loss later.” And so, we try to stay very factual, as a third party describer of the licenses, but we work with foundations. Now, governments are a bit different, governments don’t like nuance. Governments prefer a lot of black and white, they’re writing a policy, they want to do it once.

It’s not going to get looked at again for five or 10 years. And they also just don’t have the capacity to negotiate with grantees. So, for example, the US Department of Education, when they give out block grants, they’re giving out usually $4 billion or $5 billion at a time. And they have a CC BY requirement on that stuff, now. They don’t want to negotiate with a thousand different grantees about what license they want. They just don’t have the staffing for it.

And they also have strategic interests, it’s very interesting in governments, one agency or department in the government will give out grants and they want that to be reused and remixed by other agencies and departments. Sometimes within country, sometimes across countries. We’ve worked regionally with sets of governments before that want to have cooperation.

So, for example, Nepal and Bangladesh right now are talking with each other at ministerial levels of education and they want to, to the extent possible, use the least restrictive possible license that both parties will agree to, to make remix and revision easier across boundaries and regionally. So, it’s all very complicated, we try to encourage flexibility everywhere where flexibility can happen, as long as it meets the strategic goals of the funder and the needs of the grantees.

Karen: Thanks Cable. If you could maybe say a little bit more about the NC clause? Both Naomi and Diane in the chat just wanted to hear a little bit more about objections to NC conversations around it. Amada, you may also have some thoughts on how you talk to faculty around NC and just that definition generally.

Cable: Sure, so NC to be totally honest frustrates people because Creative Commons in the license is very vague about NC. So, we version the licenses, I think everybody knows. We’re on version four right now, for the international licenses. And then, we have the IGO ports for the International Government Organizations that if there’s a dispute they don’t go to court, they go to arbitration in The Hague, which is why we have to have a special license for IGOs.

Nevertheless, every time licenses get versioned, it’s an international conversation of the open community that everybody gets to chime in and say what they want. When we versioned to four, I’d say a third of the global community said, “Hey, you need to get specific about NC, say what it is, say what it isn’t.” The other two thirds of the community said, “No, we actually like the vagueness, because as communities of practice, we have as communities decided what the norms are.”

So, for example, many people in the open education community came forward and said, “Look, we actually like the vagueness of NC, because we take NC licensed work, we walk them into our college bookstore, we print them at cost. No profit, but we print them at cost, and we’re able to sell them at cost. And even though that’s a commercial transaction as a community, we’ve decided that non-profit means non-commercial.”

Now, would that actually hold up in a court of law? Nobody knows, it hasn’t gone to court, yet. But the community has made that choice, and so in that case, the community said, “Look, we like the vagueness.” Now, other people feel differently about NC. A lot of people misunderstand NC, so when people ask me what license should I choose? And they get down to a few and I say, “You should know how NC works in the community, and how it doesn’t.” So, a lot of people that say, “I hate the idea of a commercial entity using my work.”

Oftentimes, what they don’t understand is that a commercial entity could take an NC work and give it away for free, as a loss later. And so, I talk with big publishers all the time, just to find out what they’re doing with OER. And I always ask them, ” Why don’t you use anybody else’s OER?” Because for the most part, they don’t. There are some platforms which have brought OER in, but the big textbook publishers haven’t done a lot of appropriating of OER. And I ask them, “Is it NC?”

And they say, “Nah, if we wanted to use NC, we would give it away and we’d sell our textbook on the side. We give the NC away as a loss later.” Is it SA? Are you afraid of the viral nature of SA? Well, not really, we do that, we give it away on the side. And we’d sell something over here. What they’re really afraid of is attribution, because they don’t want to lose eyeballs.

They don’t want to send people out and they certainly don’t want to charge for something that Robin DeRosa created when they have to give an attribution statement and a link back to Robin. And now, they’re going to have upset customers, because they’ve paid Pearson and they could have gotten free from Robin. And Robin’s is the master copy, anyway, which has more credibility.

And so, the other confusion with NC that we see often, is people say, “Oh well, I work at either a private primary or secondary school that charges tuition, or a university or college that charges tuition. And because we charge tuition, that’s commercial, you can’t get into my class without paying tuition. And therefore, I can’t use NC licensed OER.” Which is not true at all, you just can’t sell access to the OER, so that confusion space it’s a little tricky.

And then, of course, I mentioned the court case in the US right now, which is a big deal, it’s in the ninth circuit court. This is a case where there was public money, there was the open policy, the open license requirement got screwed up, if we’re honest by the public governments. The copyright went to the commercial vendors that did the work. And then, the commercial vendors decided to put a BY NC SA license on the work.

Okay, fine, it’s still OER. And then, the school districts in the United States which were using this work in mass. 85% of the school districts in the United States are using this OER, it’s an incredible success story in terms of adoption. And then, the publisher, the copyright owner of the work, sued the printers, in this case FedEx and Office Depot, both of them, they’re two different lawsuits.

Because they said that was a violation of a non-commercial license, which we said it wasn’t, and the judges so far have said it wasn’t. But my point of telling this story is that in this case, NC caused a tremendous amount of friction in the ecosystem. To the extent that just anecdotal evidence that we have is that there are probably six or seven US states which have not adopted this OER.

And were about to, but because there was a lawsuit and they don’t want to get wrapped up in any court case. And their lawyers have said, “Stay away from it.” That’s been unfortunate. And so, this is a unique case, that NC has caused some difficulties, but nevertheless it’s real.

Maha: But can I just say that I think part of the problem is that NC is a vague license? Even when I talk to you or to David Wiley or someone. NC does have a lot of meanings. And someone in the chat, I think Diane Hamilton was saying, the distinction between non-profit and non-commercial. When we were discussing our textbook with Rebus, we were like, “Can’t we clarify what we mean, when we say NC?”

Because people mean different things. And we’re not allowed within those licenses to do a sub-license. I don’t mind if you use it for educational use, even if it’s a commercial educational use. But I do mind if you sell it, but I don’t mind. If we have this number of licenses, it’s confusing for people who are not us, anyway. Maybe a lot of people in this room understand the licenses relatively okay.

But if we’re going to then allow that nuance, maybe it’s nitpicking, and yeah, licenses are not the main thing. But if people are going to understand them differently, why not allow people to clarify what they want to do with the work?

Cable: Yeah, it’s a really interesting point. And people actually do, so they kind of started well, so there’s I always tell people there’s the legal answer, and there’s the community answer (laughs). So, in this particular case, the legal answer is you can’t adjust the terms of a CC license and still have it be a CC license. So, even though our licenses are all dedicated to the public domain, so anybody could take them and write new licenses if they want to.

What you can’t do is call them a CC license if you change them, because that’s under trademark and we protect our trademark. We do that so that the licenses work everywhere, and they’re recognizable and everybody knows that they work the way that they’re supposed to. So, I lost my train of thought. Maha ask me again.

Maha: I think it’s clear, you’re saying you can’t legally put a different license, but you could I think Jennryn’s also saying the same thing, you could write out something else.

Cable: Yeah, so what people…

Maha: Call this. [inaudible 0:46:39] Writing about it. That even though I’m saying that, I actually allow you to do this? Or the opposite? Yeah, I guess are the legal ones more restrictive? Promise not to sue them.

Cable: So, let’s take attribution as an example. Attribution, the license legally says that the user of the work can provide attribution in “a reasonable way”. So, reasonable says there’s lots of ways I could do it. Now, there are a lot of authors, or copyright holders that say, “Hey, here’s exactly how I would like to receive attribution.” So, Open Stax does that, for example. Open Up Resources says, “On every page of our work, we want to see this attribution statement.”

Is that legally required by the license? Absolutely not. Has the community accepted that additional condition? Yes, they have. And people say, “Hey, you gave a gift to the commons, we want to respect your ask.” NC is another example, so Robin was talking about the symbolic nature of the licenses. When people want to signal to the community that they really don’t want people to get anywhere near their work with anything that smells commercial at all, NC is a great way to do that.

Even though legally NC may not protect in the ways that they think it will, it’s certainly a signal to send to the community. Share Like same thing, so people think Share Like is more viral than it is. So, what I mean by that is a lot of people believe that if I take your Share Like work and I revise it, or remix it, that I have to not only license my work SA, which I would. But that I have to share it back publicly, or even that I have to share it back with the original author.

None of those are requirements in the license, I don’t have to share it back publicly, if I don’t want to. And I certainly don’t have to contact the copyright holder. Is there that community expectation that people do that? Yeah, there kind of is, especially when people ask. So, I think Robin opened with a really important point, which is what’s the world and what’s the ecosystem that we’d all like to build?

And let’s start with those values and principles, and I think that there’s a whole lot of licenses which we can use that get us to those principles. And Maha, to your point, it’s not one license, it’s a mix of licenses. And just personally, I’m very comfortable with what the OER open ed ecosystem has done over the past 15 years, which is to say, “Look, these four CC licenses and public domain really work for open education.

So, let’s all be flexible and yeah, there’s going to be reasons to pick one license over the other. But these four licenses plus public domain work really well.”

Karen: All right. Great conversation. So, we have about five minutes left. Diane asked how often we hold Office Hours? And the answer is monthly, we can certainly get you on a list, so you’re notified for the following topics. I think we’re taking December off. Do I remember that right, Zoe? So, 2019 Office Hours. Anyone want to continue this NC part, or do we want to bounce back to Robin’s comments several minutes ago, exploring the ethics of remixing and revising? Or where are we at here?

Robin: I can say one thing to the second question, to go back to Robin Sitton’s thing. I still find the question that I get asked all the time, a really interesting one my students ask me it all the time, which is like, “Well, what if I make this thing, and then somebody uses it to do the opposite of what I was trying to do with it? Like they use my work, especially politically to make the opposite argument, or in some way do an intervention that I completely find abhorrent.”

I don’t have the answer to that, but I know it’s one of the things that most interests new people when they’re in the situation of choosing a license. It’s why people drift towards ND, I think. And I think for me, being in open because of my political investments, that actually becomes a pretty interesting question. So, my on the ground answer is usually that’s part of open, is that it’s not a conflict free zone, and it’s tricky and troubling.

And the commons is not always pretty in order to be functional. So, I get that, but I also am very sensitive to that question. So, I don’t know if people have things to say about it, but I just to put it out there that it’s unresolved and interesting to me.

Karen: Yeah, it’s a great question to put out there. I’ll also point out Cable’s comment in the chat that all Creative Commons licenses have two protections, which include the copyright holder can require the attribution statement be removed. There are cases of this in the Open Textbook Library for example. And second, under no circumstances can the user of the work say the copyright holder endorses this new revised version of the work.

Of course, those two things may be true, but sometimes when someone’s skimming something or they see it quickly or it’s online, they may not take the care that we would all hope would be there. Jim is saying, “Robin’s raising a great point, especially as we’re moving into new territory with video and audio stuff that can mimic original, but entirely fake and opposite comments. Like fake Obama speaking videos, based off videos of him.”

Yeah, these are complex times, so much is possible with technology, that makes this especially murky. And these same topics are popping up in the news as well. So, there are frequently asked questions to that point it looks on the Creative Commons website. I think that with three minutes left, we should probably start wrapping up, unless somebody would like to pick up this thread, or have any last comments?

Zoe: I just want to say that the conversation ongoing in the chat as well has been really fantastic, and so we’re going to try to capture some of this to draw it out, ’cause it’s been two events happening that have been really, really wonderful. So, thank you to everyone, to our guests and to those of you who’ve been chiming in in the chat, it’s been a really wonderful conversation, thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you.

Karen: Absolutely, and we definitely pay attention to the community’s questions and interaction when we hold Office Hours, so we can continue elements of this conversation. Have a second part, somewhat based on your interest and demand and what you’re dealing with in your professional lives. That’s what we’re here to do together is talk through these sticky things and find best practices, if there are any.

So, thank you all for joining us, featured guests and community members alike. It’s really great to hear your questions and your perspectives and dig into some of these issues. I’d like to thank Rebus for partnering again with the OTN on these conversations. And if you have other topics that you would really like to see explored in 2019, you’re invited to put those in the chat, or contact one of us.

Let us know what you’re dealing with, that you would love to hear how others in the community are dealing with. We can do that. So, we are at the hour, and I think it’s time to thank everyone again, and say our farewells. So, farewell.

New Mass Communication OER! Media, Society, Culture and You

Media, Society, Culture and You by Mark Poepsel (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) is an approachable introductory text that covers major mass communication terms and concepts, including digital culture, social media, gaming, propaganda, and ‘sharing’. Take a look at the book online, download it in multiple formats, and keep reading to learn more!

We’re excited to announce the release of Media, Society, Culture and You, a new open textbook by Mark Poepsel from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Mark discusses various media, platforms, phenomena, and social implications, including their history and how they are evolving as information and communication technologies change. Mass media educators will find that this approachable text helps direct students’ attention to the current crisis in political communication and action, including the roles of social media and the network society.

Mark Poepsel HeadshotThis open textbook began as a larger, campus-wide project to explore the value, both to students and to the university, of offering open texts. Driven by the idea of reducing the financial burden on students pursuing higher education, Mark decided to dig deeper than other professors on the project. His motivations to author the book and share it openly also stemmed from his classroom experience: “After teaching an Intro to Mass Media and Society course for a couple of semesters, I wanted an additional text that focused a bit more on concepts like the network society, the digital economy, and media entrepreneurship. So, I wrote one with the help of instructional designers at my university.”

Unlike most texts in mass communications, Media, Society, Culture and You focuses largely on digital culture, the network society, and the information economy. As Mark notes, “while you can find the same topic areas covered in introductory media and society texts, you won’t find them covered in this depth or with this emphasis. I see it as a supplemental text for most teachers, and as a core text for me, since I expand on it in lectures by bringing in other academic readings.”

The book’s purpose is to dive deeper into ideas about how society and culture are rapidly changing in correlation with evolving information and communication technologies. Once students have a grasp of what the network society is and what the information economy is, hopefully they can plan mass media careers that can withstand change.

Book cover: Media, Society, Culture and You: An Introductory Mass Communications Text, Mark A. Poepsel, Ph.D.For Mark, it’s exciting that other professors can incorporate his text in whole or in part, and supplement it with other texts in their Mass Media and Society courses. Given that the book is free, another bonus is that students interested in other fields might find it and expand their knowledge of media. Mark imagines readers “sipping coffee across the table from me, discussing with some level of excitement what’s going on in the field, and then considering going into it.”

If you’d like to join the conversation with Mark, take a look at the book online, in multiple formats including PDF, EPUB, MOBI, or in editable formats such as XHTML, WXR, XML, and ODT. And if you’re interested in adopting or adapting the book, please let us know by filling out our adoption form!

September Office Hours: Defining Textbook Structure and Elements (Audio and Chat Transcripts)

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. The chat transcript is also available, for those interested in reading the conversation that took place amongst participants and seeing resources shared.

Note: If anyone would prefer to not be associated with their comments in either of these transcripts, please contact Apurva ( as soon as possible and we will remove any names or other identifying information.

Audio Transcript


  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Dave Ernst
  • Jonathan Poritz
  • Jim Luke
  • Terry Williams
  • Richard Saunders

Karen: Welcome to the Rebus Community and Open Textbook Network Office Hours. We are delighted to collaborate on these monthly conversations together, to bring all of you together as a community of open textbook collaborators and practitioners. As many of you know, in these sessions we talk informally about issues in open textbook publishing. As a reminder, these conversations are community driven, and are one way that we can think and work together on support and solutions.

So, please let us know if there are topics that you would like to explore in future sessions. I would now like to introduce my colleague, Zoe, at Rebus.

Zoe: Thanks, Karen. Hi, everyone. Wonderful to see everybody here today, and in good numbers, too showing up for this one, which is great to see. For those of you who may not have encountered the Rebus community before, we are developing tools and resources to support collaborative and community driven open textbook publishing. So, we’ve been working very hands on with about 35 projects all around the world, and in all sorts of subjects to really draw out learning.

What we can learn from the process and to turn that into a replicable publishing process that others can then use and can then adapt to their contexts. And as Karen says, these Office Hours are a wonderful place for us to explore some of the issues that come up, within the community, and really engage with them in what we find to be really fascinating and interesting ways.

And so, for today’s session we’re very pleased to be handing over to OTN to be talking about some of the work that they’ve been working very hard on, we know for many months. So, this is a great moment to be able to hear about that for all of us here. So, I’ll hand back to Karen and Dave. Thank you.

Karen: Thank you, Zoe. I appreciate that. So, my name is Karen Lauritsen, I’m managing director of the Open Textbook Network. The network is a community of almost 800 institutions working together to move higher education towards open. And today’s format for Office Hours is going to be a little bit different than our usual, because as Zoe alluded to, we’re very excited to announce a new open textbook publishing curriculum.

And are dedicating this session to a module within that curriculum, and the module is called “Defining Textbook Structure and Elements”. So, I’m just going to talk briefly about the curriculum, what we’re going to talk about today, introduce Dave, and he’ll finally take it away. So, just a little bit more about the Open Textbook Publishing curriculum. It is open to everyone, online as an asynchronous experience. And in addition, OTN members will have access to synchronous support around the curriculum, much like today’s talk.

And this curriculum was developed as part of our publishing cooperative pilot. The coop includes teams from nine institutions, working together to grow open textbook publishing expertise in higher ed, and of course, produce open textbooks. And so, some of the content that you’ll find is specific to the methodology we’re experimenting with in the coop. But however, the vast majority of the content applies to publishing open textbooks through a variety of methodologies and programs.

So, it’s not exclusive of any one particular method. I’d also like to say it’s of course, iterative and we’ll continue to build on it as we move forward in open textbook publishing as a community. So, your feedback is always welcome. So, I am now going to introduce our topic and speaker. Many of you may wonder what makes a textbook a textbook? They are of course fundamentally different from monographs and other publications and it’s really their structure that defines them.

But how you define a consistent structure for the entirety of a textbook is a question, and it’s critical to students’ reading expectations and their learning. So, how can project managers and authors work together to structure their textbook? And I keep saying the word structure, ’cause it’s something we talk about a lot in the publishing coop. So, today, we’re going to learn about common instructional design elements found in textbooks and a methodology for working with authors to create a consistent structured textbook.

So, our guest, as many of you already know, is Dave Ernst, he’s the chief information officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. He’s supervised instructional designers, curriculum designers, educational technologists there for more than 15 years, is a PhD in curriculum and instruction and learning technologies from UMN and has worked in ed tech and curriculum design for 26 years.

Dave is also the director of the center for open education and the executive director of the OTN. So, what we’re going to do today, Dave’s going to present the module, and then, we’ll open it up for questions and discussion. So, I’m going to put a link to the module in chat, this is what Dave is going to be talking us through shortly. So, Dave, I hand it over to you.

Dave: Okay, hi everybody. I am David Ernst, it’s exciting to see so many familiar names on the list of people here. I want to start just by saying how much I really appreciate these Office Hours and the partnership we have with Rebus on this. And this is what the open education community needs to be doing more of, talking with each other, sharing with each other their expertise. As Karen mentioned, what I am going to talk about today, is iterative, it’s in progress, it’s something we’ve learned, and we just want to share. It is in no way perfect.

It’s no way a solution for everybody who’s ever going to be publishing a textbook. It’s what we’ve learned works well and is a tool that we use and a process we use working with faculty and helping them create something, a textbook that they can envision that’s good. So, anyway, I want to start off with that, and thank you all for coming here. What I’m going to talk about today, is basically the Open Textbook Network really started out focused on adoptions of open textbooks.

And open textbooks that already exist, right? So, they’re out there, they’re kind of the low hanging fruit. But as we’ve traveled around, ran workshops for faculty, talked with staff, librarians and so on at institutions, it became clear there was a real appetite for publishing as well. And so, we have spent the last probably two and half years trying to get a better understanding of what it takes to publish a textbook, and we are definitely still learning.

And a large degree of thanks goes to all of the institutions who we’re working with, and the cooperative, and the other institutions we’ve talked with, that have helped us understand this. So, what I’m going to talk about today comes from some of that digging deep into the actual in the dirt on the ground, I guess might be a cleaner way of saying that. On the ground discussions we’ve had with faculty about what they need and about publishing textbooks.

So, it’s a very step by step process that I’m going to walk through here. If you’ve opened up the module, what I’m going to do is walk through it and try to explain it, and how it works, and why it works. I’m also going to share my screen here, so hopefully this is working okay? Okay, good. And so, again, I’ll put a plug in for this open curriculum that many people have worked hard on, Karen in particular, that’s out here, and this is just one little piece of it.

So, please we are putting it out there for the open community, please use it. So, this particular process came from working with about 15 different instructors a couple of years ago, over the last two years, I guess. And trying to help them design textbooks. One thing that we discovered early on, which is probably obvious to most of you, but oftentimes, if you ask a faculty to write, they will write. They will write what they know, and they will put it all down perfect. That’s what we ask them to do.

If we want it to be a textbook, that’s a different thing, that’s an additional thing, right? So, just want to point out as Karen first asked that question, you’ve probably asked the question “What makes a textbook a textbook?” I’d like to know the answer to that question, I don’t have a really great answer to it. But, I guess I would say that basically it is this content but wrapped in it is actually instructional design. Okay? Like my PhD program was in curriculum and instruction.

They name it that way, because curriculum and instruction are two different things. Curriculum you can think of content, as what you want students to know. And instruction is the process of teaching it. A textbook is primarily, we think of it primarily as curriculum, as content, right? But what makes a textbook a textbook, I think, is the attempt to design the textbook in a way that help students learn. Right? And so, this first diagram up on the top here, really, it’s just a simple illustration of that. You can see a monograph on the left, which is just the content dumped on the page.

And the book has some structure to it, it probably has chapters, and it might have sections to it, but then it’s just content. It’s just the written word. If you look on the right, that’s the OpenStax biology book. That’s one page, that’s the first page of chapter one. What things there are helping students learn? Look at that, see how many things that you can pick out that are helpful for learning.

A big part of learning is context and structure, is understanding how this piece of something that I am going to learn fits into the larger context of this field, or what I’m going to be taught. So, if you look at this, they use everything from font size, font color, the styling, the styling within the, you see the chapter outline there is in a box? It’s in a green box, and then, it basically gives you the outline of what’s to come in the chapter.

There is an introduction, which is just basically setting you up, here’s what you’re going to be learning. There are learning objectives, there is an image here. The content, frankly, pretty much everything on this page is structured to help students learn. The content itself, about the study of life isn’t even on this page, really. These are just summaries, structures, and so on. Okay? So, what we found is that faculty generally need help getting from a monograph to a textbook.

Getting from simply content, to content and structure that helps students learn. And what we found is what is I’m going to go over here today, not only provides structure to get to a textbook that helps students learn, but the structure also at the same time, will help faculty write. It will help kind of, you know your work is cut out for you phrase? It basically helps kind of cut out their work for them, giving them a structure to kind of work within. So, here we go.

So, let’s start with the simple highest-level structure of a textbook, and that’s the first question that we’ll sit down and ask. What do you want this textbook to look like? What do you image it’s going to have? And so, if we start at the book obviously being the highest level, the whole book. The book is going to be broken up into what pieces, and so you can see three different options here, right?

You can say a book has chapters, and chapter have sections, then we’re done. Or a book might have units, and a unit might have chapters, and a chapter might have sections, and a section might have sub-sections. Or any variation of those things, it’s a pretty easy decision, pretty simple decision, but it’s something that we’ll just start with, so that we have this very highest-level book structure that we ask instructors to identify. Okay. Once that’s identified, that then really defines the whole high-level book, right?

You have the book, the book has chapters, each chapter has sections. Right? This would be an example of this first one: book, chapter, section. And this really illustrates just chapter one, but you would have that same tree structure then for each chapter, right? That’s pretty obvious, okay. So, you need to start with that, ’cause that’s the high level. Structural elements, then, these elements are really the interesting part.

And these are the pieces that help students learn, these are the pieces that oftentimes, perhaps without our assistance and prompting, instructors might not think about, okay? So, these structural elements is what we’re calling them, are the pieces that for instance we see in the OpenStax book here that we will add to provide help and learning. And I’ve broken them up into three categories. What we call openers, we call closers, and then, down here a little bit, integrated pedagogical devices.

I think I should find a simpler name than that. But openers are basically things that you find at the beginning of a chunk of the textbook. So, it could be a textbook has openers. Could be a chapter has openers, could be a section has openers. Okay? So, if we look up at this example, every chapter in this biology book from OpenStax has a chapter outline, it has a banner image, it has an introduction and it has these learning objectives that by the end of this unit you will be able to… Right?

It’s consistent across the whole book, that is what students expect. They expect a structure that’s consistent, that’ll help them learn. So, it could be a banner image, learning objectives, introduction, so on. And there is a link here that’ll bring you, if you click on this to a list of some common things that publishers will use for openers. Closers similarly, are things that come at the end of a chunk. So, it could be the end of the book, could be at the end of a chapter, could be at the end of a section, or whatever.

There could be review problems, summary of the chapter, links to external resources, right? I mean, if you think about textbooks you know, you’ve seen all of these things, right? And they usually are things that we think of as coming in the back of the textbook. So, if we think about the textbook, if we look at a chapter, for instance, if this is a chapter, the chapter might have openers, like learning objectives, introduction, focus questions, have the main content in some form, it might be broken up into sections.

And then, it’ll have some closers. Notice that this can happen again, at multiple levels. Let’s say the main content of this chapter is actually sections. The section itself then, could have openers, closers and main content. Right? Should I be stopping for questions? Or do we want to wait? The plan was to wait, but I see them rolling in.

Karen: There is a question, Dave, on evidence for the highly structured approach, and I think I may be able to track something down. So, we’ll put that question on hold, which Jonathan says is fine if you want to keep rolling on.

Dave: Okay, does that mean evidence as in evidence of its success?

Karen: Yes, like the structure of a textbook makes…

Dave: Yeah, okay. Got you. Let’s see. I will take a quick stab at that. And I am no expert in textbook design. What I’m going to talk about today is lessons learned from working with faculty, really. But I will say that I’ve spent, I don’t even know how many, a couple of decades probably, working on online courses. And there’s a lot of research about structure in online courses, and the way that instructional designers that I’ve been working with their whole job is to, well, not.

A big part of their job in instructional design is to provide structure for online courses. And we know there’s a ton of evidence there in online course design that that structure is helpful to students and facilitates their learning. Helps them find the content, helps them put it within context of the other content. And the way that we talk about textbooks oftentimes is I’ll say this is really like to instructional designers who are used to designing online courses, this is really pretty much exactly like designing an online course.

Except the end result is not an online course, it is a digital textbook. It’s just a different medium when we’re done. So, anyway, I’ll stop there with that. These integrated pedagogical devices are really just elements that live, that aren’t openers, and not closers, but are other pieces of content that are connected, that are within the main content of the section, chapter, or whatever it happens to be.

Oftentimes, these pedagogical devices are intended, are focused on meeting some specific needs, like for instance, the biography element. Oftentimes, you’ll see in a textbook the biography of maybe it’s a biology textbook. It’s a biography of a famous biologist, or it’s a biography of a biologist who’s working in the field right now on something really interesting. Or it’s a biologist who can maybe connect with the students in the course for some reason.

And so, typically, those biographies are really laid out there to show that these are people, they have some goals that they’re trying to accomplish by putting this element in the book. Right? A case study sometimes will say it will address the goal of saying I want to take this content, and I want to see how does that really work in the real world? A case study is exactly the element you would want to show, okay, I know we just talked about all this abstract stuff, here is a case study of its application in the real world.

So, there are a number of different elements like this, that we can integrate into the content. And again, they will typically be there to provide extra insight, or scaffold some goals that we really want the students to understand. Again, there’s a list of some common integrated pedagogical devices there. Okay, so those are that’s the basics of what we’re talking about here. We have these elements that we want to put in the textbook, to help students learn, right?

The question is how do we get authors to work with these things? And not only do we want them to work with them, but we want them to do in a consistent way. A textbook’s part of the instructional design of the textbook is its consistency chapter to chapter, section to section. Students know what to expect, they know that when they see the blue box with the blue heading that those are oh, those are learning objectives, or those are… Right? It helps lower barriers to learning by providing this context.

So, here’s what we did, and we’ve written this, I’ve written this section to be technology agnostic, there is no technology involved in this, except for magical Post It notes, invented right here in Minnesota, thank you very much. So, this is exactly what the technology that we used to work with the instructors that I worked with. We sat down with them and had them structure their book in the way I’m going to show you here with sticky notes, and it worked beautifully, actually.

So, we’re going to start out, like I said, we’re going to start out at the very highest level. We’re just going to say, “Please describe the structure, the highest-level structure of a book.” So, in this example, book chapter, section, subsection. Let’s just say that that’s what they decided they wanted to do. We would have them then, look at each level, starting at the book level, and say, “What elements do you want in this book at the book level? What elements live at the book level?”

And there are openers, there are closers, and then, there is the main content. So, for the book, in this example, the instructor wants to make sure there’s a cover page, wants to make sure there’s a table of contents. Some of these things are so basic, they hardly need mentioning. But it isn’t unhelpful to actually have the instructors think about it, just to be aware that this will exist in your book. And then, at the end they want an index, and they want a glossary. Okay, pretty simple book structure, right?

The next thing we would do then, is go down to the chapter. So, you notice that we include chapters in here. And there might be 20 chapters, but we’re just going to put one placeholder chapter in there, right? That’s where all the chapters are going to live. And then, we define what a chapter looks like. And in this example, the instructor says the chapter, I want a little intro paragraph, I want a chapter outline, I want a list of learning objectives, I want to list key terms upfront.

I want sections then, so those are all openers, those are all things that at the beginning of every chapter you’ll have intro, chapter outline, objectives and key terms. At the end of every chapter, you’ll have discussion questions and case studies. And so, we would then go to the section, and we would do the same for the section, which would of course have subsections, and every subsection then, we would also define. And they might have openers, they might have closers, and so on.

So, there you can see how the structure is building level by level. Right? Okay so, so far, we haven’t even talked about the content of the book, right? We haven’t talked about biology, we haven’t talked about whatever this book is about. We’re just saying, “What are the pieces that you want?” I want to add a caveat to this, I think we are way, I think we need a lot more work here in this area, to attach these different elements to actual learning objectives, and having elements that will address learning objectives, specifically.

Right now, the way that we worked with these faculty is we relied on them and their expertise to say, “What pieces do you think would be useful to your students?” We don’t get into depth about why and what specifically, how this is going to help them meet their learning objectives. I think we should go deeper in that area right now, we need a little more work on that. Okay, so the next step that we went through then, is basically content structure, right?

We were working now we’re going to talk about the content. In this case, let’s talk about biology, for instance, right? So, the term Scope and Sequence is usually more of a K12 kind of word. I hardly ever hear it used in higher education. But basically, the scope means what’s the breadth? What are you going to cover? What’s the scope of the book? Defining that. And then, defining the sequence in which it will be covered, what comes first?

What comes second, and so on? And those are important discussions to have, when we worked with some of these instructors in the last two years, they were working in teams. And we basically asked them, again, we had them use sticky notes. And they’ve taught these classes for a long time, they knew what concepts needed to be addressed. They together, collectively just went through and defined here’s all the things we need to cover, and then they sat down and sorted them into the sequence.

And you’re going to have disagreements between instructors on that. And I give this example here, of an OpenStax chemistry book that I believe was revised is Kathy in here? I believe it was revised by UCONN instructors, was my memory, at least. Sorry if I’m wrong there. And they decided they wanted to teach the concept of atoms first, before other elements. And so, they worked with OpenStax to actually move content around, ’cause they didn’t agree with the sequence of the chemistry book as OpenStax had published it.

So, you’re going to get disagreement there, but it’s important to agree on that upfront. Okay, and then, once you have that basically, you fit it into this structure that you have built, right? You have a book chapter, section and subsections and you should, you work with them to work that out. I just said that in 10 seconds, it will take a long time to get this kind of pushed through, especially if there’s multiple authors. But you want to end up with a structure like this, and so I just yanked this out.

This is the actual book structure, I believe, of the biology book of OpenStax. And so, here’s unit two, unit two is the cell. Chapter four is cell structure, section 4.1, two, three, and so on. And then you can see here’s unit three and so on. They have a book structure, of book, unit, chapter, section, at a high level. Once you have this structure, this content structure mapped out, and once you have this kind of element structure mapped out, you have everything you need to map out the whole book.

And this is the piece I think that this is kind of the magic of doing both of these things and then, integrating them together. So, if we look for instance, let’s look at this example. Sorry, I hope you’re not getting sea sick on me, as I move the screen around. Here are two chapters, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 of this textbook. Here is the element structure they agreed on, before they wrote the book, right? So, you have a book, chapter, section. This is what a book has in it, this is what a chapter has in it, and this is what a section is.

This is the content structure. Chapter 11 and 12. So, if you combine these two structures, you can now say “All right, the very first thing in this book is going to be the cover page, right?” Here’s the book structure, the next thing it’s going to have is a table of contents. It’s going at the end, have an index and a glossary. For each chapter, so here’s Chapter 11, there’s going to be an intro, objectives and key terms. So, you see that? Here’s Chapter 11, intro, objectives, key terms.

And then, there’s in this chapter there’s two sections, and each section is going to have the main content, and it’s going to have review questions. Here’s section two, 11.2 review questions, or main content, review questions. And then, there’s going to be discussion questions at the end of each chapter. So, that repeats itself for each chapter: intro, objectives, key terms, review questions at the end, I missed one, discussion questions at the end of the chapter.

And then, each section is structured the way a section is structured. So, when you’re done, when you combine these two structures, the content structure and the element structure you end up with basically an outline of the whole book, of everything that needs to be written. So, that’s what I said at the beginning, when I said, “Not only does this process help you end up with a better textbook that ensures that you use some of these elements and is more consistent. But it actually will help the instructor, their work is cut out for them, now.

They know exactly what they need to do.” They need to write an introduction for this Chapter 11, they need to write key objectives, they need to write key terms, they need to write the main content for section 11.1, they need to write review questions, and so on. Just go down the list, it’s like a checklist. So, when it comes down to it, this is why we found it to be successful, because writing a book can be an overwhelming task, it really can.

It’s just huge and it takes many months of time and any kind of structure that you can give, that not only helps them, but ensures that you end up with something better, than if you hadn’t, you want to use that. And that’s why we find this useful. I want to make a few just really simple notes here. A few comments. When coming up with a structure, especially the content structure like this, like this, I made a note of it in here, in the text here.

You should know that in 2012 there was actually a lawsuit. There were a number of publishers who sued Boundless and they sued Boundless not because they copied the content of the books per se. But Boundless copied, or at least that’s what they asserted, the structure of the book. The outline, like this. What Boundless was trying to do, Boundless was trying to say, “This commercial textbook over here, look, we have the same outline, but it has open content in it. So, you can use this one to replace that one.”

And they were trying to say, “Look, this is equivalent to that one.” It should be an easy swap, right? And so, it made sense for them to try to just take the structure of the book and copy it up. They were sued and so what was claimed, basically, was and there may be some on the line who know more about this than I do, but it was claimed that they claimed copyright on the structure of the book. And that there was a copyright violation, and so on.

So, they settled, it was never decided in court who was right and who was not, and can you actually copyright this kind of thing? How close is this getting to be copyrighting facts, which you can’t do? They settled, so unfortunately, we don’t know what you can or can’t do. But just be aware of that, and something that if you’re working with instructors to make them aware of, so they don’t just go to their book say, “I’m just going to copy the outline of this book.” They might think that that might be a nice, easy way to get to where they want to go.

And even if they come up with it on their own, it’s likely going to be very similar to the book they just got done using. But just to make you aware of that. Let’s see, what else? I guess, I would just then throw out a couple of caveats to this. I guess that, I know that this isn’t going to work for everybody. This, I kind of put together, because I work this way. When I write, I write an outline and I fill in the outline. My wife on the other hand, she just writes. I don’t know how she does it.

And then, when she’s done she rearranges it to a way that makes sense to her. So, she actually ends up with the outline kind of in a way. So, again, I want to just point out that I’m not saying necessarily that this is the best case for absolutely everybody. But it’s a tool that we found, a process that we found to be useful for many to give them, to remind them number one we don’t want to end up with a monograph, we want you to think about consistency and elements.

And number two, we’re going to help you structure this, to make the job easier of writing. I think I’m probably ready to answer questions.

Karen: Thanks, Dave. So, we are ready for your questions, or discussion. There’s been an exchange in the chat. Thank you, Anita, for finding some articles on the Boundless lawsuit that Dave mentioned. So, Paige has a question about whether you found an outline like this may work better for certain disciplines or areas more than others. (Silence) Dave, I can’t tell if you’re thinking hard or if you froze.

Dave: No, I’m sorry, I’m reading the chat.

Karen: Well, I’m also reading….

Dave: I’m sorry, you were asking me a question. I was reading. I thought you were asking everybody else the question. No, I have no evidence to show that it’s better for any other content there is. A textbook is pretty much a textbook. If that’s your aim, I think this structure probably works similarly for anyone. It could have very little structure. They might decide I just want book and chapter, and they want very few elements, ’cause they don’t feel like it would add pedagogically at all.

That’s quite possible, you know? So, it could be that some areas, where there isn’t a need for quite as much stuff in there, they could do that. It just would be a minimalist approach to this. So, no I don’t have anything that points to specifics about content.

Karen: And then, related Deb is asking she’s interested in more recently established disciplines, that don’t have consensus on fundamental concepts, and how that would impact this particular process.

Dave: Well, that is a really good question and a question that’s kind of outside of the scope of this. But probably the hardest part of all of this, you know how I said that about “Oh, they came up with this content structure and it sounds easy”, but yeah. I mean, I can only imagine in the field of education, getting people together, and that’s a much more well-defined field, it’s been researched and talked about and studied and focused on for centuries.

You still would, if you got five people in a room, they would all disagree on what you ought to be teaching in this education course. So, that’s a whole challenge in and of itself. The way that we worked on it with some of these teachers, there were some multiple authors on some of these books is you know, we just got them in the same room. Went through the process of having them define what concepts, whatever level they want, high level, low level concept, whatever it is.

And write them all down on sticky notes and then, sat them down together and made them duke it out. And they sat there, and they moved things around on the table, sticky notes and this and that. And they did agree and disagree on things. But eventually, at the end of the day, they knew that they wanted to get this done, and they kind of settled, I’ll put it that way.

Karen: Well, you had a hard deadline on that project, too, right?

Dave: Yeah, that’s right, it was a very short timeline. Right. But I didn’t need to push them, they actually came to some consensus pretty quickly on it.

Karen: Okay, I’m going to keep reading through the chat. Matt mentioned a question about Pressbooks and wanting to go deeper into potentially other levels and subsections. And then, Naomi chimed in that Pressbooks just came out with a two-level table of contents option. Just wanted to invite Apurva or anyone else, if they want to add anything on the Pressbooks’ front. People use that for open textbooks.

Zoe: Yeah, I can chime in on that a little bit. For those who don’t know, I was formerly the product manager at Pressbooks and we still share an office with them. So, we know them quite well. So, as has been noted, right now, Pressbooks has kind of a two-level structure. So, you have chapter and then there’s the ability to define subsections. And what Apurva mentioned in the chat is there’s some work happening at WordPress that’s really interesting that might enable us to expand on that.

So, I still say us, but them/us, same thing. And so, what the Gutenberg editor, which is the big, big change coming with WordPress if anyone’s aware of the work going on. What that does is it really breaks what in the Pressbooks context is a chapter into blocks. So, very defined clear blocks of content, much like what Dave’s been describing here. So, that’s new added functionality that’s really exciting when you’re looking at in this context of being able to break down a chapter into its smaller pieces.

And also, to be defining what each of those pieces are. So, that’s a big, big project from WordPress and there are big implications for it, but it’s something Pressbooks is keeping a really close eye on, because we see the applications as we can see here. I think it’s easy to make the connection between laying out a book and really dedicated pieces of content. And in being able to replicate that and leverage that in the Pressbooks context would be really interesting. So, we’re watching closely and if anyone has more questions about that, I’d be happy to answer them offline.

Karen: Thanks, Zoe. And too, if any of you prefer to unmute your mike and ask your question that way, you are certainly invited to do so. I’m just going through the chat, but feel free to interrupt that process at any time. So, Deb also had a question about integrating multimedia into the text, in instructional element. And I would think that that could certainly be a choice that the author makes or makes with the project manager. There’s no reason why that, maybe every chapter opens with a video, for example.

A video introduction to that particular topic, I think that would be great. It’s something I aspire for the curriculum that we shared in this call. So, Terry says, depending on the specific aspects of textbook structure that are subject to copyright, might OTN create a repository of openly licensed textbook structures? And this is something we talked a lot about in the coop because we think it would be pretty helpful to sit down and have a starting point, when project managers begin those conversations with authors after they’ve selected their projects to support.

And so, we are looking at doing something like that, as well. So, stay tuned. Jonathan seconded as an amazing idea. I would not want to be too prescriptive, of course, part of the process is uncovering your unique perspective on the subject and how you like to present information. And if you’re thinking particularly of your student body and their needs it really can take a lot of different directions, as all of you know.

Terry: Absolutely, just to follow up, Karen. I was thinking specifically around providing just to provide authors and project managers and all other stakeholders with options that are like really effective. And that draw on all that genre and layout and all of the design aspects, but which can be created for this and made open, so that people can play with them and remix them without feeling like boy, is Pearson going to show up at my house in the middle of the night with a cease and desist order?

Karen: Right, thank you, Terry. That makes sense.

Zoe: Yeah, we’ve encountered that before with people approaching a project, they sometimes just want to look at what else is out there. But do have this slight nervousness of not wanting to replicate something like what happened in the Boundless case. So, that just as a prompt, as a resource for like these are the kinds of things that could go into something that have been thought through, I think would be really, really interesting.

Karen: And then, Jim is wondering if there’s any history buffs out there, who know about the history of the textbook? And when higher ed moved from trees to textbooks, and he knows in Econ the first real textbook was Samuelson just post-World War Two. Jim, I’m not brushed up on my textbook history. But a link I shared a little bit earlier our partners in the coop, which is Scribe, the founder and CEO David Rech does a lot of reading on this topic.

And I will admit I did not cull his reading list, so it’s rather long, but if you want to sift through it, there could be some books and articles there that dig into the history of the book and textbooks. And could start getting at your question a little bit. And if it does, we’d love to hear back from you.

Zoe: And if I can chime in with a little bit of publishing nerdery, post-World War Two was a really kind of critical time for journal publishing and monograph publishing. And the kind of formalizing and industrializing of that process. So, I imagine, I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it was kind of caught up in that similar process of commercializing knowledge.

Terry: I wonder, too, if outside of academia traditionally, like especially in the trades, and technical fields, there might well have been, this seems like a very technically minded structure, which academia might be late to. And technical people not so much, so the plumbers may have been way out ahead of this. I certainly know the radio people were, it really is like the 20s.

Dave: Can I just add to that? Jim, good to see you. I was in Scotland well, it was right after I saw you. And I went and visited some castles up there, and in one of them there was a textbook from the 18th century. I’m trying to pull up the images of it, and it was actually shockingly similar to, it was a math textbook, and it was shockingly similar to what a textbook would look like today. It had problems in it. Yeah. I’ll send you those photos, they’re kind of fascinating, if you can real old English.

Karen: Go ahead, Richard.

Richard: I’ve got one bit of comment for Ian. I can’t find my video, so I can’t unmute myself. As somebody who dabbles with print and printing history, there’s a couple of other things that might be interesting. The post-World War Two period is also there we go. The post-World War Two period is also the time at which there’s a technological shift from letterpress to offset letterpress, or offset printing.

So, there’s a technological reason that you can add complexity to pages, much more simply. It’s not exclusive. The firm that I used to work for, back forever ago, started off as an offset publisher. The other thing that happens is the ability of developing film setters in the 1960s, which is another bit of technology. So, there’s printing shifting, but there’s also compositional shifting in the way that plates are actually produced.

That happens I could probably look it up, I think it’s 1968 or ’69. They start really taking off about then. And at that point, wow. At that point, they are able to, compositors are able to change from a text based to a graphic based production. So, you actually look at the page as a space that you can put different things on, rather than as a line that you have to follow. So, just a couple of bits and pieces. That really shifts in the late 1980s with the creation of Aldus Pagemaker and the first real desktop publishing software.

Karen: I’m sorry, I think we should all get together and talk about the history.

Richard: It’s fun.

Karen: There’s a lot of conversation in the chat, too about it. So, thank you all for sharing your vast knowledge on that.

Zoe: And very appropriately, what we’re now talking about is a new technology and how that’s impacting things as Dave said, a lot of this has come out of online courses as well. Nice parallel there.

Karen: Okay, so I’m going to look back at the chat and just see if there are a couple of other questions we can answer. So, Claudia, hello, it’s been a long time and nice to see you. Your question when individuals are composing a textbook do you also encourage them to consider development of supplementary materials, or is it too much at once? I love this question. ‘Cause there’s two answers in my mind.

Dave: In the projects I’ve worked with supplemental materials were not part of the project that I worked on. And Karen, I don’t know if you can say any more about what the cooperative is doing?

Karen: We really wrestled with this question, because we know it’s such a big part of adoption decisions. People really look for those supplementary materials. I answer many questions about supplementary materials every week, related to the Open Textbook Library. But ultimately, we did decide it was too much at once to make a requirement. But I could imagine another proposal, or another program deciding to require it and see how it goes. And maybe people out there have something to add, based on their publishing programs. I certainly welcome any of you to chime in.

Dave: Can I just add that in the Open Textbook Network we had a work group that put together an amazing document about what they felt needed to be done, with these materials, these supplemental materials because they are so important. And we’re going to be working towards that vision that they laid out. But I think to some degree, we’re a little behind on it, because there are a number of things that need to be developed simultaneously.

There is the technical side of it. There’s if you’re writing a quiz bank, there’s psychometric sides to it. You can’t just write a quiz and there are valid questions and questions that don’t really help you learn and so on. So, thank you Karen. So, anyway, there’s a lot of extra additional expertise that needs to be rolled into this, and technological expertise as well. But it’s important and the open community really needs to work on it, if we’re going to catch up.

Zoe: Yeah, I can speak very briefly about our experience at Rebus and the projects we’ve worked with have largely decided that it was out of scope, that they wanted to focus on content first. And then, the few cases where that hasn’t happened, we found it has affected the pace of work, it has proved to be distracting in a way. And so, I think as Dave said, I think it needs to be considered really carefully and in a similar structured kind of way.

And really, done with the proper support and not lumped in with what is already a really big project, that it needs the space, the time, the effort that is given to the content as well. So, a lot to work on there, because it is critically important.

Karen: Paige has a question about any specific recommendations on the lengths of sections in a book.

Dave: I don’t, I’m afraid.

Karen: Fair enough.

Dave: I don’t know if anyone else does.

Karen: Yeah. I’m reading now. I think most of this chat that I’m reading about is related to the history of textbooks. Let me know if I’m missing any questions to pose to Dave, please.

Dave: Thanks Jim, you really sidetracked is. (Laughter)

Zoe: I can chime in a little briefly on length of sections. Apurva’s just reminded me that some of our projects have looked at things like reading level and considered that they’re writing for an introductory course. And that’s really been their guiding principle, of how long they want the sections to be. And that’s been really important, in particular, I think our introduction to philosophy book there are many, many sections.

There’s a whole lot of authors, there’s a lot going on, and so they’ve had to really pare themselves down to I think the chapters were kept to 3,000 words each. So, it’s not a section… Yeah, and that authors found that difficult, but it was a good tool to keep it scoped to the particular audience that they were writing for.

Karen: Okay, I think that we’ve covered the questions that are in the chat so far, and we only have a few more minutes left. So, if something is top of mind, please unmute, or type it in. I also would like to invite, again, there are so many people on this call who have experience developing open textbooks either as authors, or as project managers, librarians. So, if you have feedback about this particular methodology or would like to share the methodology that you used, please chime in. This is the part where I pause and wait for chiming.

Jonathan: Can I ask a question? So, this was what I posted way early about whether there’s empirical, whether there’s studies about these things. I thought as a, I’ve written a couple of open textbooks, and I wrote them more like monographs, ’cause that’s more what I was used to. And my students certainly have lots of complaints about lots of things, but I don’t know that it was that particular thing.

So, when I’ve looked at the open textbook world, one of the things like I look, not to badmouth them, but I look at the OpenStax books, and they look like commercial books. And I think this is a strategy of theirs to try to slide into what we’re all familiar with. But then, oh hey, look it’s open, that’s great. And so, I’m wondering, the answer might be that I have to get more up to date, but is there real evidence that for example, student learning outcomes is one of the things.

Your learning outcomes you mentioned was one of the sections in the outline that you were talking about. Do students ever actually look at those? I’ve seen no evidence that my students ever notice any of the other stuff than the text and the problems. And one more wrinkle on this, the other thing I’ve noticed that in a lot of undergraduate classes, if you use a textbook, the students finish the class and they don’t know how to read anything but a textbook.

And you say, “Oh wait, we need to spend a semester in the senior year teaching them how to read actual scholarly material in whatever discipline they’re in.” And maybe we’re doing them a disservice by not teaching them from the very beginning to read scholarly material. I’m just putting it out there.

Dave: Sure, no, I would agree. I sympathize with those questions, and I don’t in any way would say that we ought to replace everything that students read with textbooks, but there is a place for textbooks, as well. So, it could be, Jonathan, that what you’re doing is that whatever you’re writing, you would know. You’re the instructor, you would know best whether what you write is working for your students. I would leave it you to make that judgement.

And if it’s more monograph like, or however you want to frame that, then it is. And the reason we focus on textbooks is simply because it’s a place we know we can make a difference, and we know that there’s a big problem. It doesn’t mean that we believe textbooks are necessarily the solution to all problems, or that that’s what students should read. So, I understand exactly what you’re saying. I would agree with your questions, I don’t agree with your questions, I don’t know how that works, but I understand. Thanks.

Richard: Can I toss out one more odd observation? My career in publishing, academic textbook publishing, as a matter of fact, broke across the shift from film setting to desktop publishing. It was really a kind of remarkable time to be in the business. I noticed personally as somebody with an academic background that as soon as color printing became low cost opportunity, that the complexity of textbooks exploded.

And that’s where I think that you see a lot of the first elements, because you could now click new design elements to them in ways that you could never do prior to that. Now, obviously that’s not exclusively correct. I think a really good model if you’re interested in following the way textbooks have evolved is graphic presentations. Take a look at college algebra textbooks.

Those in many respects, because they have problems that were set in the text and usually numbers and then examples and whatnot that tended to very quickly be the place where things diversified. And then, you went to two-color textbooks, so you had the black text, with usually a blue bar or something like that over elements. And then, you had three-color textbooks and then you had four- and then five-color textbooks, where you would put teacher notes on one side of the edition that went along with the text.

When you could start doing, you could do that all in hot metal. But nobody did it, because it was enormously labor intensive. When you started film setting, and when you started desktop publishing, especially in the 80s, that’s where you really see the big shift and the change. And the reproduction with images, as well, was a major change.

Jim: If I could hitchhike off of that, in a prior career, I was actually in strategic planning for paper and the paper business. And remember studying a lot of stuff in the 80s and 90s about all the change in digital printing. And one of the things that struck us particularly because I mean, there was this giant wave of how litho and offset could do all this wondrous stuff and this high quality.

And what was stunning was when desktop printing came along, to find out really, people just needed good enough color. They didn’t need litho they didn’t need all that high-quality stuff. And I wonder if there’s an analogy here on textbooks, in the sense of the big publishers have all gone with fancy grandiose stuff and I mean, it’s not just structure, but it’s also structure and color and layout and everything like that because they can now.

And what I’m wondering is if we don’t have a great advantage here with something like Pressbooks and now by having some common language about structure like David’s given us. I’m thinking we need to decentralize this and what we need are good enough textbooks that are rapidly iterated. Rather than and perhaps this also applies to the ancillary problem, like I mean, I agree quiz questions and stuff like that need to have the goal is you want to get to the validity and stuff like that.

But if we set out that the whole bank needs to be done first, and totally verified, before we iterate through it, we’ll never get there. And of course, the reality is the big publishers don’t validate their ancillaries either.

Richard: I’ve got to differ on that one, just a little bit, Jim. And I’m not saying you’re wrong, just saying it’s a little more complex. I remember, in fact, I actually have a copy, this was my last, I happened to have a copy. And I one time counted up the number of people who had been involved in that, that were name credited and there were 150 people. Now, there were only three authors.

But it was an entire village full of problem checkers and designers and verifying of various sorts. They pour money into it, because they know they can get a return on investment, the first printing of this particular book was 50,000 copies. A standard academic book is like 500 now and dropping quickly.

Karen: And clearly, we need to continue this conversation in future Office Hours. I’m sorry to cut everyone short, but we are at time. And I really appreciate all of the experience, expertise and knowledge that everyone here has brought to this conversation. It makes it really fun and exciting and we appreciate the input. As a reminder, this is related to a new open textbook publishing curriculum.

I put the link in the chat again and would love if anyone wants to contribute a module on the history of the textbook, or some of the topics we’ve been talking about today, get in touch. It would be great to talk to you. Thanks to our partners at Rebus, Zoe, Apurva and everyone, and of course, to our guest speaker today, Dave Ernst. And all of these sessions are recorded, they’ll be on YouTube shortly. And stayed tuned for a few more Office Hours in the remainder of 2018. Okay, everyone, thank you and farewell.

Chat Transcript

00:18:38 Jonathan Poritz: didn’t you want to start recording?
00:19:12 Apurva Ashok: Hi Jonathan, we are recording. You should see a small red dot saying the same at the top-left on your screen. 🙂 Thanks for double-checking!
00:19:25 Jonathan Poritz: Ah, ok, sorry.
00:19:35 Apurva Ashok: No worries 🙂
00:19:39 Karen Lauritsen:
00:20:42 Apurva Ashok: If anyone has questions along the way, please feel free to drop them in the chat, and we’ll hopefully have some time towards the end of the session where you can ask these out loud if you wanted.
00:29:10 Terry Williams: Or at least Trademark “IPD” : )
00:29:44 Apurva Ashok: Haha
00:30:05 Jonathan Poritz: Is there any empirical evidence that the highly structured approach is more effective than a more monography-like, in terms of student learning? I ask because I’ve often noticed that students don’t even seem to notice “all the decoration,” instead concentrating on the plain, monograph-style parts. Maybe I should teach them to pay attention…?
00:30:41 Tina Ulrich: We were just saying the same thing!
00:31:02 Jonathan Poritz: Waiting is fine!
00:33:06 Terry Williams: Structure also helps reinforce “genre”, and textbooks are definitely a genre of publishing. Genre is powerful!
00:33:43 Apurva Ashok: Definitely!
00:34:26 Karen Lauritsen: Jonathan, there’s a reading list related to your question at the end of this module:
00:34:41 Anita Walz: There is a (relatively old) book “Designing Instructional Text” / Hartley (1985) has some helpful checklists on typography, organization of content, role of examples and illustrations, etc. It’s not evidence based but is a helpful old school guide.
00:35:36 Apurva Ashok: Thanks Karen and Anita! Really helpful
00:36:04 Anita Walz: The graphics, Dave, are much easier to follow than the Chicago Manual of Style!!
00:36:18 Paige Mann: Sticky notes! Nice. 🙂
00:41:00 Kathy @ UConn: Yes, Ed Neth Chem Prof did that at UConn.
00:41:23 Apurva Ashok: Thanks for confirming Kathy 🙂
00:41:43 Kathy @ UConn: My pleasure!
00:45:42 Apurva Ashok: Checklist is such a helpful way of putting it – it’s about getting clarity of the bigger task, but also allowing to break it down in manageable chunks, which is often a struggle.
00:46:24 Terry Williams: Well said!
00:47:10 Apurva Ashok: Thanks Terry 🙂
00:47:22 Paige Mann: Good to know about the Boundless lawsuit. Thanks for drawing our attention to this.
00:47:30 Anita Walz:
00:47:44 Jim Luke: Interesting re: Boundless. Every major proprietary ECON principles text is essentially the same outline & structure.
00:48:12 Anita Walz:
00:48:21 Apurva Ashok: Thanks Anita. And Jim, that’s really interesting.
00:48:27 Anita Walz: (second link is older than the first)
00:48:30 Paige Mann: Have you found whether an outline like this works better for certain disciplines or areas (e.g., sciences, social sciences) more than others?
00:49:18 Apurva Ashok: If others had questions too, now would be a great time to drop them in here!
00:49:39 Deb Amory: yes, I am interested in more recently established disciplines that don’t really have consensus on fundamental concepts etc.
00:49:41 Matthew DeCarlo: your tree structure provides multiple levels. when publishing in pressbooks, there are only two levels (parts and chapters). Is there a way to create additional levels in pressbooks?
00:50:32 Matthew DeCarlo: do you have any information on the optimal length of sections?
00:50:32 Naomi: Pressbooks just came out with a two-level table of contents option that can allow authors to include subsections in their tables of contents!
00:50:52 Deb Amory: Q: any experience in terms of integrating multimedia OERs into the text? perhaps as a structural element?
00:51:02 Terry Williams: Depending on the specific aspects of textbook structure that are subject to copyright, might OTN (or another partner) create a repository of openly-licensed structures?
00:51:48 Apurva Ashok: @Matthew, I think WordPress is working on allowing additional levels in the book with their Gutenberg editor, and Pressbooks may be able to add this functionality in the future. And thanks @Naomi!
00:52:22 Jonathan Poritz: @Terry: that is an *amazing* idea!
00:53:06 Terry Williams: Gee thanks @Jonathan! : )
00:53:17 Jim Luke: Good explanation of structure & what really makes textbook a textbook, as opposed to treatise or monograph, etc. I’m curious is anybody knows much about the history of textbooks? When did higher ed move from treatises to textbooks? I know in ECON, the first real textbook was Samuelson just post WWII. Before that everybody taught from treatises.
00:53:40 Apurva Ashok: @Terry, great idea!
00:53:40 Matthew DeCarlo: i think the challenge for me is that the sections cannot be on separate pages, even if they are demarkated as sections on the ToC, it doesn’t impact readability
00:53:42 Claudia Holland: When individuals are composing a textbook, do you also encourage them to consider development of supplementary materials or is this too much all at once?
00:54:11 Paige Mann: Any specific recommendations on length of sections?
00:54:17 Jim Luke: Gutenberg also holds the potential for re-usable chunks (i.e. boilerplate).
00:54:24 Apurva Ashok: @Deb, we’ll come to your question next. I’m sure there are others who have used multimedia in OER, and could share their experiences
00:54:54 Phil Barker: @Jim in the UK Higher Ed, in some disciplines, the move to text books hasn’t happened.
00:55:00 Terry Williams: Structural/format library for would-be textbook authors would be something I would love to be part of
00:55:13 Apurva Ashok: @Jim, I would love to hear an answer to your question. I don’t know much about the history of textbooks myself!
00:55:48 Jonathan Poritz: @Jim: Well, in some sense I would argue that Euclid’s Elements was the first (or one of the first) textbook… but, then, I’m a mathematician and many of us think that monographs make fine textbooks.
00:56:02 Apurva Ashok: @Matthew, yes, that’s right. Hopefully Zoe’s response provided some more clarification?
00:56:04 Jim Luke: @Phil That’s interesting about UK.
00:57:20 Karen Lauritsen:
00:57:55 Claudia Holland: Jim, you might want to look for a dissertation on that topic.
00:58:31 Jonathan Poritz: Well, math “textbooks” were being written in the 18th century — e.g., Maria Gaetana Agnesi wrote one of the first “calculus textbooks” in 1748
00:59:44 Apurva Ashok: @Claudia, from what we’ve seen, it could really go either way. Rebus has supported open textbook projects where teams have thought about different phases for the project from books to instructor workbooks to ancillaries, but only started to work on one at a time. Others may have found this thinking a bit overwhelming, so focused on only one piece at a time.
01:00:14 Apurva Ashok: @Paige, I might leave your question to Dave or Karen! 😉
01:00:17 Claudia Holland: Thanks, Apurva!
01:01:07 Apurva Ashok: Thanks @Jim!
01:01:24 K. Hakanson: that’s really interesting! Thanks for sharing!
01:01:46 Terry Williams: I think the proliferation of fonts is also an important compositional aspect, in the post WWII ear
01:01:47 Apurva Ashok: @Phil, so interesting about UK higher ed. Why might that be, do you think?
01:01:49 Terry Williams: *ear
01:01:53 Terry Williams: *era…
01:02:21 Jim Luke: Thanks to all for the great comments on the history. Great fodder for some research/thinking I’m doing re: higher ed & commons.
01:02:26 Phil Barker: Was that textbook Euclid with colored images and symbols (I have a copy–reprint, not original)
01:03:09 Jonathan Poritz: @Phil: yes, it looked like Oliver Byrnes’ beautiful Euclid…
01:03:27 Karen Lauritsen: Here’s the ancillaries report:
01:03:38 Phil Barker: @Jonathon, thats the one
01:03:50 Marilyn Billings: Thank you Dave for mentioning the ancillary group and we are always open to more members of that group.
01:04:00 Claudia Holland: Thanks so much for the answers!
01:04:36 Michael Shiflet: The Affordable Learning Exchange here at Ohio State in collaboration with colleagues at Penn State is working on a tool for open test banks since the lack of them has been a major issue impacting adoption.
01:04:39 Marilyn Billings: I wonder if there are grant opportunities for the creation and management of ancillaries.
01:04:54 Phil Barker: @Apurva I’m not sure why. My background is in sciences and engineering, where textbooks are used. But a lot of feedback from colleagues in arts and humanities when I talk about open textbooks that they prefer to work from original/primary sources.
01:05:05 Apurva Ashok: Thanks for sharing the report Karen!
01:05:24 Marilyn Billings: @Michael – awesome work!
01:07:12 Apurva Ashok: @Michael – thanks for sharing. and @Phil, thanks for letting me know. Definitely something to look into, like the history of the textbook!
01:08:11 Anita Walz: Really interesting question!!
01:08:17 Apurva Ashok: @Marilyn, universities/colleges might have funds for these, but I don’t think there are all that many (or as many as we might need)
01:08:46 Jim Luke: I have never had a student ever refer to a learning outcome or offer evidence that they even read them.
01:09:35 Karen Lauritsen: Here’s a (not open) article on cognitive mapping related to textbook structure, that may be related (from list link I sent earlier):
01:09:38 Terry Williams: It’s also worth asking if there is evidence (or if evidence might be gathered) about whether this makes it easier for the textbook creators. If “textbooks” and “monographs” are equally effective learning objects, then maybe the bigger issue is how to facilitate the creation of more learning objects. If this makes that easier, it’s a win!
01:10:14 Paige Mann: Interesting point Terry.
01:10:20 Claudia Holland: Perhaps the learning outcome piece is for subsequent adopters and metrics purposes rather than the student user?
01:10:54 Apurva Ashok: @Jim, maybe it’s just not being surfaced? Thanks @karen! And @Terry, very important question to ask.
01:11:50 Apurva Ashok: For those who may be heading off since we’re close to our hour, thank you so much for attending!
01:11:53 Deb Amory: Thanks folks, very much, for the session. Gotta run but this has been very helpful.
01:11:54 Phil Barker: I would put money on the answer to whether textbooks are effective compared to monographs will depend on how they are integrated into the course, e.g. whether the course is structred around them or are they just supplemental.
01:11:59 Paige Mann: @Claudia: interesting for that’s writing textbooks for non-student use; thinking ahead for assessment, etc.
01:12:03 Apurva Ashok: Thanks Deb!
01:12:09 David Farmer: What will be the topics of future sessions?
01:12:12 Karen Lauritsen: @phil. Yes! Great point.
01:12:32 Jonathan Poritz: Thanks @Terry, @Claudia, good points, thanks for the link, @Karen!
01:12:33 Phil Barker: @karen thank you
01:12:47 Claire Nickerson: Have to go, but many thanks for the info!
01:12:50 Apurva Ashok: @David, we’re open to suggestions so they’re on things you would like discussed. Let us know if you have any topics in mind!
01:12:51 Terry Williams: so…what is the minimum amount of genre/structure that gets the job done without going overboard on cost/complexity
01:13:31 Apurva Ashok: @Phil, nice point!
01:13:32 Lauren Ray, University of Washington: Many thanks for this session, and for sharing the curriculum – very helpful!
01:14:15 Anita Walz: @Jim, I wonder if this is because novel and fancy seems to convey more credibility without really digging into the content?
01:14:17 Apurva Ashok: Thanks Lauren! And @Terry, we might have to bump that question for a different conversation, given time!
01:14:32 Terry Williams: This was an amazing session. Thanks to OTN, @Zoe, @Apurva, @Karen, and @David!
01:14:41 Paige Mann: This was great! Thank you Dave and everyone!
01:14:45 Apurva Ashok: Thank you all for such an interesting conversation!
01:14:46 Karen Lauritsen:
01:14:58 Anita Walz: Really great! Thank you so much!
01:14:58 Phil Barker: Thank you all. My first time attending. It was very worthwhile.
01:15:00 Tom Judson: Will you send an email with a link to the recording?
01:15:02 Claudia Holland: Thanks to Karen, David, Zoe, Apurva, and all participants!
01:15:03 Kathy @ UConn: Thank you David and Karen! Great discussion!
01:15:16 Jonathan Poritz: Thanks, everyone!
01:15:18 rsaunders: Thank you, Dave. Well done.
01:15:20 Steve Foerster: Very interesting! Thanks all!
01:15:25 Jim Luke: Thanks ALL!
01:15:26 David Ernst: Thanks everyone!
01:15:26 Naomi: Thank you very much! This was a fascinating conversation!
01:15:26 K. Hakanson: Thanks everybody

August Office Hours: Publishing Textbooks vs. Monographs & Journals (Audio Transcript)

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript.

Audio Transcript


  • Danielle Mead Skjelver
  • David Alan Rech
  • Chealsye Bowley
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Rajiv Jhangiani

Karen: Hi, everyone, I’m Karen Lauritsen I’m managing director with the Open Textbook Network. We are a community of institutions working together on open education, including open textbook publishing. And we, too, are delighted to partner with Rebus community on Office Hours and other issues in this space. And Office Hours are monthly sessions, if you haven’t been to one before, it’s pretty informal.

We’ll have guests introduce themselves for a few minutes, and then chat together. And if there are things that you would like to explore in future topics, this is a great time to let us know. Put your suggestions in the chat, let us know what’s on your mind. And then, the one other thing I’ll say is that I’m sure in addition to our three guests, there are many people who have joined the call who also have a lot of great experience and can bring a lot to the conversation. So, I look forward to hearing from many of you today.

Zoe: Excellent, thanks, Karen. So, today we’re expanding our reach a little bit with our topic. So, our focus is typically on open textbooks, today we’re also bringing in monographs and journals as other kinds of publishing that happens, and as it happens, we do also have one of our guests who will speak very clearly through open publishing of monographs and journals, as well, which is a nice alignment with what we work with typically.

And so, these three areas, they obviously they all live within the same sort of area, in academic publishing. And they’re fundamentally really about sharing knowledge, so do have a lot in common. But in terms of the actual publishing processes, they are also really different in some interesting ways. So, that’s kind of what we want to explore today. Think about how they are the same, how they differ, and then, hopefully use that knowledge to really build understanding of all different kinds of publishing.

And for many of you here, if you’re interested in open textbooks, understanding how that process can compare to others can be a really good tool for talking to faculty who are more familiar with others. Or if you yourselves are new to this field, or interested in exploring open textbook publishing in itself, I think this is a nice chance to contrast those. And so, we have three fantastic guest speakers with us today, who can speak to a few different approaches to this topic.

So, first off, we will hear from Danielle Mead Skjelver, who is the course chair and adjunct associate professor at the University of Maryland University College. Followed by that, we’re joined by Chealsye Bowley who is the community manager at Ubiquity Press. And then, following that we have David Alan Rech who is the president and CEO at Scribe. So, we’ll run through those guests in their order.

They’ll speak for a few minutes about their work, and then we’ll get into questions and hopefully hear from many of you as well about this great topic. So, Danielle, I’ll hand over to you, thanks.

Danielle: Okay. You unmuted me, thank you. (Laughs) So, to let you know, I’ve published the traditional route, and then also I’ve done an open access monograph. It was a co-translation that I did with a colleague with the digital press at the University of North Dakota and then, now I am working on a collaborative project that’s an open access textbook. So, going to be talking about my experience with both of those things.

I am not sure how well clarified all this is, so just feel free to ask questions and I’m going to read my comments, because I tend towards tangents. So, I have two quotes for you. One is an old military dictum, and the other is from Jack London’s Sea-Wolf. First, Jack London: “Expect all hell to break loose, but don’t mind it, yours is to do your own work.” Second, the military dictum: “Planning replaces chaos with error.”

These two quotes characterize my open access publishing experience as a translator, and as an editor. My role as an editor is really also as publisher, because in the open access world, it’s all volunteer work, so it’s all hands on deck. So, and even as a translator I did a lot of the publishing side of the work. Most open access publishers are not publishers, they’re scholars, with an altruistic vision of access. They’re doing what they believe needs doing, but this does not mean they know how to do it.

We’re all learning as we go, and this is where Rebus comes in, offering a place to share best practices as well as the things that don’t work. So, my experience as a translator was simply hearing about and witnessing the process of the publisher, learning how to do something that hadn’t been done before. The digital press really was fairly cutting edge, I think it was among the early open access publishers out there. And so, he was really kind of feeling his way in the dark. This is a colleague of mine.

Back to Jack London and the well, I wanted to say, so, this made things slow and makeshift. But also, cooperative and collaborative, which was really exciting, much more so than in the traditional publishing world. So, back to Jack London and the military dictum: “Expect all hell to break loose, but don’t you mind it, yours is to do your own work”. And “planning replaces chaos with error”. I really do mean these things.

So, in textbook publishing, in the open access world, in terms of planning, it really does help. Write out a formal precis for example, you can find ours in the Rebus community and download it and use it as a template. Create spreadsheets to manage people’s tasks and workflow. Write an author guide and peer review guidelines. Do as much of this beforehand as you can, and use it, borrow ours, our stuff is out there on the Rebus community site.

So, be prepared to adjust things and see these documents as living documents. They will eliminate many errors, and that will be very helpful. Also, the process of writing these documents out will help you define and refine your plans, which will reduce the chaos. There will still probably be chaos, especially if you are dealing with multiple authors. If you’re dealing with just one or two, like with a monograph, I don’t think the chaos—

I’m not sure there really is chaos. But when you’re dealing with lots of people, it’s a little chaotic. Anyway, I call my textbook affectionately, or our textbook I should say, my 56-armed head octopus. So, to deal with the chaos of all hell breaking loose and causing other projects to be delayed, you have to figure out what your work is. Define for people on your team including yourself what their roles are, precisely.

For example, I thought I would do a fair amount of the writing in this textbook, but I simply can’t manage to contribute content, while managing workflow. There’s a reason project manager is a full-time job in most organizations. And it turns out that my work as an executive editor of an open access textbook is not to contribute as I would to a volume of scholarly articles that I might edit in the traditional world.

My role as an open access editor is project manager, consensus builder, decision maker, guideline, template and agreement writer, and in many ways, publisher. I’m working in partnership with our publisher. But I found the cover designer, I approved all the proofs, you go through that process and end up doing much of it yourself, or at least that’s my experience. So, when you figure out what your role is let others or ask others to do the things that you can’t.

So, I’m not writing the introduction, which felt like a source of shame and failure. But it’s not, frankly there’s someone on the team that’s much better qualified than I am. This is his area of expertise, where it’s not really mine. Nothing has gone the way I expected it to, but biweekly meetings with Rebus have really helped in terms of the constant readjustment of process.

So, be sure to use the documents in the Rebus community, and use the templates for contracts and recruiting letters, those are wonderful. And I think it’s easier if you have just one or two writers, rather than a whole—I think we have 50 authors, if I remember correctly. It’s very hard to keep track of the flow, who is where and who is doing what. So, I’ll stop there and look to hearing others’ experience.

Zoe: Wonderful, thank you, Danielle and for your kind words, I swear we didn’t put her up to it. But we’ve had a wonderful experience with you together on your project and learned a lot from it. I think you really identified some of the key things there. Great, so now I will hand over to Chealsye from Ubiquity Press.

Chealsye: Hi, everyone. So, as Zoe noted earlier, I’m the community manager for Ubiquity Press. Some days I’m still figuring out what that means. I don’t get to work directly with the publishing cycle. I’m much more internal and external community management. A big project I’ve been working on the past year has been getting governance in order to better address community issues.

But regarding this topic, my introduction to open ed, which I didn’t know at the time that’s what it was, was coming in Fall 2012 when I began a graduate assistantship in scholarly communication during library school. At the time, this was Florida State University. The top item in the repository was effectively a textbook, but it was just a PDF that was added. My psychologist who had tenure decided to write a how to guide to have a better dissertation.

He could have released it as a textbook, maybe a little bit of funds, but instead he released it under a creative commons license. It was the most downloaded repository item, with views around the world. It was amazing to see that impact. And I didn’t know at the time, but that was OER. And that was something that was on a more traditional line with a graduate student audience, that could have been published in a more traditional fashion. And it was so great to see that impact of that piece.

But, fast forwarding to today, Ubiquity Press, I liked what Danielle said about most open access publishers, they’re not publishers, they’re scholars. A lot of individuals who are choosing to make their monographs or textbooks open, often are just scholars who want to share openly and contribute to a stronger public good. And which on a personal belief system that that’s exactly what I would want to do.

Ubiquity was founded by PhD students who wanted more affordable open access publishing options, since they were trying to launch a journal. And that’s really where the root is, about wanting to make it cost effective. We publish primarily open access journals and books, are starting to get into OER, as many of you probably already know, but if you don’t know, I’ll go ahead and plug the book that Rajiv co-edited open, put the link in there.

If you haven’t read it, and you’re someone who’s working in the space, or new to the space, I do think it’s a must read. I am apparently sending to just privately to Michelle, don’t know how that happened, resending that link. But one recent OER type creation I want to highlight is actually from one of our partner presses. Ubiquity operates on a model, we publish our books and journals ourselves as well, but we also just provide hosting solutions to others. And it’s fully branded with that partner press.

And Virginia Tech is one of those partner presses. And they joined last year, and they recently created a student and professor co-authored collection, or co-edited rather, collection about the Beatles. And I think this follows a more traditional way of how some would have published a collection. But, with the engagement of students helping to create this, which I think it really take away— thanks Rajiv. His comment about plugging another resource there.

That really takes away, I think the curtain of how publishing works, especially for people that are intending to go into graduate school, already are, or wanting to stay in academia. Every time I explain how publishing works to someone outside of the space, they’re shocked. I remember the first time I was sat across and explained it, as an early grad student, and shocked. And I think it can really take away the curtain by involving students that way, getting them to participate on their own, learning, creating materials.

But overall, there can be no difference sometimes with publishing and open education resource, besides making it available at the end. But on the other hand, as Danielle noted, these can be living documents, and they can change and grow, and that’s where I think things get a lot different. But if one is preparing a more traditional textbook in the sense of it resembles more of a book, rather than a courseware, which might be open like a MOOC or creating videos alongside it.

Different pieces, or digital humanities kind of project, that’s when things get definitely non-traditional. But really, we can maintain a lot of our similar practices on the way we work. It’s just about that end point and what gets open. And so, open monographs which is a huge portion of what we publish may not be applicable to necessarily open education materials for an undergraduate level, but could be great for graduate students, who have less open access resources there.

And so, that’s an area I also want to see grow, and just really more open scholarship in general. But overall, I do think that there’s not as much difference, but really about who your audience is, and what one’s angle is. But definitely always increasing the amount of readers is the end result there. So, happy to discuss any questions about how that works. I think the most important concept when it comes to when I try to talk about Ubiquity is that a lot of people view open access publishing as extremely expensive.

And a lot of this comes down to the traditional article processing charge we’re seeing at $3,000 levels. And it is definitely possible to publish way less. Our average article processing charge hovers just under $600 right now, across our journals. But also, it’s entirely possible for a university to spend a reasonable amount, especially when we’re considering what it costs to subscribe to journals, to really support really strong initiatives.

Especially since so many faculty are putting open is never free, there’s still whether it’s volunteer label, right. But I think there’s a lot of ways that we can make things more equitable and affordable and take away that curtain over how open publishing works.

Zoe: Wonderful, thanks Chealsye, I love that image as well of actually making the invisible visible. It’s something we chat about a bit, and how this is an amazing opportunity we have to do that, to make publishing a really visible process in service of this goal that we all share with all kinds of different materials. Excellent, thanks so much. And now, I will pass over to David.

David: Chealsye, by the way, did you say Florida State?

Chealsye: Yeah.

David: Did I catch that correctly?

Chealsye: Yeah, I went to….

David: Okay, I’m changing my profile picture then, for you.

Chealsye: I spent one year for graduate school at Florida State.

David: Okay, I’m sorry, but that’s okay.

Chealsye: Forgive me, I’ve no allegiance to the ’noles though.

David: No, I’m only kidding. So, to augment what Danielle said, it’s interesting because whenever we get people involved in publishing here at Scribe, what I try to do is kind of scare them off a bit. I don’t know if I would actually scare them off, but I differentiate between long and short format in publishing. And by short format publishing what I mean is journals, smaller publications, which are very deadline driven and often there’s a lot of frenetic activity.

And to augment the planning replaces chaos with error the one thing is, is that in long format publishing that is books, especially textbooks, the ample amount of time and working according to a natural schedule, as opposed to an imposed one, like a semester deadline or something like that is probably the best thing I can tell you needs to be done. So, I just pasted into the chat a list.

So, whoever wrote the introduction to the session wrote: “Each of these, they broadly consist of acquisition creation that is writing and editing, review, format and release.” I just wanted to augment that a bit which is that I would call it something different. I would say they all have what we should refer to as acquisition, that is, the idea the of textbook. And they should all have a very strong book proposal with a listing of all the elements, if not as much writing material as possible.

In terms of planning, one of the things about textbooks that I’ll get to in a few seconds is the audience is different. And therefore, the process of acquisition has to be not this guy or woman knows what she’s doing, but this is what we’re trying to accomplish. And this is how we are going to accomplish it, in a book. Then, there’s always developmental editing process, which is a dialectic process that occurs between the editor or editors, the author, including peer review, because people will have comments back and forth.

And before something is cleaned up for copy editing or formatted, you really need to solidify the developmental editing process and make sure that the entire textbook is done. We’ve been writing textbooks for a very long time, and any time that someone holds off on an element, or they say, “Oh, we’ll get to that later.” That creates absolute chaos and error. (Laughs) By the way, not either.

And so, what we suggest is that you be careful in the developmental editing stage, just do what we call solidify the manuscript. Then, of course, there’s copy editing, and a big difference in textbook editing, versus other types especially monograph is that copy editors are not only looking for syntax and grammatical issues, spelling and punctuation issues, as well as consistency issues, they tend to need to be alert to usage of terminology and marking out first use of things, especially specific terms.

They also should be pedagogically aware, that is understand how things will come across, because sometimes where the order of something would read okay, for pedagogical purposes you may have to shift that around, and only a conscious editor is aware of that. Typesetting and formatting for these things should be done not according to a traditional aesthetic, or this is a nice font, or we really like this.

It really should consider the way people read, especially in both print and electronic. And be attentive to how we comprehend and how we digest information. And that things that are traditional in books like ancillaries or other kinds of components like images, often may distract. The proofreading stage is pretty much the same, except that you can’t do a cold proofread in the textbook. What you have to do is an informed proofread that is done in conjunction with the copy editor and developmental editor.

So, that the proofreader is not only reading cold, but also reading according to the pedagogic and structural needs of the textbook. Occasionally, you’ll do an index, and at that point it’s very important to engage the authors more than just normal, not to have strictly traditionally created index, but one that is pedagogically sound and fits the use and of course, print and electronic output.

And what is really important, what we like to stress is that the biggest difference between textbooks and other types of publications is the audience. Textbooks are produced by people who are subject matter experts. They’re used to a particular rhetoric, they’re used particular vocabulary, and they are fully entrenched in the subject. So, when they are writing and creating, the familiarity with the subject is assumed and the language is established.

And what is expected is that they’re augmenting an already existing body of knowledge, and things like notes and bibliographies are there to add to that augmentation. With respect to textbooks, what people are dealing with are neophytes, and they’re subject matter neophytes although that’s a redundancy in terminology. And so, what we’re trying to do is introduce people to generally accepted elements on a particular subject, thus the review, in a way that allows them to synthesize that with their already extant body of knowledge.

Thus, it needs to be more generically educational. And usually, as they’re considered to be a supplement to an instructional process, so you have to be very aware of what that instructional process is, in terms of the order of instruction, the way things are divided and arranged in a classroom setting. Or even just things like how examinations are provided, and what kind of review and use that the textbook will have.

And again, textbooks assume a lack of knowledge, so they have to be introductory and provide additional methods to synthesize information. So, things like common use of the same term as opposed to substituting synonyms, or providing summaries, or indices, or glossaries those elements are very important and should be considered in the proposal. The other thing is that we need to be attentive to fact that people learn in different ways.

And that learning method, structure, accessibility, comprehension has to be the primary focus in addition of course, to the subject being conveyed. And that key to that is not only the writing, but the editorial and design methods that are applied. And again, I’m going to repeat one thing, the worst enemy, we have a joke in sailing which is that the worst enemy to a sailor is a schedule.

And that often is the case with textbooks, you want to have a schedule where you know what the end date is, but you never want to have an unnatural one, where you end up with Danielle’s chaos and error, as well. That’s it for me.

Zoe: Wonderful, thanks, David. Appreciate your metaphor and also, I love what you say about the assumed knowledge. I think that’s a really, really important distinction. So, now having heard from our guests, thank you so much. I think they’ve raised some really, really interesting points. We’ll open it up, Karen did you want to get us started?

Karen: I would just like to add one of the reasons that we invited Dave into this session is because Scribe is a partner with the Open Textbook Network, in the publishing cooperative. And so, we’ve been working together for more than a year on developing shared processes and expertise in textbook development together. And really appreciate his background and his staff and their expert knowledge. I’m just going to put a link about Scribe in the chat.

Zoe: Great, thanks, Karen.

David: Yeah, thank you, Karen.

Zoe: If anybody has questions or would like to share their own experiences, now’s the time to chime in. I may pick on somebody if we don’t any, but I’ll give a couple of moments, if we want to gather thoughts and ask any questions. Okay, maybe people are typing away. But I may actually ask Rajiv if maybe he has some thoughts, being someone on the call we’ve just seen who produced a wonderful monograph from Ubiquity, which we read that a lot here, as well.

And is obviously also very experienced with textbooks. So, I wonder if you have any reflections on what our guests have shared so far, Rajiv? And sorry for putting you on the spot.

Rajiv: (Laughs) No, that’s totally fine. It’s an interesting space, I think, as someone working within my discipline to approach this, both from an open access publishing point of view, and then the open textbook side. And I think one the things that strikes me, as an academic, is just the very different cultures and the very different norms in those two different categories that are heavily influencing I think some of the support that’s necessary.

And often, some of the education and some of the myth busting, misconceptions that need to be dealt with out of the gate. Still, the equating of open access with predatory publishing, thanks very much Beall for that. (Laughs) A number of issues like that. But I think the opportunities on the flip side to be a bit subversive, to take advantage of what does matter, when we’re moving ahead.

So, whether it’s citation counts that matter, or something else, getting people into the gate. One of the things that I’m interested in getting, so I was really interested in David, when you were augmenting the initial lists, especially. It’s one of the things we are building over here, is with even though we have a number of open textbook authors at KPU, we’re trying to get to a point where we are requiring less of our faculty authors.

So, for example, if they want to use and learn how to use Pressbooks, embed H5P, all of that fun stuff, fantastic. But if they don’t, we want to be able to essentially meet them where they are. So, if they come to us with a long Word document saying, “Here’s my stuff, do what you need to do.” And magically convert it into an open textbook, we’re trying to get to a point where we can meet them where they are.

And so, I appreciate the advice about book proposals, and I am also looking to think about how I can calibrate that for situations where it’s not really a traditional like I approached Ubiquity with a book proposal. But it’s something less than that, and how we can meet people where they are, and still extract the bits that we need to manage the process after that, if that makes sense, at all.

David: Do you mind if I comment on that? So, when I say formal book proposal, I did not mean that an author needs to have that formal book proposal. But so, let me define book proposal the way I use it internally here at Scribe. We don’t call them proposals, we call them statements of work. And you can meet an author where she is, right? And say, “Hey look, this is what you have.”

But there has to be, before even starting the editorial and review process, I would argue that you really need to think through what the structure of the book is and create a statement of work and a book architecture. And you may after, decide well, that element is going to change because reviews suggest that we need to do something different or whatever.

But at the end of the day, if you try to just take what someone gives you, authors who are not professional publishers tend not to understand the complex elements and how everything fits together. And you end up trying to dig yourself out of a hole throughout the entire process.

Zoe: I think as well, I heard something in what Rajiv was saying, that links back to where Danielle started us off, in that I think more and more people are recognizing the amount of work that goes into this from the faculty. And how it has been on editors and authors like Danielle to figure it out and do all that work themselves. And it’s exciting to start seeing some of these models emerge that are supporting that more and taking some of that onus off of the people who are driven to do the creation in some interesting ways.

Anybody else have questions for our guests? Thanks Rajiv, he just shared the BCCampus self-publishing guide, which is a great resource for authors who are setting out into this space. Anybody feel like chiming in with their own experiences? It’s a quiet bunch today.

Karen: Well, I would be interested in our guests’ take on developmental editing. It’s something that David talked about and Danielle, in your role, you’re probably involved with. And so, maybe we can just surface a little bit more of what’s involved in developmental editing? Especially since we’re looking at some of the similarities and differences between monographs, journals and textbooks.

Just thinking about the process of putting those together, or as Rebel said in the chat, are there lessons learned, related to development editing or other things, barriers that are still around, that we’re working on? I think too, there are so many different ways to do things, depending on what your expectations are for the output, what’s going to meet the needs of your students, or your readers.

And so, we’re having a very wide-ranging conversation about a variety of outputs, I think. And a variety of audiences, and so sometimes I think connecting the threads amongst all of those can be a challenge. So, we have a question from Rebel in the chat, or my question about developmental editing, for anyone who wants to explore it.

Danielle: I would answer quickly Rebel’s question. I think one of the things that is the most time-consuming is something that Apurva and I have talked about trying to find a way to automate, and that’s following up with authors. Because the pressure’s not there, and life gets in the way, and they’re excited and then, the semester gets in the way. So, an automated I don’t know, like an automated email system that would feed from your pipeline that says, “Follow up with these authors on this date.”

Just sort of a how are things coming? And that and recruiting, were the more time-consuming things so far. Editing is well, frankly, I’m not doing much of that. Most of my editors are doing that (laughs). One thing I am a little bit concerned about, and actually David this would be— I may reach out to you at some point on this. The overarching, so where we have chapters with a single author, there is cohesion, it all flows, it makes sense.

But there are several chapters were we’re going to have eight authors for a single chapter, each writing different sections. And so, connecting those and creating a flow, that’ll really be a challenge. And I was planning to write introductions for those pieces but see, this is thing, the textbook is finally all claimed. I think we’ve been working on this for two years, and we have one chapter completely out and a section is also completely out.

And we have lots of things in the content editing process, and that seems to be fairly smooth. But yeah, so for David, the piece about trying to build consistency there with language. I really liked when you were talking about not using synonyms, using the same key terms over and over, ’cause students will easily get confused. Those are my thoughts.

David: So, quick question. What’s the level of student that you’re doing with these multiple authors?

Danielle: Freshmen.

David: Okay, so the first thing I would say, so addressing Karen’s question about developmental editing. The very first thing that I would say is so, contributed works are excellent and that’s multiple author works, are excellent if you have subject familiarity. Or if you’re trying to give students a breadth of knowledge about a very narrow topic. So, for example, like if you had a piece of literature that everyone was reading in their freshman class.

And then, you wanted to explore various ways of interpreting that literature, and you had a different chapter by each author. That could work, so long, as like you said, you had a developmental editing guide that said, “This is how we’re going to use certain terminology. If you’re going to use it distinctively, then you need to propose a definition for it that you make explicit, etc.”

But, for normal normative textbook development, many times there are numbers of contributors but our very strong recommendation on that is that somebody, we usually define that person as editor, who could be an author, or the developmental editor really needs to run through it and essentially rewrite and redevelop that material, so that it is consistent. Karen mentioned the fact that you have people with different learning styles.

Preparing materials so that they resonate with various learning styles is a different act than providing various views on a subject. The former makes things more cogent, and more coherent for people. The latter makes it less so. So, you have to be very careful about that. I don’t want to get too far into that, unless you want me to explain more fully about comprehension. But I will turn it over to others now.

Danielle: Could I just ask a quick follow up question? I’ve had concern about authors objecting to their writing being revised at that, so the process has been that we edit, and we edit, we give feedback and we get things where we want them. And then, we get them ready for typesetting and peer review. But then, it’s the question of at some point it’s going to have to be massaged so to speak, to make it flow into a single voice.

And I know that they signed an agreement that this is an open access creative commons document. So, it’s something that can be changed. I just worry about authors getting upset about that, and do you know what I’m saying? About their words being changed?

David: Yes, so was it you? I’m sorry, I think it was you in response to the question from Rebel which was the question about automating contact to the author? So, at Scribe we have an automated process for doing that. We just put stuff in our Google Calendar and each time you set out an appointment you set another one when you speak to them. It’s critical not merely just saying, “Hey, how’s it going, etc.”

Because and everyone paints a glossy picture of what’s going on and every author kind of lies when they’re responding to how’s it going. Their response is “It’s going great, everything’s on time, etc, etc.” And so, the answer to both that question and the one you just asked, from my perspective is simply this. You need to get the author on board. So, before you start the process, you should be upfront about what’s going to happen.

You should be upfront about the pedagogical requirements, about what you’re trying to accomplish, who the audience is, how you’re going to address that audience, etc. And then, explain to the author you’re a subject matter expert, that’s why we’re engaging you. But, for the purposes of comprehension, pedagogy, education, etc, these are the standards that we’re all going to agree on.

And then, every time you send something to review, or every time the author reviews, you engage the author and you say, “Hey, here’s a sample of the editorial work we’re going to do. And here’s why we did that. Is that okay?” And then, when the author is reviewing, this is why we did these things, by the way, there’s 10 chapters for you to review, when you’re done, let’s touch base in three days or four days.

When you’re done with your first one, let’s review that together. And that sounds like a lot of work, but actually it ends up saving a ton of work in textbook development. And the sample is a critical aspect. And if you start getting a prima donna, and you have these kinds of issues early on, that’s you know, if you were a commercial publisher, they would tell you to take a hike, and they would either publish it without you, or end the project.

Obviously, if it’s open, you’re not going to be doing that quite the same way. But often if you explain to them, this is going to be a better book, or something like that, that will end up helping your cause and getting them to be more compliant.

Zoe: Yeah, so Amy has chimed in in the chat, for those who can’t see it. Agreeing with that about the importance of getting a sample and said that they do it about 10% to catch things early. And that the samples they send need feedback, the images need to be open, or remixed work needs attribution. And the thing itself needs an open license on it. So, this is after training with same information, so definitely that’s a good chance to reinforce things that were already discussed as well. Great, thank you.

I think we have a question in the chat from Rebel as well, asking whether you recommend that smaller institutions work on chapters at a time, instead of trying to tackle a whole book? Does anyone want to chime in on that?

Chealsye: I think that can be a great tactic to use. I don’t think that’s limited to smaller institutions, but as somebody who has primarily worked at mid-sized state universities that didn’t really have a lot of open support yet, that is probably the easiest way to start tackling that process. It also relates to Danielle’s comment about these are living documents.

And this could be one lesson we’re taking from open access publishing and applying to open ed resources, the concept of not waiting until you have a full issue to go out but publishing things as they come. And that joke saying that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. And so, maybe this is not a book that gets done in a single year, even, it could be multiple semesters, and you can learn what works, what doesn’t work and constantly improve upon that learning experience.

So, I would say it’s a great idea if that is what works best for your context, and the context of whatever’s being written.

Zoe: Yeah, we second that. We take that approach a lot with the books we work with. And it not only makes it breaks down the process and makes it more manageable in eating the elephant as you say. I love that. And at the same time, it’s good to get the work out there, because then you can gather more feedback and people see the work that’s being done. And that’s really important particularly in open publishing.

And with open education people are constantly searching for more OER and more subjects, and so seeing what’s out there, even if it isn’t the entire resource can be really great for people to see as well. So, I see another question in the chat here from Sheryl asking whether anyone has partnered with their university press for publishing? So, I think Danielle, you said you worked with the University of North Dakota Press?

Danielle: So, the University of North Dakota did not have a press, and now, (laughs) my colleague he created the digital press at the University of North Dakota. And just sort of did it, and make it happen. Yeah, so that’s not the same I think as what Amy is talking here about Oregon State. I just wanted to answer David’s question about how you use a single chapter of a textbook. So, one of the courses that I teach, it’s sort of a history of technology class.

I say sort of, because it’s a living class, it changes. And the chapter that is published, the one that’s out for the textbook right now, that’s the foundation for a week. And it’s just a really great overview of medieval technology. So, this textbook is a response to the University of Maryland, UMUC in particular, going entirely to OERs, before there were OERs to make that a wise decision.

And so, that’s why I created this textbook. So, the way we have things right now, all classes are based on OERs. And so, they’re all a hodgepodge, and so the textbook is just slowly trying to bring this into something with a narrative, instead of just a hodgepodge of readings.

Zoe: Sorry, we’re coming up to the ten-minute mark. So, I was wondering we might come back I think, seeing some good conversation in the chat. And one thing from one of Rajiv’s comments that I think is important to highlight as well, is when you are contrasting these different kinds of publishing is that OER really has embedded in it that idea of reuse. So, you know we’re talking about these single chapters that can go out and they can be put into a collection of a bunch of different single chapters.

Whereas with other forms of academic work, the end use case is very different. I don’t think there’s the same expectation, even with open content that it will remixed to the same degree, adapted to the same degree. That the same level of engagement with changing up the text is there. And I wonder if that’s something that maybe faculty need support thinking through?

That if what they’re used to is putting something as a complete product that people are going to engage with and enjoy, versus this idea of creating building blocks that everyone can then work with. That was just a thought that came to mind, reading through, and I’m sure there are many other questions in there. So, I’ll take a look through, if anyone else wants to jump in, I’ll do some catching up.

Okay, I’m seeing lots of comments. One other thing, again, thinking about this where we started with this topic was the idea of how is understanding these different kinds of publishing useful for advocacy, for talking to people who are new to it. And one other thing again, that’s occurred to me, as people have been talking is there’s somewhat of the difference of the relationship towards publishers in the different spaces.

So, I think within open education, there’s a real recognition that the traditional publishers have been operating in shall we be diplomatic? Perhaps some not great ways, and the affordability question there is really, really a big one that comes up a lot. And I think when you compare that to say journal and monograph publishers is there’s still a lot of prestige tied up in those.

Which I don’t know has the same kind of problem within open ed. I don’t know if anybody else has given that much thought? I feel like you still go to a monograph press with, they still have a lot of respect. And maybe Chealsye, you have some experience with that as Ubiquity being a different player in that market?

Chealsye: I definitely would say that as far as monographs go, of course, there still is that prestige. And I think this largely comes down to people who are just at this point very dedicated to open and that value, at a greater level than what that prestige means to them. Now, this might be a little bit different if someone’s working in an open context. And they’re supposed to be walking that walk.

It’s a little bit easier to justify this, if we’re considered an open leader, or someone whose job it is to work in the space because it helps execute your job responsibilities to publish that way. But I think in general, trying to get some faculty to make that leap when they still are, that prestige is a currency in itself. But some who are I think at that point, where they’re valuing open most that’s what really makes that leap happen.

I haven’t yet experienced that prestige being tied as much to general open ed materials. Of course, these are more like textbooks and monographs type styles that are a little bit more traditional but could be open. Danielle might have more thoughts and any other faculty members on the call, ’cause I’ve always had the great privilege of open being my job, as a foremost. So, it’s harder for me to argue that others who that is not their defining role gets to—it’s so much easier to be able to be committed, because that’s the role.

Zoe: Absolutely, we find the same. And I wonder if maybe OER is a way for people to make that leap into other kinds of open publishing. So, if faculty are kind of engaged and really see the value of it, in the educational space, where as I say, I think it’s just an easier sell in some ways. I’m not saying that it’s easy, all of you where it’s your job (laughs) I’m not saying it’s easy. But that’s a path into that kind of publishing as well.

Chealsye: Yeah, I find it much easier in my experience as a librarian to get a faculty member to use open materials, the argument of well, your students, these are expensive, here’s all these free examples. I had, for example, an art history professor, who transformed from $120 textbook to all open materials, but refused to publish open access and was only one or two faculty members that railed against an open access archiving policy.

So, sometimes they don’t overlap, but it could be a potential way to get them really loving something. So, open ed could be the gateway to the rest of also Open, I think.

Zoe: Now, I’ll just pick up on a couple of things happening in the chat. So, David made the argument that I think referring back to when we were talking about single chapters that those are resources, not a textbook. And those do take a different approach. And then, Amy followed up, saying a lot of the OER that are published as textbooks wind up not being the type of textbook of record that you publish, but rather very unique approach that the next person might need to modify quite a bit to find usable.

Yeah, that is a really great distinction. And then, I think we have a question from Rajiv, as well, which I think maybe our last one, looking at time. So, Rajiv has said, “I’m really interested in the continuous improvement of OER, like open textbooks, especially by drawing on the experiences and ideas of faculty adopters. One tool we’re looking at for this is the use of annotation tools, like Hypothesis, to flag areas that need updating revision.

And then, drawing on this pool of comments for updates. Are there other practices that people are using for this post-publication?” And David, I’m not sure if maybe this has been part of your process, or if there are others who want to jump in on that?

David: Well, if you don’t mind, I will jump in really quickly. We don’t have enough time for the longer conversation about the failure of what I use in scare quotes “traditional textbook development”, because obviously we wouldn’t all be here if they hadn’t failed. And there needs to be a new model for both producing textbooks as well as for the structure of textbooks, given modern learning methodology and teaching methodologies.

But I think we need to differentiate between something that is dynamic that is part of a learning community, and therefore, is part of a dialectic process, from something that is incomplete and only partial. And I think that when I go about crafting a course, I’m not thinking from week to week, I’m thinking about how each week fits into an entire semester. What my learning objectives are, how I’m structuring it, what components I’m covering, how I’m covering them, what supplemental materials I’m offering for those things, etc, etc.

And I develop a course over a number of years, each time it’s taught it changes but the framework is there from the first time it’s been taught. And so, we definitely need a new model, we need to consider all these quote unquote ancillaries that are placed in textbooks, and examine whether they’re useful and whether they have purpose. But we can’t do that in my opinion, we can’t do that in a sort of broken up, partial way.

Karen: And to Rajiv’s question about gathering feedback, Corinne mentioned in the chat at Virginia Tech that they had a beta edition of electromagnetics textbook and they also I know Corinne, maybe, well, I guess perhaps we are running short of time. But, I put a link in there to the business fundamentals textbook. I know that they’ve really been looking at this same question, Rajiv, in terms of how to collect information.

I really like the Hypothesis idea, going line by line. And I am interested, too in a case study of how maybe that has been leveraged from first edition to a second edition. So, great question. Okay, with two minutes left, perhaps it’s time to start wrapping up. What do you think, Zoe?

Zoe: I think so. All right. So, thank you so much everyone for being here, and in particular to our guests. It was wonderful to hear from all of you, and I think we got some great perspectives there. Any final words from our speakers?

David: No, thank you all very much for listening and participating.

Zoe: Excellent, okay and thank you to everyone sharing their comments in the chat as well. So, as always, we’ll have this recording available in a few days, as well as the transcript. And very much looking forward to seeing you all next time.

Karen: Yes, thank you. See you soon.

Zoe: Thanks everyone.

End of audio.

In the market for new course materials? Don’t forget about these great resources!

There are some great openly licensed open textbook resources supported by Rebus that are available for classroom use! Keep reading to see whether any of these resources would be a good fit for your upcoming course. If you are planning on adopting or adapting any of these open textbooks, please let us know!

Are you or others at your institution planning for the upcoming semester or academic year? Then it’s time to take another look at all the Rebus supported open textbooks that have been released over the past year! All our books are licensed CC BY, most are peer reviewed, and all can easily be adapted to better fit your course’s needs. And, even better, they are freely and easily accessible to you and your students in a bunch of formats (web, PDF, ebook and editable formats).

Titles available for adoption/adaptation:

Financial Strategy for Public Managers (Sharon Kioko and Justin Marlowe)
Financial Strategy for Public Managers is a new generation textbook for financial management in the public sector. It offers a thorough, applied, and concise introduction to the essential financial concepts and analytical tools that today’s effective public servants need to know. Financial Strategy for Public Managers has been peer-reviewed by 8 subject experts at 8 institutions.


Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship (edited by Michelle Ferrier and Elizabeth Mays)
This is a modular open textbook designed for entrepreneurial journalism, media innovation, and related courses. This book underwent student and faculty testing and open review in Fall 2017. Feedback has been implemented in Version 1.0 and will continue to be implemented in Version 2.0 (ETA August 2018).

Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students (Linda Frederiksen and Sue F. Phelps)
This open textbook is designed for students in graduate-level nursing and education programs. From developing a research question to locating and evaluating sources to writing a sample literature review using appropriate publication guidelines, readers will be guided through the process. This book has been peer-reviewed by 7 subject experts and is available for adoption and use in courses or as a library resource.

Blueprint for Success (Dave Dillon)
A free, Open Educational Resource, Blueprint for Success in College and Career is a students’ guide for classroom and career success. This text, designed to show how to be successful in college and in career preparation, focuses on study skills, time management, career exploration, health, and financial literacy.

The Blueprint for Success series comprises three books for the College Success and FYE (First-Year Experience) genre. The central text, Blueprint for Success in College and Career, is designed to show how to be successful in college and in career preparation. In addition, targeted sections on Study Skills and Time Management, and Career and Decision Making are available separately as Blueprint for Success in College: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies, and Blueprint for Success in Career Decision Making. All have been peer-reviewed by an experienced team.

Antología abierta de literatura hispánica (Julie Ann Ward)
Una antología crítica de textos literarios del mundo hispanohablante. Se enfoca en autores canónicos y también se intenta incluir voces marginadas. Cada texto tiene una introducción y anotaciones creadas por estudiantes. // A critical anthology of literary texts from the Spanish-speaking world. A focus on canonical authors and an attempt to include voices that have been marginalized. Each text includes an introduction and annotations created by students. You can also contribute to the expansion of this text by having your students contribute! Find out more about implementing the assignment.

The Science of Human Nutrition (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program)
This peer-reviewed textbook serves as an introduction to nutrition for undergraduate students and is the OER textbook for the FSHN 185 The Science of Human Nutrition course at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. The book covers basic concepts in human nutrition, key information about essential nutrients, basic nutritional assessment, and nutrition across the lifespan.

Additional Resources

For those running an open pedagogy assignment in your class, creating a new open textbook, or working with students to create a new open textbook, there’s something for you too:

Authoring Open Textbooks (Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen)
This guide is for faculty authors, librarians, project managers and others who are involved in the production of open textbooks in higher education and K-12. Content includes a checklist for getting started, publishing program case studies, textbook organization and elements, writing resources and an overview of useful tools.


A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students (edited by Elizabeth Mays)
A handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources. This is a first edition, compiled by Rebus Community, and we welcome feedback and ideas to expand the text.



If you are planning on adopting or adapting any of these open textbooks, please let us know!

July Office Hours: Developing OER Policy (Audio and Chat Transcripts)

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. The chat transcript is also available, for those interested in reading the conversation that took place amongst participants and seeing resources shared. 

Note: If anyone would prefer to not be associated with their comments in either of these transcripts, please contact Apurva ( as soon as possible and we will remove any names or other identifying information.

Audio Transcript


  • Rebecca Van de Vord
  • Jessica Norman
  • Billy Meinke
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Cable Green
  • Michelle Reed
  • Sunyeen Pai
  • Kristin Woodward
  • Jonathan Poritz
  • Christina Hendricks
  • Kathy Labadorf
  • Matthew DeCarlo
  • Elizabeth Mays

Karen: So, welcome, this is the Rebus Community and Open Textbook Network Office Hours. We collaborate on these monthly conversations together to bring all of you together.

You’re a community of open textbook collaborators and practitioners, and in these sessions, we talk informally about issues in open textbook publishing. So, I cannot say enough that these conversations are community driven. And they’re one way that we can think and work together on support and solutions. So, please let us know what topics you want to explore in future sessions, if we don’t cover everything today.

If you want to revisit this, we are here to have the conversations that you need to have and explore the issues you’re working on. So, I’m Karen Lauritsen, I’m managing director with the Open Textbook Network, and today we’re here to talk about OER policies. We’re going to hear from three people representing a variety of institutions where OER policies have been implemented.

We’re going to hear how and why they were developed, what’s included in their policies, the stakeholders involved and any stories from their development. So, this is an informal format. It’s focused on conversation, our guests will talk for maybe up to five minutes, and then, we’ll turn things over to you for your questions and comments. And I’m quite sure many of you also have stories to share about your policies and you’re absolutely invited to do that.

We’re all here to learn from one another. So, we have three guests with us, today. I’ll let you know who those three guests are, and then turn it over to them. So, Rebecca Van de Vord is assistant vice president academic outreach and innovation, liaison to the provost’s office and director of learning innovations at Washington State University. We also have Jessica Norman, she’s e-learning librarian at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

And finally, Billy Meinke, OER technologist at University of Hawaii at Manoa. So, Rebecca, without further ado, I will turn things over to you. And we will unmute you. (Laughs) Sorry.

Rebecca: Can you hear me now?

Karen: Yes.

Rebecca: So, I just realized I don’t have the policy open, so I was just trying to quickly get to that. But, I’ll give a little bit of history. I am with our WSU distance global campus, but also do work as a liaison to the provost’s office. And a few years ago, the then interim President for WSU put together affordability taskforce, basically. Students were complaining about costs of textbooks, and he wanted a group of individuals to look into what kinds of things WSU could do to decrease the cost to students.

One of those being OER is what the taskforce came up with, although there are several other initiatives moving forward, as well. But, on the OER side, it really gave us an opening to finally, those of us, who have been interested in hoping to move in this direction, gave us more kind of an administrative top down window to begin the conversation. At the same time, there were some seed grants available through the provost’s office.

And so, my unit, AOI, and the WSU libraries went together to apply for a seed grant to provide funding to faculty to create OER. And so, that’s where we were getting started with OERs, on the WSU campus in an official way. There certainly have been individuals who’ve created OER over the years, moved away from textbooks, used alternatives. But officially this began in, I think, that was 2015.

So, I’m not a person who had a lot of history in the OER area. But was fortunate enough to work with Mike Caulfield who definitely has been involved with OER a lot of years, was at MIT with the open course initiative. So, Mike and I talked and one of his recommendations was that WSU have a policy about OER. And to be honest, I wasn’t exactly clear why that was necessary, but did move that forward using the OER policy development tool.

Which I found to be really helpful, that David Wiley and others have put together. So, I started from that, and sent a first draft to the provost’s office in September of 2016. It took about 18 months to finally walk that policy through all of the steps that people felt were necessary. And received, I just found it a lot more challenging, a lot more difficult than it would. Received a lot of push back from faculty, because their perception was this was the administration saying everyone has to create OER.

Even though I continually said, “The policy clearly states this is a policy that is in place for faculty who are being funded by WSU through grant funds, to create OER and that’s something they have to apply for.” So, from my perspective in no way was it a mandate that everybody’s going to create in OER, but faculty read it that way. So, it went first to the provost’s office, then was vetted through the Attorney General.

And then, the provost’s office felt that it should go through faculty senate, and so it went to the faculty affairs committee. And that’s where the faculty really, they had a lot of questions, a lot of concerns. So, one was about whether or not this was a mandate. Secondly, they were concerned about duration of their responsibility for material they create. So, if they create something for a course, they make it open, three years later they’re no longer teaching that course.

Are they still responsible to continue to update, maintain those materials? We had a lot of conversation around that. Lot of conversation about ADA accessibility, whose responsibility is that? And who covers the cost? And we have not resolved all of that, yet. The policy does state that faculty are responsible to ensure ADA accessibility and copyright clearance of any materials they use.

Which they are uncomfortable with, but ultimately, any faculty member can create an OER and ultimately, they’re the ones putting content in it, so they have to take some ownership of being responsible for those areas. They wanted to understand the ultimate goal of the policy statement, which really, was well, is to protect the university in situations where the university is funding these projects.

And then, secondly, in hindsight, this did initiate a lot of good conversation around OERs with a number of groups, from administrators, to faculty, people who weren’t really aware what OER is. And then, they’re having to review this policy and asking questions about it. So, although it was a long and painful process from my perspective, I think ultimately, it was very beneficial and really helped to clarify what does OER mean at WSU?

What is it we’re trying to accomplish? It’s not the only affordability initiative, as I mentioned. Is that a good start? What else do you want to know?

Karen: That’s great, Rebecca. That’s a really helpful snapshot. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about what— I was (laughs) I heard you say it was a long and painful process, but that there was a good outcome in inspiring conversation around OER. So, I’m sure we’ll talk more about that with the group, as well. So, thank you very much. Jessica, I will now turn it over to you. And I’ll let you know if we can hear you, if you want to just start talking, I’ll just confirm. Jessica, we cannot hear you yet. There you go.

Jessica: Now, I probably yeah, there I am. Hi, everyone. So, I’m Jessica, I’m from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, which is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You’re not familiar with our system up there, I’m at a two-year polytechnic. So, we are an applied educational institution, which kind of puts a certain flavor on our activities. But to just step you through the beginning of our process to implement the institutional policy, really, it started back in 2017.

2016, 17 we had a new VP academic, who decided that he wanted to build our first ever education plan with a consultant process. So, he had faculty, staff and student work through a process. And myself and some other folks who were interested planted the seed for OER in that plan, or in that conversation. When the plan was released, it was an increased emphasis on student first activities and support.

And there was a clear statement that said, “As part of the effective teaching practices, these institutions would support faculty in adapting, adopting and creating OER.” And that immediately generated the phone call from academic council, or academic chairs and faculty who said, “What is this? What is an OER? What does this mean in terms of using them? What’s the practical implications?”

So, after that was launched, a committee was formed, I was a co-chair for that along with a curriculum specialist from campus. They also had faculty and our copyright officer involved in that process. It was a nine-month process to create the policy and have it go through the approval and review. The stakeholders that were consulted during that time were our students, we did a student surveys and talked with the student government.

We did multiple faculty focus groups during that time, and we also had interviews with our academic chairs and deans, to get the administrative viewpoint. So, the nine-month process ended in May this year, so as of May we do have an official institutional policy and procedure for the use of OER. And as part of that, we also developed a basic evaluation rubric for materials.

We also put together a package with the committee of developing a communication plan for the campus and an education process. We now have a supporting website and an FAQ document, for some of those repeating questions that faculty came up with in our various consults. And we’re looking to build a training plan and start really pushing out the education on this in the Fall.

So, that’s where we are in terms of the development. In terms of the process, some of the interesting things were some of what Rebecca mentioned, that it was sometimes difficult. They raised a lot of concerns from faculty, a lot of “is this being mandated?” So, our very first thing on our FAQ is “do I have to do OER?” And it says, “No. It’s an option.” The good news is for us, is that it shifted our culture from a culture of no as the default to yes as the default.

So, now, our academic chairs and our deans know that this is something that we should be doing, that it is encouraged by the administration, but it’s supported from them, and that they should talk those early adopters and those interested faculty about how to do it, as opposed to telling them, “No, it’s not a good fit.” Some of the highlights I guess, from the policy are that it is more prescriptive, or sorry, not prescriptive.

It doesn’t give you step by step, it more or less outlines who is responsible for decision making and lets the different areas have some flexibility in deciding the actual process. But it does also explain how trainings might occur, who’s going to support various types of activities, like the technology aspect of it. The licensing aspects of it, the repository aspects of it.

And hopefully, also stress the need for accessibility and the need for diversity. And good quality evaluation practices, least that’s what we hope will be read into the wording. So, I guess that’s kind of the highlights. There are some other things I can talk about, in terms of planning process. And some of the research that we did with other Canadian institutions, that was interesting, if anybody has any questions about that later.

Karen: Super, thank you, Jessica. That was a great overview and congratulations on the recent completion of that policy. So, I would now like to turn things over to Billy.

Billy: Okay, I’m unmuted, awesome. Good morning, everybody. I’m Billy Meinke, I am the OER technologist for the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. I work for the outreach college, which is one college within the campus. But we have a ten-campus system, across the state, doing lots of really good OER work. I’m going to post a link into the chat that gives some context, some very detailed context, as to what happened with OER policy in our state.

We’ve been working on OER for a few years now. I’ve been in my current position for almost two years, but we have really dedicated librarians throughout the system that are working on OER and making some progress. At our campus, we run a $50,000 per year OER grant program, to incentivize the adoption and creation of new OER. And that’s going very well. We just released a few original titles. Couple of remix versions of books for our courses, about a month ago, and we have more on the way.

But, back to policy, so earlier this year, when all these new proposed bills came out, there was one about OER. And we were totally blown away, totally caught off guard. I hate to say it, but we were not involved at all in the process of forming this bill before it happened. When it came out, it was fairly problematic. One of the major problems was that is mandated the use of OER by all faculty at our university.

And that is something that is not only impossible to do, but also grossly violates the academic freedom of our faculty. And so, as you can imagine, folks were sort of up in arms about it. It’s not really cool, we tried to use, we try to find carrots and not use too much stick when we’re trying to support OER. And so, basically, the first four months of this year, I was down at the legislature, which I had never been to before.

A number of times, sort of babysitting the bill and seeing how it progressed. Again, I wasn’t really in contact with the senators, or the higher education committee that moved it through. But lots of folks were chiming in. Essentially, the bill went through four iterations and the mandates after all the kickback, the mandates to use OER were removed. Later on, an OER grant program that sort mirrored what we were doing at our campus was included in the bill.

And it seemed like it was probably going to be passed. And then, at the last minute, I’m not entirely sure how it happened but some pretty major mistakes were made. And some actual inaccuracies with regard to copyright law were introduced to the bill. The word or the wording open educational resources was removed from the bill.

And somehow a taskforce that was part of the bill that was tasked with assessing OER adoption for higher enrollment courses throughout the entire system, which was made up of the VCAAs from all our campuses. Had a textbook industry publisher added to the taskforce with no rationale, no reasoning, no real explanation. And then, at the end, the bill ended up not being scheduled for a hearing, and so it just sort of died quietly.

So, you can read the blog post and find out what happened there. To answer Cable’s question, I’m not sure who showed up, but I’m fairly certain that lobbyists from some publisher or a Peter somebody showed up, whispered in the ears of someone whose opinion matters, so the bill was really tweaked. So, maybe in the end having our statewide OER bill pass away quietly was the better way to do it.

So, we can have a better chance at a good OER bill later on. But, yeah, that’s the gist of it. I will say that locally at our campuses we were making progress in terms of campus specific policy. And our Leeward Community College had something going through faculty senate that had not yet been approved, but they were working on it, to reward or somehow incentivize faculty that work with OER.

Like I said, we have our grant program at our campus, things were moving along anyway. So, the idea of whether or not a statewide bill was needed for this to work, we don’t actually know if we need a statewide bill for it to work. Especially when you consider the funding amount, it was only $50,000 for the statewide grant program.

And when you compare that to other states, such as New York and Georgia that have had multimillion dollar investments, that’s probably more along the lines of what might help. But that’s the gist of it. I’ll end there, and I’ll hand it back over to Karen.

Karen: Thanks, Billy, and thank to all of our guests for sharing their range of stories. It’s really great to hear about what’s going on out there. So, this is the point where we turn it over to all of you. There are 55 people in this call, and I’m sure that many of you have questions, comments, your own experiences you’d like to share. So, it’s really your voices that we want to hear.

So, I’m going to pause and give people a chance to either write in the chat or turn on their microphone and get the conversation going with our guests. (Silence) Still holding the pause. (Laughs) All right. If that’s how it’s going to be, I will go back to Rebecca and ask you to explore something that you mentioned in your five-minute— We’ve gotten a chat, thank you, Matthew De Carlo is asking in Virginia we have a mandate to implement a plan for OER low cost textbooks.

What messaging has been effective to get administration buy in? And also, Cable is raising his hand. Super, so we’ll start with you, Matthew and then, go to Cable. Anyone have thoughts on Matthew’s question? And it doesn’t just have to be our guests, it could be others out there, who have experience.

Rebecca: From my experience the best way to get administrative buy in, is to get the students to talk to the administrators. That’s what really sparked it here, is the student government taking some concerns to the President about the cost of course materials in general.

Matthew: Cool, I guess how do you sort of walk the line of not trying to rabble rouse too much? Whilst still trying to get student buy in? I don’t know how to walk that line.

Billy: I’ll jump in, so it’s a very delicate thing you have to do. I’ve met with our student senate on my campus a number of times, at the beginning of the year I give them the OER pitch, the OER—Look at this awesome thing that we can do. And I ask them questions about how they deal with textbooks. And quite often they have a question for me, it is if they Google the name of their textbook and download the first PDF they find, is that okay?

And then when it’s like, “Woah, let’s step back and have a bigger conversation about this.” Our student senate actually drafted a senate resolution in support of OER a couple of years ago. And as all resolutions like that go, copies of it were sent to the university president, chancellor, faculty senate, all that. So, they know about it. I would say in terms of getting buy in from administrators, like any campus, our campus is driven by enrolment numbers and return on investment.

And so, if we can show, we have to demonstrate that numbers make sense, in terms of how much we can save students, especially when you consider that we have some courses that many, many students take. Not just at my campus, but throughout this system. And so, if we can replace a traditional textbook with an OER textbook, we’re talking about somewhere along the lines of $.025 million a year just for one big bio course.

And so, demonstrating those numbers to the administrators, when you’re trying to look at policy, that really helps, it’s really important. The innovation piece and all the neat things you can do with OER, once it’s open, that does appeal to them in some way, but it’s less concrete. So, we just have to turn to the numbers.

Matthew: Thanks.

Sunyeen: I think what happened with the University of Hawaii system, all the 10 campuses, is that a few of the student congresses spoke with some of our house representatives and that’s how it kind of kicked off. So, that was problematic. That was a good example of things getting out of hand. The other thing that I had heard was that two of the house representatives had attended an educational conference in continental US.

And were introduced to the concept of OER, and so they were really excited, and came back, met with students, we had representatives that visited all the 10 campuses. Talked to student representatives, got the idea that this had to be done, and then it just got out of hand.

Rebecca: Washington State also has throughout the state the student governments are lobbying the legislature pretty heavily to support and to pass some OER bills. And so, from the administrative perspective, as Billy said, they would rather that came internally. That we’re already addressing this, and we don’t need the legislator to create some sort of law that’s going to be difficult to comply with.

Billy: Yeah, I’ll also say that our university system is part of the state, and so, there is some tension between the state and the university. In terms of the state dictating how we do things, and so, that’s something to be mindful depending on what your campus or your institution is like, acknowledging that OER is not the only thing that everybody is working on. And so, making sure that everybody is on the same page and trying to get it to similar place to have the same direction that’s really important.

Sunyeen: We had to do a certain amount of damage control, because some of our faculty senates reacted pretty badly to the mandate.

Karen: Okay, we’ve got a lot of great conversation also happening in the chat, along with resources. Thank you, everyone for sharing your experience working with students, and then also with showing cost savings. I think I will turn things to Cable, who has his hand raised in the chat. Cable?

Cable: Yeah, a short comment. One of the strategies which has been quite successful in states in the United States, in provinces in Canada, in particular, have been to as a first step to have public information sessions, or hearings with the state legislature. And usually, that’s done off cycle, so it’s not when they’re busy and making bills and have all their meetings. But it’s done oftentimes over the summer, when it’s a little bit less stressful.

It’s not that they’re passing anything or you’re asking them to. It’s an awareness raising session or information session. And usually they’ll give you more time, so oftentimes you’ll get a half hour or a 45 minutes and then, if you’re lucky you can get meetings with the chairs after the fact. And to do those both with the higher ed committees and with the K12, or the primary and secondary education committees.

And that way, they tend, if you do that, they tend not to spiral into some of these crazy ideas like we’ve seen in particular states. And so, as a first step, to bring them up to speed, it also develops a relationship between the OER advocates and people who are really knowledgeable about open education and the legislature so when they have questions, they know who to go to.

And then, when you want something, or you want a grant program, or you want money, you’ve already brought them up to speed. So, when I used to work in the community colleges in Washington State, this is something that we did quite regularly. We’d go back annually and not only brief them about the new research and the new metrics that were coming out of our OER projects.

But would, if we wanted any legislation at that point, we’d already talked about it internally, as a community college system. We’ve worked with our student leadership to make sure we were in line with them. And then, we were on the same page as the academy before we ever took it to the legislature. And it takes a lot of work, but if you can kind of manage the relationship that way, in that sequence, it helps.

Karen: So, it looks like, I’m going through the chat here, so you guys please raise your hand, or turn on your mike if you want to stick to a particular topic. I’m just trying to cover everything, and there’s lots of great discussion happening here. Suny, you have a question, how the different policies handle copyright for faculty. That’s a question for our guests. Can you guys speak to that, please? How did the different policies handle copyright for faculty?

Billy: I’ll jump in real quick and just say that the original version of the statewide OER bill that we saw, it not only mandated the use of OER in all courses, but it also said that if OER weren’t available for certain courses, that faculty were required to create and release it as OER. So, in that sense they were going to be— the copyright decision was made for them, though. Something to keep in mind.

Rebecca: As we were working our policy through, that was one of the Attorney General really wanted WSU to hold the copyright and make it open. But not to use the creative commons licenses, and that was something that we had to argue against. So, our policy states that if the university is funding development of OER, that it will be licensed as CC By through Creative Commons.

Jessica: So, for our policy at State, we’re coming from a slightly different model, or background. In that, historically, our institution has a policy that says any materials created by employees are owned by the institution, which means that if a faculty member develops materials for their course, in the course of their daily work, the institution owns that curriculum material and the institution holds the copyright.

So, in our case, in the past, OER wasn’t a possibility, because the folks in our curriculum development group simply stated no. They weren’t going to allow it to be open, it was going to be a classic copyright applied. Our policy was basically, our institution saying that while they still retain the ownership of copyright, that control, they’re now going to grant the faculty the ability to make the decision to apply a CC BY.

Or other creative commons license, if there’s some reason that they can’t use CC BY rule, we’ll settle with them and help figure out the appropriate version. But that that’s now allowed by the institutional policy. So, we basically went from a culture of saying no, to a culture of saying yes, as an institution, and giving the faculty more freedom in making those decisions, as they see fit.

Sunyeen: For WSU, and Alberta, how much are you funding your faculty, are we talking $50,000? $20,000?

Jessica: Well, in Alberta and State, specifically, we don’t currently have a funding model outside of typical curriculum work. So, in other words, if it’s already in their job description to develop a new course, or if it’s something they’ve been assigned to do, then the OER work is seen to be simply part of the typical curriculum development process. There is discussion, I’m in discussion with our administration to do some micro grants.

And I’m guessing the budget would be like a $50,000 kind of a budget, if I can get that approved. But that hasn’t actually gone through, yet. I do know, though, other institutions, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, the larger research universities do have funding available. Though they’re all from in-house programs, so our provincial government, our federal government as far as I’m aware isn’t offering any kind of grant opportunities at this time.

Rebecca: We’ve had two different rounds of grants. One was the seed grants through the provost’s office. And both the provost and the president committed a certain amount of money, which we granted this last year. And we already had a precedent at WSU, we had one of our colleges that pays faculty $4,500 to create and develop a new online course. And $1,500 to revise an online course.

So, we kind of worked from there. We’re paying $4,500 if faculty are developing new OER, we’re paying between $1,500 and $2,500 if what they’re doing is adopting, revising. So, they have to submit a proposal that indicates how much work it’s going to be, and then it’s those three levels, basically.

Billy: I wanted to reach back to copyright for just a moment and emphasize how important it is to get that right from the beginning. I guess the bill for our statewide OER it originally had really good language in it, strong language that specified what OER are, public domain or CC license, or equivalent. But then, at the end, the final version of the bill that removed OER from the bill itself, it actually stated in the committee report that OER removed from the bill because OER are proprietary, which is on its face just it’s completely wrong.

I used to work for Creative Commons, Cable Green used to be my supervisor. And so, again, if you guys think that legislation, big legislation is going to be coming across or any kind of policy that has to do with OER, make sure strong, correct language about what OER are legally, is included. And make sure that doesn’t sway at all. And so, you can read the blogpost I linked earlier but basically my thought is if they are able to disqualify OER from the bill because of proprietary which is not correct.

Then when you look at proprietary publisher content, which is proprietary, that may be something that should be disqualified from consideration. Because it really is not going to have the long-lasting major impactful effects OER will, because OER are open forever, once they’re open.

Karen: Thanks, Billy. And Cable said in the chat that Creative Commons is always happy to help review and or help write open policy language and meet with lawyers as needed. So, they are wonderful resource you can turn to, definitely don’t have to go at it alone. There is some talk in the chat going back to students and student advocacy. Michelle, I would like to invite you to share your story that you mentioned in the chat and tell us a little bit more about the success you had with students there.

Michelle: Hello, can you hear me?

Karen: Yes.

Michelle: Yes, so last year it took a couple of tries, but well shortly after I started, I’ve been in my position for a little less than two years. I started contacting student government, trying to get people interested and involved. Took several times, but I eventually got through to the student body president, who worked very closely with me over the last year. We had lots of conversations about what OER is all about.

And she was just incredible and got a number of people on board. We had probably three or four student volunteers who assisted with open education week last year. So, they led outreach on that. They did some data collection, so they parked outside of the bookstore, at the beginning of the semester and collected some local information about how much students are paying for resources.

She’s also presented to the provost dean council, she’s done a Ted Talk on OER, and she just graduated, I said unfortunately in the chat, and then I felt really bad about that. It’s wonderful, we want them to graduate, but I miss her already. But the wonderful thing about that is she got another student from student government involved. She was a freshman last year, she was voted in as vice president this year, and is really eager to continue her work on OER.

So, we still have that connection. And I’m hoping that’s how we’ll see all of this play out as we move forward with people, as they roll off, getting new students involved. But there was a little bit of a— She was also involved in the access code situation. So, that’s not something that I had any input in, but students separately were complaining to the president, he has some informal meet and greet events with students.

And they took advantage of the opportunity to share their thoughts about access codes. And that led to an investigation. Our student body president got involved at that point, and just didn’t let it drop, especially knowing that there is an open solution. It really fueled her interest in this. And so, now we have what is called a moratorium, or what the provost has called a moratorium on access codes.

Which means that all of the courses that are currently using an access code have to investigate other options. And courses that do not currently use access codes will not be allowed to begin using access codes. So, that is recent developments over the last couple of months. It is going to significantly impact what our work looks like over the next year. But we’re still sorting that out.

All of this is happening while faculty are away over the summer. So, (laughs) they’re going to come back next month, and things are going to look a little different. So, stay tuned for that, I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, to be honest.

Karen: Well, please keep us updated, Michelle. And thanks for sharing your story. Talking about how this outstanding student it sounds like pass the baton as she graduated, leads me to Kristin Woodward’s question: are any of your student advocates interested in talking with students who are just becoming aware of OER advocacy?

And of course, there is the PIRGs but Kristin, when you made that comment, I actually pictured some awesome student national network. But tell us what it is you’re looking for, what you think would be helpful, maybe there are others out there, who feel the same or could offer a buddy.

Kristin: Did you unmute me, Karen?

Karen: You are unmuted, yes.

Kristin: Okay, very good. I hope I wasn’t typing too loudly (laughs). So, my recent experience is that our student government became interested in affordability, broadly. And they seem to be very focused on a traditional reserve library, even though their survey results pointed directly to the inconvenience of a traditional reserve library for our very diverse and distributed and online focused campus.

And one of the things that’s difficult is that when they hear from me, things that I think would work, and I’m glad to hear others saying that, there’s perhaps an order in which to do some education, before we lobby for policy either on campus, or in the state. Those are the kinds of experiences and shortcuts I would like them to know more about. When it comes from me it sounds like I’m telling them that I don’t want them to do this work.

When in fact, I just want them to do it with some wisdom behind it that makes good use of their time. So, I feel like that might be better coming from peers that have had some success with it. I don’t know how others feel about that, or about the feasibility of that? I know our students are very busy, just holding down the good work that they’re doing on their own campuses.

So, I think just like in life, the good students are often the ones asked to do a lot of different things. And so, this might be adding to their work, but if there were a way to maybe develop a forum for them of some kind, that might be, or to see if they’re interested in doing that. Interested in your thoughts, thank you.

Karen: Yeah, thanks, Kristin. I’m interested, too. Thoughts on Kristin’s comment? (Silence) Kristin, I think the thoughts are going to evolve over time. (Laughter)

Jessica: Yeah, this is Jessica. I wish I could offer more information on that, but unfortunately, being from a two-year organization our students rotate very quickly through their student government positions. And I’m just starting again this summer to have a conversation with our incoming officers.

While I have a couple that are very keen on the concept of OER, I’m in the same boat in terms of trying to figure out good onboarding procedures and good ways to help them shortcut the process of learning about it. And then, being able to affect the way, work with administration or lobby on students’ behalf and those kinds of things. So, I don’t know answers, I wish I did.

Karen: Thanks Jessica.

Kathy: This is Kathy Labadorf at the University of Connecticut. We have very, very active PIRG group as well as USG here at UConn. And Ethan Senack is one of our alums and Simona [Zemay 0:41:54] who’s doing PIRG nationally now as one of our people that was on our group when I started working at this. And what we did was the, what I was wondering last year, or actually, it was two years ago.

I know we’re focusing on getting faculty to know what OER are. Faculty do need to know, but my question was that do students know what OER is? And the issues surrounding OER? And so, our PIRG group did, they tabled across the campus in dining halls, in the student union and they had a survey. And over 900 students replied, actually did their survey. And they found out how much money they spent on their textbooks last year, what they know about it.

They had a lot of questions. And I have their report, I only have it as a Word doc, and not as a link. But I could put it up in my Google Drive, and then link to the Google Drive, I suppose, if you’d like to see their final report, which they made last March. They created it last March. So, this way, not only were they bringing the OER issue and making students know they were asking what other faculty do you have that try to make the course the least expensive as possible?

And I learned a lot more new names of faculty, who are really on OER side. And who are doing everything they can, that weren’t using OER, but they were actually the issue of saving the students money. So, you can find out a lot of information and again, here at UConn it really was a ground, from the ground up kind of. It started with the students. So, it started with the students who knew, the USG students and the PIRG students.

So, I think it’s really great to get students out there, who are really supportive of like the PIRG group, of OER and know a lot about it, talk with their students. So, does anyone want to see the final report from UConn?

Karen: Yeah, Kathy, that would be great!

Kathy: Okay.

Karen: In the chat.

Kathy: All right, I’ll figure out how to do that. Okay. Thanks.

Karen: Thank you, Kathy. And also, in the chat it looks like Kristin is being connected with other people who have some potential resources, whether it be students, or guides, or toolkits. Christina, you’ve been really active in the chat, do you want to talk a bit about student advocacy that your student governors worked on?

Christina: Sure, this was in British Columbia. I’m at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. And we’ve had varying levels of activist students over the years on OER. The toolkit that I put into the chat was created by some from about three years ago, I think. And then, we went for a year with not as active students. And then, last year we had pretty active students. And now, we’re waiting to see what the elections have brought us.

But, one of the things we found a few years ago was that students could get meetings with administrators that I, as a faculty member, I couldn’t just email the president and say, “Hey, let’s have a meeting.” But the student government could. Or provost’s office, or other kinds of senior administrators, so that was really useful. They seem to have a platform and a voice that’s a bit stronger in that regard, than faculty advocates or staff advocates or librarian advocates.

So, that’s been really great. One other thing they did was and Jenny Hayman was asking me about this in the chat, they talked to our committee who advises the president on promotion and tenure. And managed to get into a guide that committee creates for promotion and tenure some information about creation of OER. Now, this applies mostly to, we have two faculty streams, one is research and one is teaching.

And the teaching faculty stream has to do educational leadership to get promoted and to get tenure. And creating OER can count as educational leadership, because it’s basically producing something that has impact beyond your class. So, that now is, it’s not an official policy, it’s sort of a guideline of what can count. It’s not like a policy policy, it hasn’t been passed anywhere.

But that was a significant step for us in helping at least that track of faculty see that there’s some value in it. And they’ve also done a lot of work on somebody was describing standing outside the bookstore getting data on how much students are spending, doing a whole social media campaign, called Textbook Broke PC to try to raise awareness around other students. So, that’s just a couple of things that they have done.

Karen: Thanks Christina. Jonathan, you’ve also been offering some experiences, you had mentioned a survey in Colorado. And you had a couple of questions for Billy, are you willing to unmute?

Jonathan: Sure. Hi, I guess we did as part of a bill a year ago to get information from, some people have given examples of legislatures stumbling along the way. But we were lucky in Colorado, we had a bill that brought a group together to find information and make a careful, considered proposal, which was pretty directly turned into the bill that was passed earlier this year. And so, we’re going to get started implementing that in the next few weeks, actually.

But as part of the bill that set us up, we were supposed to survey current use. So, we did a great big survey and we had, I don’t remember the number, but it was thousands of respondents across the state. And we had parents and librarians and K through 12 and faculty, administrators and IT people on campuses. And the take away message from that was absolutely your librarians know what’s going on, talk to them.

And the faculty administrators don’t, so educate them, and certainly students and parents don’t. It was interesting, one thing I did I actually got the data and I disaggregated it a little bit and I found another question we asked is how important is textbook cost to you? And so, parents and students answered that and said, “Quite important.” And faculty and administrators all had, okay, we see it could be important, but not so important.

And I sort of disaggregated by tenured faculty and other groups [inaudible 0:49:23] and the resolution we had was tenured faculty and non-tenured. So, presumably, people who are adjuncts or lecturers who were also tenure track but hadn’t yet got tenure. So, I was viewing that as some sort of proxy for how old you are, or how long you’ve been in the business. And I found that the older faculty response on the question how important is textbook cost to you?

Was significantly lower than the other faculty group. So, clearly there’s a sort of age component to this, and it’s because we gray haired folk, when we were younger, textbooks were not proportionally as expensive as they are today. So, I think that’s an interesting lesson there to learn about, I don’t know how to make an action item out that, but it’s anyway. If you want our report, it’s if you search on the Colorado OER council it’s on the Colorado website. Or if you just Google my name, it’s on my page where I have all my shared resources.

Karen: Thanks, Jonathan. And was there something you wanted to ask Billy? I seem to recall seeing a question for him in the message?

Jonathan: Yeah, thank you. Billy, you were talking about how you feel like maybe you were blindsided by lobbyists speaking for commercial publisher interests. I was wondering does Hawaii have an in state public commercial publishing interest? ‘Cause that often if there’s a big corporation in a state, they can influence the legislators.

Or the alternative would be if there was no [inaudible 0:50:47] then maybe the commercial publishers are going across state lines, because they’re afraid that if this movement starts, even in states where they’re not registered, that this may take off and hit their bottom line in the long run.

Billy: Sure, that’s a great question. I’m not entirely sure that there is a publishing organization here, in Hawaii, that would have been listening in on this. I know it caught the attention of national groups that are, but their interest is in maintaining publishing revenues and that sort of thing. And so, if you read the spark that puts out the OER digest, they talk about the bills that come through, that kind of thing, our bill was mentioned in that several times.

And then, as it died quietly we stopped hearing about it. So, lots of people knew about it, the national association of college stores NACS, they knew about it early on. That’s actually who I found about out our bill from. Yeah, I’m not entirely sure what happened. I do know there was a conference that happened a week after one of the hearings in the bill. I know that Pearson and Cengage were both on island.

And they have one representative for the state, each of them do. And so, yeah, I’m not totally sure, but yeah, we were kind of blindsided. As Suny mentioned earlier, we are pretty sure, but not actually sure that our statewide group of student senators from all the campuses got together and talked to the senator that introduced the bill. But that wasn’t actually spoken, no one ever said that that had happened.

We were pretty sure it did, but we’re not totally sure. But yeah, again, so in the original language of the bill they actually had copied and pasted text from our OER website into the bill. So, they know, they’re aware of us. And the committee, in the hearings they talked about the UH OER team as something more of a formalized group. We are more of an informal group.

But we’re a network from throughout the state. But there was a little confusion about what we’re doing, and what was going to be effective. And so, if they had just come and talked to us, and maybe if I’m not sure if publishers were involved at the end there. But if they were, it would have been great to at least know about it. But as legislation goes, even as a bill goes through all the hearings, passes the house, crosses between the houses and is passed.

There’s even a final moment where in the closed-door committee the bill can change before it’s sent to be signed off into law. So, we tried our best to pay attention to it, but to get back to your original question, I don’t actually know that there’s a group in Hawaii that would have been lobbying on behalf of publishers.

Jonathan: Actually, in Colorado, when we had our meetings a year ago to prepare our proposal, one day and they’re open by Colorado law, these are open public meetings. And one day, there was a person sitting in the back, and we found out this was an Elsevier representative. So, and certainly Elsevier does not have a corporate headquarters in Colorado. So, clearly, they’re aware of these things.

But they then stopped coming and I went to all of the hearings at the budget committee in the legislature, and it was very— it sailed through with very little attention on it. So, unfortunately you got too much attention, so that’s why they went after you, I guess.

Sunyeen: The conference, that I have to go, soon. I’m sorry, that Billy was referring to is a conference held by all the community colleges across the state. And Cengage had a huge presence there. They bought all the swag, basically. And they also ran a workshop about their access products. But it’s only community colleges at that point. They’ve been tracking our statewide committee conferences. We’ve been presenting about OER for the last four years.

And we constantly have been noticing Pearson and Cengage representatives coming to the conference. So, they’re watching us very closely. So, we’ve just been managing that relationship.

Karen: Thank you, all. We’re rounding close to the hour here. And I think we have time for another question. I just wanted to call everyone’s attention to Jenny’s helpful note, which pretty much read my mind. Which was how are we going to save all these links in the chat? So, you can do so personally, and we also are going to do so collectively for the group. But you can click on the save chat feature in Zoom, in that little grey more button so that you’re not manically copying and pasting links from the chat so that you don’t forget them.

So, that’s a good feature. Liz, I saw you had a question about bookstores, has that been answered? Do you want to pose that to the guests, if not?

Liz: Karen, I think Ed and Michelle provided some really great resources. My question was around the limitations in some of the student systems and actually seeing that an OER was used for a course. But, in the chat there’s some great links from Michelle and Ed. Thank you.

Karen: Super, thanks. Any other questions you guys want to squeeze in, before we say farewell? There maybe things that I’ve missed in the chat. It’s been a wide ranging, very rich conversation. And may indicate we should revisit. Final thoughts from our guests, as we wrap up. Of course, many thanks to the three of you. Any closing thoughts based on our time together today?

Michelle: I had just a quick note on policy in Texas last year, and this is why we have all of the work around OER course markings. But last year, this state passed a bill and it required course markings, it established a grant program and called for a feasibility study for a repository. The call for proposals just came out on the grant program. And they are requiring either that resources developed are placed into the public domain or licensed CC BY SA and C.

Which is so bizarre to me, there is an option in there for people to request a different license in the project narrative when they apply. But it’s not the default, so I was really initially very thankful that I wasn’t tasked to be on this working group. But now, I’m like, “Oh, but they needed some help.” ‘Cause I don’t know how this licensing requirement came to be.

So, that’s just a note that some strange things are happening in Texas. And if you have a chance to involve yourself in what those grant programs look like early on, maybe you should try to do that.

Karen: Thanks, Michelle. And also, I see Matthew’s question. Anyone worked with their discipline’s accrediting body on OER? Have any of our three guests, or anyone else on the call? I see heads shaking no.

Jessica: Not at State, no.

Billy: No, I haven’t. I’d say that in terms of tenure and promotion, it’s up to the individual departments within the colleges within our university to do that. And so, we have a couple of different departments that have in their guidelines, which are not policy, stated general support for OER. And they may look at a candidate who’s going up for tenure promotion more positively if they’ve been doing those kinds of activities with OER. But it’s really sort of it’s all over the place. And not every department has adopted any kind of language like that.

Karen: Okay, thanks, Billy. And thank you Rebecca Van de Vord, at Washington State University, thank you Jessica Norman at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. And thank you, Billy Meinke at University of Hawaii. And thank you to everyone who joined us today. Another great conversation and we look forward to more in the coming months. Until then, I hope you have a great rest of the week.

Chat Transcript

14:01:39 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks everyone for joining us!

14:06:01 From Kathy Labadorf : Anyone else getting a lot of feedback?

14:06:12 From Kim : I’m not.

14:06:18 From Christina Hendricks : no, seems okay here

14:06:27 From RadioFreeTerry : OK on my end

14:06:34 From Kathy Labadorf : Restarting.

14:06:43 From Apurva Ashok : Sorry to those who are – we’re a pretty large group today, which might be why! Please restart and let us know if that helps.

14:07:16 From Cable Green (CC) : OER Policy Development Tool: Developed by Amanda Coolidge & Daniel DeMarte as their CC Institute for Open Leadership project:

14:07:33 From Karen Lauritsen : Thanks, Cable

14:07:46 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks Cable. Very neat and useful tool!

14:13:18 From Apurva Ashok : Here’s a link to WSU’s policy for those interested:

14:14:43 From Apurva Ashok : And SAIT’s full policy (in PDF format):

14:15:06 From Jenni Hayman : Thanks Apurva, good links!

14:15:54 From Billy Meinke :

14:18:38 From Cable Green (CC) : Did AAP and Elsevier show up? Sounds like their lobbying work.

14:20:01 From Amy Hofer : wowza, that’s quite a journey. I agree that no legislation is preferable to poor legislation.

14:21:13 From Matthew DeCarlo : in Virginia, we have a mandate to implement a plan for OER/low-cost textbooks. What messaging has been effective to get administrato buy-in?

14:21:14 From Cable Green (CC) : hand

14:21:57 From Sunyeen Pai : How do the different policies handle copyright for the faculty?

14:22:06 From Ed Beck :

14:22:19 From Christina Hendricks : getting students involved has worked well at university of british columbia as well.

14:22:25 From Ed Beck : I went to David Wiley’s talk at the NE OER Summit, and he shared this dashboard. In the link above

14:22:25 From Jonathan Poritz : but isn’t student involvement a bit of a mixed bag for the faculty?

14:22:41 From Ed Beck : It shows the financial impact for OER on the bottom line.

14:22:43 From Amy Hofer : With input from various groups in Oregon I started a policy brainstorm page this spring. Note that this is in the context of Oregon, where we already have a course designation mandate for example…

14:23:31 From Kim : Thanks for this, Amy. Very helpful.

14:23:56 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks @Ed, and @Christina, really good to know. If time permits, we’d love to hear more from you both.

14:24:03 From Jenni Hayman : Ontario University Students (OUSA) policy paper that was shared with government…

14:24:05 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks @Amy!

14:26:03 From Michelle Reed : Students have been successful on our campus, too, getting admin’s attention. This was unrelated to OER advocacy but has a huge impact on our work. The students got the President’s attention by complaining about access codes, which he was unaware of. A scan, which demonstrated widespread use, resulted in a “moratorium” on access codes.

14:27:05 From Kathy Labadorf : There are quite a few schools that have an Open Access Policy for Faculty. Has anyone developed and had approved by the Faculty Senate an OER Policy of any kind?

14:27:23 From Amy Hofer : @ Michelle the Oregon Student Association has been amazing in advocating to state gov’t. Also resulting in super knowledgeable students who can mentor other students.

14:27:41 From Jenni Hayman : Christina, is the UBC policy just about tenure or is it more comprehensive?

14:27:55 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks Michelle.Really amazing to hear

14:28:24 From Apurva Ashok : Rebecca says: The WSU policy was approved by Faculty Senate!

14:28:54 From Matthew DeCarlo : thanks, everyone!!

14:29:15 From Jonathan Poritz : billy: is there a local commercial textbook publishing industry in Hawaii? Or are publishers from other states moving across state boundaries to speak out in other states (like yours) out of fear that the OER movement will build large-scale momentum?

14:29:39 From Christina Hendricks : @jenni We don’t really have any official policy—it’s a bit complex. What we have is that faculty in the teaching stream can use OER creation as an example of one part of their job—educational leadership—for promotion and tenure. But it’s just in a guide that doesn’t have a full official status. And it’s just one way faculty in that stream can show educational leadership. We have no other OER policy-like things.

14:30:20 From Jenni Hayman : Thanks Christina, good clarification, but still a good guideline!

14:30:24 From Cable Green (CC) : Nice – well done.

14:30:56 From Michelle Reed : We had an incredible student body president last year (unfortunately, she graduated this spring), and we worked together a lot on OER advocacy. She’s was involved with statewide efforts, presented to the Provost and Deans, and presented a TEDX talk on OER. She also got another student from gov involved, and this student will be VP this year.

14:34:24 From Apurva Ashok : Wow, how incredible! Kudos to her, and congratulations on graduating! Really exciting to see students inspiring one another, as well as others!

14:34:42 From Kristin Woodward : Are any of your student advocates interested in talking with students who are just becoming aware of OER advocacy?

14:35:11 From Cable Green (CC) : Creative Commons is always happy to help review and/or help write open policy language … and meet with the lawyers as needed.

14:35:24 From Apurva Ashok : For those who don’t want to scroll through this fairly long chat, here’s the blog post Billy mentioned:

14:35:30 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks Cable!!

14:37:35 From Kathy Labadorf : Your PIRG group is another fantastic activist group for OER.

14:38:32 From Cable Green (CC) : OER Policy Brief (for policy makers) we wrote for Commonwealth National Governments.. feel free to revise / remix:

14:40:20 From Preston : I’d love to hear more about the moratorium on access codes and what long-term effects come from it.

14:40:39 From Cable Green (CC) : FAQ: OER for Policymakers:

14:41:06 From Matthew DeCarlo : Has anyone had any experience working with your discipline’s accrediting body (in social work it’s the council on social work education) to create policies around OER?

14:42:38 From Christina Hendricks : There are some student government organizations nationally, right? In British Columbia and in Canada I think there is, and I hear that sometimes there are discussions amongst students about OER at those meetings.

14:42:56 From Kristin Woodward : Thanks!

14:42:57 From Christina Hendricks : If anyone wants to connect with me offline I can ask our students to see if they’d be interested in talking to other students.

14:43:28 From RadioFreeTerry : It sounds like there might be a need for some standing resources for student/student-government “onboarding” around OER use, policy, and advocacy.

14:43:34 From Apurva Ashok : Cable, thank you for these wonderful resources. We’ll be sure to compile all these links and share along with the recording. @Christina, I think there are, at least here in Quebec too! Thanks for your offer too.

14:43:35 From Michelle Reed : Kristin: If you want to email me I can check in with our VP to see if she is interested.

14:43:39 From Kristin Woodward : Thank you, Christina!

14:43:48 From Kristin Woodward : And Michelle!

14:44:27 From Jenni Hayman : At eCampusOntario we’re hosting the new incoming leaders from various Ontario college and university institutions to a one-day workshop (led by near peers) to learn more about OER.

14:44:28 From Christina Hendricks : Here’s a student advocacy toolkit that some of our student governors in the past worked on:

14:44:46 From Jenni Hayman : Student leaders I mean.

14:44:47 From Michelle Reed : Preston, I’d be happy to share more as things unfold. It’s messy, at best, right now.

14:44:55 From Kim : I would like to see your document, please.

14:45:04 From Jonathan Poritz : we did a survey in Colorado of OER knowledge among many stakeholder groups, and basically only librarians — not faculty or students or administrators — had much knowledge at all. the report is online, if you’re interested

14:45:36 From Cable Green (CC) : Billy has done some really nice work re: student data and commercial publishers and platforms. Billy – could you talk about why student data privacy matters … and what we could do with policy to ensure student data is protected?

14:45:51 From RadioFreeTerry : @christina that student toolkit looks amazing!

14:46:07 From Lauri Aesoph : We invite Student Advocates to email BCcampus for materials:

14:46:19 From Michelle Reed : This is our guide for students who want to get involved:

14:46:35 From Sunyeen Pai : Leeward Community College ran a student survey with a very high response rate. I can check with them about sharing.

14:46:47 From Billy Meinke : Awesome guide, Michelle.

14:47:06 From Kristin Woodward : Thank you, Michelle!

14:47:13 From RadioFreeTerry : +1

14:47:33 From Michelle Reed : Thanks! Portions based on work from the incredible Brady Yano:

14:48:41 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks Lauri, Michelle, Sunyeen, Terry, Cable, and Jenni! Lots of amazing resources being shared.

14:48:49 From elizabethmays : Re. the bookstore. I’m curious if anyone’s OER policies have any mandates for the bookstore or whatever other department operates the platform on which course textbooks are listed for students. To make it easy to surface once a faculty does adopt or create an OER to use in their course. Particularly if university resources were used.

14:50:24 From Amy Hofer : Recent report from University of Oregon masters students indicates that students want to know about no/low cost course materials everywhere they search (registration, bookstore, etc…)

14:50:34 From Jenni Hayman : CCCOER and many in the community college system have stories about marking course catalogues with OER, yes? @Una?

14:50:43 From Kim : This is a survey one of our student leaders conducted with SGA just last year. STudents came to College Senate and presented.

14:51:32 From Ed Beck : SUNY has started marking our registration systems so students know when they register.

14:52:11 From RadioFreeTerry : @Jonathan is this the report you were talking about?

14:52:34 From elizabethmays : Ed, Do you know what mechanism or system they’re using to do this? I’d like to advocate for this…

14:52:34 From Apurva Ashok : @Ed, WSU is also working on this

14:52:50 From Kathy Labadorf : Here is the UConn PIRG report link. I hope it works.

14:53:15 From Jenni Hayman : There are certainly sales teams from publishers employed in most states.

14:53:15 From Apurva Ashok : Works perfectly, thank you!

14:53:17 From Kim : Got it. Thanks!

14:53:22 From Michelle Reed : Regarding course markings, I’m leading a project to develop a resource on this. Check it out!

14:53:26 From Kathy Labadorf : Wonderful

14:54:12 From Ed Beck : It differs from campus to campus… It had to be coded into our SIS first, and then it had to be coded into the registration software

14:54:37 From elizabethmays : Thanks Ed and Michelle!

14:54:39 From Ed Beck : So they made the attribute in Banner, and then made that show up in the student registration views

14:54:40 From Michelle Reed : The first iteration is here: It includes a link to a survey managed by OpenStax, which is an incredibly valuable way to see what is happening on this front at other campuses.

14:54:40 From Jenni Hayman : Not sure if everyone knows about the “Save Chat” feature in Zoom, but if you click on the “More” pulldown menu, you can save the chat to your desktop. Handy for grabbing links and resources!

14:55:16 From Kathy Labadorf : Great tip! Thanks

14:55:46 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks Jenni! Given the wonderful conversation in the chat, we will likely make it available along with the recap.

14:56:03 From Jenni Hayman : Super!

14:56:31 From Sunyeen Pai : Have to leave now!! thank you!!

14:56:39 From Apurva Ashok : Bye Sunyeen! Thank you!

14:57:24 From Marilyn Billings : Thanks everyone. Excellent conversation!

14:57:27 From Michelle Reed : I can share something. Not question.

14:57:34 From archives : Very informative. Thank you!

14:57:35 From Matthew DeCarlo : anyone worked with their discpilne’s accrediting body on OER?

14:57:37 From Una Daly, CCCOER-OEC : Thanks everyone, very helpful for outreach to students!!

14:57:47 From margaretkeller : Thanks. This has been very informative.

14:57:49 From Michelle Beechey : Thanks for sharing all the great info!

14:57:49 From Kristin Woodward : Thanks everyone!

14:57:52 From Apurva Ashok : Thank you all!

14:57:55 From jpavy : Thanks so much!!

14:58:00 From Sharon : Thank you!

14:58:04 From Mike Welker (NC State College) : good stuff — thanks all!

14:58:04 From Jenni Hayman : Thanks everyone!

14:58:04 From Lauren Ray : Thanks very much! This has been very useful!

14:58:25 From Chris Rudecoff : Thanks to all!

14:58:38 From Cable Green (CC) : CC has been working with Texas … it’s been really hard 😉

14:59:06 From Matthew DeCarlo : well. dang 🙁

14:59:07 From Michelle Reed : Alas. It’s Texas.

14:59:48 From Jonathan Poritz : Thanks: great guests, wonderful conversation!

14:59:51 From Matthew DeCarlo : you all are amazing!!!

14:59:51 From Jenni Hayman : Or even professional accrediting bodies such as Engineering, etc. Good question Matthew.

14:59:54 From Amy Hofer : Thank you, great topic!

14:59:54 From Apurva Ashok : Thank you all so much!

14:59:58 From Cable Green (CC) : Great speakers!

15:00:02 From Kathy Labadorf : Thank you!

15:00:04 From Kim : Thank you all so much!!

15:00:06 From Michelle Reed : Thanks everyone!

15:00:07 From RadioFreeTerry : Thanks everyone!

Blueprint for Success Open Textbooks: Now Available for Adoption!

Blueprint for Success in College and Career is a student’s guide for classroom and career success. Curated, co-authored, and edited by Dave Dillon, this set of OER is helpful for students embarking on their college journey. Take a look at the book online, download it in multiple formats, or keep reading to learn more!

Rebus Community is very pleased to announce that the Blueprint for Success series is now available for adoption and use in classrooms! The series comprises three books for the College Success and FYE (First-Year Experience) genre. The central text, Blueprint for Success in College and Career, is designed to show how to be successful in college and in career preparation, and focuses on study skills, time management, career exploration, health, and financial literacy. In addition, targeted sections on Study Skills and Time Management, and Career and Decision Making are available separately as Blueprint for Success in College: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies, and Blueprint for Success in Career Decision Making.

Blueprint for Success in College and Career CoverEach book has been carefully curated, co-authored, and edited by Dave Dillon and peer-reviewed by subject experts at institutions across North America. The books are available in multiple formats including web, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and editable formats such as XHTML, WXR, XML, and ODT. The series contains adapted sections from Foundations of Academic Success, A Different Road to College: A Guide for Transitioning Non-traditional Students, How to Learn Like a Pro!, and College Success, and covers a range of topics including college level critical thinking and reading, test taking strategies, health, finances and resources, social interaction and diversity, and more.

If you’re interested in adopting the series, or books in the series, please let us know on the project homepage!

Dave began working on this book as early as 2009, as his work as a counsellor and instructor showed a clear need for a comprehensive set of resources to help students in their college journey. He explains, “Many students do not learn how to study effectively and efficiently or how to manage their time. Others aren’t certain what to choose for their major or their career. And some are lost trying to navigate through the maze and culture of college, often balancing their school workload while working and taking care of family responsibilities. Students are sometimes unsuccessful when they begin college—not for lack of motivation or hard work, but because they did not acquire the skills or information necessary to allow them to succeed.” With this series, Dave hopes that students will be able to obtain the information and skills they need to confidently maneuver through classes and college. He hopes that the tone of the book will resonate with students, as sought to create a College Success textbook that genuinely read as people having a conversation together — as though it was talking with students rather than at students.

Dave Dillon Headshot

Dave Dillon, Counsellor/Professor, Grossmont College and Chair of the OER Task Force (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges

It was especially important for Dave that this series was published with an open license. He describes how he stumbled across OER and made the decision to commit to publishing the series with a CC BY license: “Despite my interest in keeping the price of textbooks low, I found that the cost was still prohibitive for many students and as I began to research textbook affordability solutions, I found OER (Open Educational Resources)….There are many reasons for why this series is an Open Educational Resource, including but not limited to textbook affordability, access, empathy, openness, inclusion, diversity, and equity. I want students to be able to have access to the textbook on day one and after the course ends, not have to choose between buying food and purchasing the text, and not have to worry about a lost, stolen, or expired digital access code.”

The Rebus Community worked with Dave throughout the writing process, advising on formatting, licensing, images, and other questions that arose. We also recruited reviewers and coordinated the peer review process for the book, and were fortunate to find a wonderful group of reviewers who generously shared their expertise. Rebus also helped recruit volunteers to prepare a glossary of terms for the book, and assisted Dave in formatting, running accessibility checks, and other final stages of publishing.

We are very excited to be celebrating the release of this series! Dave has worked tirelessly to ensure that the series is a comprehensive and valuable resource for students, and we couldn’t be prouder of both him and the books. If you’re interested in adopting any of the Blueprint for Success in College texts, please let us know in Rebus Projects.

Dave and other faculty at Grossmont College are working to develop openly licensed ancillary materials to accompany the books. These include multiple choice quiz questions, developed by Dave, and powerpoint slides, created by Rocio Terry. Janice Johnson has implemented content from the Study Skills and Time Management book into Canvas, which is a great way for like-minded instructors to adopt the text. We’ll share these ancillaries as they are completed, so stay tuned!

We would also love to hear from anyone interested in collaborating on ancillary development or who might be adapting this resource to better fit their needs. You can always reach us via the project homepage or email us at

El primero (y segundo) de Rebus: ¡Dos nuevos proyectos de traducción español/inglés!

Los más recientes proyectos de la Rebus Community están concentrados en la traducción y adaptación local, y son liderados por la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, en Chile. ¡Son los primeros en ser lanzados en nuestra nueva plataforma, Rebus Projects! Dales un vistazo a los proyectos en la plataforma, o sigue leyendo para informarte más.

La Rebus Community se complace de anunciar su primer grupo de proyectos de traducción; una traducción del inglés al español del Digital Citizenship Toolkit (Kit de herramientas para la ciudadanía digital) respaldado por Rebus, y una traducción del español al inglés de un informe llamado Desafíos de la Formación Ciudadana en la era Digital (Challenges for Citizenship Education in the Digital Age). Ambos proyectos son liderados por Werner Westermann, jefe del Programa de Formación Cívica de la Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, en colaboración con la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV). Werner es un miembro activo de la comunidad de Educación Abierta quien ha estado abogando por la política REA y usando la Alianza para el Gobierno Abierto para producir y ofrecer REA relacionados con la educación ciudadana en Chile, y más allá.

El poder de los REA es evidente en la manera como estos proyectos cobran vida: Werner estaba leyendo el boletín semanal de la Rebus Community, cuando vio un anuncio acerca del proyecto Digital CitizenshipToolkit (Kit de herramientas para la ciudadanía digital). Ese mismo día, se puso en contacto con Rebus diciendo que le encantaría trabajar en la traducción de este kit de herramientas al español, para ser usado en las aulas de la PUCV. El kit de herramientas es un proyecto de libro de texto abierto liderado por Ann Ludbrook y Michelle Schwartz en la Ryerson University. El libro está dirigido a ayudar a los estudiantes a desarrollar una lente crítica de un nivel más alto con la cual navegar el ámbito digital, y más adelante estará acompañado de un libro de texto para el profesorado. En este punto, Werner también compartió que le entusiasmaba traducir Desafíos de la Formación Ciudadana en la era Digital, un informe sobre educación ciudadana, del español al inglés. Este proyecto plantea una maravillosa respuesta al proyecto de traducción del libro de texto abierto del inglés al español.

Trabajaremos con estudiantes del último año de traducción en la PUCV para traducir el Digital Citizenship Toolkit al español y el informe de educación ciudadana al inglés. Los estudiantes también adaptarán localmente el contenido del libro, con contenido específico relacionado con Chile y su contexto. Este trabajo está siendo respaldado por una subvención de la Embajada de EE. UU. en Santiago, Chile, y busca poner a prueba una infraestructura y marco metodológico para crear y publicar libros de texto abiertos.

Estos proyectos tienen otra faceta peculiar: encajan con el Objetivo número 4 de Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas: Educación de calidad. El propósito 4.7 de este objetivo está relacionado específicamente con metas de educación cívica y ciudadana: “Para 2030, asegurar que todos los aprendices adquieran el conocimiento y las habilidades necesarias para promover el desarrollo sostenible, incluso, entre otros, a través de la educación para el desarrollo sostenible y estilo de vida sostenible, derechos humanos, equidad de género, promoción de la cultura de paz y no violencia, la ciudadanía global y la apreciación de la diversidad cultural y de la contribución de la cultura al desarrollo sostenible” 

Con vista al futuro, Werner dice: “Sueño con educar ciudadanos empoderados que buscan influencia pública e intervención para hacer un mundo mejor por medio del fortalecimiento de la democracia”. Nos entusiasma ayudarlo a acercarse a este sueño con estos dos proyectos de traducción.

Si estás interesado en informarte más acerca de estos proyectos, o si deseas participar de cualquier manera, por favor ¡únete a ambos proyectos en nuestra nueva plataforma!

A Rebus First (and Second): Two New Spanish/English Translation Projects!

Rebus Community’s newest projects are focused on translation and localization, and are led by the Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile. They are the first launched in our new platform, Rebus Projects! Take a look at the projects on the platform, or keep reading to learn more.

The Rebus Community is excited to announce its first set of translation projects – an English to Spanish translation of the Rebus-supported Digital Citizenship Toolkit and a Spanish to English translation of a report called Desafíos de la Formación Ciudadana en la era Digital (Challenges for Citizenship Education in the Digital Age). Both projects are lead by Werner Westermann, Head of the Civic Training Program at the Library of the National Congress of Chile, in partnership with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV). Werner is an active member of the Open Education community who has been advocating for OER Policy and using the Open Government Partnership to produce and deliver OER related to citizenship education in Chile, and beyond.

The power of OER is evident in how these projects came to life: Werner was reading through the Rebus Community’s weekly newsletter, when he spotted an announcement about the Digital Citizenship Toolkit project. That very day, he contacted Rebus saying that he would love to work on translating this toolkit into Spanish, for use in classrooms at PUCV. The toolkit is an open textbook project lead by Ann Ludbrook and Michelle Schwartz at Ryerson University. The book aims to help students develop a higher-level critical lens in which to navigate the digital realm, and will later be accompanied by a faculty handbook. At this point, Werner also shared that he was keen to translate Desafíos de la Formación Ciudadana en la era Digital, a report on Citizenship Education, from Spanish to English. This project poses a wonderful counter to the open textbook translation project from English to Spanish.

We will work with senior translation students at PUCV to translate the Digital Citizenship Toolkit into Spanish and the Citizenship Education report into English. Students will also work to localize the content in the book, with specific content related to Chile and its context. This work is being supported by a grant from the US Embassy in Santiago, Chile, which seeks to test an infrastructure and methodology framework for creating and publishing Open Textbooks.

These projects have another unique aspect: they fit in with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 4 — Quality Education / Educación de Calidad. Target 4.7 of this goal is specifically related to civic and citizenship education objectives: “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”

Looking to the future, Werner says, “I dream of educating empowered citizens that look for public incidence and agency to make a better world through strengthening democracy.” We’re excited to help him get closer to this dream with these two translation projects.

If you’re interested in learning more about these projects, or if you’d like to participate in any way, please join both projects in our new platform!