Three open textbooks published

As noted in some earlier blog posts, I am the series editor for a series of nine open textbooks designed for Introduction to Philosophy courses. I already announced the publication on this blog of the first book in the series, Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind (published in September 2019).

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics, Edited by George Matthews, and featuring a painting of two girls sitting side by side on a beach with a boat in the background

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

I forgot to announce the second book, Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics, which was published in December 2019. This book was edited by George Matthews, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, USA. It has chapters on, among other things, ethical relativism, virtue ethics, utilitarianism, Kantianism, feminist ethics.

Here is the book description:

We often make judgments about good and bad, right and wrong. Philosophical ethics is the critical examination of these and other concepts central to how we evaluate our own and each others’ behavior and choices.

This text examines some of the main threads of discussion on these topics that have developed over the last couple of millenia, mostly within the Western cultural tradition. It considers basic questions about moral and ethical judgment: Is there such a thing as something that is really right or really wrong independent of time, place and perspective? What is the relationship between religion and ethics? How can we reconcile self-interest and ethics? Is it ever acceptable to harm one person in order to help others? What do recent discussions in evolutionary biology or have to say about human moral systems? What is the relation between gender and ethics? The authors invite you to participate in their exploration of these and many other questions in philosophical ethics.

And now there are two more books in the series!

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy: Logic, Edited by Benjamin Martin, with a painting of a person holding cards in their hand

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Logic. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

Introduction to Philosophy: Logic was published in November 2020. It is edited by Benjamin Martin, University of Bergen, Norway. This is a short book designed not for a full course in logic, but rather to introduce some basic elements of logic in a course that is focused on introductory-level philosophy. It has chapters on, among others, evaluating arguments, informal fallacies, and formal logic.

The logic book took quite awhile as I learned how to use LaTeX to do symbolic logic characters and formulas in a way that would look decent in the book and also be as accessible as possible (b/c Pressbooks uses MathJax to render LaTeX). I also played around a lot trying to figure out how to get the arguments in standard form to be both as accessible as possible and look okay with a line between the premises and conclusion. I wrote a bit about some of the things I was learning while working on this book in a blog post from January 2020. Things were moving along pretty well in February 2020 and then … COVID-19 and my workload (along with that of many other people at the university) skyrocketed.

I used to work on this book series late at night and on weekends, and suddenly I needed all of that time on my regular job, just have some semblance of being only somewhat behind in my work (never fully caught up). I was utterly exhausted for about 8 months, with little in the way of breaks. Being Academic Director of a Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology at a university that suddenly turns from a mostly in-person teaching and learning context to mostly online, with all the attendant issues that causes in multiple systems and processes that weren’t designed for this switch, turns out to be huge amount of work. It still is, as it seems each month brings an unexpected challenge. But I am managing to find about 4-5 hours a week to work on this project now at least, which I wasn’t before.

So I’m excited that any book got published at all in 2020, and we managed two!

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy of Religion, edited by Beau Branson, with a painting of a woman praying

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion was published in December 2020. It is edited by Beau Branson, Brescia University, Kentucky, USA. It is also a concise book, with six chapters focused on arguments for and against the existence of God as well as a concluding chapter questioning the focus on monotheism in current philosophy of religion.

Here is the book description:

Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion introduces students to some of the major traditional arguments for and against the existence of God. It also includes discussions of some less well-known, but thought-provoking arguments for the existence of God, and one of the most important new challenges to religious belief from the Cognitive Science of Religion. An introductory chapter traces the deep interconnections between philosophy and religion throughout Western history, and a final chapter considers what place there is for non-Western and non-monotheistic religions within contemporary philosophy of religion.

Whatever your religious beliefs—or lack of beliefs—we think you will find many of the arguments in this book fascinating to think about, and useful starting points for deeper philosophical discussions.

 

In other news regarding books in this series, the Aesthetics book has gone through peer review and I have recently finished reading the chapters as well, and the Epistemology book has gone through peer review and I am currently reading those chapters as series editor. Metaphysics is next up for peer review, and Philosophy of Science is still seeking authors. Finally, we have a new editor for Social and Political Philosophy, and a new outline of chapters will be announced soon and we’ll be seeking authors for that one too!

OER and OEP at Open Art Histories

In January of 2020 I gave a presentation talking about the basics of open educational resources, open educational practice, and open pedagogy: “It’s not just about the money: Open educational resources and practices” (downloadable and editable slides).

This was for an event called “Open Art Histories” at Langara College in Vancouver, BC.

 

 

Four presentations on OER in 2019

I have been trying to make a habit of keeping track of all my presentations here on this blog, but sometimes I get behind. Here are four I did on OER in 2019 that aren’t yet on this blog.

I was invited to speak at an Open Education Week event at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in February of 2019: Open Educational Practices: What, Why and How (downloadable and editable slides).

 

Then in May of 2019 I was invited to speak to the British Columbia Philosophy Articulation Committee meeting on OER: “OER in Philosophy” (downloadable and editable slides).

 

In September of 2019 I was invited to speak at an event on open pedagogy at Langara College: “Open Educational Practices: What, Why and How” (downloadable and editable slides).

 

In November of 2019 I was invited to give a keynote talk on OER at an event called “Bridging Open Education and Faculty Development” at the Justice Institute of British Columbia: “Getting Started with OER: What, Why, and Some Mythbusting” (downloadable and editable slides).

Some things I’m learning about accessibility & open textbooks

Screen shot of the Introduction to Philosophy open textbook series project page at the Rebus Community.

 

I am editing a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses, working with The Rebus Community. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about book publishing, including how to make books as accessible as possible. I’ve been using the BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit as well as other resources, plus lots of conversations on the Rebus Community discussion threads for the books. In this post I want to review a few of the things I’ve learned.

I want to say a huge thank you at the outset to Apurva Ashok, Baldur Bjarnason, Amanda Wentworth, and Peter Krautzberger, all of whom I have learned a lot from and whose ideas and advice are reflected in what follows. And I want to also say that this is really one of the many benefits of working with the Rebus Community–it is indeed a community of many folks helping each other!

Note: the books are all on the Pressbooks platform, so some of what I’ll talk about may be specific to Pressbooks.

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Intro to Philosophy open textbook series featured in Rebus Community Reports

Cover of Rebus Community Reports, by Donna Langille. Image licensed CC BY 4.0

 

As discussed here on this blog before, I am the series editor for a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses that are in progress with the support of The Rebus Community.

This project has been featured in Rebus Community Reports, a series of narratives about creating open textbooks, by people who are working with Rebus Community. I was interviewed by Donna Langille for this resource, and she did an excellent job of writing up our project!

An excerpt:

Having been advocating for OER in a broad sense, Christina received a fellowship with BCcampus, to work on advocacy and research on open textbooks. It led her to see the value in the way that OER authors can mix and match together different pieces of content—one chapter from here, another from there. It provides the flexibility to create a custom textbook, but without having to reinvent the wheel at every step.

Around that time, Christina met Rebus’s Hugh McGuire, who told her about the community publishing initiative that they were about to launch. Would she be interested in leading one of the selected pilot projects? … And thus, in early 2017, the Introduction to Philosophy project was born.

It’s been over two years (and counting!) but we’re still going strong and the results of the labours of many, many volunteers on this project are finally emerging! One of the books in the series, Philosophy of Mind, has recently been published, and the Ethics book will be published imminently. Stay tuned for more books published in 2020!

And check out the other stories of open textbook creation with Rebus Community in this book!

SoTL Workshop at Lakehead University

I was invited to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario to speak to a few different groups of people about educational leadership (they have a new teaching and educational leadership faculty stream there like we do at UBC), and also about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). As part of that, I led a workshop on getting started with SoTL.

I’m here posting the slides, worksheets, and other resources so they’re easily available for participants in the workshop, but also for anyone else who is interested!

Slides & worksheets

Slides are available on Slideshare.net, and also in downloadable and editable PowerPoint format on OSF.

 

Here are the worksheets we used for the activities:

Other resources

General SoTL guides & introductions

Finding SoTL literature on particular topics

Where to publish

SoTL conferences

 

Intro to Philosophy of Mind published

Book cover: Introduction to Philosophy of Mind, Edited Heather Salazar, Series Editor Christina Hendricks

Cover for the book Design by Jonathan Lashley, art by Heather Salazar. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

As noted in my last post, I’ve been working with a number of people on a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses, published with the support of the Rebus Community.

And we now have the first book in a planned series of nine books published: Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind, edited by Heather Salazar.

This has been quite a long time in the making; some of the story of how we got to this point is in the previous post, though I need to sit down and write a longer post (or series of posts) to tell more of the story. Suffice it to say at this point that this book, and the other books currently in process, would not have happened without the hard work of the book editors for each book, the authors of chapters, the peer reviewers, copy editors, those helping with formatting in Pressbooks, our cover designer Jonathan Lashley, and many more. Special thanks goes to the Rebus team, including in particular Apurva Ashok (who has helped quite a lot in the last year or two) and Zoe Wake Hyde (who was deeply involved in the project at the beginning. And Hugh McGuire for believing in the project enough to take us on as a pilot in the early stages of Rebus!

Here is the official book release announcement on the Rebus blog. Please share with anyone you think might be interested!

Overview: Intro to Philosophy open textbook series

When I came here to write this post I realized just how long it had been since my last post–ten months! When I look back on it this isn’t surprising: I started in a 100% secondment role as the Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC Vancouver on July 1, 2018, and on top of navigating a very new role I was also teaching a course from January-April 2019.

Since then, most nights and weekends I’ve been working hard on another project that it appears I’ve only written about once here on this blog: a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses. In another post I’m going to explain more detail about the process we have been using to get these off the ground. Suffice it to say I have a much better understanding of all the work that goes into producing a book for publication! But that’s for another day.

This post is to give an overview of the project, by sharing some slides and talking about a presentation I did with Zoe Wake Hyde of the Rebus Community (the community organization that allows for such projects to get going, get working, get done, and get published!). We had a short session at the Cascadia Open Education Summit in April of 2019. We talked about this open textbook series for philosophy and also the Rebus Community itself and how it supports such projects.

Presentation

Here are our slides:

I think Zoe’s portion (second half) is fairly self-explanatory but I’ll take a little space here to explain my portion.

The beginning

I began by talking about how this whole project got started: I went to a session by Hugh McGuire at the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit a few years ago (I can’t remember which year it was, but maybe 2016). He was talking about projects like LibriVox and Pressbooks, among other things, and I remember asking him about crowdsourcing a textbook like LibriVox crowdsources contributions to creating audiobooks. I said I didn’t have any money/grant funding, but wanted to get an open textbook in my field going and what might be some options.

I can’t remember his answer at the time, nor how much time passed after that before I heard from him again with another project he has called Rebus. The Rebus Community was in early days and we talked about this open textbook in philosophy possibly being one of its projects. We discussed how big of a project it really was and how daunting, but agreed to give it a go.

Little did either of us know…

From one book to nine

I began working closely with Zoe, and then with Apurva Ashok as well, and soon one book turned into a series of books. This is because we had a lot of interest and people willing to contribute. We started with a single book that had multiple parts like Epistemology, Ethics, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, etc., and each part had what we called a “part editor” in charge of drafting and outline and finding authors to write chapters for that part. But many of the editors had drafted outlines for chapters that could, it turned out, just as easily turn the parts into coherent books all on their own. So that is what we did, rather than create one very large book.

We now have nine books in the series, and through some changes in editors have book editors for all but one as of September 2019. Each editor is responsible for creating an outline of chapters and choosing authors for those chapters (within rough guidelines such as that we would like to have authors with a PhD in philosophy, or who are in a PhD program, and who ideally have taught at least one course at the introductory level). The editors work with the authors to complete chapters according to the author guide for the series, and get everything ready for peer reviews (during that time I, as the series editor, also review the chapters). After peer reviews are complete, the editors work with the authors to get edits done and prepare the books for copy editing and final production. The authors also write an introduction to the book, and several are writing one of the book chapters as well.

Processes

We were figuring out processes as we went along, such as how to recruit editors and authors, what kinds of guideline documents we needed (such as the author guide, the review guide, the book editor role description, how to set up the chapters for peer reviews, and more). These have been created as the need arises, with the help of Zoe and Apurva at the Rebus Community. Everything was done on google docs to facilitate easy collaboration and commenting functions.

In terms of recruitment, we mostly tried to get the word out about the project and recruit authors and editors via email listservs in philosophy. I also used Twitter and I know a few people heard about the project that way. There are a number of philosophers on Facebook but I closed my account awhile back and so haven’t connected with people that way to recruit participants. We have also had numerous calls for participation posted through the Rebus Community newsletter and on the project’s discussion threads at the Rebus Community forum.

Successes

The help of the Rebus Community has been invaluable. This project was one of its pilots and their work on the project helped inform some of the support resources they have created for others to use in their OER projects (as Zoe’s slides mention). For our part, this project simply would not have happened without all the help they provided in setting up guideline documents and workflows and helping me figure out just how this sort of project was going to work. Their help has enabled me to take over after we have together seen a few of the books go through most of the steps towards publication, so I can now do most of the things Apurva and Zoe were doing in the beginning.

I am really excited by the covers for the book series, which were designed by Jonathan Lashley and feature artwork by one of the book editors, Heather Salazar. Jonathan and I were OER Research Fellows at the same time, and after he saw a request from me for help with the project he offered his design skills. I am thrilled with the design that has resulted.

Challenges

I had no idea how long it would take from ideation to completion of just one book in the series, and the answer seems to be: two years. That is partly because we ended up working on all of the books at once, given the way things worked out (because we originally were just going to do one book with multiple parts). I think if we had done one book at a time it would have been shorter! But doing them all together meant trying to organize the work of 9 book editors and 5-10 authors per book, with all the recruitment that needed to happen, plus keeping track of what was happening with each book–who was writing which chapters and by which due dates, who was expressing interest in helping in other ways such as peer reviewing or copy editing, etc. That was and remains a big task.

Another challenge was that I didn’t know we needed a style sheet until late-ish in the game, so while we had an author guide it didn’t have specifics on style until after many chapters had already been written. We have one now, but even at this point it is a work in progress as new things come up that I realize need to be standardized. Not having any experience with publishing, it’s not surprising perhaps that I didn’t realize this needed to happen early on, but it does make things more complicated when you create one partway through. It leads to authors getting mixed messages, which is not good.

Quality control is always going to be somewhat complicated in a project like this. When you have many volunteers writing chapters, with different levels of experience writing for an introductory-level audience, it’s likely that there is going to be some back-and-forth to get to the point where the chapters are all publication-ready. This has taken much longer than I realized it would, though it’s not surprising–we’re all doing this off the sides of our desks, and most of my work on the project happens after work hours when I get a chance, so a good deal of the delay was on my part!

Regarding communications: we started off doing most of the communicating about the project (between the editors, authors, myself, and Rebus) on a public forum at the Rebus Community. Then there was a change at Rebus to a new platform, and we tried moving discussions over there, but it just didn’t pick up quite the way it had before and our communications moved mostly into email. This was a challenge for a couple of reasons: (1) it was harder for me to keep track of what was going on in each book across many, many emails, and (2) we lost the value of having public discussions in regards to others being able to see what was happening with the project. I think to many it may have seemed like the project was not moving ahead when in fact we were doing a lot of things “behind the scenes,” as it were. I started doing more announcements about the project on the Rebus Community pages and copy editing and formatting conversations for Philosophy of Mind and Ethics are happening there. But I haven’t worked to get all the conversations between editors, authors, me and others back on the forum (yet).

Zoe’s slides

I think these don’t need much more commentary, so I’ll mostly let them explain themselves.

I do want to highlight a point she makes in them about DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), though. The topics and the personnel in the series reflect the discipline generally in North America, insofar as the books focus mostly on philosophical works by European and North American authors, and the topics that that group has focused on over the last few centuries. There are quite a number of underrepresented groups of people in academic philosophy in North America, and the makeup of our authors and editors generally mirrors that.

It is challenging when you are relying on volunteers, and doing so on a piecemeal basis–we have kept the calls for authors open until we fill the chapters with people who are qualified and willing, rather than having a competitive call for authors that has a specific deadline. Thus, we have tended to fill the chapters with first-come, first-served amongst those who are qualified who volunteer. This is partly due to the fact that volunteers have trickled in rather than come in large groups, and because we don’t know when we’ll next get another.

Still, I should have done more in this area, emphasizing it further from the very beginning and changing our practices where needed. That is a lesson learned, and something I’ll be working on as we move from publication to considering later editions. One valuable thing about open textbooks, though, is that those who use them can revise and edit as desired (ensuring that original credit to the author is given), and thus other editions could be created even by others beyond our group.

 

Your thoughts

Any questions about the project? Comments? Please leave them below!

Lisa Jackson: Savage (IndieEdu200x)

I am taking a MOOC from UBC called Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education, and during week 2 one of the resources for the course was a short film by Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson, called Savage (2009).

SAVAGE from Lisa Jackson on Vimeo.

This is such a powerful and thought-provoking film packed into only six minutes, I wanted to do some reflection on it as part of my belated responses to the 9x9x25 blogging challenge. Given that my last post was quite long, I’m counting it as two (numbers 4 and 5), so this is number 6 out of 9!

Description

The film begins with gorgeous shots of a young girl riding in a car watching the scenery go by. It seems a peaceful and beautiful atmosphere. It looks like early morning when the video starts, and the girl is being driven as the sun is coming up. A man is driving the car but we don’t see his face and it’s not clear who he is or where they’re going. The car is an old one, looking like it’s from the 1950s or 60s.

Soon we see a woman in a kitchen singing a lullaby (the description of the video on Vimeo says it’s in Cree). One gets the sense that this woman is the young girl’s mother. Her dress and the kitchen décor also suggest an era around perhaps the 1950s.

The scene, to me, feels very lonely and sad, even though the song is beautiful. The woman is sitting by herself at a table drinking tea, or sweeping the floor, or washing up…always by herself, looking off into the distance. She is looking off to her right as the young girl looks off to her right out the window of the car (these scenes are interspersed together). The lullaby is about a baby’s canoe being the moon flying among the clouds… “fly, baby, fly … but you must come back to me.” This ties into the profound loneliness of the scene.

The mother’s song ends as the car comes to a stop and the girl is led by the hand into a building where her hair is washed and cut, and she is helped into new clothes to emerge standing in a school. The music changes from peaceful to stressful as the woman cries, over and over, “you must come back to me!” Suddenly the scene changes to one of horror and anguish: the girl standing in a school in a new uniform and haircut seems like a sinister and horrifying scene. What have they done to her? We are about to find out.

This is where things get very interesting and surprising, at least to me. We see a classroom of students all with heads down, writing in notebooks. When the teacher leaves the class one looks up and it’s clear: they have become zombies. They all begin a synchronized dance that, in one respect, emphasizes their uniformity and how they all follow the same tune, blindly, dead-like. And yet, later on, two boys in turn take solos and do quite impressive moves on their own.

Finally, the teacher returns and the children scramble to their desks to work quietly on their schoolwork once more.

Reflection

This film expresses the Indian Residential School experience from the parent and child’s perspectives, including the sadness, anger, anguish and horror. But towards the end I think it also expresses resistance and resilience. At least, that’s how I read it.

As I went back and watched it again after seeing in the first time and knowing what will happen, the first part became imbued with even more of a sense of poignant beauty and loss. The girl looking out of an open window going past the land she will not see again for a long time, feeling the wind on her face with a sense of open air freedom that will also be lost as she becomes shut into the school (the last shot of the front of the school with doors closed is a nice juxtaposition).

Who is driving the car? One possibility is that it’s her father or grandfather. Indigenous children in  Canada were required to go to residential schools as of 1920, so it’s possible a family member even drove them to the schools, though I think in some cases they were more forcibly taken away from their families.

When the film turns to show the children as zombies, on the one hand this is very fitting–the point of the residential schools was to take them away from their families so they will lose connections to their languages and cultures and take on the settler ones. In a sense, then, who the children were before is dead, and they become uniform like their uniforms, thoughtless and moving the same as the group, in the way they were taught.

And yet, I see possible hints of resistance as well…they take the opportunity when the teacher leaves the room to get out of their desks and move, get away from their school work. She sees only obedient, docile, and disciplined children; she doesn’t see that there is much more going on that they do with each other. They look up, they wake up, they dance. They hide all this again when she walks in the room, but there are things you have to hide to survive, things that you share in a community; the dance is not for her.

The turn to modern music and moves is important: while the beginning of the film takes place in the 1950s, with a song that could be much older than that, the second portion with the kids in the classroom could be happening at any time. And this combined with the modern music suggests to me a reminder that the effects of the residential school experience continue to resonate, not just through the children themselves but intergenerationally.

Regarding the solo moves by the two boys towards the end: while they are somewhat robotic, they also feel improvised and creative. The kids are standing out from the crowd, doing their own thing, expressing themselves while the others continue synchronous moves. We only see two doing this, but I get the sense that any of them could do so in turn, if there had been time before the teacher came back in.

It’s not a great sense of resistance or a great hope, and the lingering shot is of them quiet in a classroom in an imposing building that is shut up, but it’s something. I am left with a strong sense that these kids are going to make it despite the horrendous things that have happened to them.

Of course, this is just my reading, and it’s quite possible I’m missing a lot. The film doesn’t delve deeply into the horrors and abuses that happened in the system, and maybe I’m putting too positive a spin on the ending by feeling like the film expresses a sense of resistance and power in those who were subject to those abuses. I’m curious what others think.

Not perfect strangers (IndEdu200x)

a large group of people pulling on ropes to life an Indigenous pole

Raising the Reconciliation Pole at UBC Vancouver photo by Colin and Sarah Northway on Flickr, licensed CC BY 2.0

This is number four in the series of 9 posts in 9 weeks: the 9x9x25 challenge.

I am working on a UBC MOOC on Edx called Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education. We are still on week 1 and I am making my way through multiple videos and other resources.

I want to use this post to talk about two videos that struck me this week as things I wanted to reflect further on.

Susan D. Dion

We watched a video by Dr. Susan D. Dion, a Potawatami-Lenapé educational scholar, on introducing and disrupting the “perfect stranger.” I was not familiar with Dion’s work before this, but a quick web search shows that she is an Associate Professor in Education at York University who is the author of a book with UBC Press, Braiding Histories: Learning From Aboriginal Peoples’ Experiences and Perspectives (2009).

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