Category Archives: Open Access, open ed, OER

OERI and some literature on open pedagogy

Open as in Not Closing Open, photo by Alan Levine, shared on Flickr under CC0.

I’m excited to be giving a lightning talk at the Open Education Research Institute hosted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University this week–thank you so much to Rajiv Jhangiani and Urooj Nizami from KPU for the invitation. I’ll also be acting as an OE research mentor for a group of participants in the Institute, which is a wonderful honour though to be honest I still feel a bit of a novice myself in this area. I was trained as a researcher in philosophy, with no information about empirical research with people, which is what I’ve had to try to learn along the way as I do research on open education. Not that all research on open edu has to be empirical…there is a good deal of theoretical research of great significance as well!

But I have done some empirical research on open educational resources in particular, and I must say a big thank you to Rajiv Jhangiani, Jessie Key, Clint Lalonde, and Beck Pitt for my first intro to such research, as we worked on the 2016 BCcampus report: Exploring Faculty Use of OER in British Columbia Post-secondary Institutions. This was part of the work that Rajiv, Jessie and I did during our 2014-2015 BCcampus Open Textbook Fellowship program. I am also grateful to have received an Open Education Group OER Research Fellowship in 2015, where I learned a lot from John S. Hilton and the many other OER Research Fellows as we met and discussed projects.

Of late, I’ve been working with a couple of colleagues on a research project about student perceptions of an open pedagogy project. Specifically, we surveyed students who created case studies for Forestry and Conservation courses, most of which were shared openly and with an open license, on the UBC Open Case Studies website. We started this research back in 2018, when we administered surveys to students in three courses, in Fall 2108 and Spring 2019. Then in 2019 we began coding the data, finishing up around the end of 2019 if memory serves, and then…COVID-19 and we dropped it altogether for a year.

We recently picked this project back up and are excited to report the results and write up an article to submit for publication. The lightning talk at OERI will be the first time I’ll be talking about this project to a wider audience. We’re not completely ready with full results; we have coded the data and have started pulling out a few themes, but we haven’t done a full analysis yet. So the lightning talk will focus on:

  • motivations, including (at the time) not a lot of research literature on student perceptions of open pedagogy projects
  • methods
  • a few preliminary results

That should be easily enough to fill the seven-minute time slot I have!

In the rest of this post, I’m basically starting on the literature review for the article we’ll be working on, by reviewing some of the literature on open educational practices, open pedagogy, and student perceptions of open pedagogy. What follows is a not exhaustive review of literature with some quotes, about open pedagogy, open educational practices, students as producers, and student perceptions of open pedagogy. I can’t imagine we’ll use all of this in our article, but it’s useful to have it in one place!

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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!

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!

Openness and/as closure

black and white photo of several old and rusty padlocks, one open and the rest closed

Padlocks, by Skitterphoto on pixabay.com, CC0

In my previous post I considered one way to think about how those of us who value and practice open education may also value and practice respect for privacy, that openness and privacy need not be considered opposites (despite the fact that one could think of openness as related to reducing barriers and privacy as putting them up or maintaining them).

This reminded me of a blog post I read recently, “Towards a Pedagogy of Closure”, by David Gaertner who is in First Nations and Indigenous Studies at UBC.1 In the post Gaertner talks about closure being a form of, or leading too, openness. He explains that, as a non-Indigenous scholar working with Indigenous communities, “listening to my collaborators and recognizing boundaries is a necessary part of what I do. There are places that I am not welcome and conversations that I should not be a part of.”

I don’t think this is about privacy in the same way that Meinke and Wagstaff were talking about, in my previous blog post. It’s more about respecting the appropriate boundaries of spaces, conversations, and knowledges given the context of what those are; sometimes this is about privacy (e.g., personal health information being restricted only to some), but not always. It is also about resisting colonialism.

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Open and privacy

 

In their presentation at the Open Education 2018 conference entitled “Open” Education and Student Learning Data: Reflections on Big Data, Privacy, and Learning Platforms, Billy Meinke and Steel Wagstaff asked whether we might consider open education to include the value of respecting privacy. Their presentation was about data gathered from students by educational technology tools, some principles we should consider when using learning analytics, and how one might include a privacy statement in one’s syllabus. The slides are chock-full of information and extra reading; I highly recommend you take a look.

Similarly, in a keynote I gave at the eCampus Ontario Technology-Enhanced Seminar and Showcase in 2017, I had a slide that said: “open is not the opposite of private.” I want to here dig a little more deeply into how and why that could be the case, since on first glance it could seem these are opposed.

In another keynote in 2017 (What’s Open about Open Pedagogy?), I tried to come up with some overarching similarity between various aspects of what people have called “open pedagogy,” including: students producing OER, students co-creating curricula, connecting people in a course to people outside of it, being transparent & fostering trust, and ensuring equity in teaching and learning. It seemed to me at the time (see slide 33 in the deck for that talk) that one way to link them all together was around removal of barriers: between teachers and students, between a class and people outside of it, barriers that block visibility….

But if what’s open about open pedagogy (and possibly open access, open educational resources, and other parts of open education) is the reduction or removal of barriers, then why isn’t privacy—which seems to be about closing things off—the opposite of open? Or rather, for the purposes of this post, why would it make sense to say that one of the values of open education could be to be concerned about and respect privacy?

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