Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another reason textbooks are so expensive!

I came home from work today and going through the mail, I found an piece of mail from Bedford/St. Martin's. It is a full color brochure, printed on thick card stock advertising their book, Approaching Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. It says "Jump right in... the literature's fine!" I used to teach English and I have never seen a more expensively produced brochure for a textbook. I hope instructors are thinking about this very seriously. Every time they choose one of these commercial textbooks, they are choosing the high cost of direct mail advertising that gets passed along to the students. How can publishers justify this? I last taught at Hartnell College six years ago. I have sent notes to the textbook reps and they all still contact me. They are wasting time and money (the students' money) chasing down someone who is not teaching English at the moment. There are so many better models than this. There is Flatworld Knowledge, open textbooks from places like College Open Textbooks, there is Creative Commons, and Shakespeare has been free on the Internet since 1993!

I post alot about textbooks here and what I would like to do is to use this space to share some of my favorite open education resources and open texts for English. I will tag those postings as "English."

If you have some favorites, post them in a comment here or email me.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Creating OER: The WHO and the HOW

Join us as we continue the OER webinar series where experts are demystifying the world of open educational resources (OER). This month's session will feature OER development models and creation tools. Next month a panel of OER experts will discuss the sustainability of OER projects and the issues surrounding funding. Sign up for these sessions today!

If you missed one of the previous sessions, you can easily get up to speed by checking out the archives:

OER Session 1 – Defining OER: The WHAT and the WHY
OER Session 2 – Finding and Using OER: The WHERE and the WHEN

OER Session 3—Creating OER: The WHO and the HOW
Who is developing OERs? Who should be? How are they doing it? How can standards allow OER content interoperability? How can standards assure quality? How can I get started? How can I find the tools for creating OER content?

These questions, and more, will be answered by Rob Abel from IMS Global and others. In addition we will discuss different models for developing OER materials and demonstrate various authoring tools for creating OER content. Models for OER development will include work by the math department at the College of the Redwoods. You will also see how Jacqui Cain from Tacoma Community College, as part of a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation grant, re-purposed Sherlock Holmes stories to create a full online course in Remedial English.

Wednesday, September 21 3:00pm ET Register (Free)

OER Session 4—Funding OER: Sustainability
How do OER projects and programs get started? How are they maintained? Where are funding resources? Can OER projects work without external funding?
These questions and more will be answered by our panel consisting of Cable Green (Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons), Paul Stacey (Director Communication, Stakeholder & Academic Relations; BC campus), and James Glapa-Grossklag (Dean, Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning College of the Canyons). Each will take their unique stance on issues of sustainability and open standards, various funding approaches, and success stories involving everything from individual efforts to consortia based programs.

Monday, October 31 3:00pm ET Register (Free)

The OER series is sponsored by College Open Textbooks, Connexions, IMS Global, MERLOT and SoftChalk. Follow the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #OERseries.
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Creative Commons Positions: Senior Project Manager & Senior Project Analyst

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...Image via CrunchBasehttp://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/29046

Creative Commons is seeking highly motivated and organized individuals to fill two positions: Senior Project Manager and Senior Project Analyst.  Both positions are full-time with full benefits. Both positions will key members of the team supporting Department of Labor TAACCCT grantees.

Ideal candidates have contributed to open source, open education, open licensing, and/or other open content projects, are proficient in required technologies, and possess at lease two years of work experience. Joining CC means getting the chance to interact with motivated staff and a brilliant international network of affiliates and community members.

Please feel free to share these jobs descriptions as far and wide as possible. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until we find the right candidates. Please be sure to indicate the job title you are interested in applying for in the email subject line, and send to “jobs@creativecommons.org

Application Deadline: Friday, 7 October.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Distance Ed: No Significant Difference (Even Fictionally)

Hermann Hesse, Nobel laureate in Literature 1946Image via WikipediaI am reading Hermann Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game" aka "Magister Ludi." The perfect novel to get my mind off of work. The novel is about a student who navigates the labyrinthine academic and quasi-spiritual institution of the glass bead game. Throughout the course of the novel, our maverick hero even rises to become the Game Master. What is the game? There is not really a lot of information in the book about the game, but it does talk about how themes in one discipline, such as astronomy, and another, like music, is proposed and the participants set about to make connections. (Is this the first Connectivist novel?) The more elegant the connections, the better. I think the novel is really about our hero's relationship to institutions. Well something interesting happens: there is instruction and lectures around the games each year that lead up to the big match. The hero of the novel gets sent to a Benedictine monastery for a while but asks his superiors if he can still listen to the lectures over the radio and send his completed game in via post. He does. And guess what? He wins. So in other words, there was no significant difference between the outcome of the contest between those who participated face-to-face and those who participated virtually. In this case, 100% of those who participated virtually did better than those who participated face-to-face.

Even though I am only half kidding around here, Hesse has always been a favorite novelist of mine, I could not have survived my teens without Steppenwolf, Journey to the East, or Siddartha. I like to think he would appreciate my playfulness.

Laborare est ludare...
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