Showing posts with label oer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oer. Show all posts

Friday, March 10, 2017

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #3

So it's been longer than I wanted in terms of blogging about my dissertation thoughts but that's not because of an absence of thoughts but an absence of time to put them down on paper (or blog, I guess).  

In January, I was struck by a more specific idea about a potential dissertation topic after attending and presenting at a NERCOMP Event on OER.  It's been on my mind a lot and though there's a lot more I need to do with it, I figured I would take the time here to flesh it out so that I can discuss it further with some of my advisors and cohort members--as well as you, dear readers.
Word cloud in the form of a lightbulb.
Original image from here.


Development of Open Initiatives and Their Impact on Pedagogical Approaches

At this workshop, we were discussing how the open education resources (OER) movement has been expanding and shifting language from OER to openness initiatives.  This is in part because there is a good discussion about it being more than just about resources but really thinking about what knowledge and learning can mean in an open environment.  So with this comes the idea of "open pedagogy" and thinking about how teaching and learning can change when thinking differently about the tools of learning and the premise of openness (equitable and ease of access to, use of, and sharing of knowledge).  

Therefore, the area that I am circling is to look at the influence of how open initiatives at colleges shape and influence how the instructor approaches their class in terms of asset and deficit based approaches to teaching and learning with OER. (And yes, I'm about to break down that I'm talking about here!).

More specifically, I want to look at the relationship between asset-based and deficit-based views of faculty and the framing of open initiatives at Massachusetts community colleges to better understand what features may more increasingly influence and empower faculty to either move beyond deficit-based views of their students or understand if the framing of open initiatives inhibit asset-based views of their students.

So let's work our way through the questions:


What does this contribute to?

This project would contribute to several different areas. It would contribute to the open education movement, faculty development, and teaching and learning.  In terms of open education, it might help identify the challenges and considerations in developing open initiatives and how to frame such initiatives.  Currently, I see a lot of concerns about students "lacking" (that is, a deficit view) that drive the open movement.  This concerns me because it frames the student immediately as insufficient.  Exploring if this framing impacts the classroom could help to change the narrative and the practical uses of open content and practices in the classroom.  In terms of faculty development, this project might highlight the importance in the frame of students to faculty (and vice versa) that perpetuate deficit-views and therefore, negate the abilities and intelligences that students can bring to a learning environment.   


What's the problem to study?

The problem I want to look at is if the framing of open initiatives perpetuate some of the same problems that other types of learning materials and methods perpetuate which is the banking-method of education where students are empty containers to be filled (the working of Paulo Freire to be specific).  In such instances, open initiatives that frame the student as unable or helpless to access course materials because of costs, potentially perpetuate students as incapable not only of absorbing the text, but getting a hold of it.  I fear that this may unintentionally nudge faculty to become further incensed with students because now they "have no excuse" but still are consuming the course materials.  


What's the thing that needs solving?

The problem to solve is whether this actually is happening or to what degree that it is and how different framings of openness initiatives may impact the asset/deficit frames of the instructor towards the students.  Does it improve asset-based views or perpetuate deficit-based views (or to what degrees and ways does it do both)?


What does this subject/topic mean to me?

I am a strong advocate of the democratization of knowledge and learning and the empowerment of the students.  We're great at cheering on the students that meet our expectations of "good students" but fail to recognize or work with students who don't meet our views of what good students should be.  I believe that engaging with open initiatives has the potential to empower students and unlock different ways to learning and communicating about their learning, but that means rethinking methods and approaches to teaching and learning long held and perpetuated in our education systems.  I want to make sure that in moving forward with and supporting open initiatives, I am aiding in empowering student learning.  


Other Aspects

This semester, I am doing a pilot of this project with one community college for my Qualitative Analysis course.  If it goes well, I feel like this will be a good pilot to then move into a larger study for my dissertation.  Right now, I'm learning towards qualitative as I feel like that will give me the opportunity to dig deep into conversations and resources to consider how these different practices are framed and impact people.  

So that's what I got thus far...what do you think?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What's Out There to Transform College Teaching

Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What's Out There to Transform College Teaching Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What's Out There to Transform College Teaching by John D. Shank
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, this book is a good introduction into the world of open educational resources and their implementation. it focuses on interactive open educational resources, which are free materials the require a bit more engagement from students. It's definitely a book geared towards instructors or instructional designers that have yet to really engage with OER as there are many sections that those familiar with OER will likely skim over. But where it's most useful is the guidelines, instructions, implementation and evaluation considerations it walks readers through to actually using iOER. It also has an abundance of resources that the readers will benefit from. It's definitely for the neophyte but even the seasoned OER person will find some good uses by looking through it.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 20, 2017

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #1

Word cloud of this post in the form of Rodin's Thinker.
Welcome to my new series within the PhD Chronicle series.  Herein, I will writing reflections and thoughts about where I am currently with thinking about my dissertation. I'm 30 courses in and if I haven't already, I should really start thinking about what I'm doing for my dissertation.  To be honest, I have been thinking about it, but this semester, my goal is to actively journal about it in the insuring months to see if I can find a strong focus and direction that I want to commit to.  In the next year, we will be writing our qualifying paper proposal (QPP) and qualifying paper (QP), which we will need to submit to move forward int he program.  Ideally, your QPP, QP, and dissertation proposal (DP) all align and I hope by working through these entries I can maintain that direct line of thinking.  

So let's start with some of my initial thoughts and consideration about what I want to focus on with my dissertation are.  


What is the current direction for my research interests/potential dissertation? I find myself coming back to a two areas of interest for my research.  These topics all relate in some way or another so if you see some thread that connects them all--by all means, share away!



Digital Access


As a college becomes more digital than brick, how does the institute respond to the question of access for students?  A century of writing and lore has focused entirely on how students prepare for physical institutions but how do they prepare and universities prepare them for digital institutions?  Institutions have digitized a variety of systems and processes from requests for information to applications to submission of and receiving of financial aid to student information systems to course materials and assignment submissions to digital portfolios and much more.  How does the move to digital create challenges or problems for student populations that may already encounter limitations or challenges in accessing higher education.  While students may increasingly have access to the digital world, how does techno-capital (not just access but ability) contribute to students' success in college?

Key terms:  techno-capital, academic capitalism, access, digital university, 



Digital Public Good


How do universities use the level of scale afforded by the digital world in order to more systematically engage in, quantify, and illustrate their essential role as contributors to the common good?  Higher education often fails to quantify their individual and collective contributions to society and particularly for public higher education, this reinforces the idea that higher education is a personal good, not a public good.  To that end, I am interested in looking at ways in which higher educations are using the digital environment to better capture and quantify the impact of their work.  Several topics come to mind with this particular topic including the exploration of open educational resources, open data and research, and also digital service learning.  With each, it becomes easy to see track and extrapolate the impact that higher education has on society at large and thus to be able to argue the value and importance of supporting higher education.   

Key terms:  public good, open educational resources, OER, open research, open data, digital commons, digital service learning, academic capitalism, techno-capital 


So that's where I'm at right now.  In the next post, I'm going to try an exercise to break them down further and see if that leads me in any interesting directions.

With these entries, I strongly encourage and hope that readers will chime in with thoughts, ideas, sources, or interesting questions to consider.  I am grateful for any and all help you're willing to give!
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Textbooks and OER

For the last few weeks, almost on a daily-basis, there have been articles from USA Today to Huffington Post to NBC to ABC to the Christian Monitor, all taking about the cost of textbooks.  On one hand, I applaud reporters bring this to the attention of the average consumer and the public, but I'm also disappointed that the vast majority of articles fail to acknowledge the Open Educational Resources movement or when they do, it's usually to downplay or discredit it.  Below is an amalgamation of letters to editors that I sent out that never got published but I figured they still needed to be out there for people to read.

As we enter into the fall, students everywhere will be going to or going back to college.  Many of these news outlets have been remarking about the skyrocketing costs of textbooks—up over 1000% since the 1970s.  Because of the nature of textbooks and higher education, it has become an increasingly exploitative market with publishers undermining a second-hand market of reselling textbooks by publishing annual or biannual editions (Because history textbooks need a new edition every two years) or creating locked content online that requires potential further purchasing (and which the student loses access to within a year). 
On open educational resources -- Beyond definitions

For students, parents, faculty, and administrators lamenting these exorbitant costs (upwards of $1000+ a year), I encourage all to advocate for open educational resources (OER).  OER are free content available online that instructors can use, edit to their liking, and redistribute to their students.   In the last decade, the OER movement has worked hard to produce high quality content such as videos, lesson plans, learning objects, and even textbooks that instructors can integrate into the course for free.  A quick look at OER Commons, one of the most well-known OER repositories will reveal ample content for many faculty.  You can also get a nice tour of the OER landscape by visiting North Shore Community College's LibGuide on OER.  


The OER movement bypasses the traditional market entirely by freely producing and sharing content that will help their students learn without making them pay extra.  Students gain access to their learning materials on the first day and keep them for as long as they chose.  Colleges supporting faculty in creating or using OER find that both faculty and students are happier about the opportunities it affords them.  

There are also people like David Levin, CEO of McGraw Hill (the biggest of textbook publishers) who are trying to convince students and faculty to "go digital".  Of course, for his company, going digital means buying their digital products which will increase their profit margin significantly, while eliminating a secondary market for textbooks.  It's not just about going digital.

In his advocating for digital textbooks, he forgets to mention a few things that are worth noting and make his plea not just dubious but misleading.  His argument seems to say that he empathizes with students and faculty and that his plea is really on their behalf, but it's not.  The digital textbook racket is even more menacing for students and faculty than the physical textbook business model.  He's using the platform of expensive textbooks (something he contributes to as part of McGraw-Hill) to bait and switch faculty and students into etextbooks.  The problem is that McGraw-Hill tactics with etextbooks are even more exploitative than their tactics with physical textbooks. 

While with textbooks, students can hope to have a year or two before the publisher throws out a pointless new edition, etextbooks offer no secondary and cheaper market.  Instead, everyone must pay the same price for entrance and there is no opportunity for the market to level out the real cost of textbooks (usually pennies on the dollars of the original cost).  It seems clear that publishers are enacting the same mob-like extortion practices as they did with the physical textbook, but now, they really do control who goes and who sees what. 

But it gets further problematic from there.  Students don't even own their learning.  When students purchase physical textbooks, they own the physical copies.  With etextbooks, students only buy access to the content and typically, they lose access within 6 months to a year.  So even if students are paying less (for now), they are still subject to losing out on owning and reselling.  If they want to keep what they bought, they need to keep paying.  That would be like buying a book on Kindle and then being told by Amazon that you need to pay to read that book again in a year. 

Levin sidesteps the real game-changer for improving student costs of learning materials in higher education; the words he's afraid that students and faculty will hear and advocate for:  Open Educational Resources (OER).  There is a movement throughout the world for Open Educational Resources.  These are free and rich educational materials that includes lesson plans, learning guides, videos, audio content, and yes, even textbooks that faculty can incorporate into their classes.  Faculty are not only able to provide these for free to students, but they can also edit, remix, and take bits and pieces from different resources.  Rather than being stuck to one resource, faculty and plug and play a wide range of content to enrich student-learning.  OER provides faculty with not only more flexibility and range of materials, it means students have instant access to their learning materials on day one and can keep them for years after. 

And publishers like McGraw-Hill are overwhelmingly concerned about OER because it is a disruptive force for the textbook industry (a legal Napster, if you will).  After years of exploiting students and faculty, the textbook industry is on the brink of collapsing because OER provides the same quality educational resources as the traditional textbooks (in fact, it offers more quality since it uses media-rich content) at a fraction of the cost and unlike Naptster's original format, it's practices are entirely ethical and legal.  

To learn more about OER, check out OER Commons or the NSCC LibGuide on OER.  

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My New Book: 10 Classic Tales of Horror

So I could mark this down as a goal achieved already for 2015, but I most likely won't.  I did want to share with people this book that I published.  It is an anthology of horror stories:  10 Classic Tales of Horror to be precise that I pulled together with introductions to make and publish.  My purpose in doing so wasn't to just put it out there and make a quick buck; my purpose was to see how easily and cheaply it can be done.  

One project that I am involved in at work is an Open Textbook Initiative as part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement.  To that end, we have been looking at ways of making learning materials available for students for free or a reasonable price.  Questions arise about OER with regards to how students can access them, particularly in print form.  Some OER resources provide physical copies for purchase that are significantly cheaper than their commercial counterparts.  However, I wanted to think about the idea of an instructor pulling together OER resources into book of sorts and what would that look like if the instructor wanted students to afford a cheap physical copy.  
Book Cover - 10 Classic Tales of Horror - Lance Eaton

This approach grabbed me because I teach literature and we are often using anthologies.  I wanted to think about how I might pull together works that are in the public domain for my students to access as a physical text.  Therefore, I make the 10 Classic Tales of Horror as an experiment.  I used Amazon's self-publishing platform, CreateSpace, which made it quite simple (once I actually read the instructions on formatting the Word Document, I had it all in). 

Right now, the physical book is around $10 on Amazon and is about 438 pages.  That's a reasonable price if this were a full collection of course materials that students could now have in hand.  The Kindle digital version of the book is currently listed for $ .99 but I am working on a means of getting the price lowered to $0.00 if possible.  The cost for the physical book is purely the cost of production and I make 0.00 on each unit sold. 

My goal in creating this is to not make a profit in any capacity and in doing so, provide a path for faculty to published their own content for their students in the forms that they are interested in pursuing.  Even if I can't get the Kindle verson to $0.00, I can always make the PDF available to students just as I have made it available below.  

For those interested, here are the links and let me know what you think--both about the book and the process.

Be sure to tell me what you think if you happen to purchase or download it for free!


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.