Open Textbook Mashup

Introduction to Open Textbooks – let’s hear from inspirational teachers, researchers, students, policy makers and advocates in the US and Canada.

I have been following these open textbook initiatives for a number of years now, and the books you see photographed in this video are from BCcampus and OpenStax. Other excellent sources of open textbooks include the Open Textbook Library and for books specifically relating to international relations please visit E-International Relations. Further open content textbooks can be accessed from Wikibooks.

Why this video now?
I am worried about the plight of our students. The National Union of Students have reported on the rising costs of university in terms of tuition fees and living expenses, alongside the escalating costs of essential study items such as books. I wrote previously how my students were spending between £300 and £900 on books, and one of their major concerns was echoed by a UMU student in this film – that often they purchase expensive books that the teacher / professor / faculty member then does not even use.

Last summer I was struck by one student who had secured a dream placement at a local children’s hospital. Students on professional healthcare courses such as these do not have the long vacations in which to earn extra cash. This individual was holding down four part-time jobs to support their studies. I was devastated to hear that they had not passed their modules and the placement opportunity was suspended. I cannot imagine such pressures of having to earn money, study and have my career aspirations in the balance all at the same time. I decided then to start raising awareness about open textbooks and linked in with the National Union of Students (NUS) #cutthecosts campaign. I started up @UK_SWOT to promote ‘Success With Open Textbooks’.

Introducing open textbooks!
I participated in #OpenLearning17 last week and was very much inspired by Steve Greenlaw’s sessions on open educational resources (OER). The live webinars and recordings provided were excellent – some of which you see in my video, although it does not do justice to the depth of discussion and debate from last week. (Thank you Steve!). The video I hope serves as an introduction to open textbooks – what they are, what are the benefits to learners, emerging pedagogies and the results of evaluations.

References and attributions

Student debt data:
Science textbook costs – Viv’s own data Textbooks cost whaaaat?

National Union of Students 2015 – “Debt in the first degree” report available via this blog post: https://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/debt-in-the-first-degree-9k-fee-graduates-dissatisfied-with-degrees/

Star performers:

Dr Kelly Damphousse, University of Oklahoma
Featuring OpenStax.org books, Feb 2nd 2014,

Kelly is editor of the OpenStax “Introduction to Sociology” textbook and in the video talks about his rising concerns about student study costs. The book is a wonderful collaboration by authors and reviewers across a number of institutions. One of the Amazon reviews of this book captures everything:

“I am so thankful that so many professors are switching to OpenStax textbooks. Written, in my opinion, more clearly than some of the textbooks that cost all four limbs, OpenStax has given me access to an affordable education without a sacrifice in quality or understanding”. (16th November 2016)

Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education SPARC
Feb 18th 2012, CC BY

Nicole is a wonderful advocate of open education and leads international debate to put open education in the spotlight. Her blog summarises some of her incredible work influencing US education policy that has been seminal in enabling open textbook adoption in US schools, colleges and universities at such a scale.

Mary Burgess, Executive Director BCcampus
Filmed at 2015 #OpenEd converence, Vancouver
Jan 16th 2015, CC BY

Mary is Executive Director at BCcampus which leads open education initiatives across post-secondary institutions in Canada. The growing collection of Open Textbooks are widely adopted across 32 institutions, and Mary’s work at BCcampus also includes the publication of accessibility toolkits and a range of guidelines for institutions and authors.

John Hilton III, Brigham Young University
Video by Steve Greenlaw for #OpenLearning17
March 21st 2017
(Note – John is live-broadcasting top right – photographs on the slides are of co-authors).

John is a seminal scholar in this field and was awarded the Open Education Consortium’s 2017 “Excellence in Research Award”. He has conducted several evaluations of the impact of open textbooks on student learning and their wider education experiences. As part of the Open Ed Group he has established a useful research framework for academics (COUP) and the group website provides details of on-going and published work.

Kelley Swenson, Molly Miller and Steve Greenlaw (moderator)
University of Mary Washington, 27th May 2016
Series of 6 videos here including no. 3 Student Panel.

Steve is a Professor of Economics at the University of Mary Washington and he shared this student panel video as part of OER Week for the #OpenLearning17 course. He is a critical friend of the open education movement and conducts his own research into the effectiveness of open texts. He has co-authored OpenStax texts on Macroeconomics and Economics and in this video here (Textbook Hero) he describes the authoring and collaborative processes experienced in producing the books. (Note to self – good topic for next open textbook video). I really liked the student contributions to the debate as they echoed some of the thoughts of my own students around the purchase of books that are then not embedded within classes.

Amanda Coolidge, BCcampus
Filmed at 2015 #OpenEd15 converence, Vancouver
January 12th 2016, CC BY

The #OpenEd15 crew in Vancouver filmed a number of videos which are all worth a view. Amanda is a Senior Manager within the BCcampus team and is a real champion of open textbooks. She has co-authored guidelines and other materials for those wishing to author open textbooks – Open Textbook Authoring Guide  and in 2016 she was selected to be an Institute for Open Leadership Fellow to contribute to discussions on policies and practices around openness.

Dr Robin DeRosa, Plymouth State University
Filmed at UMW OER Summit 2016
May 27th 2016
Series of 6 videos here and you may need to select No. 6 featuring Robin.

Robin is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University. She is editor of an open-access journal Hybrid Pedagogy, and combined with her regular blogging in the field of digital and critical pedagogies,  she provides a much respected critical voice which is helping shape the open education movement. In her video which was part of a UMW event in 2016 she describes how the co-authoring of open texts empowered her students, and how the open textbook can be and should be re-imagned beyond being a replacement for a traditional book.

 

Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Kwantlen Polytechnic
Filmed at BC Institute of Technology, Feb 26th 2016
CC BY

I do insult to Rajiv here in snipping out just a short statement about the need to raise awareness of open textbooks, from what was a superb hour long presentation on the future of open education hosted by David Porter at the BC Institute of Technology. Rajiv is author of several open textbooks including Research Methods in Psychology (for BCcampus), Principles of Social Psychology (for BCcampus) and has contributed to the psychology-based NOBA Project. Rajiv is a passionate advocate of open, a researcher and recipient of notable awards and fellowships, as outlined on his blog ThatPsychProf.com.

Open educational resource Tweet Chat.

Thursday 8th December 2016 10am UTC (UK time)
Use the hashtag #altc
Look out for the hashtag for the ALT Open Education Special Interest Group #OpenedSig

Why this chat?
This Tweet chat session is part of the ALT Winter Conference and aims to provide an introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER).

Many people don’t know about OER and I think are missing out on the benefits of using, creating and sharing openly licensed materials in their teaching. Creating and sharing OER can provide learners with a wider variety of resources to chose from, and as a teacher I find other people’s materials often an inspiration and a guide for my own practice. Teachers who share resources or co-create them with their students will see their practice and the dynamics in their classrooms change. OER come in all shapes and sizes from individual assets – pictures, text files, video to entire textbooks. Someone might contribute to the open education community through Wikipedia or any of the elements of the Wikimedia Foundation. The use of a Creative Commons open license enables you to share the resource on the web (under the terms that you select).

Visit here for the results of the chat!
I’ll ‘Storify’ the chat and summarise main points. I’ll point you in the direction of web resources to help you get started using OER in your teaching or learning, and particularly focus on getting you thinking about your teaching and assessment practice in the context of being more open.

Storify –> http://vivrolfe.com/blog/open-education-tweet-chat/

Everything is connected game…

Liking this Wikipedia/Wikidata game as introduced by Martin Poulter:

“Here’s a fun activity that creates open educational resources. Thanks to programmer Denny Vrandečić, there is now a tool to create puzzle games based on Wikidata’s 24 million entities and the relationships between them. To create a game, you just need to construct a query string using Q numbers, Wikidata’s language-independent identifiers. They are multilingual games in that you can choose which language the puzzle pieces are labelled with”.

Instructions:
https://tools.wmflabs.org/everythingisconnected/about.html

Examples:
https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Everything_is_connected

My attempt:

Click to start my Everything is Connected game….

OK, so there weren’t quite the data connections on Wikidata yet, but this did ultimately seem to combine all my wordily interests in one game. Click here for what I imagined the answer to be!

My answer:

Click to see answer…

 

So Wikipedians – we have work to do!

Innovation – it has to be more than the shuffling of feet.

I’ve had an interesting few days out and about at meetings, the first with our South West healthcare science group, yesterday at the Jisc Student Experience event, and today have had an interesting conversation with a psychology colleague about  innovation.

So I’m thinking innovating in educational practices today, and linking back to my OpenEd15 presentation in Vancouver. (Slides can be found on SlideShare). I reviewed interviews and data from a number of science open educational resource (OER) projects that I lead, and viewed them through the blurry lens of innovation. What were the innovative features of these projects? What structures were in place? What was vulnerable. Here is what I suggested:

  • Innovation in education / digital practice relies on champions / early adopters
  • Impetus from local partnerships can help gain momentum (colleges and hospitals)
  • Global partnerships also drive processes (OER translations)
  • Innovation can create conflicts – the digital tussle – staff wanting to be creative but constrained by institutions and infrastructure
  • Open education innovation relies on the ‘spirit of OER’ and shared ethos. (Not a solid basis you might think, but that must be the one common thread in all of my work going back 10 years or more).

Innovation versus sustainability?

An innovation by definition has to have an inventive step or application. You can’t patent a thing, but you can patent a thing with a function. Innovation in education is a step-wise creative improvement in practice. When more people adopt this, it leads to change. In my research I then went on to think about how things can become sustainable within teams/departments/universities, and also how fragile and vulnerable they are.

OER sustainability

So what about innovation this week?

Here are some further examples and ideas relating to education innovation that have emerged this week.

Enforced innovation and at any cost.

  • Investment. Wholesale organisational innovation and change can be achieved quickly through investment and strong leadership.
  • Innovation can obviously fail without adequate investment, such as the catastrophic ‘modernising scientific careers’ initiative that has left most of our healthcare science professions at high risk. Also due to lack of buy-in verging on actual conflict by key groups.
  • Some people will achieve innovation and change at any cost. One project talked about staff working solidly for months on end, and those not complying were performance managed through appraisal processes.
  • Lots of talk about enforcing innovation and change through monitoring virtual learning environments – monitoring staff compliance with the systems; making processes or life difficult for academic staff to achieve outcomes. Enforced innovation.

How to innovate beyond a mere foot shuffling pace?

  • One of the most common problems raised always is how to bring people with you? How do you get at the ‘tail end’ of colleagues who do not wish to change their practice?
  • How do you reach over stretched people who really do not have the time?
  • The problems with champions is they set a precedent. How do you manage student expectations where they may have a small number of creative and innovative modules, and others that won’t comply?
  • Do you go for horizontal innovation (cohort by cohort embedding of practice) or vertical (innovate through disciplines/subject themes across all years)?

These are just thoughts. Do share yours through comments or via Twitter.

 

 

 

Critical Appraisal for Forensic Science Introduction and Goals

Introduction to critical appraisal!

Welcome to all students studying the MSc in Forensic Analysis. This blog post is part of your Research Methods and Practical Skills module led by Helen Green (USSKM3-30-M). USSKM3 = the module code; 30 = indicates this is a 30 credit module; M = indicates master’s level).

I’m Viv Rolfe and we have a number of 2 hour sessions together as follows:

Week 9 (20 September)
Lecture and discussion –> Notes here lecture-1-19sept2016_online
Task 1 – writing critically

Week 11 (4th October)
Week 15 (Independent learning)
Week 16 (8th November)
Week 17 (15th November)
Week 18 (22nd November)

Learning goals!

My goal for you is of course to pass the January 2017 examination in which you will write a critical appraisal of a forensic science journal article. I also hope we have a constructive and fun time in these sessions and that you will also develop valuable skills in critical thinking and critical writing.

I think we take for granted our ability to read scientific articles, and write about them, but do we ever stop to question whether we are being really effective? How are your critical thinking skills?  Do you sometimes think critically about the scientific world around you, or are you too rushed to stop and do so? Do you consider yourself a fair person, unbiased, in the way you think and communicate your ideas with others?

I hope these sessions help you grow as critical thinkers and writers. You might wish to watch this introductory video to critical thinking, which references the work of Richard Paul who was a leading proponent in this area.

 

How are these sessions structured?

You will need to bring a pen and paper to these sessions, as a big part of them will be you developing your thinking and writing skills. We shall be forming pairs and groups to discuss aspects of forensic science research and court case studies. Each week there will be a ‘task’ or homework which I very much hope you will all take part in; these will include the opportunity for you to complete small writing tasks for me to help you develop your talents!

Some preliminary reading for weeks 9 – 11

READING 1
I am hoping you’ll find these sessions a bit of an ‘eye opener’ and we will be challenging some of the established doctrines that surround our research industry – from experimenting, interpretation, communication and publication. Here is a blog post that I wrote reflecting on the quality of medical research – or often, lack of it.

Research Quality’s Scandals 2014

READING 2
We are going to base some of this module work on the writing of Trish Greenhalgh. She has perfected the art of ‘trashing a paper’, and there are a number of articles that you can refer to, all freely available here. I’d focus on two at the start of this module:

Getting Your Bearings
Assessing the Methodological Quality

We’ll work toward understanding these papers toward the end:

Papers that Report Drugs Trials
Papers that Report Diagnostic Screening

Greenhalgh T (-) How to read a paper. The BMJ. Available: http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-readers/publications/how-read-paper

The do’s and don’ts of publishing.

American Association of Immunologists (2010). Dos and Don’ts
for Authors and Reviewers. Available: http://vivrolfe.com/research-methods/Assets/Scientific%20Publishing_Dos_Donts.pdf

READING 3
These items may also be helpful:

A blog post on basic journal searching and some openly licensed (again free) learning resources coving all basic skills for students.

Seek and ye shall find.

Roll up. Roll up. Get your free study skills OERs here.

 

Let’s get started!

You have my UWE email address and contact details on the Blackboard Module Page, but you can also contact and chat with me via Twitter – in fact, I would love for you to share any interesting articles or videos relating to our studies.

@vivienrolfe

 

 

 

Getting to the bottom of neuroscience in education

I am very sad not to make it to the Association of Learning Technology conference on right now in Warwick (#ALTc), and the first two recorded keynotes that I’ve just viewed have already had me gripped. I’d like to focus on the one today by Lia Commissar who is part of the education team at Wellcome. You can view all the conference keynotes including Lia’s on the ALT YouTube Channel ( Education and Neuroscience: Issues and Opportunities). (Of course, Josie Fraser’s excellent one on trolling is also there).

Several education and neuroscience projects are underway to better inform educators about learning processes, and to dispel some of the mythology and misconceptions we have about how people learn, and that we have favoured learning styles, or use or left or right brain hemispheres. What interested me more are a series of projects looking actively at the brain and how it can impact on learning, using MRI scanning technology, looking at student sleep patterns to name a few of the ideas.

Let’s debunk some more myths.

As a physiologist of course I’m interested in the brain and central nervous system. But I’m also aware and very interested how our body systems act in concert, and it is not ever relevant to think of one system in isolation. And of course, when we start talking about the wonder of the nervous system, we usually forget another nervous system in our body that is as extensive as the brain, contains the same array of neurotransmitters and is located in the only part of our body that is able to work entirely independently of brain control. What am I going on about now? Our enteric nervous system in our guts.

“A north wind brings constipation”.

OK, so Hippocrates through his ancient and detailed observations didn’t always get it right, but he was probably the first to observe that stagnant water caused diarrhoea. The trouble with the intestines is they are very inaccessible, and therefore carrying out research to understand the mechanisms therein, is awfully difficult. To make matters worse it contains a ridiculously wide ranging number of cell types – epithelium, striated muscle, smooth muscle, immune cells (oh yes, most of your immune system is also in your gut), blood cells, nerve cells and sensory cells. The reality is also that humans are just mere hosts for bacterial and fungal ecosystems, large numbers of which also reside in our guts. We apparently are more bacterial than human.

Structure.

Layers of the GI tract

By Goran tek-en [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, Available: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Layers_of_the_GI_Tract_english.svg

You can see how buried away the enteric nervous system is. It forms a series of mesh layers that extend along the entire lengths of our guts – from mouth to anus. The mucosal plexus, submucosal plexus and myenteric plexus are the main components, and they are connected to the central nervous system and brain via additional connections. Sensory information is gathered all the time and fed-back to the brain, and the brain elicits commands to control our gut functions. The gut contains:

  • Primary afferent neurones that senses food and chemicals within our gut.
  • Tension receptors monitor the contents and control peristalsis.
  • Glial cells, as with other parts of the nervous system, provide support.
  • “Pacemaker” cells (like in the heart) control motility patterns.
  • You find all the neurotransmitters that you find elsewhere – acetyl choline, serotonin, dopamine etc.

Gut-brain axis.

We know increasingly how vital the connections between the gut and brain are, and how the two systems work synergistically not just for our physiological processes but as part of our psychological ones. Some interesting medical studies looked at the use of psychotherapy for treating patients with gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (Reed, 1999). We know ourselves about these connections – we often refer to having “gut feelings”, and that is simply our sensory environment in our guts responding before our brains provide more of an interpretation of what might be going on.

The gut and neurodegeneration.

This is such an interesting area of science, and this is no attempt at a literature review. However there are many interesting epidemiological studies (that have looked at patient populations), controlled medical studies and animal work that points to the gut and other peripheral systems being associated with the processes of neuro-degeneration. Science gets excited at treatments and discoveries that target biochemical markers in the brain, and rightly so, but research shouldn’t only focus there. Here are a few papers.

Gut Brain Papers

Some of this is fascinating – the first paper shows how important the vagus nerve is – that is the main route of connection between the gut and central nervous system. In patients where the connection was severed (as part of a previous operation), the incidence of Parkinson’s in that group was lower. The last paper shows some intriguing interactions between our bacterial flora and nervous system.

So what is the role of neuroscience in education?

The work funded by Wellcome is starting to explore just that. It is worth thinking that gut neuroscience seems to be involved in degeneration and the loss of cognitive processes, so I would think the gut most likely will also play a role in our development and ability to learn. I guess, that could be the next project for Wellcome to fund!

References

  • Chung, S.J., Kim, J., Lee, H.J., Ryu, H.S., Kim, K., Lee, J.H., Jung, K.W., Kim, M.J., Kim, M.J., Kim, Y.J. and Yun, S.C. (2015). Alpha‐synuclein in gastric and colonic mucosa in Parkinson’s disease: Limited role as a biomarker. Movement Disorders.
  • Haehner, A., Tosch, C., Wolz, M., Klingelhoefer, L., Fauser, M., Storch, A., Reichmann, H. and Hummel, T. (2013). Olfactory training in patients with Parkinson’s disease. PloS one, 8(4), p.e61680.
  • Kelly, L.P., Carvey, P.M., Keshavarzian, A., Shannon, K.M., Shaikh, M., Bakay, R.A. and Kordower, J.H. (2014). Progression of intestinal permeability changes and alpha‐synuclein expression in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 29(8), pp.999-1009.
  • Mulak, A. and Bonaz, B. (2015). Brain-gut-microbiota axis in Parkinson’s disease. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 21(37), p.10609.
  • Rahne, K.E., Tagesson, C. and Nyholm, D. (2013). Motor fluctuations and Helicobacter pylori in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of neurology, 260(12), pp.2974-2980.
  • Svensson, E., Horváth‐Puhó, E., Thomsen, R.W., Djurhuus, J.C., Pedersen, L., Borghammer, P. and Sørensen, H.T. (2015). Vagotomy and subsequent risk of Parkinson’s disease. Annals of neurology, 78(4), pp.522-529.

Textbooks cost whaaaat?

£184.07.

£289,710.

£26 million.

#CutTheCosts

So I’ve done some fag packet calculations this evening because I’m so increasingly concerned about the financial welfare of my students. When I was at the 2014 Open Ed Conference in Washington and first started hearing about open textbooks, I conducted a very quick and dirty survey with some of my students. I realised I had no idea about their textbook purchasing habits, or indeed, how this fitted into the wider context of their university experience. I really should write that up. There were 69 responses from science students. Nearly 80% had part time jobs. They on average spent (based on their estimations) between £300 and almost £1000 on text books.

What about our textbook recommendations?

Clearly our degree programmes are structured around credit-bearing modules, and it is a requirement of validation and professional body accreditation to make recommended reading lists. This can comprise books that are strongly recommended to accompany each module, plus those that provide supplementary reading. Of course, every book recommended is available in the library. But what if someone really did come along and buy – even some of them? And as academic teams, do we ever sit back and think of the prices of those books we are recommending?

What I’ve done is compiled the reading lists of all the compulsory modules for our Biomedical Science degree. This degree is offered at 91 universities across the UK, and I am pretty confident that their lists will look the same. This excludes similar courses – clinical sciences, medical sciences. Let’s just stick with Biomedical Science for now.

Students have 4 compulsory year 1 modules, 3 in year 2 and select 3 in year 3. These estimates assume a student will by a text relating to each important area, so there may be more than one strongly recommended text for some modules. I’ve also not accounted for one or two modules where the books from the first year will do for modules later on.

So to purchase a good range of books that = 33 texts.
For year 1 that = 10 texts.
7 books are priced way over £100.
Kindle versions are really no cheaper.

So this already sounds ludicrous, but it is what we recommend. So why do we recommend and advise on books in this way?

£184.07?

This was the Amazon price of the most expensive book recommended. My prices were based on Hardback cover, Paperback or Kindle versions, and I took the most expensive price on offer which may be through Amazon or a private provider. Of course there are second hand versions available, but unfortunately for science, go back more than one edition, and it will be generally out of date.

Text Ethical Issues

 

£289,710?

If all the students enrolled onto these modules purchased all of the books, the grand total is £289,710. The largest first year module has over 200 students and the most expensive book there is £184.99 for a hardback version of a core physiology text. In fact this was the text I purchased in my degree, so possibly a good investment over the years although mine is certainly 20+ years out of date. I certainly would look round for a previous edition, paperback version instead, but for a chunky core book, you’d still be talking around £50.

£26 million.

The thing that worries me most about education is the vast amount of duplication of lecture and content creation, that teaching resources are discarded when people leave or retire, and I’ve written about this before. Of course, any excuse to share Kevin Mear’s excellent cartoon capture of mine and David’s session “the cost of not going open“.

The cost of not going open is also unfathomable for students across the nation. Multiply up the cost of Biomedical Science textbooks from one university to the other 91 that offer the same course, and yes, that is the figure in the millions.

But what about some real numbers?

In my 2014 textbook survey, students claimed an average spend between £300-1000.

Huffington post article showed how costs had risen by over 800% over the last three decades in College Textbook Prices Increasing Faster Than Tuition And Inflation. Figures in the article are similar to my fag-packet ones, with students on average spending about $655 on textbooks, with the most expensive being around $300.

In the 2010 National Union of Students (NUS) report What are the Costs of Study and Living, over £1000 was attributed to books and additional equipment. Further NUS reports like Debt in the First Degree detail the financial burden that students experience, and how it leads to many holding down jobs whilst studying. And we often wonder why they don’t attend classes? What is the progression and success rate for those students who have to work? What is the impact financially of those who for whatever reason have to drop out, or delay a year because work has impacted on their study?

Anyway, this isn’t intended as an in-depth academic study of the area. But we absolutely need to do just that! We also need to be providing flexible study choices for students and think about the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the education systems we offer.

Added resources:

Unite Students Insight Report: http://www.unite-students.com/about-us/insightreport

Florida Orange Grove student report: https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/file/3a65c507-2510-42d7-814c-ffdefd394b6c/1/2016%20Student%20Textbook%20Survey%20Draft%205.pdf

Bryan Alexander blog post: https://bryanalexander.org/2016/09/03/one-week-of-bad-stories-about-higher-education-financing-and-i-feel-fine/