“I don’t want to be part of a movement that is focused on replacing static, over-priced textbooks with static, free textbooks.” I hope Robin DeRosa’s thoughtful post about open textbooks provokes some reflection on the tone and goals of the open textbook movement and its advocates. It begs the question of whether we are waging the wrong war here, at least in part. Continue reading
This summer, as has become usual practice for me, I adopted open textbooks for my Introductory Psychology and Social Psychology sections (produced by NOBA and the BC Open Textbook Project, respectively); however, my desire to enjoy a semester entirely free from traditional textbooks was challenged by the absence of a high quality open textbook for Cognitive Psychology. Continue reading
As many of you will remember, 2015 is the “future” year in the beloved 1985 film “Back to the Future.” Although this may make you chuckle, I believe that Doc Brown had it right and that at least part of the future is here.
Consider this: In a now-famous blog post, David Wiley argued that “using OER the same way we used commercial textbooks misses the point. It’s like driving an airplane down the road. Yes, the airplane has wheels and is capable of driving down on the road (provided the road is wide enough). But the point of an airplane is to fly at hundreds of miles per hour – not to drive. Driving an airplane around, simply because driving is how we always traveled in the past, squanders the huge potential of the airplane.”
As always, David makes an important point in a persuasive fashion. But let me add what I believe is the perfect meme to his argument with a slightly amended version of the famous final scene of the iconic film:
It was in May of 2013 that I first heard David Wiley speak about open textbooks. That experience catalyzed my involvement with reviewing, adopting, and adapting open educational resources (OER). In May of 2014 I heard David speak once again (as the keynote speaker at last year’s Open Textbook Summit). Since then I have been immersed in research projects on the impact and efficacy of OER, advocacy as a Faculty Fellow with BCcampus (including a number of workshops at universities in BC), and a second open textbook revision. Of course all of this means that it has been rather too long since my last post and that I have a number of open education-related updates to share:
1. I recently concluded the data collection phase of a major survey of BC faculty who have adopted open educational resources (OER) in the classroom. The online survey was a collaboration with BCcampus, with whom I work as a Faculty Fellow (along with Christina Hendricks and Jessie Key), and Beck Pitt of the UK-based OER Research Hub. We are currently in the process of analyzing these data but the preliminary results look very promising. Among other things, the responses to the survey will shed more light on the types of OER that faculty have been using, their motivations for using OER, barriers, enablers, and a host of other contextual information that will help us to develop roadmaps for OER adoption and adaptation within the BC post-secondary context.
2. I just launched a major survey of BC students aimed at assessing the impact of open textbook adoption on their personal and educational outcomes, including cost savings, employment status, course performance, and program completion rates.
3. I am collaborating with my colleagues Farhad Dastur and Richard Le Grand in carrying out a quasi-experimental investigation of the impact of open textbook adoption on students taking introductory psychology at KPU.
4. Also with Farhad Dastur, I developed a course on Research Methods in Psychology for Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning Division and the OERu. The course is unique in that it has been constructed entirely with OER and resides in Wikieducator.
5. I am putting the finishing touches to a chapter I wrote titled “Unleashing openness in the teaching of introductory psychology.” The chapter will be published later this year in a book about Thematic Approaches to Teaching Introductory Psychology. As soon as it is ready I will post a copy on this site. [Update (May 24, 2015): A pre-publication copy is now available online].
6. I co-facilitated a webinar during Open Education week titled “Distinguishing the dOERs” during which Beck Pitt and I shared some data from our research on faculty adopters and adapters of OER.
7. Over the next few months I will give a number of presentations about open textbooks, open educational resources, and open pedagogy at a variety of meetings and conferences, including the following:
I am looking forward to each of these but was especially honoured to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the Open Textbook Summit. I am not yet certain that I am deserving of following in David’s footsteps but will do my darndest to deliver a memorable experience.
8. Finally, I should say that it has been wonderful to see the Open Education movement get so much local press lately. Given that awareness of OER is still a major barrier, I have been delighted to see press releases from the Ministry of Advanced Education, an interview with CBC Radio, and articles in the Surrey Now, Indo-Canadian Voice, Chilliwack Times, and The Link feature our work. This coverage really helps raise awareness and build momentum which, together with a supportive institutional culture, will create more many more believers and, I daresay, a few more dOERs.
NOBA Project: http://nobaproject.com/
Resources for Teaching Research and Statistics in Psychology: http://www.teachpsychscience.org/
Go Cognitive: http://www.gocognitive.net
Cognitive Psychology Wiki: http://cognitivepsychology.wikidot.com/
STP Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology: http://teachpsych.org/otrp/resources/index.php
APA Online Psychology Laboratory: http://opl.apa.org/
Personality Pedagogy: http://personalitypedagogy.arcadia.edu/
Animations for Teaching: http://garyfisk.com/anim/index.html
Social Psychology Teaching Resources: http://www.socialpsychology.org/teaching.htm
Timothy Bender’s Memory & Cognition Demonstrations: http://courses.missouristate.edu/timothybender/mem/mydemos.html
Rossman/Chance Applet Collection: http://www.rossmanchance.com/applets/index.html
Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics & Education: https://www.causeweb.org/webinar/activity/
Interpreting Correlations: http://rpsychologist.com/d3/correlation/
The Brain from Top to Bottom: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/
Research Methods Knowledge Base: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/
Fostering Sustainable Behavior (textbook): http://www.cbsm.com/pages/guide/preface/
TED Ed: Psychology: http://ed.ted.com/lessons?category=psychology
Psychology Tutorials & Animations: http://psych.hanover.edu/Krantz/tutor.html
Other General Repositories & Providers of OER
MIT Open Courseware: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/brain-and-cognitive-sciences/
Saylor Academy Library: https://saylor.longsight.com/
OpenStax College: http://openstaxcollege.org/books
OpenStax CNX: http://cnx.org/
OER commons: https://www.oercommons.org/browse/keyword/psychology
Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with the fine folk at BCcampus a fair bit – first as a reviewer of two open textbooks, then as an adopter of three, adapter of two, organizer of an open test bank sprint, and a co-presenter at professional development workshops at Capilano University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. So when I saw another potential excuse to spend time with Mary, Amanda, and Clint, I couldn’t help but apply for one of three Faculty Fellow positions with their open education program.
Today was the first meeting of us fellows – Christina Hendricks (UBC Philosophy) and Jessie Key (VIU Chemistry) are the other two – at BCcampus headquarters in Victoria. We received a briefing about the status of the Open Textbook Project and discussed our roles over the next year (mainly research, advocacy, & feedback to the OT team). In some ways this will be a continuation of our efforts thus far but there are many new opportunities as well (e.g., outreach within our disciplines and to student groups, presenting at the next Open Textbook summit in Vancouver, research funding, etc.). I am especially pleased to lead the research initiative, including an online survey of BC faculty that Clint and I have been working on recently with Beck Pitt (OER Research Hub) that is almost ready for launch, and that fits very well within my own research agenda at KPU.
Christina and Jessie are already doing remarkable work in the open arena and I look forward to working closely with them. Our mandate is thrilling, we have great support at BCcampus, and I believe we will collectively be able to help tangibly advance the open education agenda here in BC.
Well, we did it. Seventeen psychology faculty from six post-secondary institutions in British Columbia came together on July 18 & 19 and worked intensively for two days to create a testbank designed to accompany open textbooks for introductory psychology. As I have previously written about, the absence of ancillary materials (a testbank most of all) presents a significant challenge to instructors who wish to adopt an open textbook. Although some observers will turn their noses up at the thought of faculty not writing every single one of the questions on their exams, the reality is that many (overworked) instructors of large, multi-section survey courses do start working from the publisher-supplied testbank, writing, revising, and editing as necessary over time. The need for this crutch becomes even more pronounced for new faculty that do not have years of classroom and assessment experience to draw on, sessional faculty assigned to a course only weeks ahead of the first class meeting, and large sections with limited teaching assistant support. For those of us that advocate for the adoption of open educational resources in the classroom, ignoring or criticizing this reality is self-defeating.
Fast forward to this May when, following a series of productive conversations with Mary Burgess (Director of Open Education at BC Campus) and Peter Lindberg (NOBA Project), I was able to secure the financial support of both organizations to coordinate a “testbank sprint.” Modelled on the efforts of textbook sprints that, for example, bring together a number of faculty members for a few days to write a textbook from scratch, the idea was to invite faculty from a number of psychology departments in BC to come together for two days for a retreat-style sprint.
At the best of times, writing questions is not enjoyable work, so I knew that in order to recruit enough participants and to create a productive environment the sprint would have to be interspersed with opportunities for socializing and rejuvenation. Another goal was to gather sprinters from a variety of institutions (the wider the representation, the more natural the sense of ownership and buy-in). Finally, the challenge of producing a resource like this for Introductory Psychology is the sheer number of topic areas (15) that need coverage. Thus we would have to find a way of collecting data about potential participants’ areas of expertise and mapping these onto the topic areas in order to ensure adequate coverage.
Following a couple of discussions with members of my department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, three wonderful souls in Dianne Crisp, Cory Pedersen, and Levente Orban stepped forward to offer their assistance with organizing the sprint. Together we dealt with the questions of when to hold the sprint (mid-July, in time for Fall adoptions), where to hold it (the Cheam Golf Course in Chilliwack with accommodations at the nearby Coast Chilliwack hotel – central enough for those travelling from Victoria or Kamloops but far enough away to feel like a retreat), how to recruit faculty (the Articulation listserve + direct emails to those with past involvement in open education projects), how to map availability & areas of relative expertise onto the 15 topic areas of Introductory Psychology (enter the technical wizardry of Levente with custom online forms and formulae-laden Excel worksheets), and how to structure the event (see below).
Nineteen faculty signed up and, although two dropped out just 48 hours before the sprint was to begin, seventeen faculty representing the psychology departments at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Thompson Rivers University, Camosun College, Northern Lights College, Capilano University, and the University of the Fraser Valley met in Chilliwack on July 18. The amazing Clint Lalonde from BC Campus was also on hand to provide logistical and technical support for both days of the sprint.
The sprint was structured around 3 90-minute working sessions each day for two days, interspersed with breakfast, coffee breaks, and lunch. Following an early breakfast we began on both days with an orientation at 8:30am. The working sessions ran from 9-10:30am, 11am-12:30pm, and 1:30-3pm, with a final progress update & wrap up from 3-3:30pm. Dragon boating and a hosted dinner were scheduled for the afternoon/evening of July 18 while the sprinters were free to play 18 holes of golf on the afternoon of the 19th.
The seventeen faculty were assigned to one of 7 working groups of 2-3 faculty for each session, with each group responsible for writing questions for a specific topic area. The composition of the groups and the topics changed every session such that by the end of the second session on Day 2 of the sprint each faculty member had participated in 5 working groups and each topic area had been visited by two working groups. From an organizational point of view this was a bit like playing with a Rubik’s cube with 17 squares and 15 sides. Only the squares had feelings and the saturation of the colours was not always the same.
The target for each working group during their 90 minute session was to write an average of 10 high-quality multiple-choice questions per group member (~20-30 questions per topic per session and ~50 questions per topic or ~750 questions in total by the end of the sprint). To help with this we circulated the topic assignments and a document outlining some best practices for good multiple-choice questions ahead of the sprint (the sprinters were encouraged to think about or even write questions ahead of time and to bring their own laptops).
The final session on Day 2 was devoted to the vetting and categorization (Applied, Conceptual, or Factual) of questions. I assigned one faculty member to go through and vet all of the questions written for one topic area in which they had intermediate-to-high expertise. Minor problems could be fixed immediately but larger problems had to be flagged. Flagging a question meant that another faculty member with overlapping expertise would have to be consulted to see if the question could be resuscitated or whether it had to be deleted (deletion was always a two-person decision). I should note here that we did not have an easy template to follow for any of this so the structure and rules of the sprint really resulted from my sense of what would work well. Mercifully it all went to plan and when I solicited feedback and suggestions at the end of the first day the group appeared very happy with how things were going.
So how did we do? By the end of the fifth session we had collectively written 870 questions across the 15 topic areas (comfortably surpassing my initial target of 750 questions). Following the vetting process in the final session on Day 2, we finished with 851 questions (296 Applied, 219 Conceptual, & 336 Factual). Very soon this entire testbank will be made available by BC Campus to any recognized psychology faculty, in a format that can imported into any LMS. In other words, mission accomplished, under budget and on schedule.
Perhaps most importantly though, we truly enjoyed ourselves. Both process and outcome, journey and destination, were gold.
My thanks to my organizing team (Dianne Crisp, Cory Pedersen, & Levente Orban from Kwantlen Polytechnic University), other fellow sprinters (Betty Rideout, Carla Maclean, David Froc, Farhad Dastur, John Marasigan, Kurt Penner, Kyle Matsuba, and Richard LeGrand from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Jacqueline Kampman from Thompson Rivers University, Randal Tonks from Camosun College, Istvan Geczy from Northern Lights College, Hammond Tarry from Capilano University, Wayne Podrouzek from the University of the Fraser Valley, and Clint Lalonde from BC Campus), ed-tech whiz Meg Goodine from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and project sponsors (Mary Burgess from BC Campus and Peter Lindberg from the NOBA Project). Thanks also to the Mavericks Dragon Boat Team for hosting us on the evening of July 18.