Author-Adopter Communities and Sustainability

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Author/Adopter Communities for Open Textbooks Module for P2PU workshop Find, Author, and Share Open Textbooks Winter 2011; Module 5 Feb 23-Mar 1, 2011

Self questions and discussion questions for this module:

  1. What are the concerns of instructors in my organization about using open resources?
  2. Would author/adopter communities address some of these concerns?
  3. Would online or face-to-face collaboration be more effective for author/adopter communities?
  4. What online collaboration tools would be the most useful for these communities?

Instructors are sometimes reluctant to adopt open-licensed textbooks due to concerns around updating and enhancing the material to keep it relevant and lack of ancillaries for students and instructors. In author-adopter communities, members share and pool their knowledge to make textbook improvements, add supplementary materials, and address other challenges of adopting open textbooks.

Concerns that instructors express about adopting open textbooks include:

  • scope and applicability of content
  • quality of content, scholarship, pedagogy, accessibility, imagery, and back matter
  • enhancements, maintenance, currency
  • availability of ancillaries for instructors and students: lessons, assessments, automated homework, syllabi, slide decks, flashcards, sound files, videos, and more
  • formats including bound copies, online, offline, and mobile devices

Most of these concerns can be addressed by vibrant author/adopter communities.

College Open Textbooks started a project in early 2011 to increase the adoption of open educational resources, especially textbooks. The strategy is to initiate and facilitate author-adopter communities that will enhance and maintain individual open textbooks and create ancillaries that can be shared by all adopters as well as collaborating on how to teach with that textbook.

The goals of the project include the following:

  • Form or continue six communities that include the textbook adopters and potential adopters and, in some cases, the textbook author and other creators (photographers, illustrators, technologists, etc.).
  • Choose collaboration and repository tools for each community (if not already in place).
  • Attract qualified people to join and participate and remain in the group.
  • Compare methodologies for marketing, tools, and leadership with the criteria for success being sustainability, scalability, textbook adoptions, and cooperation.

In the summer of 2011, the project managers will be

  • Sharing the practices that are working well in the seven communities.
  • Identifying the practices that did not succeed.
  • Applying the results to other kinds of learning communities.
  • Discussing the differences between the communities that start with a theoretical approach (e.g., Wenger, White, Smith) and those that take a more pragmatic approach.
  • Comparing the use of synchronous and asynchronous communications methods.
  • Noting if the communities followed the Tuckman team formation stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing: http://www.businessballs.com/tuckmanformingstormingnormingperforming.htm
  • Discussing how instructors and others can feel comfortable sharing their materials.
  • Sharing the plans for the future of these seven communities and additional author-adopter communities.

The initial author-adopter communities are for the following open-licensed textbooks:

Each community will use one or more collaboration and repository tools:

  • Canvas
  • ELGG
  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Ning
  • Nixty
  • Global Text Project
  • Google Docs
  • Google groups
  • DynamicBooks (Macmillan)
  • Phone and live web conferences using tools such as Dim-Dim, Elluminate, VoiceThread, WebEx, Wimba
  • Rice University Connexions
  • Rockmelt
  • Wikis
  • Yahoo groups

We will compare and contrast the effectiveness of each tool or set of tools in supporting the communities. Other observations will include:

  • Do the dynamics change if the author(s) is/are available to participate?
  • Do the communities interact or just upload ancillaries?
  • Are current adopters willing to participate?
  • Are prospective adopters willing to participate?
  • What type of ancillaries are desired by the communities?
  • What type of ancillaries are most commonly contributed?
  • Do the communities make improvements to the textbooks?

As a snapshot into seven author-adopter communities, we hope to share how developing communities around open textbooks will benefit instructors as well as address the concerns instructors may have using OER materials.

References 1) Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, John D. Smith (2009) Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities. Portland, Oregon: CPsquare. http://technologyforcommunities.com/ 2) Ounya Mishra, Matthew J. Koehler and Yong Zhao (2007) Faculty Development By Design: Integrating Technology in Higher Education. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing. http://punya.educ.msu.edu/2008/01/22/fac-dev-by-design/ 3) 2010 Horizon Report (Challenges and Open Content Sections) http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2010/ 4) 2011 Horizon Report http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2011/sections/trends/ 5) Pew Internet report see:http://sloanconsortium.org/aln (Sloan C conference, November 2011 write-up) 6) Department of Education National Education Technology Plan, 2010, “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered By Technology” http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010 7) Joni K. Falk and Brian Drayton (Eds.) (2009) Creating and Sustaining Online Professional Learning Communities. New York: Teachers College Press. http://store.tcpress.com/0807749400.shtml 8) ‘Open Textbook Proof-of-Concept via Connexions’ by Judy Baker, Joel Thierstein, Kathi Fletcher, Manpreet Kaur, and Jonathan Emmons in a special issue of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) November 2009 http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/633 9) Toru Tiyoshi and M.S. Vijay Kumar (eds.) (2008) Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education Through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11309