A place to log ideas and thoughts

George Veletsianos, PhD

Category: open Page 1 of 17

Zed Creds at Royal Roads

There’s a lot of work happening in the province of BC around OER and Zed Creds/Degrees, much of it facilitated by government funding, the expert guidance of BCCampus, and early adopters such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

With my colleagues Elizabeth Childs and Jo Axe, we’ve been slowly transitioning our MA and Graduate Diploma in Learning and Technology into Zed Creds. A press release yesterday announced that we completed the process.

For our students, this means no textbooks to purchase and greater transparency on the full cost of their program.

For our faculty, this means more freedoms to work with OER than with copyrighted materials to achieve desired outcomes.

For the field of educational technology, this means that we now have an example of an MA degree that is completely textbook-free and mostly OER-based. Zed Degrees aren’t just for other disciplines and aren’t just for diplomas/certificates.

So you want to publish your #edtech or digital learning book in an open access format?

Every now and then someone asks me whether I know of any non-commercial publishers that don’t charge thousands of dollars in OA fees to publish open access books in the field. In this post, I’ll share two such efforts that I support:

  1. A new venue for your open access book publishing in our area is EdTechBooks.org Not only is this project ingenious, I believe it will quickly scale and grow into something extraordinary. I have a long personal and professional connection to the people running this project, so take that prediction with a grain of salt. If you’re interested in publishing with them, contact them at admin@edtechbooks.org
  2. Athabasca University Press publishes the award-winning Issues in Distance Education book series. Partly because AU Press is one of the few university presses that publish books in open access formats in our field and partly because I’d like to help expand the conversations that we are having in our field I recently agreed to co-edit this series with Dr. Terry Anderson. If you’re interested in publishing with AU Press feel free to contact me. As far as my personal interests go, I am keen to support and see more books from:
  • Under-represented authors, such as women and people of color, whose perspectives and research on topics pertaining to digital education challenge the dominant ways of thinking.
  • Authors who are interrogating various aspects of the history of the field.
  • Authors who are conducting rich ethnographic work (e.g., What’s life like as an instructional designer? What’s it like at an online program management company?)
  • Authors who are conducting critical investigations of various aspects of the field, such as for example, interrogating discourses pertaining to online learning, or interrogating issues relating to power and privilege.
  • Authors whose work provides practical recommendations for addressing the significant challenges and tensions that our community is facing.


Are there any other non-commercial open access publishers in the area that you would recommend?

A list of Z-degrees and Zed Creds

On Twitter last week I asked whether anyone had created a list of available a Zed Creds and Z-Degrees. As a way of definition BCcampus writes: “a Zed Cred/Z-Degree is a set of courses in a specific program area that allows a student to earn a credential, such as an associate degree or certificate program, with zero textbook costs by way of using open educational resources and/or free library materials.”

It’s easy to find lists of colleges and universities working on these, but much harder to find specifics (e.g., what are the main credentials? what are the main disciplines? and so on). Through Rajiv Jhangiani, I learned that Richard Sebastian had created one such list of Z-degree, Zed Cred, and OER Degree programs. If you cite this list, please use the following attribution: Created by Richard Sebastian, Achieving the Dream.

So, there’s a list and we can all help improve it.

But, we had an interesting conversation on Twitter that I am going to rehash here, partly because it relates to the list, partly because my Twitter posts are automatically deleted and that conversation will eventually consist of fragments. David Wiley asked: “Are you looking for programs that use OER (even if there is some cost to students) or programs that are completely free to students (even if there is some All Rights Reserved content used)?”

This question relates to ongoing effort in the field to disambiguate terms and intentions. Both Z -degrees and OER degrees may be one and the same and may cost zero to students. But, they may also cost zero to students and consist of entirely different (non-OER) materials. A Z-degree for instance may consist of copyrighted library resources that require no additional costs to students to access (e.g., a seminal piece of work that faculty deem necessary to include). Library resources aren’t “free,” of course as students pay for them through tuition and fees. But beyond cost, the core argument here is that the permissions that OER enable are expected to lead to more effective and worthwhile teaching and learning experiences.

And here’s the final caveat: Imagine a typical course that uses a commercial textbook. Now consider that course being redesigned such that it exclusively uses library resources. Imagine an instructional designer and a librarian working with a faculty member (or two) to identify resources, define learning objectives, create activities, and align assessments. The permissions that the library materials allow won’t match the ones that OER allow, but the benefits of OER use reported in the literature don’t always just come from OER – they also come through the redesign process. This is not a dispute with OER. Rather, it’s an argument for instructional design. Or, learning design, or learning engineering. Alas, disambiguating these terms is probably best left for a different post altogether.


Searchable directories relevant to educational technology

Contact North | Contact Nord keeps a number of non-exhaustive searchable directories relevant to educational technology leaders, practitioners, and researchers that are really useful, especially because they can be downloaded in csv format. Below are links to the ones I could find on their website:

Open Access Educational Technology books

I want to tell you about a new site that Royce Kimmons is launching: http://edtechbooks.org

This aims to become go-to location for open texts related to educational technology, instructional design, learning design and technology, and related fields. If you’d like to add a book to this collection, bring it to the attention of Royce!

 

Tri-council guidance on using online public data in research

I am often asked whether there are Canadian ethics guidelines on the use of online public data in research. The  relevant section from the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans is provided below. I believe that researchers should take further steps to protect privacy and confidentiality pertaining to public data, but with regards to accessing and using public online data, this is a start.

A sample project to which these guidelines may apply is the following:  The researcher will collect and analyze Twitter profiles and postings of higher education stakeholders (e.g., faculty, researchers, administrators) and institutional offices (e.g., institutional Twitter accounts). This research will use exclusively publicly available information. Private Twitter accounts (ie those that are not public and involve an expectation of privacy) will be excluded from the research. The purposes of the research is to gain a better understanding of Twitter metrics, practices, and use/participation.

 

=== Begin relevant Tricouncil guidance ===

Retrieved on December 12 2014 from http://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca/eng/policy-politique/initiatives/tcps2-eptc2/chapter2-chapitre2/

REB review is also not required where research uses exclusively publicly available information that may contain identifiable information, and for which there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, identifiable information may be disseminated in the public domain through print or electronic publications; film, audio or digital recordings; press accounts; official publications of private or public institutions; artistic installations, exhibitions or literary events freely open to the public; or publications accessible in public libraries. Research that is non-intrusive, and does not involve direct interaction between the researcher and individuals through the Internet, also does not require REB review. Cyber-material such as documents, records, performances, online archival materials or published third party interviews to which the public is given uncontrolled access on the Internet for which there is no expectation of privacy is considered to be publicly available information.

Exemption from REB review is based on the information being accessible in the public domain, and that the individuals to whom the information refers have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Information contained in publicly accessible material may, however, be subject to copyright and/or intellectual property rights protections or dissemination restrictions imposed by the legal entity controlling the information.

However, there are situations where REB review is required.

There are publicly accessible digital sites where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. When accessing identifiable information in publicly accessible digital sites, such as Internet chat rooms, and self-help groups with restricted membership, the privacy expectation of contributors of these sites is much higher. Researchers shall submit their proposal for REB review (see Article 10.3).

Where data linkage of different sources of publicly available information is involved, it could give rise to new forms of identifiable information that would raise issues of privacy and confidentiality when used in research, and would therefore require REB review (see Article 5.7).

When in doubt about the applicability of this article to their research, researchers should consult their REBs.

=== End relevant Tricouncil guidance ===

Recent SSHRC awards

SSHRC recently announced the awards of the latest round of the Insight and Insight Development grants, and we can now announce that we were awarded two grants for our research. Both grants are collaborations. The first with Dr. Royce Kimmons and the second with Dr. Jaigris Hodson. I’m a true believer in people’s ability to collaborate to go farther together. More than 93% of the funding will go to student research assistants. Here’s the work that these two awards will support:

 

SSHRC Insight grant #435-2017-160. PI: Veletsianos; Collaborator: Kimmons, R. Faculty members’ online participation and expression of self over time.

Summary: Researchers’ understanding of longitudinal aspects of digital technology use in education is limited. While many researchers, policymakers, and businesspeople are hopeful about the potential positive impacts that academics’ use of digital technology may generate, the empirical evidence describing the nature of academics’ online participation over time is scant and is largely predicated on small-scale studies. We will address this problem by studying whether, how, and why academics’ online participation and presentation of the self change over time. We will use a mixed methods approach combining descriptive/inferential analyses with basic qualitative studies using data collected from interviews and data mining of social media sites.

 

SSHRC Insight Development grant #430-2017-00104. PI: Veletsianos; Co-PI: Hodson, J. Female academics’ experiences of harassment on social media.

Summary: Prior research shows that some female academics, especially those who are in the public eye and use technology to promote their work, are at great risk of harassment. To gain a greater understanding of this issue, this mixed methods investigation seeks to investigate women scholars’ experiences of online harassment.  The proposed research will use data arising from interviews, social media posts, and surveys to gain a deep and multidimensional understanding of harassment aimed at academics.

How do faculty benefit from renewable assignments?

* This was originally hosted on the BCCampus blog, but I’m cross-posting it here for posterity.

Open education advocates have promoted renewable assignments as a way to create/update knowledge, enable faculty and students to impact society in significant ways, and foster student learning in more meaningful ways. As individual faculty members are often involved in designing course assignments, it might be worthwhile to be explicit about the value that renewable assignments might garner for faculty members themselves.

David Wiley differentiates between disposable and renewable assignments. He writes:

“A Disposable Assignment is any assignment about which students and faculty understand the following:

  • Students will do the work
  • Faculty will grade the work
  • Students will throw away the work

A Renewable Assignment is any assignment where:

  • Students will do the work
  • Faculty will grade the work
  • The work is inherently valuable to someone beyond the class
  • The work is openly published so those other people can find and use (5R) it”

One form that renewable assignments might take is in the form of books and textbooks. Four examples of open access books that faculty and students collaboratively wrote, revised, or edited are the following:

The arguments for these types of assignments, and rightly so, often focus on students and society. They highlight the cost-savings that students might accrue while engaging in pedagogies that enable authentic, participatory, and valuable contributions to the common good.

Yet, we know that individuals face both individual and systemic barriers in adopting open practices, such as institutional constraints that might not necessarily recognize the value of spending extra time and effort on developing open books and textbooks with students. Convincing faculty members to develop renewable assignments might involve highlighting the benefits that faculty members might accrue by engaging in this process.

What then might be the individual benefits to faculty members from redesigning some of their assignments to be more “renewable?” One renewable assignment that I created materialized as the last book appearing in the list above. The benefits that I saw were the following:

  • Authentic mentorship. The assignment gave me an opportunity to mentor students in an environment in which the end goal was an essay intended for practitioners and researchers. In doing so, we often engaged in conversations about the goal of the project, the audience, and the outcomes that each student wanted for their essay. Such mentorship was personally satisfying and fulfilling.
  • Align my research with my teaching. Faculty members engage in diverse activities, and I’m a firm believer in engaging in activities that benefit multiple areas of my work. In other words, my research, teaching, and service often overlap and inform one another. By creating a renewable assignment that addressed my learning objectives and was aligned with my research, my students and I were able to produce scholarship that was of value to the field, as well as address the goals of my research agenda.
  • Enable students to publish their work. Beyond the personal benefits that students might accrue by engaging in renewable assignments, I found it immensely rewarding to see my students’ work being published and hear them describe that they felt empowered and supported. Importantly, our book was published by Hybrid Pedagogy, which practices collaborative peer review and treats the peer review process as pedagogical.
  • Better collaboration. It was much more pleasurable to work with students toward our shared goal. I found that this process eliminated some of the power imbalances and hierarchies in the classroom, enabling us to collaborate more effectively.

If you are a faculty member, consider the value that renewable assignments might have for students, society, but also for your own practice. If you are a learning designer that is advocating for renewable assignments, consider whether these arguments might be worthwhile in your conversations with faculty colleagues. And if you have experiences with renewable assignments, consider sharing them on social media and linking back to this article.

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