Open@VT

Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

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Open Education Week 2017: The Potential of Open Education

Happy Open Education Week! 2017 marked the fourth year of celebrating international Open Education Week at Virginia Tech. The Open Education Week planning committee set goals to meet felt needs of faculty on campus and to encourage student communication with faculty regarding the impact of learning resources on student learning.

Cost is always an issue. The committee agreed that we wanted to do something more positive than focus on barriers to learning, so we chose the theme “The Potential of Open Education.” What is Open Education anyway?  Open Education includes pedagogies, practices, and resources which reduce barriers to learning.  “Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs.” Source: Open Education Consortium

Two faculty and graduate student oriented events featured local and invited speakers, including live and live-streamed:

Seven Platforms You Should Know About: Share, Find, Author, or Adapt Creative Commons-Licensed Resources

Thanks to Kayla McNabb for setup of the video below and Neal Henshaw for editing.

Creative Commons licenses allow no-cost access, redistribution, remix, and reuse with attribution. This session is for faculty (and others) who want to know about platforms which enable sharing, finding, creating, and/or adapting of openly licensed or public domain resources. This session featured live demos by expert users or creators of VTechWorks, Merlot, the Open Textbook Library, OER Commons, VT’s Odyssey Learning Object Repository, Overleaf (formerly WriteLaTex), Pressbooks, and the Rebus Open textbook editing community.

The event handout “Where to find, share, author and adapt Open Educational Resources? A Selection of No-Cost Platforms” is available here; also check out links from the Seven Platforms program.

The Potential of Open Educational Resources: Virginia Tech Faculty & Student Panel Discussion

Thanks to Digital Media Services for the video below and the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for video production.

Virginia Tech Open Educational Resource (OER) authors, adapters, and authors and several students discussed the use, benefits, challenges, and opportunities related to using or adapting openly licensed course materials for couse use. Panelists included Jane Roberson-Evia (Statistics), Mary Lipscombe (Biological Sciences), Stephen Skripak (Pamplin), and Anastasia Cortez (Pamplin). Publishing expert Peter Potter (University Libraries), and students Mayra Artiles (Doctoral student, Engineering Education), and Jonathan de Pena (Senior, Finance) also joined the panel, moderated by Anita Walz (University Libraries).

Virginia Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) designed the Open Education Week exhibit to educate and to solicit visitor input. The interactive exhibit features a range of required student learning materials including textbooks, homework access codes, software, and clickers, visual representations of data related to course material costs and student responses, information about open education options, a new Creative Commons brochure, CC stickers, and several interactive features. Students also have the opportunity to write a personalized message on an SGA-designed postcard to their professor, department head, or whomever they want to contact.

A selection of resources used in the exhibit are linked here:

Florida Virtual Campus (October 7, 2016) 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Available here.

National Association of College Stores (2011) “Where the New Textbook Dollar Goes” Used with Permission of NACS. (No updated data available). Available here.

Senack, Ethan. (January 2014) Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. U.S. PIRG Education Fund & the Student PIRGs: Washington, DC. Available here.

Senack, E., Donoghue, R. (2016)Covering the cost: Why we can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices. Student PIRGS: Washington, DC. Available here.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as quoted by Popken, B. in “College Textbook Prices Have Risen 1,041 Percent Since 1977“ NBC News (August 6, 2015). Available here.

OEW word cloud

© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

OEW word cloud

© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

SGA also hosted a Multimedia Event. This student led engagement event featured multiple interactive stations where students could discuss, answer questions, take pictures, and write postcards. Two wordcloud prompts in particular were telling: “Where would your money go if you didn’t have to buy textbooks” — with the top two answers by far reflecting daily living expenses — “food” and “rent.”

Students were also asked to reflect on how they avoid buying full price textbooks. Responses included “Rent [textbooks],” “go without,” “hope for the best,” “borrow them from a friend,” and “buy used.”

OEW whiteboard

© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

___________________

The Open Education Week at Virginia Tech planning committee for 2017 included: Anita Walz (Chair), Kayla McNabb, Quinn Warnick, Anna Pope, Anne Brown, Kimberly Bassler, and Craig Arthur.

Exhibit curators: Virginia Tech Student Government Association: Anna Pope, Kenneth Corbett, Spencer Jones, Holly Hunter, and Sydney Thorpe with the University Libraries’: Scott Fralin and Anita Walz

Special thanks for event support: Carrie Cross, Trevor Finney, and Kayla McNabb

University Libraries Host Open Education Week 2015

Open Education Week is an annual event to raise awareness of free and open educational resources, and 2015 marked the second celebration of Open Education Week at Virginia Tech’s University Libraries. How are open educational resources (OER) defined?

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Open Education Week at VT

Virginia Tech students, staff, faculty, and visitors from other institutions gathered for six events the week of February 23-27 to explore, discuss, and learn about open education. Our events focused on raising awareness of Open Educational Resources as:

  • one way to address student debt and educational affordability issues.
  • a way to address copyright limitations in education.
  • a set of tools to enhance faculty creativity, flexibility, and innovation in teaching.

The Student Government Association Academic Affairs Committee hosted two events, one to informally explore student textbook buying experiences and a second event to discuss their own experiences and reflect on their findings.

Students articulated a variety of observations about their own and others’ experiences:

[Students] are not buying books anymore. Books are important for our education. If you’re not buying books, you’re not learning very well.

I took a class where I had to buy eight books. [I] found the cheapest books [I] could find and the total was still $250. . . I don’t think professors know that $250 is a lot of money for [students].

I don’t want to have to work twenty hours a week to afford my textbook.

I had to spend $90 to rent an eBook in order to get a required software code to submit homework. I did not even get to keep the book.

People are going to spend the money on the textbook the professor selected.

I feel helpless. For four classes you have access codes. This leaves students without an option. You need to buy an access code. I don’t know how to get around this. It’s $300, buying access to weekly homework assignments.

Open Education Week Student Panel

Open Education Week Student Panel

Student panelists reflected on their and others’ understanding and responses to textbook buying problems:

I just want faculty to be aware that there is a problem. I have professors who put everything online. Then, I have professors who require purchase of a textbook and homework software.

I’m not privy to faculty pressures; is the content in new editions of textbooks substantially different? [Students] need to ask faculty in a way that is respectful to consider that in their decision-making.

Students mentioned a variety of faculty practices that have been helpful:

  • Recommending, but not requiring a book
  • Putting textbooks and readings on Reserve in the library (“I wish I would have known that these were available as a Freshman.”)
  • Linking content via Scholar (our LMS)
  • One professor mapped changes between different editions so that students could save money

(Slide from David Ernst CC BY; data from Florida Student Textbook Survey)

Students had various reflections on open textbooks/open educational resources:

I would encourage professors to give open educational resources a try, especially if they are teaching the same class year in and out. If they just tried it for a semester especially with these basic classes…the fundamentals don’t change.

Open textbooks mitigate cost. They also change the way we look at textbooks. How have consumers driven product development? Students need to understand their agency as consumers.

I want to tell professors that they would get more recognition if they reduce cost and increase access to [their authored] resources.

As Open Education Librarian, I led the workshop “Get Creative (and stay legal)” introducing educators and authors to OER and open licensing using Creative Commons (presentation slides; see the presentation video below).

Panelists from Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute shared their experiences and reflections on open educational resources as students, educators, researchers, authors, and adopters of open educational resources. Mohammed Seyam, doctoral student in Computer Science, discussed the value of openly licensed material as a student, research, and graduate assistant. Heath Hart, Advanced Instructor of Mathematics, reflected on his adoption of an open educational resource and a (subscribed) online textbook in “A Rousing Success and an Unmitigated Disaster.” Greg Hartman, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Military Institute, discussed his experiences authoring the openly-licensed (CC BY-NC) textbook, APEX Calculus. Peter Doolittle, Executive Director of the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, discussed the open education movement from a teaching and learning perspective, moving beyond just content into process.

(Mohammed Seyam 7:45-17:12, Heath Hart 18:06-32:47, Greg Hartman 33:04-50:34, and Peter Doolittle 51:25-1:03:11)

University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library founders David Ernst and Kristi Jensen presented workshops for instructional designers and librarians, highlighting the increased student cost of higher education as state funding decreases, the 800+% rise in the cost of textbooks (4 times the rate of inflation) since 1978, and how open textbooks and openly licensed resources can help alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students and provide faculty with customizable content. Faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines participated in an Open Textbook Adoption Workshop led by Dave Ernst. Faculty were introduced to open textbooks and their potential impact on access, academic success, and affordability, which is especially relevant in the context of rising student debt. Faculty were also invited to review an open textbook from the Open Textbook Library.For more from David Ernst on open knowledge and open textbooks, see his 2013 University of Minnesota TEDx talk and his 2012 Kyoto TEDx talk.

For more information on open educational resources and open licensing, see our OER Guide or contact Anita Walz at arwalz@vt.edu. The University Libraries are exploring additional ways to support faculty interested in open educational resources. We’d love to hear from you!

Open Data Day/CodeAcross Event Recap

Blacksburg’s first celebration of Open Data Day and CodeAcross was organized by Code for NRV, our local Code for America brigade, and the University Libraries, which hosted the event in Newman Library’s Multipurpose Room. Originally scheduled for Saturday, February 21 (the official Open Data Day observed in hundreds of cities around the world), due to rapidly accumulating snow we had to postpone until Sunday. As it turned out, a water leak closed the library around mid-day Saturday, so things worked out for the best. (Our apologies to registrants for the sudden change in plans.)

Open Data Day logo

The first event of the morning was a mapping roundtable led by Peter Sforza, director of the Center for Geospatial Information Technology at Virginia Tech. In addition to looking at a lot of cool maps, we identified three potential areas for collaboration:

  • 3D Blacksburg – an effort to develop a common, shared 3D spatial reference model for Blacksburg and the New River Valley.
  • Contributing more authoritative data to OpenStreetMap for Blacksburg and Virginia by working with GeoGig.
  • Opening data that CGIT compiles for projects and research, for example crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Mapping Roundtable

Peter Sforza Leads the Mapping Roundtable

For the journalism roundtable, we were joined by Scott Chandler, Design/Production Adviser for the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, and Cameron Austin, former editor of the Collegiate Times. One problem the CT has is finding/keeping programmers to help with data, such as their academic salaries database. Code for NRV will try to help with recruitment. A database of textbook costs was identified as a possibility to work on that would be of particular interest to students.

Blacksburg town council member Michael Sutphin joined us for the public policy roundtable, which included interesting discussions of town planning notifications and ways to encourage citizen engagement (such as the underutilized site Speak Up Blacksburg). Some of the project ideas included:

  • Visualizations of the town’s historical budget data that could benefit the public and town officials.
  • Opening the raw data used to create tables and maps in the town’s comprehensive plans.
  • Analysis of emails to and from local government officials to create visualizations of the most commented on topics in the town, e.g. word clouds and tag lists.

Our hackathon emerged from the morning’s mapping roundtable, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the projects were geographic in nature:

  • One volunteer used the Virginia Restaurant Health Inspection API created by Code for Hampton Roads to create a map of Blacksburg restaurants and their health scores.
  • An architecture student started a project that will use open 3D geospatial data from Virginia Tech to design pathways that are sculpted for the landscape.
  • Researchers from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute adapted a model used in Ebola research to optimize placement of EMS staging areas during flood emergencies in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The model uses open data sets like the location and elevation of every roadway in Virginia to determine which streets would still be navigable during a flood.
Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith

To kick off our events Friday evening, we were very happy to have Waldo Jaquith speaking on “Open Government Data in Virginia” prefaced by a brief introduction to Open Data Day/CodeAcross by Ben Schoenfeld, co-leader of the Code for NRV brigade. Waldo Jaquith is the director of the U.S. Open Data Institute, an organization building the capacity of open data and supporting government in that mission. See the video of his talk below.

Thanks to everyone who turned out Friday and/or Sunday!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

OA Week Event: Faculty and Graduate Student Panel

Our panel of faculty and graduate students is one of the most interesting events of every Open Access Week, and the 2014 version did not disappoint. In the past we’ve hosted separate, consecutive panels, but this year we decided to combine the panels into a single, shorter event.

Faculty and Graduate Student Panel

Faculty and Graduate Student Panel,
Open Access Week 2014 at Virginia Tech

Our faculty panelists were Iuliana Lazar (Biological Sciences), Nicolaus Tideman (Economics), and Randy Wynne (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation). They were joined by our student panelists, Christian Matheis (Ethics & Political Philosophy, and editor-emeritus of SPECTRA), Caitlin Rivers (Computational Epidemiology, Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory), and Michelle Sutherland (Educational Media Company, and former editor of Philologia).

Dr. Tideman had several interesting comments to make about the role of copyright in scholarship, which might be summed up by saying that copyright is inappropriate for academia. Dr. Wynne shared concerns such as reproducibility, data citation, and access to research in the developing world. For Caitlin Rivers, who is working on Ebola epidemiology, the data she uses is open, so it only makes sense that the output is too, and it must be available to people in west Africa. When Michelle Sutherland graduated, she lost access to most peer-reviewed research. This is a point that should be made more often, and it is an irony that this happens after four years of instruction from faculty and librarians on finding and using peer reviewed research. Asked what they do when they encounter paywalls, panelists had a variety of responses, from using the Twitter hashtag #icanhazpdf and sharing personal subscriptions among several people, to searching Google Scholar and research networking sites. For the full discussion, see the panel video below. Thanks very much to our panelists for the insight and discussion!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

OA Week Event: Keynote Address by Brian Nosek

Brian Nosek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and co-founder and director of the Center for Open Science, gave the keynote address for Open Access Week 2014 on Monday night, October 20. “Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research” noted the gap between scholarly values and how scholarship is actually carried out, and described how the Open Science Framework can help address this issue.

Brian Nosek at Virginia Tech

Brian Nosek, Open Access Week Keynote Address at Virginia Tech

The presentation began with a slide listing the norms (idealistic values) and counternorms (what often happens) of scholarship as opposing pairs, for example communality vs. secrecy. Looking at the counternorms, it was easy to see that these behaviors are aligned with academic incentives and “getting ahead” in general. Nosek also showed the amusing, if disheartening, results of a study comparing researchers’ agreement with the norms, how well their own practices align with the norms, and how well they think the practices of others align with the norms. He then identified current problems in the published literature of positive results and low power, variability in analysis, and selective reporting.

The Center for Open Science helps enable reproducibility, registration, and openness by making them part of the research workflow. COS endeavors to provide the technology to enable change, the training to enact change, and the incentives to embrace change. The technology is the Open Science Framework, which provides versioning, documentation, and other services in addition to connecting parts of a project together (Dropbox, figshare, etc.). COS offers training in statistics, tools, and workflows both online and in-person. And it’s working on incentives such as usage statistics, badges, and registered reports. Interestingly, registered reports move peer review after the design phase rather than after writing the report, addressing the negative results/selective reporting problem. The current incentive in academia is to get published, not to get it right, but COS is helping to change that.

Brian Nosek’s keynote address was delivered to a packed room- we counted 120 attendees. Thanks to everyone who turned out!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.