Friday, August 22, 2014

Open Textbooks at Humboldt State University

English: The Jolly Giant Commons while briefly...
The Jolly Giant Commons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I presented the other day at Humboldt State University's conference "Institute for Student Success." I was really pleased that the organizers seem to recognize economic barriers to education as a factor in student success. I am also very excited about some of the work already in progress here at HSU with open textbooks. Last year, I worked with Chris Callahan, one of our Biology instructors, to put his BIOL 102L online - human biology with a lab. The course used chapters from two open textbooks, numerous videos from Kahn Academy and elsewhere. The labs combined some simulations from Smart Science as well as a collection of experiments that the students could do in their own home. One of the requirements of the lab report had the students take pictures of themselves actually doing the experiments. It is amazing what some of these students could accomplish with a hotplate or a microwave in their dorm rooms!

One of my goals with this presentation was to find other faculty who might be interested in open textbooks or who may already be working with OERs and open textbooks: I was not disappointed.

Laura Hahn and Scott Payton of HSU, and Lance Lippert of Illinois State University have written a textbook in Wikibooks called "Survey of Communication Study." The text is for the capstone course for the BA and the interesting part is that the capstone includes having the students edit and update the textbook. As an instructional designer, I am always interested in new models of open textbook creation and I think this is very innovative. It has the potential of combining open textbook authoring with portfolio assessment. This is a great answer to the question "who is going to maintain and update an open book once it is published?" This turns the "textbook" into a living community of scholarship rather than a static object of consumption.

There are other projects here that I will be writing about later so watch this space! Good things are happening at Humboldt State.

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