Busy week next week. We are hosting the 2nd annual Open Textbook Summit in Vancouver. Last year I had been on the job for only a few weeks when this event rolled around & remember feeling very n00b-ish in a room full of people from well established projects like OpenStax, Siyavula, CCCOER, and Open Course Library (along with others like Creative Commons & student advocates). There were about 30 participants and it proved to be a great introduction to the open textbook community.
This years event has scaled up. There are over 130 people registered. Many are from those same projects & groups, but there are also many new people in attendance. We have more faculty attending. Librarians will be well represented, as will senior post-sec administration. Students will again make up a good portion of the crowd, including some from Saskatchewan, where that province (along with Alberta) have recently announced their own open textbook initiatives. There has been a provincial agreement (pdf) signed between the 3 western provinces to work collaboratively together on OER projects, which is a really wonderful development in terms of encouraging further use and development of open educational resources in Canada. Because of that agreement, there will be some pretty high level government officials from BC and Saskatchewan in attendance.
That is a lot of people representing different stakeholders in one room talking open education.
Brad and I will be speaking for about 20 minutes on some of the technology we are using for the Open Textbook project. Much of my short piece will be built around some of what I have written about before about the decisions we made when architecting our sites to reach some specific goals, like findability of the resources (a long standing complaint of many faculty that we wanted to try to alleviate with our project as much as possible), the public display of reviews of the books, and the ability to enable choice of format for students. Brad is going to dig into PressBooks and the work he has done extending it for open textbook authoring (and I am happy to see that Hugh McGuire, the developer of PressBooks is going to be attending)
This year, I am heading into the 2 days with some clearer conversations in mind, and the biggest one that I am looking forward to is with David Wiley & Bill Fitzgerald around their work developing a new OER publishing platform called Candela. This is very exciting because Candela is being developed on WordPress, which is the same DNA that PressBooks has. I am eager to find out about their roadmap and see where the connections between Candela and PressBooks Textbooks may intersect.
I am also eager to connect with some of the faculty members who will be participating in our open textbook sprint in June as I know they will be in attendance. So far, I have only conversed with this group of faculty via email, and I know some will be in attendance.
I am also looking forward to conversing with faculty in general around a very specific issue we continue to grapple with – enabling customization (or remix or adaptation – pick your term). As we head into this phase of the open textbook project, we need to start making some very deliberate development choices to enable adaptation. So I want to take this opportunity to ask faculty questions about the best way to enable customization to happen. I am fleshing out some thinking around the ways we can enable customization of open textbooks to happen, depending on a number of factors. But much like the conversations I want to have with institutional IT staff when I am at BCnet in a few weeks, I want to hear from those that are on the ground what we can do to enable them to do the types of adaptations they need to do in order to adopt the material.
See you in Vancouver next week.