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Open Science – Massive Sharing & Collaboration

Are you willing to publicly share online the findings of your project spending months or years of time to complete with others study in the related field or similar interest for further development? If your answer is yes, then that is pretty much what open science tries to achieve – sharing data online for massive collaboration. Platforms for open science have been gradually emerging, such as ResearchGate and social network for scientific community like LabSpaces.net and Scitable. However, issues around whether open science tends to lead low quality research outcome or simply be a short cut for people who need grant project needs great concerns (Pisani 2011).

In 2009, one of the world most renowned mathematician and also a professor in Cambridge University, Timothy Gowers, used his blog to post a striking question: Is massive collaborative mathematics possible? He was actually proposing to use his blog to tackle an unsolved mathematical problem. He issued an open invitation inviting anybody in the world if they think they had an idea to post in the common section of the blog. Initially, there was no reply; gradually, more and more people replied; finally, the mathematical problem had been solved.  His thought was by combing the ideas of many minds, he can make the easy work of the mathematical problem – he called the method the ‘Polymath Project’ (Nielsen 2009). The idea of ‘Polymath Project’ (Gowers 2009) implies that we can use Internet to build tools that actually expand our ability to solve the most challenging intellectual problems. We can actively build tools that amplify our collective intelligence is similar to using physical tools to amplify our strength.

However, open science debate held in Oxford University on the 29th February 2012 points out some real problems of open science that worth thinking for its further development. Problems of open science inter-connect with each other, such as quality, credibility and economic barriers. The representative of nature brand journal underlines in the video clip that the inevitable ‘pay model’ is mainly because the rejection rate of nature brand journals is as high as 90% each year. It implies that it is necessary for the full-time editorial staffs to guarantee the quality of the published journals. The representative emphasizes the high price of these editorial staffs. It is unfair for the public to consume the great effort made by the editors for free. So it seems to be a highly challenging goal for the complete open science. More content regarding open science debate can be found in the video clip below:

So we can see the power of open science/resources for massive collaboration, however, which model can replace or improve the traditional ‘pay model’ of quality journal publisher to make open educational resources available for university students?

 Relevant Links:

Evolution of Science: Open Science and the Future of Publishing, Youtube, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yELZ3kbFj1w&gt;.

Gowers, T 2009, wordpress, http://gowers.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/is-massively-collaborative-mathematics-possible/

Nielsen, M 2009, blog, “The Polymath project: scope of participation”

Pisani, E 2011, ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing>

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337

 

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Virtual University- ‘Building on iTunes U – Global Textbook Station’

If we have Internet, mostly I guess broadband Internet, why should we ridiculously spend hundreds of dollar on paper textbooks? How about establish a ‘virtual university’ for Open Educational Resource? Here, the ‘virtual university’ is not the same as online university for distant education to meet the demands of students who are not able to physically go to lectures or tutorials on campus. The ‘Virtual University’ is for Open Textbook – global-based educational resource station. In this international platform, university students learning the same or similar courses can join together to share and discuss their required textbooks and learning materials. Who will make these required textbooks accessible without students’ great amount of expenditure? The university, the government support, private law firms, philanthropist… Yes! We need their support! Is that possible? Let’s have a look at a possibly VirtualUniversity-to-be Model– iTunesU. (Maybe some of you or most of you have already experienced it).

iTunes U is basically more like a showroom for actual courses running at universities worldwide. It is indeed free of charge, allowing open subscription and review forum for anyone in the world. Though it’s still a bit far from ‘Virtual University’ in the perspective of Open Textbook, however, it’s much easier to achieve the goal of Open Textbook via building on iTunes U.

What I think is that each university that already existed in iTunes U publishes their Textbook lists according to requirements of different faculties. The access of Open Textbooks in iTunes U is controlled and limited by students’ ID (i.e. student number or Uni-pass). It means only students who have enrolled in the programs within universities can access the Textbooks Resource.

If ‘iTunes U-Global Textbook Station’ is able to be successfully established, it will dramatically increase the variety and accessibility of textbooks and learning materials which cannot be found or accessed in our own university. It will possibly leads a global study forum with professionals, educators and students to discuss and tackle the problems that experience during reading and studying the textbooks. As a result, it tends to give the editors and authors of the textbooks a much clearer and more reasonable direction of what should be improved and changed for ‘new editions’ rather than unnecessary minor changes for profit intentions.

How do you think the idea of ‘iTunes U-Global Textbook Station’?

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337

 

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Access your Textbooks – Digital VS Physical

COME ON, GUYS! Vote for your ‘LIKE’ and ‘IDEAL’!!!

No matter you are an old fashioned physical book reader or a tablet-savvy book reader, the way we choose to interact with the book content is crucial and somehow related to the effectiveness and satisfaction level of our reading experience.

For university students, the preference of formats or types of textbooks predominantly depends on the price that can be afforded rather than the preferred reading habit. According to my empirical research, there are still a great number of students who are able to achieve better learning outcomes through taking notes,tagging,highlighting in a physical textbook. For others, they enjoy the efficiency of E-textbook or electronic learning materials that virtual tools enable faster and effective study.  A research on “Reading behaviour in the digital environment” done by Ziming Liu (2005) from San Jose State University, California,USA, presents a trend of reading habit that shifts from paper-based to screen-based reading with an increasing amount of time spent.

The screen-based reading behaviour is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively, while less time is spent on in-depth reading, and concentrated reading.

The research reveals that although the screen-based reading behaviour is emerging, the traditional pattern of reading has not yet migrated to the digital environment.

Moreover, as a university student, I can feel that no matter how advanced reading tool I applied in the process of reading, in certain period of time I definitely need some sort of physical tools or material to assist the entire learning process. Do you have the SAME feeling?

Therefore, when it comes to the Open Educational Resources (OERs), the combination of physical and virtual (electronic) learning resources is crucial. With the goal of achieving ideal learning outcomes, OERs in both physical and electronic versions in most cases are necessary to tailor university students’ various reading habits.

In the next blog, we will discuss something about “Virtual University” to increase and further the possibility and potential of OERs in modern-day universities.

Reference:

Ziming Liu, (2005) “Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years”, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 Iss: 6, pp.700 – 712.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337

 

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Open Educational Resources (OER) in the US, What can Australian Department of Education do for Open Educational Resources for tertiary education?

We can see that Australian government did make effort to promote open educational resources. However, these open resources are mainly limited to K-12 education than university education. As a result, an increasing drop-out rate due to expensive textbooks across Australian universities is alarming for the importance of open education resource or other affordable textbook alternatives. Now, it’s time to learn from the successful model of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the US for tertiary education to help the drop-outs out of financial pressures.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008, and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) in the United States. Also, a provision relates to textbook affordability and access to pricing information went into effect in 2010. Moreover, “bills supporting the development of open textbooks have been introduced in both the House and Senate” (U.S Department of Education 2008 & Student PIRGS 2010).  The HEOA price disclosure law  helps accelerate the pace of Open Textbook. Open textbooks mean “college texts that have been published online under an open license that allows free digital access, low-cost printing and customization by instructors.”More importantly, the major difference is the application of  “Open License”,  which enables a wider range of access for affordable textbook formats, involving “free web-based versions, printable PDFs, and printed and bound hard copies for $20-40 (traditional textbooks usually cost $100-200!).” one of the most notable feature of open textbooks is customization – Instructors can remove the chapters that is less relevant to the course content, or they can add in supplementary materials, homework questions or annotations (Student PIRGS 2010).
I highly advocate applying the mechanism of Open Textbook in the US to Australian universities with changes based on specific Australian universities’ differences and needs. Let’s have a look at the main open educational resources in Australia at the moment (As I mentioned before, mainly for K-12 education):

•    Writers Talk

•    Science Talk

  • Intel skoool

•    Software-specific resources – Tools4U


•    UCreate


•    Dynamic calculus


    Sites2See

     Current statistics for Sites2See—


  • How about including the textbook content used at universities into the already existed open educational resources?

In terms of the open resources for Australian universities –
“The University of Southern Queensland and Wollongong University are among 15 institutions which will contribute courses to the Open Education Resource University, which is being run by WikiEducator” (The Australian 2012).
University of Tasmania, Australia – Open Educational Resources (OER)
http://www.teaching-learning.utas.edu.au/designing/open-educational-resources

“The UNESCO declaration was presented at the World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress in Paris in June. The congress is a partnership between UNESCO and the non-profit Commonwealth of Learning” (The Australian 2012).

ROCK UP!!! Let’s come together to make Open Textbook available across Australia and the world!!!

[The benefits for students from Open Textbook]
According to the Report A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, found that “using open textbooks could reduce costs 80% – that’s $184 per year, compared to the current average of $900!  But cost isn’t the only advantage. In our survey, student preferences were split 75% for print and 25% for digital, and two out of five said they’d be comfortable using both. Students listed readability, convenience and cost as their top factors in choosing a format, although there was no consensus on which format represented these qualities best. Given such variance in student preferences, open textbooks are a far more effective solution than conventional options like rentals and e-books, since students can choose from a wide variety of affordable options” (Student PIRGS 2010).

Reference:
Allen, N 2010, A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, The Student PIRGs, viewed 2 September 2012, <http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/cover-cover-solution&gt;.
‘Online and free, the real education revolution accelerates’, The Australian, 03 July 2012, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/online-and-free-the-real-education-revolution-accelerates/story-e6frgcjx-1226414895200&gt;.
Student PIRGS 2010, Make Textbook Affordable, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://www.studentpirgs.org/campaigns/sp/make-textbooks-affordable&gt;.
U.S. Department of Education, ‘Higher Education Opportunity Act – 2008’, viewed 5 September 2012, < http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html&gt;.

Related articles:
1. Higher Education Opportunity Act enlists universities to halt file sharing by threatening federal funding
2. EDUCAUSE
3.Smartcopying: The Official Guide to Copyright issues for Australian schools and TAFE

Please leave a comment about anything relevant to Affordable Textbook!!!

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337

 

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