It’s going to Happen Without Them…

Creative Commons TextbooksThis just got twittered out by John Pederson, of Pedersondesigns.

Welcome to ccLearn — ccLearn:

ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons which is dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources (OER). Our mission is to minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials — legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.

I just realized that John included the same quote in his blog, so do click over there to take part in that conversation as well.

My take is that if the Textbook industry does not work really fast to reinvent itself in the image of a more participatory, reader directed, and people connecting information environment, then it’s going to happen without them.

15 thoughts on “It’s going to Happen Without Them…”

  1. I’ve been saying this to fellow teachers for a while and they get a blank look until I ask them to add up the cost of a laptop for each student vs. the cost of textbooks and open-source content for each student. Some of them have started to see the light.

  2. David, if I were to go back into an English class (my certification) to teach reading or grammar, I would have to say, “No thanks,” to textbooks. Everything I need is available to me free somewhere on the web. If we can get teachers (or more importantly administrators and politicians) tuned in to exactly what Web 2.0 and beyond will be able to do for us in the classrooms, textbook companies may finally need to change the way they do business. Most now offer some type of CD-ROM or Internet site as an add-on, but it may come to purchasing Internet access with textbooks as an add-on. Thanks for sharing this important idea!

  3. This is exciting news for those of us who work with student with “print disabilities” (vision impairments, reading disabilities)!
    The federal government got involved through NIMAS which adds it’s own bureaucratic layer and big business components.
    Can’t wait to see how this shakes out. Most digital text is accessible to students with disabilities. Great news!

  4. It will be interesting to see how this develops, although I’m not actually sure why we need another organisation. I give away tons of stuff, as do you, and I don’t need an organisation or a new badge in order to do so!

    Still, let’s see what comes out of it.

  5. My favorite indicator happens at the tail end of Jimmy Wales’ 2005 TED talk. There’s a question from the audience about textbooks. Jimmy tells the audience something to the effect that “while it’s still realistically 20 years out, that’s the next big thing”.

  6. I would love to see the textbook publishers catch on this issue and the fact that they don’t control educational information as much as they used to. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to one day solve the issue of how to handle those students (almost all of mine) who have no computer or internet access at home. For the use of Creative Commons & Open Source web content to be truly equitable, we have to do a better job of helping students to gain access to it outside of school as well.

  7. Amen, David! Creative Commons is my hero. I teach at a local community college as an adjunct and am always trying to find ways to incorporate course content students don’t have to pay for. My middle school technology education classes are already delivered ‘sans’ textbook. I have a Moodle site I use and will never ever go back!

  8. I didn’t issue the 9th grade English textbook last year. Not only does it seem like an archaic and contrived resource, it is also terribly cumbersome. I do, however, appreciate student- and teacher-friendly web-based educational resources. It is so exciting that students and teachers, themselves, are publishing such materials to share with others. At our school, we have dreamed of being able to issue laptops to our students, as others have described here. Doing so in the near future is a necessity if we are to ensure a quality education for all of our students.

  9. Many textbook publishers are doing a great job of adapting to our changing needs. In mathematics for example, the new text we adopted this year has all sorts of digital information available for the students to access independently for research and support. The publisher clearly understands that they are in the business of making valid information quickly accessible.
    It would be wonderful to be able to replace the huge load of texts and notebooks that students are carrying throughout the day with a individual tablet/laptop device and connectivity. Then all students would truly have access to the tools they need to succeed. This would require more technological support systems within our schools tho, as many students cannot afford such on their own.
    I am very gaurded about the idea of scrapping traditional, subject-specific content, although I think that the format is long overdue in adapting. Especially in mathematics, there is no good reason to “reinvent the wheel,” but we do need to use technology more effectively. This is an area for new and veteran teachers to really connect on…exclusively “getting” technology or a particular content is not sufficient. These must be connected in very meaningful ways to motivate students. That’s why it will take everyone’s collective efforts – whether we think they “get it” or not.

  10. David,

    Your own position on Creative Commons is ambiguous to me. I mean, you don’t license any of your stuff (ok, music…) with CC licenses, as far as I can see. I don’t mean this as just a gotcha. I just don’t think you’ve really laid out your views on the subject.

  11. Tom Hoffman asked me to “lay out my views” on Creative Commons. As he noted, my music is on the CC. But although he promised that this was not a “gotcha,” he did — get me. I checked some of my content and found that somehow, my flickr account got switched back from CC attribution, non-commercial, share-alike to copyright. I don’t know how or when this happened. I have switched back the default, though that didn’t take care of existing pictures.

    I also discovered a copyright label at the bottom of my blog. This is probably a result of changing my blog theme a few weeks ago. I’ve fixed that as well. My online handouts are mostly on wikis, so that’s obviously open.

    But my position is not really something that I can convey in any kind of well thought out way. I obviously agree with CC and I agree with Lawerence Lessig’s objections to traditional copyright. However, I use both, CC and copyright. My books are copyrighted. I sell them, in print (I’m actually a fairly old fashioned person), and their sale generates income to put my kids through college. The sell of the first three editions of Raw Materials for the Mind earned enough for my daughter. We’re hoping that the sell of my other two books and Google Ads revenue from The Citation Machine will pay for my son’s. But, of course, it isn’t nearly that simple.

    Tom and others have asked me why I do not put my web projects out on open source. Well, the answer is simple. I don’t have time. I’ve written software that works, fairly well, under most circumstances. It is fairly usable by users. But making my code fairly usable by programmers is an entirely different thing. I’m not a professional programmer, I have no formal training in programming, and I’d be quite embarrassed for a programmer to see my code.

    I’ve thought hard about putting Class Blogmeister out there. It probably should be out there. But to set up an OSS site and facilitate collaboration is simply something that I do not have the time to do. I don’t even have time to consider it. It’s not where my attention is.

    But perhaps, some day. It won’t be too many years before I’m hanging up my frequent flier miles, and hanging out some other kind of shingle 😉

  12. Thanks, David. A couple notes:

    “My online handouts are mostly on wikis, so that’s obviously open.” Not without an explicit license declaration by you and some notification (I don’t know what is necessary to make this actually binding, but whatever Wikipedia does is probably a good guide) to contributors about how their edits are licensed. Without that, your work is copyrighted by you and anyone’s additions are copyrighted by them. So basically, nobody (including you) can reuse or republish anything on one of those wiki pages without getting explicit permission from every contributor.

    Also, Lessig doesn’t have objections to “traditional copyright,” if you define the tradition as being, say, copyright as defined by the Founders. His objections are to the radical expansion of copyright we’ve seen in the past few decades.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *