It’s that time of year again. Students are back on campus, classes are in session, and the Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services is here to help everyone hit the ground running with resources and workshops on digital publishing, copyright, and open access to research.
As usual, there’s a lot going on!
On September 25 we’re hosting a workshop on Copyright and Fair Use in Digital Projects. With pretty much everyone being a digital creator these days, the training will help you navigate copyright, fair use, and other rights related to including third-party content in your digital project. We’ll also provide an overview of what your intellectual property rights are as a creator and ways to license and share your own work too.
We’re happy to again present a series of publishing workshops to guide graduate students and postdocs on a variety of copyright, publishing, and scholarly impact issues. On October 22 we’ll be talking about copyright questions and legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. October 23 we’re hosting a panel discussion on how to navigate the publication process from dissertation to first book. The event will include discussion from a university press acquisitions editor, a first-time book author, and an author rights expert. And October 25 we’re wrapping up the week with a workshop that will provide participants with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing citations, and understanding scholarly reach and metrics.
There are lots of ways the Office of Scholarly Communication Services is here to help faculty, students, and staff. A quick rundown:
- Check out our website which has helpful information on a variety of topics, including copyright and fair use, the scholarly publishing lifecycle and sharing research data, UC’s Open Access Policy and OA funding opportunities, and much more.
- Interested in creating an open digital textbook? Take a look at UC Berkeley’s Open Book Publishing platform (anyone with a Berkeley email can signup for a free account), and get in touch with us about our Open Educational Resources (OER) grant program.
- Keep an eye on our events calendar for more workshops and trainings.
- Follow our blog and social media.
Want help or more information? Send us an email. We can provide individualized support and personal consultations, in-class and online instruction, presentations and workshops for small or large groups & classes, and customized support and training for departments and disciplines.
We are thrilled to share that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $165,000 grant to a UC Berkeley-led team of legal experts, librarians, and scholars who will help humanities researchers and staff navigate complex legal questions in cutting-edge digital research.
What is this grant all about?
If you were to crack open some popular English-language novels written in the 1850’s–say, ones from Brontë, Hawthorne, Dickens, and Melville–you would find they describe men and women in very different terms. While a male character might be said to “get” something, a female character is more likely to have “felt” it. Whereas the word “mind” might be used when describing a man, the word “heart” is more likely to be used about a woman. Yet, as the 19th Century became the 20th, these descriptive differences between genders actually diminish. How do we know all this? We confess we have not actually read every novel ever written between the 19th and 21st Centuries (though we’d love to envision a world in which we could). Instead, we can make this assertion because researchers (including David Bamman, of UC Berkeley’s School of Information) used automated techniques to extract information from the novels, and analyzed these word usage trends at scale. They crafted algorithms to turn the language of those novels into data about the novels.
In fields of inquiry like the digital humanities, the application of such automated techniques and methods for identifying, extracting, and analyzing patterns, trends, and relationships across large volumes of unstructured or thinly-structured digital content is called “text data mining.” (You may also see it referred to as “text and data mining” or “computational text analysis”). Text data mining provides humanists and social scientists with invaluable frameworks for sifting, organizing, and analyzing vast amounts of material. For instance, these methods make it possible to:
- Detect racial disparity by evaluating language from police body camera footage;
- Develop new tools to enable large-scale analysis of television series and photographs; and
- Capture and design new physical representations of naturally occurring laughter
Until now, humanities researchers conducting text data mining have had to navigate a thicket of legal issues without much guidance or assistance. For instance, imagine the researchers needed to scrape content about Egyptian artifacts from online sites or databases, or download videos about Egyptian tomb excavations, in order to conduct their automated analysis. And then imagine the researchers also want to share these content-rich data sets with others to encourage research reproducibility or enable other researchers to query the data sets with new questions. This kind of work can raise issues of copyright, contract, and privacy law, not to mention ethics if there are issues of, say, indigenous knowledge or cultural heritage materials plausibly at risk. Indeed, in a recent study of humanities scholars’ text analysis needs, participants noted that access to and use of copyright-protected texts was a “frequent obstacle” in their ability to select appropriate texts for text data mining.
The good news is that the NEH has agreed to support an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities to help key stakeholders to learn to better navigate legal issues in text data mining. Thanks to the NEH’s $165,000 grant, Rachael Samberg of UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services will be leading a national team (identified below) from more than a dozen institutions and organizations to teach humanities researchers, librarians, and research staff how to confidently navigate the major legal issues that arise in text data mining research.
Our institute is aptly called Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining (Building LLTDM), and will run from June 23-26, 2020 in Berkeley, California. Institute instructors are legal experts, humanities scholars, and librarians immersed in text data mining research services, who will co-lead experiential meeting sessions empowering participants to put the curriculum’s concepts into action.
In October, we will issue a call for participants, who will receive stipends to support their attendance. We will also be publishing all of our training materials in an openly-available online book for researchers and librarians around the globe to help build academic communities that extend these skills.
Building LLTDM team member Matthew Sag, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and leading expert on copyright issues in the digital humanities, said he is “excited to have the chance to help the next generation of text data mining researchers open up new horizons in knowledge discovery. We have learned so much in the past ten years working on HathiTrust [a text-minable digital library] and related issues. I’m looking forward to sharing that knowledge and learning from others in the text data mining community.”
Team member Brandon Butler, a copyright lawyer and library policy expert at the University of Virginia, said, “In my experience there’s a lot of interest in these research methods among graduate students and early-career scholars, a population that may not feel empowered to engage in “risky” research. I’ve also seen that digital humanities practitioners have a strong commitment to equity, and they are working to build technical literacies outside the walls of elite institutions. Building legal literacies helps ease the burden of uncertainty and smooth the way toward wider, more equitable engagement with these research methods.”
Kyle K. Courtney of Harvard University serves as Copyright Advisor at Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication, and is also a Building LLTDM team member. Courtney added, “We are seeing more and more questions from scholars of all disciplines around these text data mining issues. The wealth of full-text online materials and new research tools provide scholars the opportunity to analyze large sets of data, but they also bring new challenges having to do with the use and sharing not only of the data but also of the technological tools researchers develop to study them. I am excited to join the Building LLTDM team and help clarify these issues and empower humanities scholars and librarians working in this field.”
Megan Senseney, Head of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship at the University of Arizona Libraries reflected on the opportunities for ongoing library engagement that extends beyond the initial institute. Senseney said that, “Establishing a shared understanding of the legal landscape for TDM is vital to supporting research in the digital humanities and developing a new suite of library services in digital scholarship. I’m honored to work and learn alongside a team of legal experts, librarians, and researchers to create this institute, and I look forward to integrating these materials into instruction and outreach initiatives at our respective universities.”
The Building LLTDM team is excited to begin supporting humanities researchers, staff, and librarians en route to important knowledge creation. Stay tuned if you are interested in participating in the institute.
In the meantime, please join us in congratulating all the members of the project team:
- Rachael G. Samberg (University of California, Berkeley) (Project Director)
- Scott Althaus (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
- David Bamman (University of California, Berkeley)
- Sara Benson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
- Brandon Butler (University of Virginia)
- Beth Cate (Indiana University, Bloomington)
- Kyle K. Courtney (Harvard University)
- Maria Gould (California Digital Library)
- Cody Hennesy (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
- Eleanor Koehl (University of Michigan)
- Thomas Padilla (University of Nevada, Las Vegas; OCLC Research)
- Stacy Reardon (University of California, Berkeley)
- Matthew Sag (Loyola University Chicago)
- Brianna Schofield (Authors Alliance)
- Megan Senseney (University of Arizona)
- Glen Worthey (Stanford University)
Is it just us, or was fall semester a whirlwind? The Office of Scholarly Communication Services was steeped in a steady flurry of activity, and suddenly it’s December! We wanted to take a moment to highlight what we’ve been up to since August, and give you a preview of what’s ahead for spring.
We did the math on our affordable course content pilot program, which ran for academic year 2017-2018 and Fall 2018. This pilot supported just over 40 courses and 2400 students, and is estimated to have yielded approximately $200,000 in student savings. We’ll be working with campus on next steps for helping students save money. If you have questions about how to make your class more affordable, you can check out our site or e-mail us.
We dug deep into scholarly publishing skills with graduate students and early career researchers during our professional development workshop series. We engaged learners in issues like copyright and their dissertations, moving from dissertation to first book, and managing and maximizing scholarly impact. Publishing often isn’t complete without sharing one’s data, so we helped researchers understand how to navigate research data copyright and licensing issues at #FSCI2018.
We helped instructors and scholars publish open educational resources and digital books with PressbooksEDU on our new open books hub.
On behalf of the UC’s Council of University Librarians, we chaired and hosted the Choosing Pathways to OA working forum. The forum brought together approximately 125 representatives of libraries, consortia, and author communities throughout North America to develop personalized action plans for how we can all transition funds away from subscriptions and toward sustainable open access publishing. We will be reporting on forum outcomes in 2019. In the meantime, one immediate result was the formation of a working group to support scholarly society journal publishers in flipping their journals from closed access to open access. Stay tuned for an announcement in January.
We funded dozens of Open Access publications by UC Berkeley authors through our BRII program.
We developed a novel literacies workflow for text data mining researchers. Text mining allows researchers to use automated techniques to glean trends and information from large volumes of unstructured textual sources. Researchers often perceive legal stumbling blocks to conducting this type of research, since some of the content is protected by copyright or other use restrictions. In Fall 2018, we began training the UC Berkeley community on how to navigate these challenges so that they can confidently undertake this important research. We’ll have a lot more to say about our work on this soon!
Next semester, we’re continuing all of these efforts with a variety of scholarly publishing workshops. We invite you to check out: Copyright & Fair Use for Digital Projects, Text Data Mining & Publishing: Legal Literacies, Copyright for Wikipedia Editing, and more.
We would like to thank Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, for their generous support in helping to make the work of the Office of Scholarly Communication Services possible.
Lastly, we’d like to thank all of you for your engagement and support this semester! Please let us know how else we can serve you. In the meantime, we wish you a Happy New Year!
The Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services is holding a series of workshops in October focused on publishing and professional development training for graduate students and early career researchers. All workshops will take place during the week of October 22 at the Graduate Professional Development Center, 309 Sproul Hall. Light refreshments will be served.
Tuesday, October 23 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall | RSVP
This workshop will provide you with a practical workflow for navigating copyright questions and legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. Whether you’re just starting to write or you’re getting ready to file, you can use this workflow to figure out what you can use, what rights you have, and what it means to share your dissertation online.
Wednesday, October 24 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall | RSVP
Hear from a panel of experts – an acquisitions editor, a first-time author, and an author rights expert – about the process of turning your dissertation into a book. You’ll come away from this panel discussion with practical advice about revising your dissertation, writing a book proposal, approaching editors, signing your first contract, and navigating the peer review and publication process.
Friday, October 26 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall | RSVP
This workshop will provide you with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing your citations, and monitoring your success. You’ll also learn how to understand metrics, use scholarly networking tools, evaluate journals and publishing options, and take advantage of funding opportunities for Open Access scholarship.
Fall (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) has come early to Berkeley! Classes have been in full swing since August 22, and here at the Office of Scholarly Communication Services we’re staying busy as usual as we prepare to roll out workshops, events, projects, and other services this semester. We are especially excited about:
- Running another installment of our popular Pressbooks workshop to showcase how our openbooks.berkeley.edu publishing platform can be used to create your own textbook or digital project.
- Hosting a series of publishing workshops for graduate students, featuring sessions about copyright and your dissertation, revising your dissertation and navigating the publication process for your first book, and maximizing the impact of your scholarship.
- Hosting the Choosing Pathways to OA forum on behalf of the UC Libraries, in which library and consortia leaders and key academic stakeholders representing 80+ institutions, 27 states, and 4 Canadian provinces, will come together to work on action plans to advance a large-scale transition to Open Access.
If you’re new to campus, here’s a quick reminder of what the Office of Scholarly Communication Services can help you do:
- Understand copyright basics and what they mean when you’re in the classroom, putting material on bCourses, filing your thesis or dissertation, publishing an article or book, or doing text or data mining.
- Find low- or no-cost textbooks and other course materials
- Navigate the publishing process
- Get funding to publish your work open access
- And more!
Want to learn more?
This piece is cross-posted on the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication blog.
A Call to Action
On June 21, the University of California’s Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC) issued a Call to Action in which they announced their intent to embark on a new phase of activity in journal negotiations focused on open access (OA) to research. The Call to Action appeared alongside discussion of another recently-released University of California document, the Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication, put forth by our system-wide faculty senate library committee (UCOLASC) and intended to guide our libraries toward OA when negotiating with publishers.
There are twin challenges underlying SLASIAC’s Call to Action, and UCOLASC’s Declaration of Rights and Principles: On the one hand, determining how to maintain subscriptions to scholarly journals in a context of escalating subscription costs and shrinking collections budgets, and on the other, pursuing the moral imperative of achieving a truly open scholarly communication system in which the UC’s vast research output is available and accessible to the world. The UC libraries have been working to address these dual needs, and we wish to highlight here some of the efforts our libraries have undertaken in this regard — particularly those in which we are working in concert.
UC Libraries’ Pathways to Open Access
In February 2018, through the release of the Pathways to Open Access toolkit (“Pathways”), UC Libraries identified and analyzed the panoply of possible strategies for directing funds away from paywalled subscription models and toward OA publishing. Pathways takes an impartial approach to analyzing the menu of strategies in order to help each individual campus evaluate which option(s) best serve their goals as they work to shift funds away from subscriptions. It also considers implications for cooperative investment in the various strategies it sets forth.
The possible next steps suggested in Pathways are manifold, including:
- Identifying and engaging with disciplines for flipping their journals to OA
- Exploring memberships and crowd-funding
- Examining opportunities to leverage eScholarship as a publishing platform
- Exploring commitment to open scholarly publishing infrastructure
- Pursuing transitional offsetting agreements, in which current subscription spends help cover open article processing charges for hybrid journals—and potentially backing up offsetting negotiations with cancellations for publishers who refuse to engage
We have already announced intentions to pursue at least one collaborative experiment: to undertake a limited number of offsetting pilots—a transitional strategy to OA that caps institutional spending on a publisher’s subscription package while centrally administering and subsidizing the cost of hybrid article processing charges against a total agreed-upon spend—such that the net effect transitions spending away from subscriptions and toward OA article publication, without higher institutional costs.
Notably, the University of California libraries are aligned around common goals and approaches to achieving a transition to Open Access, but also are responsive to campus-specific needs and priorities. No matter which individual strategies our campuses pursue, we remain committed to the shared goal of collectively redirecting our funds away from subscriptions and toward open access publishing.
Taking the Pathways Journey
The University of California is not alone in the choices it faces with respect to accelerating a transition to open access. In ways both similar to and distinct from what we are experiencing, institutions and scholarly communities around the world are wrestling with their own questions and options as they envision what their pathways to OA might entail. North America has a particularly crucial role to play in the worldwide transition effort, given the size of its publishing output and amount of subscription revenue that it contributes. We do not believe any single actionable OA strategy would suit all North American institutions, let alone all author communities. Instead, we hope to leverage the Pathways toolkit to help authors, research libraries, and organizations make their own choices based on their own communities’ needs.
In acknowledgment of both the great potential for collaborative transformation, and the great divergence of perspectives and requirements for achieving such a transformation, the University of California Libraries are organizing a working forum to provide a dedicated time and space for North American library leaders and key academic stakeholders to use Pathways as a foundation to discuss and design what their own next steps toward open access might look like.
October’s working forum, aptly titled Choosing Pathways to Open Access, will be based on a design thinking model to cultivate discourse and a solutions-based approach. The goal is to facilitate participants’ abilities to understand and assess which OA strategies might be appropriate for repurposing spends at their own institutions, to engage participants in exploring insights shared by others about the implications of implementing those strategies, and to support participants in outlining or developing their own action plans for their institution or author community.
The forum, free of charge to attend, will not include presentations in the traditional sense, but instead will engage facilitators to help guide discussions on given OA publishing strategies. This overall information-sharing and discussion-centered format strives to achieve a balance between deeper engagement with OA strategies and meaningful opportunities to determine next steps—including through alignment or partnership with similarly-interested institutions or communities.
Choosing Pathways to OA aims to give voice to strategies within all OA approaches, with the understanding that each institution or author group might wish to support a range of strategies and approaches as appropriate for their communities and in alignment with their respective goals. While institutions and communities may settle on different investment strategies, the reflection and decision-making process are both crucial and timely.
I wanted to share this announcement from the UC systemwide Office of Scholarly Communication: https://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/2018/06/championing-change-in-journal-negotiations/
The announcement speaks to work that the University of California’s Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC) has been doing in partnership with our university libraries and the systemwide academic senate’s Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC). These groups have been considering the twin challenges of journal affordability and what they recognize as the moral imperative of achieving a truly open scholarly communication system.
Please feel free to e-mail email@example.com with any questions.
Publish Digital Books and Open Textbooks with Pressbooks
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1:10 – 2:30 p.m. | Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall 117 (Level D)
The workshop is open to all students, faculty, and staff. Feel free to come with a project idea in mind, and please bring a laptop if possible.
On February 20, the Office of Scholarly Communication Services is offering a hands-on workshop to introduce students, faculty, and staff to Pressbooks, a free, easy, and elegant self-publishing platform that anyone can use to create a digital book (or any other online resource) in minutes. This workshop is offered as part of the Library’s ongoing efforts to support and promote the creation and use of open and affordable course materials on campus (read more about our course affordability pilot programs, events, and workshops).
Do you have material you’ve been wanting to publish online, but aren’t sure how to get started or what tool to use? Come to our workshop to see Pressbooks in action and start working on your own project. By the end of the workshop, you can have a beautiful book published online! Working on a non-book project? You can also use Pressbooks to publish a chapter, white paper, toolkit, or other online resource.
Pressbooks is simple to use and infinitely flexible for a variety of projects, from creating a course textbook to publishing your own chapter- or module-length work. Quickly becoming the preferred tool for educators and writers publishing open books and other content, Pressbooks offers numerous features to support open access and accessibility.
Here are some highlights of what we like about Pressbooks and why we think the platform will be an exciting tool for students, faculty, and staff working on digital projects:
- Easy to use. No design or developer skills required. If you’ve ever used WordPress, you’ll feel right at home.
- Professional design. Choose from dozens of templates and themes that create professional-looking and customizable digital books.
- Immediate and continuous publishing. Publish in minutes, and make changes or edits easily as you go.
- Flexible licensing. License your work with any number of Creative Commons options. You can use the same license for the whole work or apply different licenses for different chapters or sections.
- Accessibility. Pressbooks features and outputs are designed to support accessibility. Pressbooks is committed to making its code and user interface comply with WCAG 2.0 (level AA) standards within 2018, and it is developing tools to help authors maximize the accessibility of published work.
- Collaboration. Give a co-author access to your project, and use Hypothes.is to add or enable annotations.
- Free! Anyone can create an account at no charge.
Come to the workshop on February 20 to try out this innovative platform and kickstart your digital project. In the meantime, if you’re curious about what Pressbooks publications look like, or what else the platform can do, check out how other institutions are using Pressbooks, browse the book examples created at eCampusOntario, and see an open module recently published at UC Berkeley. The Library will also soon have a campus portal just for UC Berkeley-affiliated books, where you can showcase your work and view others’ projects.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching Free: Instructor Insights on Making Course Content Affordable and Accessible
By, Rachael G. Samberg (Scholarly Communication Officer, Library) & Richard Freishtat (Director, Center for Teaching & Learning)
Note: This commentary is being cross-posted on the Center for Teaching & Learning’s blog.
On October 27, 2017, UC Berkeley faculty and lecturers convened to share how they are making textbooks available for free to students—and how they are designing more accessible and transformative learning materials in the process.
In this post, we pass along key takeaways from the stories they shared, in the hope that you may consider implementing similar cost-saving options for students. We also consider why the UC Berkeley campus has come together at this critical moment to address such issues.
This is the first of a series of posts we’ll be doing this semester to dig into the “how” of improving students’ quality of living through affordable and accessible course content.
Students Can’t Afford Class
Before we dive into the lessons gleaned at the October event, campus context behind faculty members’ efforts might help.
Textbook prices have risen 88 percent in the past decade, as detailed in a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. With UC Berkeley undergrads expected to pay at least $900 (a low estimate) on books and materials each academic year, students are financially encumbered to obtain required readings. The campus is conducting a survey to understand the true impact of these expenses for students—including how textbook costs affect whether students take, remain in, and succeed in their classes.
One way to alleviate financial burden for students is by offering them free, digital versions of their assigned readings that can be accessed online or downloaded to electronic devices. For course readers, this might mean uploading materials to the class bCourse site under fair use principles, and for textbooks, this might mean switching to “open textbooks.” Open textbooks (also called “open educational resources” or OERs) are entirely free for anyone to access, read, and download, and are typically licensed for reuse by others to encourage further downstream adaptation and development. Many instructors and students prefer hard copies, and so open textbooks can often be ordered as “print on demand” for a nominal printing fee, or students can print them out themselves.
In the studies to date on open textbook impact, students who have been given access to open textbooks perform at least as well, and often better, than those without open textbooks. This is likely because the playing field is leveled: Everyone in class has access to the readings from day one, and they’re not beyond anyone’s financial reach.
There are several other key advantages to offering parallel access to digital books: Digital native texts are inherently more accessible to students with disabilities. Screen readers and assistive technologies fare much better working with born digital materials rather than print copies that have been scanned in and converted into optical text (not to mention the potential access delay involved in remediating print content). Digital materials are generally also text searchable, so that students can easily find concepts or passages within their readings.
Seeking to address both affordability and accessibility concerns, in 2017, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education (VCUE) charged a campus-wide Course Content Affordability & Accessibility Committee (CCAAC) to identify strategies to educate the campus about the costs of course content, and encourage practices that lower costs for students while also making materials more accessible. CCAAC’s report and recommendations are forthcoming in Spring 2018.
An analogous campus partnership has also been very busy: The University Library, Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Educational Technology Services (ETS) teamed up and obtained a VCUE and Library-endorsed charter to test services aimed at students course content burdens. Through our Affordable Course Content Pilot program, we have incentivized both adoption and creation of open textbooks. Our idea was simple: What if we offered $2000-$5000 grants for faculty and lecturers to switch to an open textbook, or create their own? We would provide the needed digital publishing and programmatic support to facilitate the transition, and the instructors would use or create something new that was open—and free—to all.
We did not expect to get many takers for the pilot, since designing and writing a textbook requires an incredible amount of work. Yet, we underestimated the earnest commitment on this campus for truly making a difference in students’ lives and academic success. In Fall 2017, five faculty members committed to creating their own open textbooks, and two more are on board for Spring 2018. Fall participants included:
- Brad DeLong and Martha Olney, for Economic Theory – Macroeconomics (ECON 101B)
- Evan Variano, for Elementary Fluid Mechanics (CE100)
- John Wallace, for Dynamics of Romantic Core Values in East Asian Premodern Literature and Contemporary Film (EA LANG 105)
- Jonathan Zwicker, for Seminar in Classical Japanese Texts (JAPAN 240)
Most of their books will be unveiled and implemented in their classrooms beginning this semester. In a future blog post, we will explore their creation of these open books, touching on everything from mechanical issues related to the digital platforms and tools being used, publishing mechanics, and how students have received them. (Sneak preview: You do not need to be a technological wizard to create a digital textbook! And, we can help.)
Now, however, we’d like to consider the salient lessons discerned from these faculty members’ experiences in creating open textbooks for the pilot.
Lessons from the Trenches
On October 27, 2017 pilot program participants Brad DeLong and John Wallace were joined by Ani Adhikari (whose Data 8 open textbook has already been in use for several years) in speaking to a rapt crowd about why they chose to create open textbooks, and what they have learned in the process. We have taken the liberty of distilling their guidance.
1. If you create an open textbook, you have tremendous flexibility and complete control over what your students see, and when they see it.
Wallace observed that, although his book on East Asian literature and film will be deployed in Spring 2018, it will remain a work in progress. The beauty of writing and managing one’s own digital material is that changes (and typo fixes!) can be made in real time, without having to wait until your publisher decides to release a new edition. Wallace is utilizing Pressbooks.com to administer his material, and he can log in and change whatever he wants, whenever he wants—sharing his creative product in stages or in full, at his election.
This level of control also offers topical benefits. DeLong and Olney are converting their Macroeconomics print textbook into an open textbook, with interactive data for students to play with as they experiment with formulae and economic theories. To provide meaningful, real world information, DeLong and Olney need to be able to update and adjust content regularly. Because they are in complete command over the Jupyter Notebook which they use to manage their content, they can incorporate current economic events and statistics in real time, or keep it current on a semester-by-semester basis.
2. Creating your own open book allows you to choose your voice and write to connect with your students—and in so doing, capitalize on intellectual freedom as you forge and sculpt your discipline. As you branch off into new knowledge areas, disciplines can be redeveloped into what you make them.
Writing your own open textbook is a tremendous amount of work, but it can also offer tremendous intellectual freedom. Wallace, DeLong, and Adhikari each exclaimed the benefits of being able to write in a tone and on issues directed to their students—using language and content that may not have survived traditional textbook editing processes. The value is that the written material has the potential for resonating more meaningfully with students.
Adhikari discussed some foundational examples in the Data Science 8 textbook, in which she writes vibrantly about a water pump in Victorian London. The lesson frames for students one of the first ways that data was used to establish causality (in this case, mapping cholera outbreaks to a water pump). Here is a brief excerpt:
One of the earliest examples of astute observation eventually leading to the establishment of causality dates back more than 150 years. To get your mind into the right timeframe, try to imagine London in the 1850’s. It was the world’s wealthiest city but many of its people were desperately poor. Charles Dickens, then at the height of his fame, was writing about their plight. Disease was rife in the poorer parts of the city, and cholera was among the most feared. It was not yet known that germs cause disease; the leading theory was that “miasmas” were the main culprit. Miasmas manifested themselves as bad smells, and were thought to be invisible poisonous particles arising out of decaying matter. Parts of London did smell very bad, especially in hot weather. To protect themselves against infection, those who could afford to held sweet-smelling things to their noses.
From reading even just this brief excerpt, it is hard to imagine traditional textbooks so compellingly establishing an argument, or traditional textbook authors maintaining enough editorial control over their work to ensure that these points are included exactly as intended.
3. Digital editions provide valuable portability for students, while preserving print on demand options.
Adhikari and DeLong also addressed portability benefits of open textbooks. UC Berkeley students are incredibly engaged academically, and as a result, under considerable competing demands on their time. It is not uncommon to see students working on portable devices on public transportation or at the gym, just to make the most of any spare moments they have.
In survey responses by students whose classes participated in our pilot program, students near universally described how having online access to, or being able to digitally download, their reading materials improved their learning experience. Not only could they take their readings everywhere (and we mean everywhere!), but also they did not have to lug around numerous heavy books. Many also remarked that they valued not having to “waste paper” and harm the environment. Students knew that printing out the materials was an option, though few reported having chosen to do so—actually preferring the electronic format.
4. You can create an open module or two to fill in the gaps, rather than requiring students to purchase an entire textbook just for a few sections.
Let’s say you have found the perfect textbook for about 80% of your course, but it lacks two or three topics that you cover in class, and for which you assign a separate book entirely. There may be no need to reinvent the wheel in designing an entire textbook from scratch, but perhaps you could create just what you need to fill in the gaps rather than recommending a second book for purchase.
This is precisely what Horst Rademacher of the Berkeley Seismology Lab, did for EPS20 (Earthquakes in Your Backyard). As part of the pilot program, Rademacher created on open module through Pressbooks.com to address one topic: The Hayward Fault at the UC Berkeley campus. Doing so was not only a more reasonable time investment, but also a very efficient way of making sure students had tailor-made access to the specific content they would need for class.
5. If you collocate all digital readings and assignment submissions, it can be easier for graduate student instructors to complete grading, and focus more on pedagogy.
Generating efficiencies in one area necessarily creates opportunities in another. In this case, GSI’s, and instructors alike, can more easily move between and through grading of student work (particularly if coupled with other campus-licensed tools like GradeScope). The ability to centrally locate, quickly navigate, and reliably assess student work can considerably reduce time spent on the logistical aspects of grading. The extra time that was once necessary for grading logistics, can now be better utilized in service of pedagogy and student learning. Faculty discussed greater time available to improve their course materials, implement new pedagogies, or even supplement learning through more formative approaches that were very challenging previously due to time constraints.
6. Open textbooks have the potential to save UC Berkeley students hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while making access to higher education learning materials more equitable in your class and beyond.
In DeLong’s own words, his forthcoming Macroeconomics textbook can “go big or go home,” and he’s banking on “big.” There are four sections of macroeconomics are taught each year on our campus, with approximately 1000 students. If each of the class sections adopted the DeLong-Olney open textbook rather than the $200 print equivalent, UC Berkeley macroeconomics students could save up to $200,000 each year. Of course, macroeconomics is a staple at institutions across the nation and world. DeLong and Olney are enabling thousands upon thousands of students globally to have access to extremely high quality instructional materials—potentially saving students millions every year. The financial impact that open textbooks can have is quantifiable, and it’s huge.
Financial impact is but one piece of the equitability puzzle. Both DeLong and Adhikari discussed open textbooks’ ability to promote social justice in the classroom, and the sense of obligation they feel as faculty members in doing as much as they can to ensure that all of their students have equal opportunities to succeed.
If you would like to explore the possibility of adopting or creating an open textbook for your class, we would love to meet with you! Limited numbers of $2000-$5000 grants remain available. Please contact email@example.com, or visit the Scholarly Communication Website (lib.berkeley.edu/scholcomm) to learn more.
And if you are interested in CCAAC and the pilot team’s report and findings about course content affordability at the UC Berkeley campus, please stay tuned to posts distributed through the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Library’s Scholarly Communication program’s Twitter account, @UCB_scholcomm.
Friday, Dec. 8
Open Textbook Workshop – Faculty & Lecturers
9:30-11:30 a.m. | Academic Innovation Studio, 117 Dwinelle Hall
Are you an instructor who is concerned about the impact of high textbook costs on your students? Are you considering adopting or creating innovative pedagogical materials? Explore possible open textbook solutions by attending a two hour workshop and writing a short textbook review. The Library will provide you with a $200 stipend for your efforts! Space is limited, so please submit a very brief application form:
Friday, Dec. 8
Open Textbook Workshop – Staff & Campus Partners
12:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. | Academic Innovation Studio, 117 Dwinelle Hall
Are you a UC Berkeley staff or affiliate who is concerned about the impact of high textbook costs on students, or you are working with a faculty member who is? Do you want to support the adoption or creation of innovative pedagogical materials? Learn the landscape, opportunities, and challenges for open textbooks, and how to discuss whether open textbooks are a good fit.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
Publish Digital Books and Open Textbooks with Pressbooks
1:10-2:30 p.m. | Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall 117 (Level D)
If you’re looking to self-publish work of any length and want an easy-to-use tool that offers a high degree of customization, allows flexibility with publishing formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF), and provides web-hosting options, Pressbooks may be great for you. Pressbooks is often the tool of choice for academics creating digital books, open textbooks, and open educational resources, since you can license your materials for reuse however you desire. Learn why and how to use Pressbooks for publishing your original books or course materials. You’ll leave the workshop with a project already under way!