Riffin’ on the Open Textbook

There has been a fair amount of riff on the open textbook after #opened15 and I feel I would by shying away from the conversation if I didn’t provide my own input into the conversation.

The open textbook movement began as a response to student’s financial burden to education. It was and still is about providing students access to education in an affordable way. Open Textbooks has been the initiation into open that many faculty and institutions need. Why? Because, textbooks are tangible, textbooks are already a known concept, and open textbooks fundamentally reduce student cost. Yes, they are static. Yes, they are still in the exact format and structure of a “Regular Textbook”.


…open textbooks has sparked a wider conversation and a call to action from various attendees to begin to use open as a pedagogical movement in their institutions vs. open as a static tool. Prior to open textbooks I am not sure that faculty, students, and administrators had an idea as to what open education meant. How did it impact them, as individuals and as an institution? What did it mean to remix a piece of content?

For each of us, we come to open for different reasons. For Robin it is about access. “I care about access, broadly conceived: access to ideas, access to pathways to contribute to knowledge, access to research so that we can collaborate and build.” http://robinderosa.net/uncategorized/open-textbooks-ugh/

For Tom, it is about creation of OER. “I need to get more students and professors involved in creating OER material that’s closer to primary source/research material than textbooks. We have bits and pieces of it going on but if I’m going to advocate for considering OER as more than textbooks, I need to make sure we’re doing it often, across a spectrum of content areas, and in inspiring ways.” http://bionicteaching.com/opened15-now-what/

Yet for students, it is about cost. We have to remember that although we may be at the stage in open where we need to start talking and implementing open pedagogy many in the movement still care deeply about reducing student costs, and those are our student leaders. Students care about access and for students access to education means reducing financial barriers.CPUDnkOVEAAzO-Q.jpg_large
As OER thought leaders it is our role to take open to the next level, not by dismissing the open textbook but by taking action on what can be done to further the education of our students. As Amy Collier suggested in her talk, perhaps we stop talking about a system where open is good and closed is bad. I suggest the same when it comes to open textbooks. Fundamentally we have to keep in mind that we are all in the initiative to serve the common good and to change the way in which our institutions and classrooms pedagogically operate.


That is the question that we (BC OpenText) often get asked after a presentation on open textbooks.

  • How can I encourage my faculty to adopt open textbooks?
  • How do I create open pedagogical assignments?
  • How do I advocate on behalf of students to the administration that open textbooks are necessary?
  • How do I enlist the support of my administration?

It’s the question that as open education leaders we try to answer as best as possible, but unless we are in the trenches of the institution it is hard for us to understand the lived experience of institutional politics and academic freedoms when it comes to choice of textbooks.

I fully support the question of how because it is often asked by the keen advocates of open. The person who has set up an open textbook display in front of the campus bookstore or self-printed open textbook pamphlets to drop off at academic departments. The person asking the question how doesn’t want to be a solo-preneur in their institution. They want to create a team of open advocates or even better an institution dedicated to open.

This question of how is why I am fascinated and inspired by the blog posts that are written by those who directly respond to the how. For example, Richard Sebastian’s recent blog post on how to make adoption really really easy, or Rajiv’s post on actual examples of open pedagogical assignments and activities. Another favorite is the e-interview with Robin DeRosa who articulated how the team at University of New Hampshire established an OER Ambassador Pilot Programme. We need to continue to celebrate the do-er’s and the people who are showcasing the how.

Others are also interested in this conversation and will be presenting at OpenEd in Vancouver.

Yay! We found the perfect open textbook, now what? Irwin Devries and Naomi Cloutier

Developing an OER Campus Action plan, Nicole Allen and Nick Shockey

Finding Inspiration

I’ve been following a lot of people on blogs, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and via their podcasts for quite some time. I have been inspired by so many of their stories that this morning I want to share some of those inspiring people I follow.

So here it goes…

Travelcorx. As many of you know, Corinne Whiting aka Travelcorx is one of my best friends. We have known each other since Kindergarten. We refer to each other as life long friends, soul sistas, and consider ourselves to be members of the sensitive souls tribe. What I admire about Corinne and her writing is that it is so honest and real. About 4 years ago she decided to quit her full time job in Washington, DC and move out to Seattle, WA to become a freelance writer. She took a chance and she would be the first to admit that it was hard. Many doubted her decision. What about her 401K? Savings? Retirement? Healthcare? And she doubted it as well, BUT what I LOVE LOVE LOVE is that she followed her heart and her dream. Her day to day inspires me greatly. She has worked so hard to become a freelance writer and I receive emails, daily, that say how thankful and busy she is with projects. If you are looking for a blog to read that provides an honest insight into the day to day of an extraordinary freelance writer, check her out at Weave Your Story.

Early Bird Fitness. Another friend (yes I am promoting friends first), who has really inspired me lately is Kyla. She is an avid runner and is taking on her first Marathon. I have been following her Marathon journey on her blog, Early Bird Fitness and what inspires me greatly is that she is taking the Marathon training on all.by.herself!!! Insane right? I have trained for two marathons and have had to have the support of my group in order to make it through some of the long training runs. Kyla is making it happen solo. There wasn’t a training group scheduled for her Marathon event so she decided to lead the Frontrunners Half Marathon group and then tack on extra mileage after each run. Amazing. I am so proud of what she has accomplished in her running and I have no doubt she is going to kick ass in Ottawa in May. If you are a runner, or someone who is inspired by fitness stories you should check her out at Early Bird Fitness.

Rich Roll and Julie Piatt. I just came across the Rich Roll podcast via listening to the Good Life Project interview with his wife Julie Piatt. Their new book The Plant Power Way is coming out next week and I pre-ordered a copy. Rich Roll is an ultra athlete and he and his wife have been plant based eaters for years. Their recipes sound amazing and I am really looking forward to adding some new recipes to our daily meals. We went back to eating meat in January and since then I just haven’t felt awesome. I miss the plant based diet and I think what resulted in my change back to meat was my lack of interest in cooking. I needed a fresh start with a new set of recipes and I am hopeful that this new cookbook will set me on track. If you are interested in reading about Rich and Julie’s lifestyle  you can check them out at: Rich Roll’s website or listen to his podcast.

I have many more inspiring podcasts and blogs to share, but for now you can tuck into these and let me know your thoughts. If you have ones you would like to share, let me know! I’m always on the hunt for new inspirations.

Side note:  if you are running the TC 10K on the weekend in Victoria, BC I will be running as well! Looking forward to getting back into events after the accident.

the accident

On Thursday February 26, almost two and a half weeks ago I was in a bike accident. Fortunately I didn’t collide with a car. I managed to collide with a small rock or a piece of debris scattered in the bike line. It was quick but I knew exactly what was happening. My front tire slipped on the debris, I swerved to the right (out of traffic) into a curb, hit the sidewalk and flipped over the handlebars. It all happened in a matter of seconds. A matter of seconds that would result in weeks of recovery.

I knew immediately that I was hurt. My head throbbed, I was nauseous and my right arm was in excruciating pain. I somehow managed to grab my phone from my pocket and called Jeff. I later learned, from Jeff, that the phone conversation went something like this. “I’ve been in a bike accident. I have to check my pulse and call the ambulance”. Huh? Oh right, the results of my first aid course. Check for pulse, call ambulance.

At the same time that I was speaking to Jeff, or I should say describing my first aid procedures, two men stopped on the side of the road. I handed the phone to them and fortunately they took over. Yah, for good Samaritans.

Within minutes an ambulance arrived and so did Jeff.

The result? A broken collarbone and a mild concussion. My helmet split in three places. My clothes were cut off at the hospital. My collarbone had a complete break. The X ray showed a split (hole) the width of my index finger. What was once one bone structure was now two. The orthopedic surgeon visited me in emergency and suggested surgery. It would be the fastest way for recovery. I was sent home for two nights with Oxycontin and Tylenol 3.

Two days later I arrived back at the hospital for surgery. Five hours post surgery I had my new bionic shoulder. 12 screws and a plate almost the length of my collarbone now inhabit the right side of my collarbone and shoulder.

The accident, rest, and recovery has filled me with immense gratitude.

Grateful for:

  • My helmet. Always wear a helmet people. It saved me.
  • Jeff and Ryder. Life savers in so many ways.
  • Friends who came to our rescue. Calling, texting, bringing meals, sending gifts and care packages, taking Ryder for play dates, stopping by for visits, buying groceries. (Tracy, Emilie, Emily, Mom and Dad, Shrawan, Corinne, Rhiannon, Farley, Vivian, Kyla, Meghan, Brownwen, Jane, Leahanne, Robyn, Clint, Michelle, Denise, Brad, Mary, Lauri, Monique/Adrian/Dennis, Sue, Tara, BCcampus, Westshore Triathlon)
  • Health. Being healthy and fit pre accident has resulted in a speedy recovery. Within two and a half weeks I am back to almost full mobility, have been going for walks, riding the recumbent bike, and regaining energy.
  • Work. The people, the environment, the support.

Thank you.

Miracle morning- making it work mornings

It’s Day 6 of Miracle Morning, almost one week into the morning routine. I managed to wake up at 5:00 am on the weekends and complete my SAVERS- which felt great. I still feel pretty shattered by 8:00 pm and as a result I am almost uncommunicative. Don’t expect me to make any important decisions post 7:45 pm.

I have to admit that I am experiencing some frustrations. It’s the challenge of having a 2.5 year old who loves his mornings. I know that some people would say “well, perhaps this is something you need to pause for a little while- wait until Ryder grows up a bit and can sleep a bit longer in the morning”. Um no thanks. Neither Jeff or I have used Ryder as a reason NOT to do things. Then there is the other camp who would say “wake up earlier, so that you still get your time”. (Insert image of me wanting to throw up). Waking up before 5:00 am feels to me like suggesting an all nighter. Not appealing.

So for now, I am making it work in different ways. If I can do a meditation, affirmations, and visualizations before Ryder wakes then I know I can slip in a yoga session later and write while he is eating his cereal. It isn’t ideal but it’s a work around that I have to accept right now.

Quick update to Miracle Morning…

Okay I know, two posts in one day, in fact within hours of the other. I am not being overzealous, rather I want to put a bit of clarification on the miracle morning scribing. I will not be posting on the blog EVERY day. I spoke with my sage aka my sister and she recommended that rather than writing on the blog everyday I should take the opportunity to journal and then post reflections every few days. I definitely don’t want to bore others with my mundane thoughts of what I was doing at a certain time, but want this to be an opportunity to record the journey of a new practice.

Miracle Morning Day 2

Day 2 and I managed to wake up naturally, which to be honest was a fluke. I know my body hasn’t already gotten into the habit of rising at 5:00 am but it was still nice to be able to start the morning with ease. Ryder did wake up again through my yoga practice, but Jeff was able to take over until I finished the session. If the last two days are a representation of how the rest of the 30 days will go it seems that I will be able to get in the SAVE part of SAVERS, but have to fit in the RS part while Ryder is having breakfast.

All day yesterday I did have a different energy. I was more alert and awake throughout the day. I will admit that the evening was a bit harder. At swim practice I did have a vision of falling asleep while floating on my back during backstroke. The water just felt calm and my body was at ease.

So today’s scribing is a bit shorter- Ryder’s letting me know his shirt is wet and his hands have oatmeal on them. Kids these days.. what’s wrong with a wet shirt and oatmeal on your hands :)