Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Benefits of Open Textbooks

A Wikiversity Logo for Open Educational Resour...Image via WikipediaCost is not the only benefit of open textbooks.  Instructors are encouraged to modify and aggregate content to make their courses more current and relevant.  Add content to your LMS each semester and evolve your course.  Reuse, remix, and share your content.

Before considering an open textbook or any other open educational resource (OER) consider reading:

7 Things you Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing

These concepts are mirrored in Dr. Shu Schiller's video endorsement of Flat World Knowledge textbooks:

Another great resource for open content is the Merlot website. Merlot stands for multimedia educational resource for learning and online teaching.  There is much to sift through out there.  This is why I suggest using an LMS like Blackboard or Moodle, you can add or modify content each semester and evolve your course over time... 21st students will appreciate it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flipping the Traditional Classroom Model

IDEA:  Assign lectures for homework and exercises for classwork.

Salman Khan has some interesting ideas.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Statistics Can Come Alive

Hans Rosling presents 200 Years of statistical information in 4 minutes... this is well worth the time it takes to watch.

Further exploration of this idea using Google public data explorer.  Push the play button below. I encourage you to click the link above and explore the data yourself.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Elementary Algebra has been published with Flatworld Knowledge

I am excited to announce that Flat World Knowledge (FWK) has just published a new textbook, Elementary Algebra. In order to combat soaring textbook prices, I have written this textbook in a concise and modular fashion as to maximize its effectiveness as an open educational resource.

What makes this textbook exciting is the FWK business model. Elementary Algebra is available under a creative commons license and has been thoroughly reviewed, designed, and integrated into platform.  Some of the benefits include:
  •  FREE to read online without registration, login, or expiration!
  •  Low cost offline choices (printed copies, pdf, individual chapters…).
  • Customization.
  • Flexibility for both student and instructor.
I encourage instructors to modify this textbook and leverage their individual expertise as a means to maximize the student experience and success. Or simply use it as it is, you will find that the topics are organized in a very traditional manner.

An affordable textbook can be available in the bookstore or instructors can just provide a link to students on the first day of class. Students can then choose the option that best suits their personal situation.  In addition, instructors can incorporate the textbook into their CMS by linking to individual pages.  Also, feel free to embed the associated YouTube videos.

This textbook employs an early and often approach to real world applications, laying the foundation for students to translate problems described in words into mathematical equations. It clearly lays out the steps required to build the skills needed to solve these equations and interpret the results.  With robust and diverse exercise sets, students have the opportunity to solve plenty of practice problems.  In addition to embedded video examples, textual notation is introduced as a means to communicate solutions electronically throughout the text.  This is important if instructors wish to incorporate resources like Wolfram Alpha into their course.  In any case, I am excited to be a part of the solution to the current rising costs associated with one of our essential developmental math courses.  We now have more affordable choices!
  • New editions                            →        your choice ü
  • 40% bookstore markup            →        your choice ü
  • CMS integration                       →        your choice ü
  • Customization                           →        your choice ü

Head over to FWK and have a look; browse the catalog.

Compare this textbook to other open source algebra projects and you will find that FWK did a pretty good job. Mathematics was a particular challenge for the system.  The website makes use of MathJax and images to present the material.  Click an image for a larger view.  Right click a math element and explore the options MathJax provides.  For example, you can change the zoom trigger in settings to make the equations zoom in on a double click.

Even if you are unable to adopt this textbook, please feel free to distribute a link to it to your students and colleagues.  I truly believe that it will be a valuable resource for students.  Also, email me with any suggestions or ideas that you may have and look for Intermediate Algebra to be published soon.