We’re gonna write a book :)

“We learn best when we’re “actively engaged in constructing something that has personal meaning to [us] – be it a poem, a robot, a sandcastle, or a computer program.” -Seyour Papert
“Learning happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity.” -Seyour Papert

Seymour Aubrey Papert was a South African-born American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator, who spent most of his career teaching and researching at MIT. He was one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, and of the constructionist movement in education.

Our class is collectively working on a textbook for future classes. Given the goal of this project is a textbook for a generalist audience, this content should be easily producible – meaning, you have a good bit of information from our readings and discussions in Perusall.

I will write the first 3 chapters in order to show you what I am expecting from you in this assignment. I will be creating this content in the next few weeks – so that you can follow along and see the process as well.

Since this is a textbook, you also want to produce it in a way that is readable and approachable. You should use shorter sentences and clear and precise language. When appropriate, use images, movies, diagrams, maps to make your points. You can also use tables and callout boxes to amplify key points. This is an opportunity to be creative as well as scholarly! Have fun!

Before we get going, let’s try to get the answer to the next few questions;

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?
  3. What is Open Pedagogy?

For some time now I’ve been critical of “disposable assessments.” An assessment can be characterized as “disposable” if everyone understands that its ultimate destiny is the garbage can. Take an all-too-typical example:

  • Professor assigns student to write a two page compare and contrast essay
  • Student writes the paper and submits it to professor
  • Professor grades the paper and returns it to student
  • Student checks what grade they received, briefly peruses any written comments, and then throws the paper away

(This example assumes physical paper, but the principles are exactly the same in the context of assessments submitted, graded, and returned electronically.)

A “renewable assessment” differs in that the your work won’t be discarded at the end of the process, but will instead add value to the world in some way.

Rather than writing essays to submit to your instructor and then throw away, you will published them openly, where others will be able to benefit from your work for years to come.

In many ways, I think the most powerful part of renewable assignments is the idea that everyone wants their work to matter. No one wants to struggle for hours or days on something they know will be thrown away almost as soon as it is finished. Given the opportunity, people want to contribute something, to give something back, to pay it forward, to make the world a better place, to make a difference.

Attribution: David Wiley



We will use our “current textbook”  written by Peter Abelson as our template:  http://www.appliedeconomics.com.au/publications/public-economics/index.htm (Links to an external site.). This book however, was written for Australian and New Zealand audience. So, in cases where the book is focusing on Australia and New Zealand you should try to find similar information for the US.

You are encourage to use Wikipedia and the following economics textbooks as a resource for writing your chapters:

Another good source of high level and current information is The Conversation.

Since all of these resources are released under CC BY license you are allowed to copy-paste information directly, but you must provide appropriate attribution.

I will try to find additional resources that could be of help to you during the semester.

You can also look at other Public Economics textbooks – but know that they are most likely protected under the copyright laws. You can use those textbooks as an example what and how you can write your chapter. You are allowed to summarize and paraphrase topics from those books as well.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides the following definition of open educational resources:

“OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

In other words, “OER” is a very broad term. We apply it towards anything that helps students master course concepts.

The key distinguishing factor is the copyright status of the material. If course content is copyrighted under traditional, all-rights-reserved copyright, then it’s not OER. If it resides in the public domain, or carries Creative Commons or similar open copyright status, then it is OER.

The 5 Rs of OER

A useful way to appreciate the value of OER is to understand what you, the user of openly licensed content, are allowed to do with it. These permissions are granted in advance, and are legally established through Public Domain or Creative Commons copyrights:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

This material is adapted from original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/ (Links to an external site.).

Examples of OER

Types of OER include (but are not limited to) syllabi, lesson plans, learning modules, lab experiments, simulations, course videos, discussion prompts, assignments, assessments, library guides, and course design templates.

As the use of OER becomes more widespread, we have access to more repositories where you can search for OER. Keep in mind that while you may not find OER that perfectly suit your needs, most OER can be modified and customized to fit within the context of your course, or meet the needs of your students. Yes, that takes time and consideration, but that time and consideration can greatly benefit your own teaching and research, as well as the overall learning experience that your students have.

Open pedagogy goes beyond OER adoption by having students create, revise and remix their class materials. Instead of reading an open textbook or completing online modules as consumers, students become the authors and developers of the work that they, and future students, will use in the class.

Open Pedagogy takes Open Educational Resources (OER) as a jumping-off point to rethink the relationship between teachers, students and knowledge. When teachers and students are able to modify their own textbooks and learning materials, we shift the student emphasis toward contribution to knowledge rather than simple consumption of knowledge.

Students move from consumers of course content to co-creators of course content. Teachers and students become learners together, and content becomes dynamic and always evolving, rather than static content to be mastered.
Open Pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that has students creating, curating and contributing to the learning environment.

There are four basic ideas behind Open Pedagogy:

Open Pedagogy Guiding Ideas Infographic

Open Pedagogy improves access to education.  Converting to OER enables us to consider our pedagogies in relationship to every access issue we encounter as we teach.

Open Pedagogy treats education as a learner-driven process. Open Pedagogy asks us to rethink every aspect of the courses we build to consider how students can be empowered to move into the driver’s seat.

Open Pedagogy stresses community and collaboration over content.  Open Pedagogy works to connect learners to their fields, peers, colleagues, and mentors via healthy networks so that they can draw on those communities to continue learning past the end date of the course.

Open Pedagogy connects the student and course to the wider public. When we encourage students to put their work before a public audience, we work to merge theory with practice, engage learners with communities of practice that matter to them and to the world, and make the educational system work for both students and the public good.