Posts Tagged With: ebook

Changes to Petragogy

I’m working on making some changes to how I share information online, and one of those changes is to move away from this blog platform. The ultimate trigger for the change is the way WordPress now prices its plans, and me not wanting to return to ads involving canker sores or belly fat appearing at the bottom of my blog posts. But I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Petragogy will move to a Pressbooks platform, for which I am very happy to pay a reasonable one-time fee to support the great work that Pressbooks does. What this means in practical terms is that I will be turning some sets of blog posts into book chapters.

This will be a reflective exercise as I make a broader life-change into a role that does not involve teaching, but there are some things I’ve learned along the way that might come in handy for others who find themselves trying to deal with the same challenges. And if there’s any way to have a decade spent teaching in the current academic job market still feel like it had meaning as a professional activity, then it’s sharing things learned.

Some of those lessons are related to the hows and whys of teaching in general, and some are the result of being in the twilight zone that is attempting to teach with full-timer quality and autonomy while being trapped on the hamster wheel that is precarious part-time contracts.

My petragogy book might behave in bloggish ways for a while as it grows and changes, and I will build in ways to make it navigable while it is less than bookish (blookish? boggish?). Anyway, here’s to freed hamsters.



Categories: Challenges, The business of education | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open textbooks

The Sun: hotter than the bottom of the ocean (Credit: NASA/ European Space Agency)

The Sun: hotter than the bottom of the ocean (Credit: NASA/ European Space Agency)

A few weeks have gone by and I’m still thinking about textbooks. I’ve wondered before about the feasibility of creating an open textbook for introductory physical geology.  I got as far as sketching out some of the ideas and stopped when it became clear that a lot of work would be involved.

My most recent thinking about open textbooks was motivated by learning some startling facts from my students:  (1) At sea level, water boils at 1007°C.  (2) In areas on the ocean floor where new ocean crust is produced, water can be heated up to 10,007°C.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that that my students didn’t see anything wrong with water boiling at 1007°C, or with water on the ocean floor being a little shy of twice the sun’s surface temperature, what bothered me is that they encountered this information in their textbook.  I get that typos happen.  I’ve made some in my own course materials. The issue is that they are very hard to fix.  Ideally, I should be able to go into a document, change 1007°C to 100°C, and hit “update.”  Voila.  Problem solved.  Instead, I emailed the publisher’s salesperson for my region and told him about the error.  If he passes my email on to the right person, then in two years when the new edition comes out, water might once again boil at 100°C.

This is why writing my own textbook has a certain appeal.  Because no one is going to pay me to do it, I might as well make it freely available online.  It is free and relatively easy to make the textbook look pretty and to put it in places and formats that allow convenient student access.  The main difficulties are twofold:  First, I have to write it and find appropriate images that I am legally entitled to use.  Second, if done properly, I will have made use of online open education resources, and that means continually monitoring those resources to make sure they haven’t changed in unacceptable ways, or disappeared altogether.

When looking at a task requiring this much work, it is wise to see if someone else has already done the work for you, or is in the process of doing so.  Sadly, it appears no one has seen fit to build what I need.  It is also wise to see if others are interested in accomplishing the same task. Ideally, a project like this would involve a number of contributors with a wide range of expertise.  Perhaps a book sprint could be organized.  These are remarkable events during which a group of cloistered writers spends three to five days working on the book, facilitated by a company which organizes and feeds them.  At the end of five days a finished product is ready to upload… and apparently it is a good one.

Who knows—after years of writing fixes for course materials, I might have enough for a textbook anyway.

Categories: Learning technologies, Textbooks | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at