Friends, Family, USU IT Faculty, Grad Students & Alumni,
It's only in its infancy (pre-conception, you might even say), but I wanted
to let you all know about a project that I've started to think about, under
the guidance/tutelage of Dr. Wiley here at USU.
It is currently called the "Utah OpenTextbooks Project" (codenamed "Project
Dyson" by Dr. Wiley)--and I am considering doing my dissertation around it.
The basic gist is as follows:
The state of Utah, and other states like it, spend over $20M annually on
K-12 textbooks. With that kind of money, and with shrinking educational
budgets, a few questions are worth asking:
* Are these textbooks worth the $$$? Also, does a brand new U.S. History or
Algebra 1 textbook need to be repurchased every few years (at full cost) for
whatever few changes may be made?
* Do we want a handful of states (New York, California, Florida, Texas)
driving the content of textbooks in all the other states (which is basically
what happens today, as I¹m told)?
* Could better, more innovate textbooks be developed in a
community/open/wiki style (see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page and
www.opensourcetext.org for starters), where the COMMUNITY would retain
ownership of the contentor better yet, share w/ other states/countries?
* Once a textbook has been written by a community, could digital learning
objects be built around the text/course and provided as supplements to the
textbookhelping teachers teach better, and learners learn better (think
free multimedia clips for lectures, test banks and innovate lesson plans for
teachers, or cool multimedia games/self-direct modules for student homework,
* Finally, if we can create ³local² (statewide) online communities where
teachers, students, and subject matter experts congregate to create
textbooks, share lesson plans, and basically socialize in the context of an
academic course...can we harness the power of the internet in more positive
ways...to far more productive ends (think ³replace MTV or Xbox with Utah
Math Rocks Internet Plaza¹²?
I have attached a very, very rough "Vision Document" that outlines what we
have brainstormed, and some early, high-level steps on how we might go about
achieving our vision. If you are not comfortable opening attachments from
an email (can¹t imagine why you would be :) ), feel free to download the
We need lots of input/ideas/feedback, so if any of you are interested in
participating in/supporting this project in any way (even as a silent
observer), please feel free to reply w/ feedback, or even join our community
Also, if you know anyone interested in Utah Education, or Open Textbooks,
please feel free to forward this message to them.
I look forward to collaborating w/ those of you who are interested. It will
be a long journey to be sure, but hopefully a worthwhile one.
Director of Outreach
OSLO Research Group
Utah State University
This list hasn't gotten much love lately; I noticed a bunch of messages
from John Dehlin that had been automatically held for moderation due to
the large number of recipients explicitly listed in the To: header
Apologies for not checking the moderation queue earlier; I've released
the held messages.
-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)
Family, Friends, and OpenTextbook folks,
This paper (http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.PDF) is by far the most
important paper I've read so far in my short academic life, and in many ways
could be considered the "bible" for what we are trying to do in
OpenTextbooks. To summarize--it's all about how the Internet is making it
possible for very large groups of people to come together to do amazing
things in the creation of information, outside of a commercial model. It
focuses on the economics of it all, but gives some great examples as well.
Some cool sites to look at that are discussed in this article include:
* www.wikipedia.org (the best encyclopedia on the internet, created purely
* http://dmoz.org (an internet directory, rivaling yahoo, that again is
created purely by volunteers)
* http://clickworkers.arc.nasa.gov/top (a NASA project where volunteers from
all over the world are mapping the craters of Mars
* http://slashdot.org (an self-moderated community of information ³news for
My personal goal (OpenTextbooks) is to help create a framework for allowing
communities to come together and create free, open textbooks, that hopefully
will not only help kids learn better, but will also save schools literally
millions of dollars a year in costs.
Anyway, please give it a read if you can, or are in the mood. It's quite
long and academic, and might take you a month--but the ideas and principles
therein (I believe) explain very significant social movements afoot.
Please check it out if you can. For those of you doing a literature review
with me, this is a must-read.
------ Forwarded Message
From: David Wiley <david.wiley(a)gmail.com>
Reply-To: David Wiley <david.wiley(a)gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 20:04:17 -0700
Subject:  Great paper
Wanted to send out a link to this paper -- one of the best I've read
in the last five years. Literally.
And yes, this is the paginated version.
For your edification, i.e., not required reading.
7150 mailing list
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