I owe Laura Gibbs credit for the inspiration behind this forum. In a blog discussion over Common Core standards which I am not a fan of, she pointed out that Pearson Education was an entity behind the organization. Now I have to be up front and tell you that I have done some work for Pearson. But after this, I doubt I'll ever be earning any royalties. I've always thought that textbooks and textbook companies were a scam. My reasoning being that any teacher worth their salt does not need a textbook to teach. I'm no saint but I do not use them in my online courses as there are so many resources on the internet. Second, I am beginning to believe that anyone can write a textbook just like anyone can write a blog. I have one btw, http://www.sharingtree.wordpress.com (shameless self promotion I admit). But I digress, so if anyone can write a text, what credibility is there in the text. Pearson also offers this MyEducationLab online space for each textbook content area. Here they provide additional resources to go along with their text. Again I have issues with this. In my field of Instructional technology, yes there are Pearson textbooks for it, I was appalled by the outdatedness of the resources as well as the approach in the selection of what went on the site as a resource. One of my issues is that instructional technology is changing so fast, how could one ever stay current with the publication of a textbook. I also have to think that knowledge in other content areas is growing at a pace where textbooks are increasingly obsolete. So now Pearson has this new gig where they customize texts for you. You can take parts for several texts and they make a textbook for you. I then began to notice the amount of education related resources that come with the Pearson logo and its scary. I recently wrote a blog article on 21st century learning which raised a lot of emotions around here. But when I attended ISTE's NECC in DC last year and saw all the corporations selling old school technologies as 21st century tools it really got my attention and my disgust. How anyone would think a whiteboard was 21st century I'll never know. So now to where Laura comes in, when she noted that Pearson was behind Common Core org, it made me think, who is really running public education, us or corporate america?
BTW, if anyone has blog posts, references, websites related to this topic please post them. Oh and here's one more nugget, below is a video research project that an education student did on who is behind Common Core, it's very interesting.
That YouTube video is a perfect example of how we really can create and share really good resources online. What I especially love about YouTube is that you not just link but also EMBED a video so that the content is right there, fully a part of whatever you are doing! So I want to make a comment about this important topic, but just to show the amazing power of embedding, I am going to embed The Forces Behind Common Core Standards video right here! (the video is really worth watching, I think - and it is the kind of thing that really gets my blood boiling… the financials on College Board are just as shocking as for ACT, non-profits though they may be).
Anyway, I think embedding is like magic: it is the ultimate in mix-and-match, which is very much my philosophy of how educational materials should work!
So, now a comment: I have published three books with three different kind of commercial publishers (a university press, the trade paperback division at Oxford, and a niche publisher of Latin textbooks), and each experience was frustrating in a different way - and the last experience was a kind of "three strikes - you're OUT" decision for me - I am not going to publish a book with a commercial publisher ever again.
And why should I? The options for print-on-demand publish and digital publishing are simply AMAZING. For my goals, which are really just to reach an audience, I don't need a commercial publisher. This is because I make a salary (not a very good salary but, hey, it is good enough!) as a college instructor, and I figure that part of my job as an instructor at a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY is that I should be working to contribute not just to my students' education but also to the educational resources available to anyone in my state, or in the world for that matter.
So, for my latest book, I self-published it and am using various ways to get that content out in the world. Here is a kind of rundown of the free tools and digital opportunities that make this happy experience possible for me:
Blogger.com. I use Blogger.com both to blog the rough draft of the book and then, after the book is done, I use Blogger.com to build a website to support the book. As a result, I maintain several blogs at once, but I run one central blog which provides a "round-up" of all the rest: Bestiaria Latina. Blogger.com is completely free to use, and I really like it! I also use Blogger.com to automatically update my Twitter streams: Aesopus and AesopusEnglish.
OpenOffice: Book in PDF form. I used FREE OpenOffice software (no more Microsoft Word for me, no more overpriced Adobe Acrobat) both to write the text of the book and to create the PDF version. The PDF version I give away for free and over 2000 people have downloaded the book I published in August! Whoo-hoo! Here's where I posted the PDF of the book for free download.
Lulu.com - for people who want the book in book format, I used the PDF to create a printed book available from Lulu.com - it's a 440-page long book, and it is $19.95 at Lulu (plus shipping). I don't think that's a bad price - and it is HALF the price of the book I published with a commercial publisher last year. So, I will probably sell enough copies of the book to pay for my husband and I to go out for Chinese food each week. That works for me!
RotateContent.com - I use this FREE tool (that I actually paid one of my students to build for me years ago) which allows anybody to create dynamic widgets - these widgets allow people to embed contents from the book inside their own webpage or blog or wiki. Here are the three widgets I made for the book's contents: Latin Fable Widgets.
iPadio.com. I am in love with iPadio. And it is FREE - amazing! This is how I am developing audio-related materials for the book - and they embed! Here's my latest Latin fable audio:
Flickr.com In the same way I built my book using public domain texts at Google Books, I am cataloging public domain images of Aesop's fables at Flickr.com - which allows anyone else to access the images, re-use them, and ... to embed slideshows! Admittedly, I have a "pro" account at Flickr - but that costs me all of $20 per year - I am glad to pay for the excellent service that Flickr provides me, making it so easy for me to share my images with everybody! So, here are all my image sets, and here is a slideshow of Grandville's illustrations - aren't they fabulous???
So, I know that this hodge-podge of digital tools is not a universal answer to the textbook crisis. But it is MY answer. I love being able to create things and share them with people online. I especially love things like widgets and embedded videos and embedded slideshows that allow other people to take your stuff and make them part of their stuff, creating digital patchwork quilts for learning.
You are so right that the commercial publishers have failed to embrace these great online tools. Maybe they will figure it out eventually… but luckily I do not have to wait for them to figure it out! I've figured it out for myself, I teach my students to use all these and similar tools - DO-IT-YOURSELF is my mantra.
Well, duh, I should have thought to embed instead of link so thanks. I actually know a handful of faculty who are self publishing. Thanks for throwing in good examples too. Hopefully we can get others to share their resources too. BTW, I'm sure you already know about MOOC's but it seems it fits your style of teaching and learning.
Anything to shut the door to big corporate education. BTW, I still want folks to post blogs, articles, and other related resources wo we are off to a great start.
Yes, I read Stephen Downes who has had a lot of great stuff about open online courses. That is something I am really pondering - my school refuses to let me teach Latin (long story) even though that is what I am actually good at, ha ha, and I am trying - if only I had more time! - to build a totally open, teacherless, do-it-yourself Latin composition course. That may become a big project for me next summer... I keep all my current online course materials on the open Internet, but I am required to use my school's course management system, which is closed closed closed. I wish it were open!!!
Questions, problems, comments? Here is the "Fireside Council" of folks who help Connie with the administration of this site: Anna, Ian, Or-Tal , Ed and Barry. Click on their names to visit their Profile Pages and leave comments for them with your inquiries and ideas! Meanwhile, if you have technical questions or suggestions, Laura will be glad to help.
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