Leave Update: Month 1

My unpaid leave from BYU started January 1. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder than I have during this past month. It’s been exhilarating and exhausting and exciting and challenging and I’m loving it. For anyone who’s interested, here’s an update on what I’ve been doing:

Textbook Zero
I spent two days early in January visiting with our partner community college working on the first Textbook Zero Associates degree program. This involved two full days of hands-on training with faculty, providing a very hands-on and high touch workshop experience focused on redesigning courses around OER. We started with learning outcomes, moved up through assessments, and finally looked at the open educational resources that will best support teachers in facilitating the specific types of learning they want to see happen with their students. This program, which is an Associates degree in business administration, will open this fall. The Textbook Zero approach (moving the entire degree off of textbooks and onto OER) knocks 30% off the cost of completing this degree. I am super excited about this. (And I have to say that, given the abuse the term “open” has taken recently, I’m going to take steps to make sure that the phrase “Textbook Zero” retains the meaning I meant for it to have when I coined it.)

Utah Open Textbooks Project
I spent four days during January working with teachers across the state on developing open science textbooks for adoption statewide this fall. We currently anticipate having somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,000 students in Utah using open science textbooks in fall 2013. This work is really being led by Sarah Young from the Utah State Office of Education, and I’m just playing a supporting and facilitating role. However, I have to say that even my love of open textbooks has been tested as I’ve begun working through the editing and copyright review process for six textbooks for grades seven through 12. This is going to have a huge impact, both financially and educationally, on Utah. And I hope the rest of the world sees Utah as an inspriational example here.

Lots of smaller items to report. I led several webinars in January (e.g., one for the State Department on MOOCs), did some one day trainings with teachers / faculty interested in moving a single course or three off of textbooks and onto OER, spent a day at the CK12 Foundation, spoke at the WestEd Forum / Board Meeting where I made some great additional connections around K-12 open textbooks (more on this in next month’s report, hopefully), and got an IES SBIR grant proposal written and submitted with my colleague Kim Thanos.

I also harvested some things in January I’d planted earlier: my PhD student / colleague TJ Bliss defended his dissertation and accepted a job as State Director of Assessment with the Idaho State Office of Education, and our newest research article appeared in First Monday: The Cost and Quality of Open Textbooks: Perceptions of Community College Faculty and Students.

All in all, a good first month! But I can do better… so here’s to February!

Is your community college, university, or high school interested in using open educational resources or open textbooks but not quite sure how to start? Leave a comment below or send an email – [email protected]