Earlier in the year I posted transcribed excerpts from an interview with OCWC Educator ACE Award winner, Professor of Math and Statistics at De Anza College and co-author of the OpenStax College open textbook Introductory Statistics (previously Collaborative Statistics) Barbara Illowsky. You can find my original post on the OpenEd13 interview here, which is still worth checking out for an overview of the interview and key quotes. However, I’m now pleased to announce that you can now hear this fascinating interview in full!
Introducing Barbara and De Anza College
Listen to Barbara introduce herself:
Barbara on De Anza College, the students who attend and some of the challenges they face. Quoting Martha Kanter “we accept the top 100% of students who apply” Barbara also tells us why she doesn’t use the term “remedial”:
OER has an important role to play at colleges such as De Anza. Barbara told us more about the students at De Anza, the time pressures they face (students with jobs work on average 32 hours per week), barriers to study and the “juggling” of different commitments. Barbara explains how proprietary textbook costs are prohibitively high: often more than the cost of course fees in California.
Traditional and Open Textbooks
I asked Barbara about student responses to high proprietary textbook costs. She told me about how high textbook costs impact on students and what the consequences of this can be:
Involvement in Connexions and OpenStax College
Barbara told me how she became involved in Connexions and how the forward-thinking vision of colleagues such as Martha Kanter (Under Secretary of Education) and Hal Plotkin (Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Education) enabled De Anza to lead the way on “textbook affordability” and become “the first community college board [to have a] policy about public domain.” Barbara also told us more about the Hewlett Foundation awarding Foothill-De Anza and other organisations (including ISKME and Connexions) the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative in 2009. As Richard Baranuik notes in this official Rice University press release which reports on the story of Collaborative Statistics journey from CNX to OpenStax College: “This is the book that started it all.”
Later on in this clip Barbara also tells us about how and why the Maxfield Foundation bought the copyright to Collaborative Statistics, her involvement in the Sofia Project and the provision of other open resources (such as videos) to compliment the textbook.
Barbara gave me more background on how the textbook came into being, its development and how her experiences and the advancement of OER means she would look to review and reuse OER if she were to (hypothetically) consider creating an open textbook in future:
Later on in the interview I asked Barbara about whether there had been any change to institutional policy and practice as a result of contributing to the Connexions repository. Barbara also gives advice in this excerpt on how to help reduce costs for students:
Influencing Policy Change in California
Barbara told me how after the textbook was made available on Connexions it “took on a life of its own” and was used by institutions both close by and around the world. She also told me more about the different contexts in which Collaborative Statistics is used and its inclusion in the California Learning Resource Network.
This clip closes with Barbara telling us how she has been able, in her role within the California Community College’s Chancellor’s office, to “influence OER policy” through working with Cable Green (Creative Commons) to propose that publicly funded work in California is CC-BY licensed. Successfully passed, as Barbara notes: “It’s the largest educational institutional system [with 2.6 million students and 112 community colleges], I think in the world, that’s required the CC-BY for its grants and contracts.”
Read the Creative Commons announcement and watch a video of the Board’s discussion here.
Student Savings at De Anza College
Barbara had previously reported that $1 million dollars of student savings had been made by using Collaborative Statistics. Earlier in the interview I asked her to tell us more about how this figure (which she explained relates to De Anza college only) was calculated:
Go to Part Two for more on collaborative improvements to the textbook, why Collaborative Statistics is licensed CC-BY and how open improves the quality of textbooks.