Monday, September 7, 2009

Article published in First Monday

Hopefully you got the word to switch your RSS feed over to my new blog,, feed:

But just in case you didn't...

I'm pleased to link to a First Monday article I wrote that focuses on motivations for creating derivative works. The article grew out of an earlier post I made (or maybe it was vice -versa). Special thanks to David Wiley for his advice and encouragement and to BYU's department of Instructional Psychology and Technology for giving me a position as a researcher.

For me the most exciting part of this derivative works idea is the translation aspect. Recently, I was contacted by a woman who wanted to translate a book I had written into Russian. I have no desire to try to profit from such an arrangement -- if she is willing to freely translate my book into Russian, great! I would love for Russian speakers to benefit from those ideas and download a free copy of the book in Russian.

I look forward to watching the ways that the Internet allows deriviative works to be made and spread.

I believe that spreading derivatives will create more amazing stories of openness.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's all over -- updating to new blog -- update links

Friends -- It's time for me to switch blog locations and focus.

I'll be focusing much more tightly on open access issues, particularly open book publishing.

New blog:

New feed:

I've already posted there, so come on over...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review: The Courage to Teach

Charles Swift recommended I read The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer. I did and enjoyed the book. I have had it on my "write a review" list for a few days waiting for when I had more time to write about it. I have determined I am not going to have any free time for awhile (hence no "Friday Review," I'll try a "Wednesday Review" after finals) but still wanted to write a short review, or rather share what for me was the key insight from the book. Palmer writes, "This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher" (10).

As he develops this point he shared something that will be obvious to many, but surprising to me. He states that there isn't a "right" way to teach, that some "techniques" aren't better than others. He says, "Thought I need to sometimes to lecture, and may even enjoy doing it, lecturing all the time simply bores me: I usually know what i'm going to say and I've heard it all before. But dialogical methods of teaching help keep me alive. Forced to listen, respond, and improvise, I am more likely to hear something unexpected and insightful from myself as well as others.

"That does not mean that lecturing is the wrong way to teachi. It simply means that my identity, unlike my mentor [who lectured brilliantly] is more fulfilled in dialogue...

"Here, I believe, is the proper and powerful role of technique: as we learn more about who we are, we can learn techniques that reveal rather than conceal the personhood from which good teaching comes" (24).

So for some teachers to lecture may truly be the best technique.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Review

Greetings friends for the second-to-last Friday Review.

First, allow me to congratulate my friend and colleague SaraJoy Pond on her first place win in BYU's Social Venture Competition. Way to go SaraJoy!

It's been a good week. Here's the recap:


I got to present about how authors perceive the implications of free digital book distribution. That was good. Also continued to work on the FWK paper and got to attend a scholarly communications meeting. That is where I heard that the University of Michigan Press is going purely digital.


Chugging away on the research paper. I feel pretty good about where it is heading. There is still more work to do. One of the interesting questions to wrestle with (and I don't think I'll solve it this semester) is "For the "average" user of OER, how much is content-learner interaction valued versus learner-learner and teacher-learner interactions?


Together with Jared Stein and Aaron Johnson we're working on a paper to articulate the 4 Rs and ALMS analyses. I'm excited about it!

Stats and Research

After several hours I finally pulled together the research paper I've been working on. I'll give the report on it next week. The short version is that the grading metrics of religion classes at BYU do affect the quantity and motvations of students scripture study, but do not affect how they perceive the spiritual strength they gain from the study.


I critiqued an interesting article about rejection and self-regulation. All assignments are in, and it's onto the final!

Second Life

This past week in my distance education class we learned in and about Second Life. I first heard the buzz about Second Life when a branch president in Miami approached me about possibly doing some activities with young single adults within second life. He was considering buying real estate there and felt that there was significant opportunities to help build relationships between young adults. At the time I thought, "I have a hard enough time getting people gather together to meet in REAL life, why would I want to focus on this in a second life?

After class this past week, I have to confess that I still feel this way. It may just be that I came late to class, and so missed the part that would have convinced me. And I did think that the virtual "Sistine Chapel" was beautiful--but it could be just as beautiful as a learning object; I didn't see the value added by second life.

I can see the rationale that it provides a gathering place for people to meet who are separated by time and distance. But videoconferencing can do that as well, and for me to have the "avatar" VS a real person is distracting. If I can see video stream of the real person and get their real gestures, why go the avatar route?

There was a lot of discussion about the moral implications (e.g. people might exhibit more aberrant behavior in second life than in real life) but this was not a primary concern for me. If it was used in an educational way (as demonstrated by our guest instructor) I don't think much trouble would occur. The trouble would occur as one walks around in random places (and trouble occurs in real life when one walks around in random places).

Perhaps there are important implications for younger learrners--e.g. it might help them be more free in the learning, or it might be more interesting for them. I don't foreclose on the possibility of virtual worlds as educational tools; however, for the moment I say, "Second Life? ...Let's focus on real life!"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Review

It's been an intense week! In a harbinger of what is doubtless to come over the next two weeks this week has been filled with serious study and writing sessions. Here's the roundup.


Things are progressing nicely with the FWK study. The background and significance sections have been written, to complete the first draft we just need to describe results of the beta test. David was able to pull together the raw information and I'll take a stab at processing it this next week.

Distance Education

Had a great discussion on copyright. It got me wondering about what would happen if copyright were limited to 10 years. I got a draft of the research paper for this class that I feel very happy with. There's lots of room for improvement yet, but I think it's going to be a valuable contribution to the field.

Open Education

This week we investigate an ongoing debate between David Wiley and Stephen Downes. I was very glad we reviewed it in class because some important clarifications happened for me. One was that BY-SA cannot be remixed with BY-NC-SA. The other was the saying that "For producers of content that will be used commercially the BY-NC-SA license makes sense."


We are pressing forward in this class. I worked on analyzing a couple of articles in terms of their reliability and validity.

Research and Stats

This was a major focus this week. Four hours studying for the test and four hours taking it. It was a lot of work, but I really feel like I have a great understanding of correlation, regression and ANOVAs. I also made some great headway in my research project for this class as I found a professor who doesn't require any scripture study of his students--it will serve as the perfect control. I'll let you in on one other secret since you've read this far. I typically don't buy textbooks--if I won't use it after the course, why make the purchase? For this class, I borrowed the textbook from Cary (and was very grateful to her!) But I have enjoyed this textbook so much I bought it this week (on ebay) even though the class is ending because I love it so much. I know I'm a nerd, but there have been a couple of times when I've been reading it just before bed and haven't wanted to turn off the lights!

What if copyright was limited to 10 years?

At our distance education class this past week Carl Johnson from BYU copyright came and visited our class to discuss copyright issues and education. This had obvious implications for the course I'm taking in Open Education as well.

It was interesting to me that Carl seemed to promote the use of Creative Commons licenses and author rights. Although he was careful to say that he needed promote the interests of both authors and the university in general, he seemed to feel that a day of open-access was coming and that there are lots of benefits in this regard.

In the Open Ed class I was made aware of a comment by a member of BYU's legal counsel who said that on both professional and personal reasons he supported Creative Commons. I'm obviously spending too much time hanging out with open-access people but I started to wonder to myself, "What would happen if copyright was done away with?" Or, more practically, dramatically reduced?

For me as an author would I care? No--it seems doubtful that anything of value that I create will not be worthy guarding 10 years from now. But what if? What if I became like JK Rowling and came up with a slam dunk, home run of a story. How would JK Rowling feel if copyright ended after ten years. What would that mean?

So I could publish cheap versions of the Harry Potter books. That would be bad for JK Rowling (no longer receives royalties) and bad for the publisher (too much competition now). Would it wreck the brand of Harry Potter? Not likely. If somebody publishes Harry Potter 8 and it stinks, nobody will buy it. If on the other hand it is an amazing piece of work, I'd be grateful for new culture (though Ms. Rowling might not be).

What percentage of works are like mine, and what percentage are like Rowlings? An interesting finding by James Boyle in his book The Public Domain is the following: "We know that when U.S. copyright required renewal after twenty-eight years, about 85 percent of all copyright holders did not bother to renew."

Isn't that amazing! Boyle states that this can be viewed as an approximation of commercial viability. So if after 28 years people don't renew, it's likely that it wasn't worth it.

I wonder how many years copyright would need to be in place in order for half of people to bother renewing it. Let's suppose that it was ten years.

If that were the case, what if a mechanism was set in place so that copyright expired after ten years; however, those who wanted to renew could renew the copyright by paying a nominal (15$) fee. And they could renew it every 10 years until death. And as long as I'm proposing new policy, what if we made it so that nothing was copyrighted unless the author specifically asked for the copyright to be in place by affixing a little logo to the work.

Although others have pushed for a less radical solution, this is what I am proposing today. :)

This review of Lessig's book Remix also had some helpful insights for thinking about copyright.