18 replies

  1. I am almost a week into a fully OER calculus based physics course so there is not much to report. Though there is one encouraging anecdote that I will share. The primary free online text that I’m using is Physics by Boundless (www.boundless.com). I’ve been giving it a pretty careful read as I progress through building the course and I have found the unimaginable, a mistake in the text. The error amounted to what was probably a typo. Fortunately the text has a feedback mechanism for each section of each chapter and I reported the error. The following day, the error was corrected.

  2. I’m returning my first exam today in my OER engineering physics course. From the exam scores, I strong suspect that the students are not any more dedicated to reading the open textbook than the $300 one. As for the video lectures from MIT and the Khan Academy tutorials, who knows? I do know that the students in the class have not been taking advantage of the physics study room (TH224) or the tutors that we hire to help.

    All of that being said, this is completely usual for this point in the course. Just like every previous time I’ve taught this course, the majority of the class is still learning that ‘physics is hard’ and that it really will require an investment of quality time to do well (and by well I mean average)…time to give my ‘a C is pretty good’ pep-talk.

  3. C.D. Clark tell us about your concept for using Google+ as a platform for Peer Instruction.

  4. Eric Mazur has a book called “Peer Instruction” where he an alternative lecture style that he uses for his introductory physics classes. Basically, you spend the entire lecture period presenting the class with conceptual questions, that can be answered without doing any calculations. You poll them for their initial idea on the correct answer, then let them discuss it with each other and trigger a dialog that allows them to work through the logic and arrive at the correct answer.

    I have experimented with this in my classroom, and I’ve had mixed reviews. The main problem I’ve had is with the polling system stability (students getting logged out, or it freezing on them, etc). I have actually had the most success in a small class, where we don’t do any polling, instead we just start talking about what the answer should be.

    I think this idea could work in an online class. I’m going post conceptual questions on Google+ and require students to either post the answer they believe to be true, or provide a reason why they think at least one of the choices must be false. The goal is the same, try to get the students to think about the big picture first, then worry about the details (i.e. do calculations), and let them come to the correct conclusion through a series of logical steps by forcing them to justify their answer rather than just providing an answer.

    • This looks like a great idea. I’ve used Mazur’s technique in on campus courses for years. A Google+ community could enable VC students to benefit as well. Great idea CD!

  5. File this one under frustration / anti-innovation.

    The great thing about the Apple app store and whatever it is called for Android apps is the speed and efficiency with which a person can identify, purchase, download and (yes) start using the app to be productive. Depending on the size of the app download and the network connection this could take anywhere from 5 seconds to 5 minutes. Let’s call this process “awesome”.

    FHSU has a process for purchasing apps (yes, for official use) that involves actions by busy individuals all the way up a chain of ‘command’ and then back down to the person requesting the app. Sadly it will still take somewhere between 5 seconds and 5 minutes for the app to download and install plus the 5 days (and counting) for the ‘other’ process to do its thing. Let’s call this process “less than awesome”.


    There is a neat app for iOS called Explain Everything that has been working great for making videos of example problems and exam solutions. It is free but has the drawback of using quite a bit of ‘wall clock’ time to do the post processing of the video and the publishing (YouTube in this case) on the iPad. Fortunately the company that gives you Explain Everything for free will sell you an OSX app ($14.95) called Explain Everything Compressor that will do all of the post processing and publishing on your desktop or laptop computer (both of which have quite a bit more horsepower for this kind of thing) AND it frees your iPad up for making the next video. If / when I get this app, I will follow up with comments on its performance.


    • Update on Explain Everything Compressor: It works great. It is easy to use and frees up my iPad for content creation while my laptop or desktop computer handles the video processing and publishing. The downside is that FHSU doesn’t appear to have any established mechanism for purchasing apps from the Apple app store for OSX, so you may have to purchase this one personally.

  6. Here is a link for the 10th annual Open Ed Conference


  7. An impressive collection of OER’s (I have not evaluated any of these yet)

  8. I am going to develop a virtual Phys 112 course (algebra based physics II) and I am going to use OER, the text book is pretty good, there are interactive demonstrations right in-line with the text.


    My main hurdle right now is homework. I want to assign homework problems in the traditional sense where students have to work out some calculations and arrive at an answer which may be in just symbolic form, rather than give them a set of multiple-choice questions. I have been using an on-line homework system in my on campus classes, but the company charges students for access. To keep everything 100% free, I need to do something else, and I don’t think having them scan in and email me homework is a solution.

    Gavin pointed me to MyOpenMath (https://www.myopenmath.com/), which is an online system for building math based homework. I think this will be my best option. There will be a lot of effort required up front, where I will have to build a set of homework problems, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

    I am going to give it a run, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • C.D. I think that you could teach a student how to setup up problems in myopenmathlab, perhaps we can get some extra student labor money to cover this? It would help us both.

  9. It it pretty lonely on here.

  10. Why Be Open? – Dr. David Wiley

    Creative Commons Update: OER, Policy, 4.0 & MOOCS

    What’s Happening on Campus? Faculty Presentations

    Getting Involved with OERs

  11. Thank you for documenting all your trials and errors! I think it is extremely exciting and very do-able!

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