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FROM CODEX TO BITS: Open Textbooks and their Implications for Knowledge Production, Distribution and Reuse


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Natascha Chtena's presentation of her PhD research at the 7th GO-GN Seminar in Delft, April 21-22, 2018.

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FROM CODEX TO BITS: Open Textbooks and their Implications for Knowledge Production, Distribution and Reuse

  1. 1. FROM CODEX TO BITS: Open Textbooks and their Implications for Knowledge Production, Distribution and Reuse Natascha Chtena Dept. of Information Studies UCLA 1
  2. 2. Outline of presentation 1. Being an open scholar 2. Aim of the project 3. Theoretical assumptions & framework 4. Research questions 5. Methods 6. Research timeline & progress 7. Preliminary findings
  3. 3. Being an open scholar: raising awareness “I think my favorite week was the week we talked about open access and open science. As someone who works in a bio lab and hopes to go to grad school, reading about academic publishing and the price barriers that prevent common people and researchers in developing countries from accessing scientific knowledge has been eye-opening. I am appalled at the inequalities the publishing system perpetuates.” Student in “IS10: Information and Power”, UCLA, Fall 2017
  4. 4. Sources: Creative Commons/ Kwantlen Polytechnic University/ College of the Canyons/ Marion Campus Library
  5. 5. Research objectives A) to investigate how “openness” is interpreted across different institutions (community colleges, R1 institutions etc.) and stakeholder groups (instructors, administrators, librarians etc.) in California; B) to provide a richer understanding of the various ways in which “open textbooks” exist as digital objects, and to assess the interoperability, accessibility and durability of the different systems through which they are constituted ; C) to highlight the main institutional, economic and technical barriers that inhibit the mainstreaming of
  6. 6. Theoretical framing 1. Social Construction of Technology (Bijker & Wieber, 1984; Bijker & Law, 1992) 2. Infrastructural approaches to the study of information systems and artifacts (e.g. Bowker, 1994; Star & Ruhleder, 1994) 3. Theories of materiality and material agency; new materialisms (e.g. Sørensen, 2009; Boldén, 2015)
  7. 7. Research questions • RQ1. Vision and discourse: How is ‘openness’ interpreted and understood across different types of institutions, markets and stakeholder groups, and how do their goals for open textbooks differ? How are these different goals and visions shaping how open textbooks are implemented across contexts and discilines? • RQ2. Openness and interoperability: How “open” are open textbooks, technically, and in practice? How modular, interoperable and customizable are their components? What technical standards, if any, currently regulate the production of open textbooks? And to what extend are users taking advantage of open licenses to remix, adapt and redistribute them? • RQ3. Labor and infrastructure: What does the current system of open textbook production, distribution and upkeep look like? What forms of labor are needed to do open textbooks and how is that labor currently distributed among stakeholders?
  8. 8. Research methods 1. Semi-structured interviews (40-45 interviews) • Instructors (authors & adopters) • Students • Publishers (open & traditional) • OER coordinators, librarians and other support staff • High-level administrators & policy makers at the state level 2. Observations (80 hrs) • Classroom observations at 2 California State University campuses • OER training workshops, conferences and summits across the state 3. System analysis • OpenStax • SmartHistory
  9. 9. Research timeline START COMPLETION Dissertation proposal defense September 2016 Data collection November 2016 May 2018 Data analysis and writing February 2018 May 2019 Dissertation defense May 2019 Dissertation filling July 2019
  10. 10. Research status • COMPLETED: observations, 35 interviews • PENDING: 3-5 interviews with administrators, bookstore managers & publishers; system analysis of the two platforms • CURRENTLY WORKING ON: interview transcriptions; coding; chapters 1 & 2 (introduction and theory)
  11. 11. Preliminary findings Both creation and adoption of open textbooks is highly constrained by technical, economic and institutional barriers that prioritize affordability and practicality over goals of content sharing and remix; Faculty involvement in open textbook creation is strongly limited by technical parameters, e.g., copyright, accessibility, and interoperability issues due to lack of technical standards; Strong desire for “readymade” (non-modular) content, especially at the community college level; Paper still plays an important role in the implementation of open textbooks; paper practices not dead.
  12. 12. Thank you for your attention!
  13. 13. References Bijker, W. E., & Law, J. (1992). Shaping technology/building society: studies in sociotechnical change. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Pinch, T. J. and Bijker, W. E. (1984) The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other. Social Studies of Science (Vol. 14), 399-441. Blanchette, J. F. (2011). A material history of bits. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(6), 1042-1057. Bolldén, K. (2015). Online teaching practices: Sociomaterial matters in higher education settings (Vol. 190). Linköping University Electronic Press. Drucker, J. (2013a). Knowledge design: A conceptual and curricular challenge. Design and Culture. 6(1), 65-83. Kelty, C. M. (2008). Two bits: The cultural significance of free software. Duke University Press. Schatzki, T.R. (2001). Introduction: Practice theory. In T. R. Schatzki, K. K. Cetina & E. Von Savigny (Eds.) The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. Psychology Press. Sørensen, E. (2009). The materiality of learning: Technology and knowledge in educational practice. Cambridge University Press. Star, S., & Ruhleder, K. (1994). Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure: Complex problems in design and access for large-scale collaborative systems. CSCW 94: Proceedings of the 1994 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 253–264.