Discuss the US DoEd Proposed Guideline– Open Book Pilot Program

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I submitted the following remark today on the Department of Education’s proposed rule “ Open Textbook Pilot Program” The deadline to submit a remark is April 30, so read the rule and get your comments in quickly.

In the spirit of “pragmatism prior to zeal,” I argue in my comments specifically against 3 unintended repercussions of open requirements as they pertain to LMSs, efficacy research, and evaluation security/ adoptability. It is real that, if the Department acts on my first two remarks below, there are elements of the work that might otherwise have actually been open that will not end up being open.

To Whom It Might Issue:

My name is David Wiley. Please permit me to state a few words regarding my credentials for commenting on the Open Book Pilot Program. I hold a PhD in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University. My publications about open education have been pointed out over 4000 times ( https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=M47 HR7IAAAAJ). I am the author of the 5Rs framework ( https://openeducationalresources.org/) that many institution of higher learnings utilize to frame their open education efforts. I am the founder of the Open Education Conference, which just recently fulfilled for its 16 th yearly convening. I formerly ran a major university research center devoted to open education (the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University) and I am currently the Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Knowing. In calendar 2019, Lumen Learning straight supported over 250,000 students in utilizing open educational resources. We approximate that these trainees collectively saved over $30 M. Another 75 million students freely accessed the open instructional resources on our site in 2019.

In this letter I am consolidating previous comments I have made on this program in addition to including brand-new comments.

The Definition of “Open Book”

The proposed definition of “open textbook” reads, in part:

” An open book may likewise consist of a range of open educational resources or products utilized by trainers in the advancement of a course and those discovering activities necessary for effective conclusion of a course by trainees. These include any finding out exercises, technology-enabled experiences (e.g., simulations), and adaptive assistance and assessment tools.”

The text is uncertain concerning whether or not the tools that supply adaptive assistance, the tools that supply assessment abilities, and any other tools that may be utilized to store, manage, provide, augment, or support “open textbooks” need to also be freely accredited.

The frustrating bulk of “open textbooks” utilized in US greater education today are delivered to students by means of discovering management systems (LMSs) like Blackboard, Canvas, and Desire2Learn. The majority of LMSs are (1) not honestly licensed and (2) have hosting, upkeep, and other associated expenses that institutions frequently pass on to students (e.g., as part of a mandatory technology fee).

It is also true that the overwhelming majority of non-LMS innovation platforms that supply adaptive, evaluation, and other complementary capabilities are neither freely certified nor easily readily available. Needing all tools used in combination with “open books” to be openly certified or freely readily available will also forbid recipients from leveraging a large range of teaching and finding out abilities in conjunction with their “open textbooks”.

A prohibition on using exclusive innovation platforms in conjunction “open textbooks” would likewise undermine Proposed Concern 3( b), which needs recipients to evaluate the effect of open books on discovering results and course results. When the treatment group of trainees are utilizing “open books” that are needed to be essentially static material (like a PDF) provided beyond the school discovering management system, and the control group are using equivalent material integrated within the LMS and matched by sophisticated adaptive, evaluation, and other abilities, the impact of “open books” on trainee outcomes is all however guaranteed to be negative. This would likewise be an awful effect of the proposed rule.

In conclusion, the proposed guideline must be modified to clearly state that, for the purposes of the grant, the tools used in conjunction with “open books” are not needed to be either honestly certified or easily available.

Licensing of Ancillary Resources

The proposed rule discusses “ancillary knowing resources,” “supplementary instructional products,” and “supplementary materials” however does not specify any of these terms. While training material produced under the grant needs to be made available under a “around the world, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irreversible license to the general public to exercise any of the rights under copyright conditioned just on the requirement that attribution be provided as directed by the copyright owner,” the licensing status of ancillaries is never attended to directly in the proposed guideline. It should be.

Probably, the classification of ancillaries includes private assessment products, evaluation banks, total quizzes, homework issues, projects, rubrics, and design responses. It is seriously crucial that there NOT be a requirement for assessments created to determine student learning to be launched under the exact same open licensing terms as educational material. If evaluations developed to determine trainee knowing (hereafter, “assessments”) are needed to be honestly accredited, the department’s financial investment in their production will be squandered within a matter of months.

Assessments from a vast array of industrial publishers and OER providers inevitably wind up on cheating sites where trainees share questions and answers with one another. Once that occurs, all a student has to do is type a partial question into Google and they can right away find proper answer details. When evaluations are generally copyrighted, a takedown notice can be released to a website openly sharing copyrighted evaluations. Nevertheless, when evaluations are honestly certified, a cheating site is within its rights to continue publishing homework and quiz answers. While the video game of whack-a-mole with numerous cheating websites that release copyrighted assessments can be time consuming, copyright at least makes it possible to require that assessments are removed. When evaluations are freely certified, there is no option for the evaluation developer. To put it simply, the open licensing of assessments weakens evaluation security.

Professors regularly spot check concerns in assessment banks to see if the answers are readily available to trainees online. If they discover the answers online, professors understand they can’t use those evaluations in their courses. Inasmuch as the accessibility of ancillaries like evaluations is a significant consider faculty decisions to adopt “open textbooks,” the objectives of the proposed guideline would be served considerably by encouraging the developers of evaluations to preserve conventional copyrights on those assessments. The language of the proposed guideline ought to make it clear that they are allowed to do so.

In conclusion, the proposed guideline needs to be changed to clearly specify that, for the functions of the grant, the supplementary resources produced in conjunction with “open books” are not needed to be freely accredited.

Technical Assistance Providers

As currently written, an “qualified candidate” is a consortium comprised of “at least” IHEs, a single instructional technology or curriculum design specialist, and an advisory group of “sector partners.” While the language “a minimum of” in the definition of “eligible candidate” does not dismiss the addition of companies that supply technical support in consortia, the proposed guideline needs to be amended to particularly mention that “technical help companies” are permitted to be members of consortia. Technical help providers have actually specialized know-how that will likely be valuable to grantees under the program. For instance, Innovative Commons, the organization that develops the copyright licenses used by the overwhelming bulk of “open textbooks,” has formerly offered technical assistance to receivers of federal grants as recipients have worked to comply with open licensing requirements. There is no factor to discriminate between non-profit and for-profit entities in the arrangement of technical assistance to beneficiaries.

In conclusion, the proposed rule ought to be amended to explain that consortia with technical support providers as members are “eligible applicants,” which both non-profit and for-profit entities are qualified to work as technical support service providers.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the proposed guideline. I anticipate the Department following Congressional instructions this year in awarding a large number of smaller sized grants under the Open Textbooks Pilot Program.


David Wiley, PhD

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