(left to right) Matt Moore and Professor Tim Robbins
The Open Education Consortium, a global nonprofit network promoting open pedagogy and the use of Open Educational Resources, recently announced the 2018 Open Education Awards for Excellence. This year’s best Open Textbook – “an openly licensed textbook of exemplary quality in its presentation of educational content” – was awarded to A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students, a 2017 collection containing essays from Graceland University Assistant Professor of English Tim Robbins, PhD, and English and art double major Matt Moore.
Robbins and Moore are currently editing the Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature with support from the Rebus Foundation. Their essays discuss the anthology’s genesis from a collaborative course project in Robbins’ Early American Literature survey course at Graceland.
“The Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students is a testament to the most rewarding aspect of Open Education: where educators turn course design over to students themselves, empowering them to take responsibility for their own learning,” Robbins shared. “Collaborating with Matt and his peers on the Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career. It speaks to power of building community in the classroom.”
Two years ago, Robbins redesigned his Early American Literature survey as an “open” seminar in which students actively constructed a web-based OER anthology for future course sections. For this “open anthology” project, the first half of the survey class is spent reading through the chapters published in the extant OER anthology, which include a range of canonical and “minor” writers.
In the latter half, the class shifts focus to the hands-on project of building on the anthology. They dedicate the final months to reading and discussing Open Education and Creative Commons licensing, learning the software, and putting together materials for the various elements of the anthology — editing texts, locating and annotating biographical and secondary research, writing introductions, developing supplementary materials, and deliberating on how to make the texts “teachable.” Teams of three build entries for authors and texts not yet represented, and, in the final weeks of the term, lead a classroom lesson based on their newly designed anthology chapter.
In the interim, Robbins was named lead editor of the Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, an OER textbook partially designed by Graceland students and now in development with the Rebus Foundation. In this Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students, Robbins published an essay on OER pedagogy in tandem with Matt Moore, an English major who participated in the project’s first run.