Announcing: Electromagnetics, Volume 1 by Ellingson

Cover for Electromagnetics Volume 1
COVER DESIGN: ROBERT BROWDER; COVER IMAGE: (C) MICHELLE YOST. TOTAL INTERNAL REFLECTION (CROPPED BY ROBERT BROWDER) IS LICENSED CC BY-SA 2.0

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is pleased to announce publication of Electromagnetics, Volume 1 by Steven W. Ellingson.

Electromagnetics, Volume 1 is a 225-page peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbook intended for use in a one-semester, first course in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics. This course is typically taken by electrical engineering students in the third year of a bachelor of science degree program. The open textbook is currently being used in Virginia Tech’s ECE 3105 Electromagnetic Fields course. 

The book and its accompanying ancillary materials  (problem sets, solution manual, and LaTeX Logo for the Creative Commons license Attribution Share-Alike licensesource files) are open educational resources: freely available and openly licensed (CC BY SA 4.0). Freely downloadable versions are available at https://doi.org/10.21061/electromagnetics-vol-1. A softcover print version is available via Amazon.

Features of the book: The book is designed to resolve pressing instructional, technical and financial barriers faced by students and to provide instructors with flexibility in rearranging the text for preferred instructional sequences. By following best practices for open and digital textbook production, this book offers the following benefits: 

  • Field tested content: Students were directly involved in field testing and in contributing figures. The text was used in multiple sections by different instructors. Students and instructors provided feedback and suggestions for improvement; 
  • Features that enhance understanding: These include examples, highlighted concept boxes, discussion of notation (1.7) to reduce ambiguity, appendices on constitutive parameters of common materials, mathematical formulas, and physical constants, and end-of-chapter links to external reference information;
  • Supplementary learning materials: The book is accompanied by problem sets and worked solutions;
  • Reusable figures: All figures are openly licensed and may be redistributed with attribution. Many are available in .svg format in Wikimedia Commons;
  • Quality and clarity: The book is peer-reviewed and has undergone field testing, technical review, and professional copy editing;
  • User and contributor community: Readers are invited to submit feedback. Instructors reviewing, piloting, adopting, or adapting the text are invited to register their interest and sign up to receive updates, find others using the book, and share openly licensed ancillary resources they’ve developed;
  • Legal and no-cost access: Anyone with internet access can freely and legally access the text. This reduces financial pressure on students. Existing commercial texts in this field can retail new for as high as $200, or $100 for a one-semester rental;
  • Accessibility: Screen-reader friendly navigation structure, an index, and detailed, hyperlinked table of contents make it easier for readers to navigate within the text. All readers, and especially those with sight disabilities, benefit from alternative text “alt text” available for each figure;
  • Upfront permission to customize the text and figures: Adaptation and redistribution with attribution is allowed because of the book’s open license (CC BY SA); And,
  • Technical methods for customization: Users may create their own version of the text by modifying the LaTeX source. This gives flexibility to instructors who prefer to sequence course topics in a different order. Openly licensed LaTeX source files are available so that instructors and other authors may easily remix, reorder, or change the text in other ways. 
Page 120 from the book
Page 120 from Electromagnetics, Vol 1

Electromagnetics, Volume 1 is part of the Open Electromagnetics Project led by Steven W. Ellingson at Virginia Tech. The goal of the project is to create no-cost openly-licensed content for courses in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics. The project is motivated by two things: lowering learning material costs for students and giving instructors the freedom to adopt, modify, and improve their educational resources.

Electromagnetics Volume 2, which covers the second semester (ECE 3106) course is expected in January 2020.

Publication of this book was made possible in part by the University Libraries at Virginia  Tech’s Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program and by collaboration with VT Publishing, the scholarly publishing hub of Virginia Tech.

About the author: Steven W. Ellingson (ellingson@vt.edu) is Associate Professor of Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia in the United States. He received PhD and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Ohio State University and a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. He was employed by the US Army, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Raytheon, and the Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory before joining the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he teaches courses in electromagnetics, radio frequency systems, wireless communications, and signal processing. His research includes topics in wireless communications, radio science, and radio frequency instrumentation. Ellingson serves as a consultant to industry and government and is the author of Radio Systems Engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

A January 2018 blog post regarding the “beta,” field tested version of this book is available here.

Express your interest and subscribe to updates.

 

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Book Review: Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors

Cover image for Fair Use for Nonfiction AuthorsBrianna L. Schofield and Robert Kirk Walker. Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors: Common Scenarios with Guidance from Community Practice (Berkeley: Authors Alliance, 2017).

Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors is the third in a series of short, helpful guides from the Authors Alliance (the first two were Understanding Open Access and Understanding Rights Reversion).  The guide was created “to help nonfiction authors understand reasonable strategies for the application of fair use in common situations.”  With the help of several scholarly societies, the authors distributed a survey which garnered the responses of 60 authors with nearly 150 fair use stories.  In addition to the survey responses, the guide was also shaped by existing codes of best practice in various domains.  Keep in mind that the concept of fair use is evolving, and that there are no clear tests of what is or is not fair use.  Also, the guide applies only to fair use in the United States (and neither the book nor this blog post constitute legal advice).

Four factors must be considered to determine whether using a copyrighted work is a fair use: the nature of the use, the nature of the work used, how much of the work is used, and the economic effect of the use.  Case law shows that judges tend to focus on two questions: whether the use was transformative, that is, was the use for a different purpose or did it give the material a different meaning; and was the material used appropriate in kind and amount?

The guide then goes on to cover three common situations encountered by nonfiction authors.  The first is criticizing, discussing, or commenting on copyrighted material.  This use is well established, but does have the following limitations: the amount used should be appropriate for the purpose; the use should be connected to the purpose; and reasonable attribution should be given to the author.  While U.S. copyright law does not require attribution, courts may find it a factor in favor of fair use, and of course it is standard practice in scholarship.

The second common situation is using a copyrighted work to illustrate, support, or prove an argument or point (unlike the situation above, here the copyrighted work is not the object of commentary).  This use is also well established, and shares the limitations above regarding attribution, the amount used, and a connection between the work and the point being made.  An additional limitation in this situation is that a use should not be made if it is merely decorative or entertaining.

The third common situation is using copyrighted works for non-consumptive research, such as text and data mining. For this more recent situation, fair use is strongly supported by existing case law. One caveat, however, is that databases being used in this manner must not have any contractual restrictions on text and data mining. And the material should not be employed in other ways, such as reading normally, or providing access to works digitized by the researcher. Real-life examples of fair use appear for all three situations described above, as well as hypothetical cases to test your knowledge.

The FAQ section of the guide covers creative and commercial uses, options when permission is refused, fair use for unpublished works, and contractual limitations on fair use.  Two questions of particular interest to researchers concern the re-use of figures, and the policies of journals and publishers that require permission for re-use of copyrighted work.  In the case of figures, including charts, graphs, and tables, it is important to remember that facts are not copyrightable.  Creatively expressed figures may be copyrightable; one must analyze each particular case according to the scenarios above.  It is worth mentioning here that some forward-thinking researchers are eliminating the permissions ambiguity regarding their own figures by making them available separately under a Creative Commons license.  Where publishers ignore fair use and require permissions to re-use copyrighted work, the guide recommends engaging with them to explain the rationale and referring them to a code of best practices where applicable.  Where fair use is integral to a work, it will be worth finding a publisher willing to rely on it.

The section “Beyond Fair Use” provides the following suggestions if your intended use does not qualify as fair use:

  • Modify your intended use
  • Ask the owner for permission (which may include paying a license fee)
  • Use an openly licensed work
  • Use a work in the public domain

Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors is an open access book (licensed CC BY) available online in PDF. If you would prefer a print copy, you can order one ($20) from the Authors Alliance, or check out the copy in Newman Library.  For more information, see the Authors Alliance fair use page, which in addition to the guide includes a FAQ, links to fair use resources, and fair use news.

Through June 15, the Authors Alliance has a crowdfunding campaign for an upcoming guide, Understanding Book Publication Contracts.  If you would like help support that guide, please consider a contribution.

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Virginia Tech Co-Founds the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative

Virginia Tech is one of nine founding members of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, a pilot program focused on publishing new, openly licensed textbooks. The program was launched by the Open Textbook Network (OTN) and aims to increase open textbook publishing experience in higher education institutions by training a designated project manager at each institution and creating a network of institutions.

The Cooperative is a three-year pilot that will establish publishing workflow and processes to expand the development of open textbook publishing in higher education. As a member, Virginia Tech’s project managers, Corinne Guimont (Digital Publishing Specialist) and Anita Walz (Open Education, Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian), will gain expertise in project management and technical skills. After the training is complete, a minimum of three open textbooks will be published using the model and tools gained through the cooperative.

“We at Virginia Tech are excited to join the Co-Op because of the opportunity for learning and professional development within a cohort of other institutions,” said Anita Walz. “We will have access to additional technical expertise, workflows, and tools, so that we can create and share more open textbooks with the world.”

Virginia Tech’s involvement in the Publishing Cooperative builds upon previous open textbooks published in the library, including Fundamentals of Business by Stephen J. Skripak and newly released Beta Version of Electromagnetics by Steven W. Ellingson. These books along with other open educational resources adopted by faculty at Virginia Tech have saved 3,111 students $786,398 in course material costs.

At the completion of the three-year pilot, the Publishing Cooperative as a whole will publish at least two dozen new, freely available, textbooks with Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses.

If you are a VT faculty member interested in publishing an open textbook or other educational resources, please visit http://guides.lib.vt.edu/oer/grants.

Open Textbook Network logo

Founding members of the OTN Publishing Cooperative include: Miami University, Penn State University, Portland State University, Southern Utah University, University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Virginia Tech, and West Hills Community College District (CA).

About the Open Textbook Network: The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community working to improve education through open education, with members representing over 600 higher education institutions. OTN institutions have saved students more than $8.5 million by implementing open education programs, and empowered faculty with the flexibility to customize course content to meet students’ learning needs.

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Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta): Virginia Tech’s Newest Open Textbook

VT Publishing and the University Libraries of Virginia Tech are pleased to announce publication of a second, new open textbook: Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta). (You can read about the first open textbook in an earlier blog post.) The textbook is in “beta” for a Virginia Tech course in Spring 2018 and will be revised and re-released with LaTeX source code, problem sets, and solutions in Summer 2018.

Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) by Steven W. Ellingson is a 224 page, freely available, peer-reviewed, full color, print and digital open educational resource. It is intended to serve as a primary textbook for a one-semester first course in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics within the third year of a bachelor of science degree program.

Cover image of Electromagnetics textbook
Cover design: Robert Browder; Cover image: (c) Michelle Yost. Total Internal Reflection (cropped by Robert Browder) is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

The book is the work of Steven W. Ellingson, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with the Scholarly Communication office of Virginia Tech’s University Libraries and VT Publishing. As collaborators with Ellingson, the University Libraries provided grant funding, overall project management, guidance on open licensing, attribution, student works, formats and styles, managed development and production processes, coordinated peer review, reviewed manuscripts (editorial and technical), provided technical specifications, and navigated print and distribution solutions.

A no cost downloadable version of Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) is available here. A full color softcover printed version (ISBN: 978-0-9979201-2-3) is available at the cost of production and shipping from Amazon.com.

The LaTeX authored text includes extensive use of mathematical equations, figures, adapted, and custom-created and openly licensed diagrams, worked and narrative examples. This book employs the “transmission lines first” approach, one of three approaches to teaching electromagnetics. However, other teaching approaches may find the work relevant, since its release under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license legally allows addition, adaptation (with required attribution), and redistribution of content. The resulting work is of significant value in opening new possibilities for teaching and learning: Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) by Ellingson is the first known openly licensed textbook for electromagnetics.

Logo for the Creative Commons license Attribution Share-Alike

Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) will be field tested in Virginia Tech’s ECE3106 Electromagnetic Fields course in Spring 2018, and then revised and re-released in Summer 2018 as a text adoptable for courses beyond Virginia Tech. LaTeX source files, problem sets, and solutions will be released contemporaneously in Summer 2018. The editor and author of this book encourage feedback from individuals, classes, and faculty viewing this book. Feedback and suggestions may be contributed using the online annotation tool Hypothes.is, via a feedback form, or by emailing publishing@vt.edu. A Volume 2 and combined Volumes 1 & 2 are planned.

The intent of creating a remixable book for both internal use and free public release exemplifies trends within the Open Education movement and in higher education in general. These trends mirror aspects of the open source software movement and include public sharing under open licenses which allow contributions and adaptation (such as Creative Commons licenses), rewarding, valuing, and incorporating new ideas pertaining to teaching and learning, building collaborative faculty networks across multiple institutions, giving credit where due, and involving students as active contributors to course goals and/or the work of curricula and course design. Free public access is a start, but the possibilities for faculty, students, and others to create, openly license and share, freely adopt, adapt with attribution, and build open source systems for adaptation and sharing expand meaningful possibilities far beyond free access. These freedoms bode well for expansion of purposeful and engaging teaching and learning, the ability to leverage academic freedoms for broad, positive impacts on the common good, thoughtful conversations about ethics, incentives, voice, and access in the academy, and the advancement of innovative pedagogical practices and publicly available scholarly research which are already beginning to bear fruit.

I hope that many other faculty and institutions will take advantage of opportunities to create, adopt, adapt, and share openly licensed materials to fit their needs, the distinctive teaching and learning challenges and opportunities in their disciplines, the needs of their students, and beyond.

This textbook is part of the Open Electromagnetics Project led by Steven W. Ellingson at Virginia Tech. The goal of the project is to create no-cost openly-licensed content for courses in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics. The project is motivated by two things: lowering learning material costs for students and giving faculty the freedom to adopt, modify, and improve their educational resources.

Publication of this book was made possible in part by the Virginia Tech University Libraries’ Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program which is led by Anita Walz, Scholarly Communication office, at the University Libraries, Virginia Tech. The goal of the grants program is to to encourage the use, creation, and adaptation of openly licensed information resources to support student learning. The author also thanks VT Publishing colleagues for their many contributions.

For more information on the origins of Creative Commons licenses, watch the short video “Get Creative: Being the Origins and Adventures of the Creative Commons Licensing Project” or visit the Creative Commons website.

About the author of Electromagnetics Volume 1 Beta: Steven W. Ellingson is an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. He received PhD and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University and a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. He was employed by the US Army, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Raytheon, and The Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory before joining the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he teaches courses in electromagnetics, radio frequency systems, wireless communications, and signal processing. His research includes topics in wireless communications, radio science, and radio frequency instrumentation. Professor Ellingson serves as a consultant to industry and government and is the author of Radio Systems Engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

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OpenCon 2017: The OpenCon Platform

As part of Open Access Week, the University Libraries and the Graduate School offered a travel scholarship to OpenCon 2017, a conference for early career researchers on open access, open data, and open educational resources. From a pool of many strong essay applications, we chose Alexis Villacis, a Ph.D. student in Agricultural and Applied Economics. Alexis attended the conference in Berlin, Germany on November 11-13, and sent the report below. Be sure to check out the OpenCon 2017 highlights.

OpenCon 2017 workshop
Alexis (left) at an OpenCon workshop

Alexis Villacis writes:

The progress of science and access to education varies widely geographically, and sometimes are very limited due to economic, cultural and social circumstances. Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data are key to support those who are left behind and bring empowerment to the next generation. OpenCon brings together the worldwide champions who are working towards the advancement of the Open Movement. Students, early career academic professionals, and senior researchers all come together under one roof to share their initiatives. Participants hear their inspiring stories, from Canada to Nepal, of sparking change during a three-day conference; a conference I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of, as a representative of Virginia Tech.

Over these three days, participants showcased how Open is being advanced around the world. The discussion centered on how often higher education models (knowledge access, research questions, and research funding, among many others) marginalize underrepresented scholars and students. It was thought-provoking and sometimes shocking to hear how our western ways of knowing have colonized access to information and how this has impacted the progress of R&D in other parts of the world.

OpenCon 2017 selfie

Sharing with participants from other countries and hearing the challenges they face every day made me contrast our everyday realities and the privilege we have at VT. A privilege we take for granted in our everyday lives, where access to all types of tools, research, and content is one click away through our computers. We, as an institution of higher education, promote and share access to knowledge and new technologies throughout Virginia and beyond. The impact of these transfers is what keeps our society thriving every day, but where would we be if this access were restricted to us? Perhaps, VT as a Land Grant Institution would not exist at all, the state of Virginia would not be what it is today and neither many other parts of the US.

As I walked through the halls of the Max Planck Society, where the conference was held, I kept wondering: is this not what we are doing today? What changes are we withholding from the rest of the world by limiting access to data, knowledge, and education? The essence of this and the significance of Open Access clearly goes beyond journals and data, and it is also about social justice, equity, and the democratization of knowledge. We Hokies can make a difference in Open Access. More importantly, we are the key players called to work towards its advancement.

OpenCon 2017 group photo

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Stop Link Rot: Use Perma.cc to Preserve Web References in Scholarship

As research becomes increasingly digital, it’s becoming more important to ensure a findable and unchanging scholarly record.  Researchers are probably familiar with the digital object identifier (DOI), which in URL form provides a persistent link to articles (and more), and libraries and publishers provide redundant archiving to ensure  scholarship is preserved for the long term.

However, it’s also important to make sure links (other than DOIs) in articles work, and to make sure web pages represent what the author saw when she cited them.  Some journals are aware of these issues, and I’ve noticed a few authors who employ URLs from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine in their manuscripts.  Thinking back to my last article, there are probably some links that won’t work five (or twenty) years from now, or links resolving to web pages that won’t accurately represent what I was referring to at the time.

These problems are usually referred to as link rot and reference rot.  Link rot means a URL can no longer be found (your browser returns a 404 error); reference rot means the information cited at a URL has either disappeared or changed.  Research has shown 50% of the links in Supreme Court decisions from 1996-2010 had reference rot, one in five articles suffers from reference rot, and three out of four URI references lead to changed content.  In the last article, the authors say these problems raise “significant concerns regarding the long term integrity of the web-based scholarly record.”  In this era of fact-checking and “fake news,”  it’s more important than ever to stabilize the evidence base built in peer-reviewed articles.

Perma.cc logoTo help address this problem, Virginia Tech’s University Libraries is pleased to announce that we are now a registrar for Perma.cc, a service to provide archiving of web pages for research purposes.  Researchers at Virginia Tech will be able to archive, manage, and annotate an unlimited number of web pages with persistent shortlinks for citing, and will also receive local support.

Including a Perma.cc link in a citation or footnote may depend on the citation style you are using, but a general recommendation is to include the original URL, followed by “archived at” and the Perma.cc shortlink, for example:

36. Scott Althaus & Kalev Leetaru, Airbrushing History, American Style, Cline Center for Democracy (Nov. 25, 2008), http://www.clinecenter.illinois.edu/airbrushing_history, archived at http://perma.cc/G8PW-798L.

If you click on the Perma.cc link above, you can see how the web page looks in archived form.  In addition, the time of capture is recorded, there’s a link to the live page, and you can download the archive file (under “show record details”).  Perma.cc is intended for non-commercial scholarly and research purposes that do not infringe or violate anyone’s copyright or other rights.   Web pages to be archived should be freely available without payment or registration.  Additionally, some web pages employ a “noarchive” restriction, which Perma.cc archives but makes private.  In other words, the shortlink can be shared, but is available only to the researcher and upon request.

There are some advantages to using Perma.cc over the Wayback Machine (and the Internet Archive is a supporting partner of Perma.cc). Perma.cc provides a more thorough, accurate capture in two forms, a web archive file (WARC), and a screenshot (PNG).  Perma.cc also provides persistent shortlinks that are more convenient for citing, and enables researcher management of the links (with folders, annotation, and public/private control).

Other features of the Perma.cc system include:

  • Researchers will be added as organizations, and can add other users within that organization, such as lab members or collaborators
  • A bookmarklet and extension are available for easy use in a browser (users must be logged in)
  • Links can be deleted within 24 hours

See more information about creating Perma.cc records and links, and check out the FAQ.  Perma.cc is built by Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab, and in alignment with its focus on preservation, the service has a contingency plan and is also open source.

To get started, send an email to permacc@vt.edu and request an account (or to be added as an unlimited user if you’ve already signed up).  You can also send questions and problems to this address, or you can use the Perma.cc contact form.

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Introducing the Virginia Tech Patents collection in VTechWorks and the patent harvesting software repository, Patent-Harvest

Authors: Philippe Gray and Anne Lawrence

Inspired by the Association of Southeastern Regional Libraries webinar, “Adding Patent Records to Clemson’s IR — Highlighting the University’s Output,” VTechWorks, Virginia Tech’s institutional repository, now offers a similar collection, Virginia Tech Patents. The collection contains 645 U.S. Patents assigned to Virginia Tech at the time of patent application. The dates of issuance span 1919-2016. The collection’s display is customized with fields, search filters, and facets particular to patents, such as patent type, inventor, assignee, patent and application numbers, and patent classifications. Our motivation for creating the collection was that a sizeable collection of useful public domain content could be harvested programmatically and that it provides an opportunity to spotlight how Virginia Tech “invents the future.”

To enable other repositories to develop a similar collection, we offer our software, Patent-Harvest, in a GitHub repository. Patent-Harvest contains a Java program written to harvest all patents with Virginia Tech as the assignee. It can be adapted to harvest patents and associated files for other organizations or search parameters.

The harvesting program uses the PatentsView API to retrieve relevant metadata for all Virginia Tech patents and outputs a CSV spreadsheet. If desired, all the corresponding files for each patent are also downloaded and logically renamed. Since most United States patent documents are image-only PDFs, a script is included that uses optical character recognition to read text content and embed it in the patent documents. This makes the text of the patent documents searchable, but doesn’t change how they appear to the reader.

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Open Education Week 2017: The Potential of Open Education

Happy Open Education Week! 2017 marked the fourth year of celebrating international Open Education Week at Virginia Tech. The Open Education Week planning committee set goals to meet felt needs of faculty on campus and to encourage student communication with faculty regarding the impact of learning resources on student learning.

Cost is always an issue. The committee agreed that we wanted to do something more positive than focus on barriers to learning, so we chose the theme “The Potential of Open Education.” What is Open Education anyway?  Open Education includes pedagogies, practices, and resources which reduce barriers to learning.  “Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs.” Source: Open Education Consortium

Two faculty and graduate student oriented events featured local and invited speakers, including live and live-streamed:

Seven Platforms You Should Know About: Share, Find, Author, or Adapt Creative Commons-Licensed Resources

Thanks to Kayla McNabb for setup of the video below and Neal Henshaw for editing.

Creative Commons licenses allow no-cost access, redistribution, remix, and reuse with attribution. This session is for faculty (and others) who want to know about platforms which enable sharing, finding, creating, and/or adapting of openly licensed or public domain resources. This session featured live demos by expert users or creators of VTechWorks, Merlot, the Open Textbook Library, OER Commons, VT’s Odyssey Learning Object Repository, Overleaf (formerly WriteLaTex), Pressbooks, and the Rebus Open textbook editing community.

The event handout “Where to find, share, author and adapt Open Educational Resources? A Selection of No-Cost Platforms” is available here; also check out links from the Seven Platforms program.

The Potential of Open Educational Resources: Virginia Tech Faculty & Student Panel Discussion

Thanks to Digital Media Services for the video below and the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for video production.

Virginia Tech Open Educational Resource (OER) authors, adapters, and authors and several students discussed the use, benefits, challenges, and opportunities related to using or adapting openly licensed course materials for couse use. Panelists included Jane Roberson-Evia (Statistics), Mary Lipscombe (Biological Sciences), Stephen Skripak (Pamplin), and Anastasia Cortez (Pamplin). Publishing expert Peter Potter (University Libraries), and students Mayra Artiles (Doctoral student, Engineering Education), and Jonathan de Pena (Senior, Finance) also joined the panel, moderated by Anita Walz (University Libraries).

Virginia Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) designed the Open Education Week exhibit to educate and to solicit visitor input. The interactive exhibit features a range of required student learning materials including textbooks, homework access codes, software, and clickers, visual representations of data related to course material costs and student responses, information about open education options, a new Creative Commons brochure, CC stickers, and several interactive features. Students also have the opportunity to write a personalized message on an SGA-designed postcard to their professor, department head, or whomever they want to contact.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A selection of resources used in the exhibit are linked here:

Florida Virtual Campus (October 7, 2016) 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Available here.

National Association of College Stores (2011) “Where the New Textbook Dollar Goes” Used with Permission of NACS. (No updated data available). Available here.

Senack, Ethan. (January 2014) Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. U.S. PIRG Education Fund & the Student PIRGs: Washington, DC. Available here.

Senack, E., Donoghue, R. (2016)Covering the cost: Why we can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices. Student PIRGS: Washington, DC. Available here.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as quoted by Popken, B. in “College Textbook Prices Have Risen 1,041 Percent Since 1977“ NBC News (August 6, 2015). Available here.

OEW word cloud
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0
OEW word cloud
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

SGA also hosted a Multimedia Event. This student led engagement event featured multiple interactive stations where students could discuss, answer questions, take pictures, and write postcards. Two wordcloud prompts in particular were telling: “Where would your money go if you didn’t have to buy textbooks” — with the top two answers by far reflecting daily living expenses — “food” and “rent.”

Students were also asked to reflect on how they avoid buying full price textbooks. Responses included “Rent [textbooks],” “go without,” “hope for the best,” “borrow them from a friend,” and “buy used.”

OEW whiteboard
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

___________________

The Open Education Week at Virginia Tech planning committee for 2017 included: Anita Walz (Chair), Kayla McNabb, Quinn Warnick, Anna Pope, Anne Brown, Kimberly Bassler, and Craig Arthur.

Exhibit curators: Virginia Tech Student Government Association: Anna Pope, Kenneth Corbett, Spencer Jones, Holly Hunter, and Sydney Thorpe with the University Libraries’: Scott Fralin and Anita Walz

Special thanks for event support: Carrie Cross, Trevor Finney, and Kayla McNabb

Posted in Open Educational Resources, Open Textbooks | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Open Data Week Will Feature ContentMine, Data Visualization, Panel Discussions

The University Libraries will be hosting its second Open Data Week on April 10-13 with opportunities to learn more about sharing, visualizing, finding, mining, and reusing data for research. In addition to panel discussions on open research data as well as on text and data mining, there will be two sessions on data visualization. From Tuesday through Thursday, join one or more sessions featuring guests Thomas Arrow and Stefan Kasberger from ContentMine to learn about open source tools in development for mining scholarly and research literature. ContentMine software “allows users to gather papers from many different sources, standardize the material, and process them to look up and/or search for key terms, phrases, patterns, and more.” Be sure to register for limited capacity events (Lunch on Wednesday 4/12, and the in-depth workshop on Thursday 4/13); links and full schedule below. For more information, see our Open Data Week guide, and use our hashtag, #VTODW.

Open Data Week featuring ContentMine

Monday April 10
Open Research/Open Data Forum: Transparency, Sharing, and Reproducibility in Scholarship
6:30-8:00pm, in Torgersen Hall 1100 (NLI credit available)

Join our panelists for a discussion on challenges and opportunities related to sharing and using open data in research, including meeting funder and journal guidelines:

  • Daniel Chen (Ph.D. candidate in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology)
  • Karen DePauw (Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education)
  • Sally Morton (Dean, College of Science)
  • Jon Petters (Data Management Consultant, University Libraries)
  • David Radcliffe (English)
  • Laura Sands (Center for Gerontology)

Tuesday April 11
Introduction to Content Mine – Tools for Mining Scholarly Literature
9:30-10:45am, Newman Library Multipurpose Room (NLI credit available)

Join ContentMine instructors for an overview of text and data mining, and an introduction to ContentMine tools for text and data mining of scholarly and research literature.

Tuesday April 11
Data Visualization with Tableau
10:30 am -12:00 pm, Torgersen 1100 (NLI registration)

With the Tableau data visualization software, you or your students can easily turn research data into detailed, interactive visualizations that tell the story that numbers alone struggle to express. The software can link directly to your data sources so you always have the most up-to-date data on hand without exporting manually, and easily generate hundreds of types of visualizations that include interactive elements.

Wednesday April 12
Introduction to Content Mine: Tools for Mining Scholarly Literature
9:00-9:55am, Newman Library Multipurpose Room (NLI credit available)

Join ContentMine instructors for an overview of text and data mining, and an introduction to ContentMine tools for text and data mining of scholarly and research literature.

Wednesday April 12
Making Visible the Invisible: Data Visualization and Poster Design
9:30-11:00am, Newman 207A (NLI registration)

Visually representing data helps users and readers engage with the content, understand key findings, and retain information. Exploring, creating, and presenting these visual representations is becoming critical for teaching, academic research, and professional engagement. In this session we will explore the basics of data visualization and poster design, and look at a few tools to create different kinds of visualizations. We will also discuss the academic and professional value in visualizing data.

Wednesday April 12
ContentMine and Specialized Tools for Life Sciences Research
11:15-12:05pm, Newman Library Multipurpose Room (NLI credit available)

Join students in a computational biochemistry informatics class session for an introduction to ContentMine open source tools for text and data mining to explore research literature sources, with a focus on tools related to mining and exploring content for Life Sciences research (phylogeny and and visualization).

Wednesday April 12
Lunch with ContentMine guest speakers and program participants
12:30-1:30, Location TBA (Registration required; Limit: 50 participants)

Wednesday April 12
Text and Data Mining Forum
2:30-3:45pm, Newman MultiPurpose Room (NLI credit available)

Join our panelists for a discussion about opportunities and challenges related to text and data mining, with a focus on research purposes and information access. Audience questions are encouraged.

  • Tom Arrow (ContentMine)
  • Tom Ewing (College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech)
  • Weiguo (Patrick) Fan (Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech)
  • Ed Fox (Computer Science, Virginia Tech)
  • Leanna House (Statistics, Virginia Tech)
  • Brent Huang (Computer Science, Virginia Tech)

ContentMine logo

Wednesday April 12
Introduction to Content Mine: Tools for Mining Scholarly Literature
4:00-5:15pm, Newman ScaleUp Classroom (101S) (NLI credit available)

Join ContentMine instructors for an overview of text and data mining, and an introduction to ContentMine tools for text and data mining of scholarly and research literature.

Thursday April 13
ContentMine Tools to Explore Scholarly Literature: A Full Day, Hands-On Workshop
9:00am – 4:00pm, Newman Library 207A (Registration required; also, NLI credit available; Coffee and Lunch provided)

During this workshop participants will: (1) ensure the software is functioning on their laptop computer, (2) participate in individual and group hands-on exercises to become more familiar with ContentMine tools, and (3) have the opportunity to experiment with using ContentMine tools with ContentMine instructors’ support – to mine scholarly literature and explore results specific to their own research project goals. Prior to the workshop, attendees will receive instructions to download software and make any other preparations to get the most of of the workshop.

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OpenCon 2016 Reports from Virginia Tech Graduate Students

As part of Open Access Week, the University Libraries and the Graduate School offered two travel scholarships to OpenCon 2016, a conference for early career researchers on open access, open data, and open educational resources. This is the third year we have jointly supported graduate student travel to the conference. From a pool of many strong essay applications, we chose Mayra Artiles, a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education, and Daniel Chen, a Ph.D. candidate in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. In addition, Mohammed Seyam, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science, attended. All were in Washington, D.C. for the conference November 12-14, and sent the reports below. Be sure to check out the OpenCon 2016 highlights.

Mohammed Seyam, Mayra Artiles, and Daniel Chen at Sen. Warner's office
Mohammed Seyam, Mayra Artiles, and Daniel Chen at Sen. Warner’s office

Mayra Artiles writes:

Being as open as possible – OpenCon 2016

This year I had the opportunity to attend OpenCon 2016 in Washington, DC. When I initially applied for the scholarship, I had a vague idea of how the Open agenda tied into my research and why was it important to me. However, I was not prepared for what the conference would spark. While in the US Open is mainly focused on open access to journals, the global idea of open is as diverse as are our problems. Interacting with people from different parts of the globe, who were amazingly passionate about Open in general, I learned that open access to journal articles is relatively a first world problem. While some countries fight for journal access, many more fight for textbooks and others fight for reliable internet. The more people I met, the more I learned how all of these unique issues are all nested under the large umbrella of making knowledge accessible on a global scale. One of the things that came out of these conversations was my involvement in a collaboration to create OpenCon Latin America – a conference similar to the one we had all just attended but held entirely in Spanish, empowering people and spreading the Open ideal in a language spoken mainly by over 425 million people.

This made me think about the following question: How can we, as Hokies, be as open as possible with our research? While fighting the academic tenure process and breaking the paradigms of open access journals is an endeavor of huge proportions, we can take small steps on being more open every day. We need to be as open as possible and as closed as necessary. It is for this reason I have made a list of steps on how we can be open today. The best part is that all these resources are open:

  1. Take stock of all your publications and make a list of the journals you’ve published or plan to publish in.
  2. Visit Sherpa Romeo and look up these journals. This page will provide information on which parts of your work are shareable and whether or not there is an embargo on your work. If you’re lucky, you can share a copy of your pre-print.
  3. Share as much as possible on repositories such as VTechWorks and other sites such as ResearchGate.
  4. Create your impact story at ImpactStory – all you need is an ORCID profile. Our work should mean more than amount of times we get cited. This website shows just that: it will give you a score for how ‘open’ is your work, show how many people saved, shared, tweeted, and cited your work and across how many channels, among other great things. As researchers, we are more than our H-index.
  5. Have a conversation with your research peers and advisors on the value of open research. While we can’t convince everybody to suddenly publish in open access, we can begin the conversation and break the paradigms. A great resource to learn more about the value of open research is Why Open Research?

OpenCon 2016 logo

Daniel Chen writes:

What is “open”? Merriam-Webster tells us that it is “having no enclosing or confining barrier: accessible on all or nearly all sides”. For OpenCon, access (to academic publications), education, and data lay at the center of its mission.

The conference brings together a select group of like-minded individuals who are all passionate towards openness. Since the conference was single-tracked, it allowed everyone to focus on the various projects, hurdles, and conversations people have about Open around the world. We had plenty of time and space to roam around American University to continue conversations. I was lucky and privileged enough to be one of the select attendees and represent Virginia Tech.

My road to Open revolves mainly though open education and open data. I teach for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry and support NumFOCUS. It is logical then, that my definition of Open mainly focuses around open source scientific computing. It’s a very specific subset of Open, and OpenCon helped me remember what role I play in the the larger Open movement.

For me Open Education is teaching the Creative Commons-licensed Software Carpentry material the past 3 years. Over the years, my idea of open education revolved around higher education: textbooks for university students, scientific computing materials for graduate students, resources for open source. I was reminded that open education was not just for the graduate students trying to improve the quality of their research, textbooks and educational materials were not just for university students. Open education is used to teach students from all ages, lesson materials and books for elementary school, textbooks for middle school, high school, and university. It allows students and educators to invest resources in other ways to help foster better learning. Here at Virginia Tech, you may notice OpenStax books in the library, but the Rebus Community is another resource and place to get involved with open education materials.

As a data scientist, I am constantly combining disparate datasets from a myriad of sources to answer a research question. I rely heavily on open data sets. Many cities in the United States now have open data portals (e.g., NYC Open Data), and government agencies, such as the Department of Commerce house a plethora of open datasets. These datasets are great for an analyst such as myself, but open data sources such as OpenStreetMap and ClinicalTrials.gov help with urban planning in cities and provide drug trial data and results to people all over the world.

One of my favorite parts of the conference happened on the second day when we shifted from a single-track conference to an un-conference style meeting. Attendees from the conference pitched various discussion topics, and the attendees of the conference dispersed across the American University Law School. I attended a discussion about openness in academia where we talked how we incorporate it in our academic lives. For some of us (including myself), we are lucky that our advisors understand openness. Most, if not all, of my research code has a MIT Open Source License. Others found the challenge of pushing and fighting for ‘openness’ a way of disrupting the traditional ivory tower philosophy. One attendee was an undergraduate freshman who was trying to understand what openness was and how he can incorporate it as he begins his academic career. This was a great metaphor for what OpenCon stands for, empowering and pushing openness to the next generation.

I also attended the breakout discussion about global health, where we talked about how openness plays a role in improving global health. I met many people who work in the health space, and use open data and open access sources to improve health. For example, Daniel Mietchen from the NIH is part of a global infectious disease response team to build the tools and protocols necessary to respond to the next epidemic. The 2014 Ebola and 2015 Zika outbreaks are recent reminders of how much we can improve our global response to infectious disease outbreaks. In this unconference, we also talked about drug results reporting in at ClinicalTrials.gov. The problem is that even though clinical trials are listed there, not all of the results from the trials are reported after the initial trial listing. This takes away the ability for people looking to educate themselves about various treatment options for a disease, and more pressure is needed to make sure this information is adequately distributed in a timely manner.

Our final day at the conference had everyone in the conference work in groups to talk to various funding agencies and senators about openness. Essentially, we became lobbyists for Open. I was lucky enough to be in two groups. My first group talked with Rachael Florence, PhD, the Program Director of the Research Infrastructure program at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). We talked about how PCORI’s goal is to make study results and data more widely available, brought up the concerns about disseminating clinical trials results, and generally discussed faster reporting, lowering publication bias, reproducible research, and data sharing. We also talked about what OpenCon was, and intrigued Dr. Florence to attend next year.

My next stop was the office of Virginia Senator Mark Warner. We did not get to talk to him directly, but instead talked to his senior Policy Advisor, Kenneth Johnson, Jr. It was during this discussion that I wished we had more training on being an effective lobbyist. We only make 2 passes around the circle during our meeting. The first was introducing ourselves, and the second was how Open played a role in our lives. There was a small conversation about open data, open access, and open education for the state of Virginia, but I wished we were able to have a longer conversation. Senator Warner is already familiar with many aspects of Open, so not too much convincing was needed, but I worried about how other groups fared.

In the end, I felt OpenCon was a great experience. I made new connections with other people from all over the world, and gained new experiences on how to talk about Open. It has also given me some ideas for a side project about using ClinicalTrials.gov data to reporting rates for various clinical trials. I hope I am lucky enough next year to attend as well, and urge everyone at Virginia Tech to learn about Open, and get involved!

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