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通过开放教材帮助学生节省支出


开放教材

I learned about David Lippman from an article on TeamOpen and realized I needed to talk to him more about his work in open education and open source. David is a professor at Pierce College and has saved students a million dollars with his shared textbooks. He also built IMathAS, a free, open source math assessment and course platform.

我在 TeamOpen 上的一篇文章中看到戴维·李普曼(David Lippman)教授正在做的事,便决定要和他当面请教更多关于开源以及开放教育(Open Education)的事。戴维教授任职于洛杉矶皮尔斯社区大学(Pierce College),他所做的教科书分享计划已经帮助各地学生省下数百万的书钱,他也建立了一个免费开源的数学教学及评量平台,叫做 IMathAS

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved in open source and open education?

可以稍微跟我们介绍一下你自己吗?还有关于你投入开放教育及开源领域的历程?

I am a math teacher by profession and training, but programming and computers have always been an active hobby of mine. Over the years I had used a lot of open source software, and contributed to a few small projects, like ASCIIMathML. About nine years ago, when online homework in math courses was starting to become more mainstream, I said to myself: "I really like this idea, but can’t justify making my students pay this extra cost." Naturally I started looking around for free and open source options. I came across WebWork, a great open source project, but realized the server setup was too complicated. That’s when I started building IMathAS, an online math homework system that could work on a commodity LAMP server. Because my goal was to make a free system, making it open source only made sense.

我是一位数学教师,但我对计算机和程序相关的东西一直都相当有兴趣。这几年来,我已经用了不少的开源软件,也贡献了一点心力在其中的几个小计划,像是 ASCIIMathML(撰写数学式子的语言)。大约九年前的时候,在线缴交数学作业的作法开始流行。那时我心里很喜欢这个想法,但我没办法心安理得地让学生在这上面多花钱。很自然地,我开始在网络上找免费或是开放的资源。一开始我有找到一个很不错的开源计划 WebWork(数理课程联机操作系统),但因为服务器的设定太复杂就放弃了。我就在这时候用商业型的 LAMP 服务器开始建立 IMathAS 平台,而且我希望这是个免费的平台,理所当然地,IMathAS 本身也是以开源的形式建构的。(GitHub:drlippman/IMathAS

Later down the road, after the system had been developed and in use for a few years, it occurred to me: "Why am I having students pay $150 for a book that they only read half of, and we’re not even using for exercises anymore?" That’s when I started working on open textbooks and full open courseware. The Open Course Library project in Washington gave me and my colleagues time to work on those ideas, and through collaborations with faculty at other schools, we’ve been able to come up with some really great materials.

在不断开发及使用 IMathAS 的几年后,有一次突然想到:为什么我要学生去买一本只读一半却要 150 美元的教科书,甚至里面的练习题都已经没在用了。于是我又着手于开放教科书及课程软件的计划。华盛顿州的 Open Course Library 项目(教学资源共享平台)让我和同事们有时间验证这些想法,并且通过与其他学校的教师合作,我们规划出了一些挺不错的教学素材。

How has iMathAs been received?

大家对 iMathAs 的反应如何?

After I built the first version, I showed it to someone from our state community college system, and he said, "Where do you see this going?" I told him I’d like to see it made available around the state, and he came up with funding to provide free hosting for anyone in the state. Largely because of that, a good number of faculty started using it. At first it was largely faculty who were very cost concerned, or who wanted something more customizable than the publisher-provided systems, but it has grown to be used by many non-technical folks now as well.

我在完成最初的版本后,拿给州立社区大学系统里的一个人看。他问我:"你接下来希望怎么做?"我希望能让整个州的人都可以使用。听了我的说法,他因此提供了一笔资金,让我可以免费让所有人使用这个平台。大概是因为这样,很多学校开始使用这个平台。起初大多数的使用者都是各所大学的教师,他们一开始还很担心经费以及客制化的问题,但现在也有很多一般非技术性的使用者。

After a bunch of courses built around open textbooks were released, I wanted to be able to share those outside Washington, so I set up MyOpenMath.com to provide a free hosted option outside the state. There are a few colleges that have decided to host their own instances, but most folks find it much more manageable to use a hosted platform. Luckily we have been able to partner with a commercial company that provides support services for the software and pays the hosting bill.

在一些使用开放教科书的课程于平台上发布后,我想要把这些东西分享到华盛顿州以外的地方,于是我设立了 MyOpenMath.com 这个网站,提供州外使用者免费使用。有些大学决定设立自己维护的平台,不过多数机构仍然认为使用已被维护好的平台比较好管理。而且很幸运地,我们能够和一家公司合作,他们除了提供支持服务外,也负担了平台维护的费用。

Generally, it has been well received. There are some faculty who are really used to having publishers hold their hand and for whom a more hands-on self-service approach will never fly. But it’s been quite exciting to see it gain traction. We’re serving about 30,000 students a term now, between the two big installs.

总的来说,我们的平台受到了不少好评。当然,事实上的确有些教师更习惯于让出版商牵着他们的手,对于这类教师,让他们自己维护得方案绝对行不通。看到这个平台逐渐成长,我们真的相当兴奋,现在一学期我们有约 30,000 名学生使用该服务。

What are your favorite open education tools?

可以分享你最喜欢使用的开放教育工具吗?

I don’t know what exactly falls under an "open education tool," but I really like the UMN website and the work BC campus and Lumen have done to extend Pressbooks.

我不太确定什么东西会被称为“开放教育工具”。不过我个人十分喜欢 UMN(开放教科书平台)这个网站,还有 BC campus(提供在线学习工具的公司)及 Lumen(提供开放教育资源及教学软件的公司)为 Pressbooks(电子书制作出版网站)做的扩充功能。

What is your favorite open source tool (not including your own)?

那你最喜欢的开源软件呢(不算你自己做的)?

I use tons of them. jEdit is my primary coding text editor. I use Inkscape and GIMP for image editing and design. MathJax and jsxGraph are great open source libraries that I utilize in my code.

我用过的工具十分多。jEdit 是我最喜欢用的程序代码编辑器,至于图像编辑与设计我用的是 InkscapeGIMPMathJax(JavaScript 数学式显示引擎)及 jsxGraph(数学几何交互式图形函式库)则是我常用的开源函式库。

What do you think of the growth around your text? Did you expect for it to benefit so many others?

教科书平台持续的成长,你有什么看法?你一开始有预料到会有这么多人受益于此平台吗?

It is pretty cool. We were hopeful some people would get use out of it, but I don’t think we ever imagined it would get used as much as it has. It’s always fun when we get a random email from someone letting us know they’ve started using it. With OpenStax’s extension/revision out now, that’s likely to get even broader adoption.

这真的是很不可思议。我们一开始希望能有一些人使用就很好了,但现在这么高的使用人数是我们不曾想象过的。有时候我们会收到一些人的电子邮件,告知他们正在使用这个平台,还挺有趣的。而如今又有 OpenStax(致力于改善学生获取学习资源途径的组织)提供的扩充及修订,应该会有更多的人使用。

Have you ever considered using a versioning control system like GitHub to manage your texts?

你曾想过使用类似 Github 这种版本管理系统来维护这些教科书吗?

We chose to write our books in Word, since our audience is mostly community college faculty and most are more comfortable editing in Word than TeX. While we certainly could use GitHub even with Word files, it doesn’t really offer much for binaries, so we’ve just opted to keep an archive of all older versions as part of our website.

我们选择用 Word 来写我们的书,因为我们的读者主要是社区大学的教师,而且大多数人更喜欢用 Word 编辑而不是 TeX。虽然我们也可以使用 GitHub 维护这些 Word 文件,但 GitHub 对二进制文件的支持不是很好,所以我们目前选择在网站上列出所有新旧版本的书,这样就够了。

Perhaps if we release an HTML version in the future we’ll put that on GitHub.

或许哪天我们出了 HTML 版本的教材,就会放在 Github 上。

What advice would you give to other educators to get them involved in the open education movement?

你有什么建议可以提供给其他教育者,让他们一起加入开放教育的行列?

For adopters or adapters, there’s much more available now than there ever was before, and it’s easy to jump in without a huge time or effort commitment. For them, I’d recommend heading over to MyOpenMath.com, logging on as guest, and looking at what’s available to adopt with little effort. For faculty in other disciplines, visit the UMN open textbook library, OpenStax College, Lumen Learning, etc. to see what’s out there.

对于使用者来说,现在可以使用的资源实在是比以前多太多了,而且也不需投入大量的时间及精力就可以参与。我建议大家可以在 MyOpenMath.com 网站上,先以访客的身份看看有什么可以轻易上手的东西。至于其他学科,可以浏览 UMN open textbook library(明尼苏达大学开放教科书数据库)、OpenStax College(致力于改善学生获取学习资源途径的组织)、Lumen Learning(提供开放教育资源及教学软件的公司)等组织或企业提供的资源。

For people interested in creating content, I’d encourage first the common open source mantra: Release early, release often. Many educators feel like they have to wait until their material has been refined and perfected before they share it, but don’t wait! Let people know it’s draft, but share it early, and other people can help give feedback and improve it. Second, I’d recommend trying to connect with other OER-minded educators. Some of the best materials that I’ve been a part of are those that were created through the collaboration of a group of faculty, each working on the piece they’re best at.

而对于制作教学素材有兴趣的人,我首先提供一个建议:尽快且经常发布自己的作品。很多教育工作者觉得他们需要将教材做到非常完美后才能分享出来,但其实真的不需要。其实可以先分享出来,告诉大家这还只是个半成品,这样其他人就可以提供许多建议,改善自己做的东西。我也建议这些人可以多多与其他开放教育资源工作者共同分享与讨论,有些很不错的教材就是很多人共同合作做出来的。

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