OA repositories do NOT harm your chances of getting published!

As recently suggested by Peter Suber, there’s little reason to fear not getting your first book published because your dissertation is available in an open access repository. Why? Because:

1) Academic presses already know that open institutional repositories exist and that many require theses & dissertations to be deposited. They are not fighting this trend. Nor are they demanding “embargo periods” on dissertations.

2) The book will be a substantial revision of the dissertation that will require re-organization, re-writing, and new content. A first book should develop the dissertation in some meaningful way, either by extending the argument, applying it to other objects of study, or putting it in a different context. It will be a different, more “marketable” product, from the publisher’s perspective.

3) No one is trying to steal your ideas (really). But even if they are, those ideas are protected by copyright the minute you write them down! Having them published in dissertation form makes them even more substantively yours, regardless of whether they’re in an open access repository or not. The book will be a different iteration of those ideas, but they’re still yours. If marking your territory is really important, making the dissertation available at the earliest opportunity actually serves that purpose.

4) It’s okay if the dissertation is “unrefined”–it’s supposed to be. Its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to do research, make an argument, and engage in a scholarly discourse. That sounds boring because it is–it’s written for an audience of three or four people you already know. The book is your opportunity to prove that you’re a good writer who can weave a narrative that’s compelling and informative to a broad audience (see “marketable,” above). Again, publishers know this, and will emphasize that broader audience in evaluating your proposals.

5) Openly available dissertations are free advertising–they whet your audience’s appetite for the eventual book and get the scholarly conversation started about your work. You can use that conversation to make the kinds of revisions and additions that publisher expect in the book. This is the skill that your dissertation supposedly prepares you to use to your advantage. Rather than fearing that early critical feedback, embrace it.

It’s time we stopped making Open Access the enemy of the academic press and recognize how they can complement one another in the broader scholarly communication system.

Informed Experiences, Designing Consent

Informed Experiences, Designing Consent was an event conceptualized and organized to bring together scholars, researchers, practitioners, students, and audiences to think through the intersections of consent and design of interactive media and technology.

Designs, whether implicitly or explicitly, cite core values that influence their development, marketing, and use. All too often, technology and interactive media are designed around profit, efficiency, objectivity, and other similar values that contribute to normalizing certain bodies, cultures, identities, and communities over others.

Informed Experiences, Designing Consent was an event conceptualized and organized to bring together scholars, researchers, practitioners, students, and audiences to think through the intersections of consent and design of interactive media and technology. I conceived the idea from my own experience as a scholar-practitioner of games as a means of carving out a space for participants to center consent in theory and practice. With help from Elisabeth Hildt and Kelly Laas at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at Illinois Institute of Technology and Leilasadat “Leila” Mirghaderi, a graduate student in Technology and Humanities at Illinois Institute of Technology, we brought this idea to fruition.

Poster used to advertise the event.

On April 6, 2019 several participants of various backgrounds–researchers, practitioners, educators, and students–gathered at Illinois Tech’s Downtown Campus to interrogate the intersections of consent and design through what I call a “Learn, Make, Reflect Model.” This model utilizes three components to combine theory and embodied practice in learning as a community:

  • Learn: a selected panel speaks on a given topic. These presentations provide frameworks and considerations from varied perspectives.
  • Make: prototyping breakout sessions that engage the given topic. From the frameworks proposed in presentations, all attendees collaborate on hands-on practices of designing and prototyping something drawing from the frameworks and offerings of the panel.
  • Reflect: after the breakout sessions, all attendees return to discuss their maker experiences. This offers moments for generative forms of knowledge production in which all attendees contribute from their perspectives.

The two interdisciplinary panels explored consent through studies that situated the importance of understanding consent in technologies we use every day, designing technologies, games, and data collection. Christine Miller, Ruth Schmidt and John Cain kicked off the first panel by reflecting on user agreements to provide a framework for designing informed decisions. Daniel Lipson’s focus on Alternate Reality Games presented a case for “critical consent” in games that operates through players “playing back.” Through her study of chat bots, Camille Vezy provoked deeper considerations between UX and consent and problematized practices of obtaining consent from users. Peter McDonald argued that studying consent in games necessitates the study of passivity, that is how the game also acts upon the players, as a way of making palpable basic violences, such as hunger, to which vulnerable communities cannot consent but instead have enacted upon them. Monika Sziron then considered the ethical debates of robots as a moment to think through how we ascribe moral status, how we grant or revoke rights to informed consent, and how we in turn are shaped by these intersections when we design. Wrapping up the first panel, Kate Hollenbach then reflected on her digital artwork that randomly collected video from her smartphone and presented it within a digital art installation, through this project, she highlighted the tensions between privacy, UX, and data collection.

Monika Sziron provokes thought on robot ethics and design.

After the first panel, attendees broke out into prototyping groups to design an artifact centered on consent. Our prototyping groups included games, user experiences, data collection, mobile app development, craft/maker projects, research methodology, and pedagogy. Using guidelines for prototyping, groups used prototyping materials to materialize the frameworks of knowledge from the first panel. Some explored expressing consent (through clothing), consent as a social and communal negotiation (in games and pedagogy), and usability and transparency (in data collection, UX, and research).

Organizers designed the event so the afternoon iterated on concepts and practices from the morning sessions. Cansu Canca complicated the practices of informed consent with AI coaches, observing how these devices collect all types of data of users outside of their marketed purpose. Observing the tensions between power and consent,  Spencer Keralis decried faculty exploitations of student labor in the classroom. Considering practices of monetization and data collection, Timothy Ayodele then highlighted issues of consent and privacy when companies sell information about user networks to third parties. By contrasting settings of Frigid Farah and consent apps with The Realistic Kissing Simulator, Josef Nguyen called for more celebratory practices of consent that broaden our understanding of this concept beyond binary (yes/no) uses. Nik Rokop finished the panel, offering audience-centered frameworks for design.

During the following prototyping session, attendees were tasked with iterating on their prototypes by thinking about the insights from the second panel. From these iterations, many groups explored more ways to demarcate boundaries, celebrate consent in their practices, provide more transparency in their designs, and offer more dialogue between designers and users to structure consent as a conversation.

Prototyping groups.

After a gallery walk in which attendees could experience, use, and play with other groups’ prototypes, I guided a wrap up reflection. During this session, participants discussed how this event structure allowed each of them to become active in theorizing about consent by thinking through their design. Panelists from different fields of study offered several perspectives that complicated privileged practices of obtaining, structuring, and understanding consent. The conversations happening during prototyping sessions postured each of them differently within the space to where they each contributed to how the group’s design navigated consent. In turning towards the future, many expressed a need for more events fostering critical thinking about navigating the role of consent specifically and ethical issues broadly and design/technology.

Informed Experiences, Designing Consent participants.

Additional resources, including CFP, event advertisements, a PDF of the webpage, event posters and schedules, and more photos from the event are available through the Illinois Institute of Technology Institutional Repository.

This content is cross-posted on Michael DeAnda’s HASTAC Scholars blog and the CSEP Newsletter.

Do you really care about the “quality” of your textbooks?

When faculty cite concerns about “quality” as one of the reasons they don’t adopt open textbooks, it comes with the assumptions that, a) the quality of the textbook is what determines student learning, rather than the quality of the instruction or motivation, and 2) that there is any significant difference in learning outcomes when using a traditional commercial textbook.  Both of these assumptions are demonstrably false, according to a number of recent studies (Hilton III, J.,2016).

While the quality of open textbooks does vary, these texts are, if anything, more available for faculty review and evaluation than most commercial textbooks. Sites like the Open Textbook Library and the OER Commons include both ratings and formal reviews, and the entire text is freely available to read before adopting. More importantly, all of these texts are openly licensed for adapting, remixing, and reusing in whole or in part, so whatever is lacking in terms of coverage, depth, or “quality” can be addressed by those who use the materials.

Complaints about the quality of open textbooks (and OER in general) also tend to overlook the serious limitations of traditional textbooks as pedagogical tools:

  1. That they represent a static form of knowledge, built around a table of contents and organizational structure that often dictate how courses are organized and taught, regardless of whether this structure is consistent with an instructor’s philosophy or style of teaching. As John D. Belshaw (Jhangiani, Green, & Belshaw, 2016) notes, this tends to reinforce the “master narrative” tradition in many disciplines, which frames scholarship within predictable, inflexible, and biased structures of knowing.
  2. Updates to these textbooks are slow and beyond the control of those teaching the material. In dynamic, rapidly-changing fields like the sciences and social sciences, they are almost always out of date by the time the textbooks reach the classroom, and even in the humanities, they rarely reflect current or evolving discussions in the field.
  3. New editions are expensive, often not noticeably better, and require revising syllabi and even course structure each time a course is taught with a new text.  What’s more, libraries can’t afford to provide copies of new textbook editions on a regular basis and bookstores can’t resell outdated texts, so the cost burden is shared by everyone involved.
  4. Print textbooks can’t integrate multimedia materials unless they’re included in a supplemental format that also increases the cost. These materials aren’t tailored to the course or under the control of the instructors, and access is often restricted to a set period of time.
  5. Print textbooks are difficult for distance students to obtain and even more expensive for them to purchase because shipping fees are added to the cost. We know that many of these students simply forego buying a textbook altogether.
  6. Textbook publishers usually maintain copyright over these materials indefinitely, restricting their use even by the authors of the content. That makes modifying, remixing, or sharing that content virtually impossible for those who are actually using it.
  7. As a result, there’s little opportunity for students to engage in the process of creating or evaluating content on their own—the kind of active learning that has a proven pedagogical impact. 

All this lack of control—over content, access, dissemination, and cost—means that instructors and students have little say over how they teach and learn with traditional textbooks. They’re at the mercy of third-party authors, publishers, or administrators who determine what materials they can access and how they’re used. Regardless of the “quality” of the texts chosen, they often fail to meet the central demand of pedagogy: to facilitate learning.

Open textbooks are, by nature, collaborative, creative, and flexible in ways that traditional textbooks are not. So, even if the content is deemed inferior to that of commercial textbooks (a fact still not in evidence), their pedagogical value may be much higher, if used conscientiously and to their full potential.  At the very least, they won’t produce worse learning outcomes than traditional textbooks, and they’ll reduce the cost burdens to students and libraries. Ask yourself what you’re really getting, and giving up, when you choose a “quality” commercial textbook.

Chronicle: Women of Color in Academe Make 67 Cents for Every Dollar Paid to White Men

Women and faculty of color should not have to ASK for equitable pay–it should be offered up front.

“We can’t, as women of color, network and mentor our way out of this problem entirely,” she said. “There have to be structural changes that occur on top of that for any of this to change.”

Exactly. This is not just a question of self-advocacy; it’s a matter of policy and practice by the institutions themselves. Women and faculty of color should not have to ASK for equitable pay–it should be offered up front. Take the average salary of all white men in the same jobs and start your salary offers there.

The idea of offering a salary that is “competitive” or “commensurate with experience” implies that opportunities to compete have been equal for all candidates, or that their past salaries have, in fact, been commensurate with their experience and abilities.  Why not offer a salary range that is “equitable and negotiable” instead?

Women of Color in Higher Ed Median Pay Compared to White Men Bar Graph
Women of Color in Higher Ed Median Pay Compared to White Men

Read more:

Megan Zahneis. “Women of Color in Academe Make 67 Cents for Every Dollar Paid to White Men.” Chronicle of Higher Education.  June 11, 2018.

Jasper McChesney. “Representation and Pay of Women of Color in the Higher Education Workplace.” A CUPA-HR Research Brief. College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. 2018.