Please see below for further information on the textbook collaboration!
Q: Why did we create this book?
A: Despite textbooks being authored, many learners still don’t have textbooks – Siyavula is providing a web-based authoring solution that guarantees that the book is automatically available in PDF for printing, ePub for ebook readers, on the web for browsers and on your mobile phone – see m.siyavula.cnx.org – which means that you are creating a resource that will be available to ALL South Africans.
A: Every Life Sciences learner could own a copy of this textbook! It is possible for educators to print this book while remaining within their school’s printing budget. If printed in reasonable volumes (1000+) these books can be very cheap because they are royalty free. Our 350 page physical science book can be as cheap as R32 per book at 4000 units.
A: There isn’t one book out there that comprehensively fulfils an educator’s needs. Educators still mainly teach from notes compiled and created from a variety of resources, which is a time consuming process. This book will help address this, and will be a great supplementary resource.
A: This textbook will be available to everyone for free on the internet, which allows for the book to be continuously built upon, new resources and rich media added, errata submitted and new versions created – in line with Siyavula’s vision for education in South Africa.
Q: How is it possible to write an entire textbook in one weekend?
A: As educators predominately work from a set of notes which they have created over the years, these notes formed the basis of the new textbook.
A: Educators and post-graduate students contributed their own Life Sciences resources that they were happy to openly share. One person may have had more comprehensive notes for one section and less for another, but by pulling a large enough community together, we had enough notes to form the first draft of a book.
A: Educators and post-grad students selected which sections they wanted to work on. Using their own notes, and those shared by the rest of the educators present, paper prototyping helped them select the relevant content to turn into a chapter, according to the framework and chapter guidelines that were agreed upon. Rich-media is being added over time to the relevant places.
A: A custodian was selected from each group, who copied this content across to form one coherent document per chapter. While this took place, content was sourced to fill any gaps.
A: There were trained facilitators and technical support on hand.
Q: Is this only a project for Life Sciences educators?
A: If you are a post-graduate student with a background in Life Sciences / Biology; a FET educator; or a curriculum advisor / curriculum specialist, we would love for you to come on board.
Q: What sort of resources is Siyavula looking for?
Q: How is this book different from other textbooks?
A: All the rich media will be open and can be provided offline on a DVD for your class or computer lab.
A: We’ve built an online assessment bank were questions can be shared – we’ll make sure all the exercises and their solutions end up in it. We’re working hard to make it better – it is free and open of course – www.fullmarks.org.za – it still needs a lot of work but much is underway. In the book all exercises link to their solutions in the bank.
A: The book will also differ in that it will be compiled by the end-users (educators) and maintained by the end-users. Our aim is to create a community around the content, and start a discussion thereof, with the intention of this leading to the emergence of higher quality teaching resources and innovation for all.
A: Using our online annotation tool, we will gather comments, discussion, errata and resource requests for the book. This is an online community driven website where comments are reflected in the text, creating a feedback loop and facilitating ongoing community participation beyond the Life Sciences weekend. It is a place for you to check feedback from other educators on anything in the book. Each annotation goes into a ticketing system so nothing is lost and there is a complete public record of any feedback, and what action was taken related to the feedback.
A: The final result will be a textbook which is a tour guide to a world of online resources that is maintained by a community, saves everyone time and gives everyone access to better resources to support their teaching.
A: Community – this will be your book! That is really powerful!
Q: What are the legal implications of this textbook?
A: You may have created your teaching resources by drawing on a variety of textbooks, other educators’ notes and tests, and online material etc. As a result of this you may be unsure as to whether or not you are legally allowed to share your work openly with the Life Sciences community. Work that has been copied wholesale from resources under “All rights reserved” copyright licenses is problematic and we will need to re-develop it. Other participants in the weekend may be able to replace the copied content with their own work. Curriculum-specified definitions etc. will be word-for-word the same as other books but this is not copyright violation. Using other resources for inspiration and ideas but producing your own work is fine.
Q: Whose responsibility is it to work on the book now that the weekend is over?
A: We encourage participation and communication to continue, and provide many platforms for this to be possible. One such platform is the online annotation tool which you can use to comment on the text. Comments take the form of errata, teachers’ notes and resources suggestions.
A: The community will be made aware of any improvements or changes made to the textbook. The original first edition will always be available online and major changes will be made in derived editions of the text.
Q: Why is Siyavula involved in creating this resource? What's in it for them?
A: We believe that for more effective education we need a larger, more diverse pool of resources to draw on and this resource would be a safe (from a legal perspective) starting point for educators, increasing the likelihood of adaptations being shared back.
A: We want to work in a sector where effective collaboration, education and technology usage is pervasive where we can explore new, exciting ideas and innovations.
Q: How does Siyavula make money?
A: We manage the process of producing printed books which are sold with a small mark-up. You can print them yourself if you like.
A: We provide paid courses on various aspects of the open value chain, copyright for educators, tools for collaboration, technology integration into various subjects etc.
A: We provide paid services related to the analysis of meta-data collected about the various open educational resources available.
A: All the resources and all the software used is freely available for educators.