Friday, August 30, 2013

More uninformed opinions on MOOCs - and my take on them

The other day, through some source I came across this "4 downsides of MOOCs" from LearnDash. I should have known better than to read a vendor's blog, but then again sometimes they surprise me.  Anyway, the blog post seemed like link-bait because the downsides of MOOCs do not really seem that thought out. They are more reactionary than a deep pondering if the medium. So, here are my 2c on the issues brought forth:

1. Way to big
The main thesis of this brief argument (and it is brief) is that because there are too many  people enrolled in the course it's hard to have intimate learning moments, access to the professor is limited, and there is too much of a chance of homogeneity of thought, so you don't learn to expand your worldview.
That said, just because MOOCs have many participants in them it does not mean that you can't find a working group, a smaller cadre of students who would like to meet more regularly, in person or through something like a hangout, to discuss and expand their understanding. Then, those learnings can be fed forward to the larger class. You don't need to interact with everyone in the course, and you can have close learning experiences.  I am only a sample size of one, but I've had some memorable experiences in MOOC learning (cMOOCs to be specific). These are people that I still follow on twitter, and learn from even though the MOOC has ended a long time ago. As far as xMOOCs go, I think there is still room for automation improvement, where systems could be built to suggest to learners other fellow learners that they can buddy up with to study together.

As far as the access to the professor goes, this seems very xMOOC focused.  If you look at traditional MOOCs (cMOOCs), and not the current crop of xMOOCs like edx, coursera and udacity, you will see that the pedagogy is one of distributed learning, and distributed experts.  There is no one talking head.  Sure, each week will have some expert leading it, but amongst the learners you have more knowledgeable peers that can help scaffold each other's learning endeavors. It's not a sage-on-the-stage model, thus you can expand your current thinking, if you want to of course. Even in a traditional course no one can make you change if you don't want to.

2. Lack of follow through
Here the author's basic thesis is that since the course has a large enrollment, the people who need the most attention aren't getting it, and thus are unsuccessful learners.  The author quotes the same tired song "only 5% completion rate"...

What's lost in this whole "free education for all" song that the xMOOC providers are chanting is that there are certain underlying assumptions about the ability of learners to learn on their own and self-organized groups. This is a real pre-requisite for learning in a MOOC (x or c), and obviously the MOOC isn't geared toward those who aren't autodidacts.  I am not sure if there is a plan to help prepare those who aren't prepared to be autodidacts, but as it stands, we should just admit that that MOOC are  free education for all, with a few asterisks after that statement.  Like it or not, MOOCs aren't catering to everyone.

As far as completion rates go, I've written or spoken about about this ad nauseum. The core of my argument is that completion rates in MOOCs don't matter because we cannot compare them to traditional classes.  MOOCs have a lot of people that sign up just to have a look, but never both unregistering because there is no cost associated with the course, so who care if you are registered? This lack of cost indulges our digital packrat. MOOC critics see these packrats as "dropouts" or "non-completers" when they are not. It's like the unemployment statistics: they don't cover everyone who is eligible to work, but only those looking for jobs.  Just because you sign up for a MOOC does not mean you want to "complete" it (whatever "complete" might mean for the designers).

3. Online Learning isn't for everyone
This is a pretty silly argument. Flute or Trombone Classes aren't for me but I can't say that this is a downside of music education! Sure, not everyone has the internet (or wants to have the internet), but MOOCs, or traditional online courses for that matter, aren't the only venues for education.  If they were, this argument could potentially hold water. As it stands the argument does not.  Since the argument is weak, the author seems to want to point out issues of plagiarism in MOOCs.  Well, all students will try to figure out what they can get away with.  For some it's doing the bare minimum to get a C, and others it's figuring out how to get a better grade with less work, and plagiarism might come into play.  I don't condone plagiarism, but I do question the need for summative assessment of MOOCs.  

Certificates of completion mean almost nothing since there is no guarantor in the background backing up the validity of these certificates.  I hold on to my digital badges and certificates of completion for MOOCs because they are an indication of my having attended a MOOC. What I learned in the MOOC is seen every day through my actions, because I infuse that knowledge and know-how in my day to day work.  Even if the certificate was worth something, if I could not apply what I learned, who would care that I have a certificate? Once certificates mean something, we can then tackle the issue of plagiarism more tactically.

4. Quality Concerns
The author seems uncomfortable with the variety that exists in MOOCs today.  Honestly, I've been to campus courses where I would question their quality, the same is true traditional online education.  It just so happens that these two are the dominant modes of course delivery so no one challenges their quality that often.

Some standardization is a good thing, but don't forget, MOOCs are not fully hashed out yet. MOOCs are experimental and it's important to approach them as an experiment. This is a learning experience for both the learner, as well as the instructors and the design team behind MOOCs, be they cMOOCs or xMOOCs.  I find it odd  that the author mentions SCORM as a "quality standard" because SCORM is just a way to share learning objects between systems.  A well behaved SCORM module can have some pretty awful course material and pedagogy behind it.  Just because a SCORM module is well behaved it doesn't mean that it's something of quality.

Finally, it seems like the author of this post seems to focus only on xMOOCs.  It doesn't surprise me that a superficial critique of MOOCs will give someone these flawed critiques of MOOCs, but  I think that if someone really wants to critique MOOCs they ought to be a little better informed (especially when they represent a product).

Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I was pretty surprised to get an email the other day, from the OLDS MOOC list of all places.  The subject heading was "MOOC vs MOC."  Sure, I was hooked in, both because I enjoyed OLDS MOOC and because it seemed like an interesting discussion to have.  Then I realized that this was sort of spam ;-)

Here is the body of the message:

Maybe wrongly, but I think of " an OC" as simply a very valuable tool to bring high quality education to the world. What a great export industry where the leading centers of intellectual property (such as US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia...) has so much to provide others.. And, in a much better and easier way than every before.
But, why is "Open" a necessary ingredient? Open = free. Are valuable pharmaceutical products that cost $10s of millions to research (though pennies to produce) given away for free? Is there any evidence whatsoever that this stimulates people to innovate?
How about "Massive Online and Pretty Darn Inexpensive Courses" (MOPDIC). Yeah, right. Not very catchy, but isn't this the model that is the real end-game? Don't we want EVERYONE in the world to have access to great education at REASONABLE price? Fail, cost-effective in local terms and world class?
This next paragraph is an advertisement, so skip over it if you must. I run a "MOC" which provides all the video, discussion, interaction features of Coursera, EDX and the others. We focus on 1 vertical sector: financial services. We are NOT free and we have hundreds of hours of finance stills education for graduate students and working professionals (URL removed).
We have put about $7mm into our technology from friends and family and we have significant revenues. Anyone who wants to provide insights to us in how to do it better, please send me an email: email here

So...where to start? These couple of paragraphs are pretty jam packed with things to pick apart, argue, debate and critique that it's almost like going into a candy store and not knowing what to get :-)  I guess I will start with the whole "leading centers of intellectual property (such as US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia...)" bit.  For me this argument is very Western, and at that very Anglo focused. All of the countries listed as exemplars of this are former British Colonies, all speaking English, and all coming from the same intellectual tradition (if I am wrong, just leave a comment). The only non-English speaking country in this list is Germany and undoubtedly they have the same roots as the other countries listed. There are valuable insights to be had in non-western contexts and I think that MOOCs have the potential to reach out and spread some diversity in our educational sector.

Intellectual Property is an interesting notion, one that I won't elaborate a ton on here, but I do not think of IP as "property" in the proper physical sense.  If you are an academic, it is my belief that you should be releasing things out to the public, for the improvement of society as a whole, as opposed to hoarding it in some sort of antiquated IP scheme. Education isn't about making pills and selling a physical product, so products of intellectual pursuits (like academic articles) should be freely available.  This leads me to the Open part.

Open is a necessary ingredient. If you want a Massive Online Course (or MOC as you say), just do what we've done all this time with campus courses.  Cram a few hundred paying students in a giant blackboard section, which imitates a large lecture hall, and call it a day.  Nothing new to see here, nothing to challenge the status quo.  Open is important for two reasons:

  • Open as having the freedom to share and remix is important because knowledge can flow out of the classroom without impediments, which can in turn allow for people to interact with the materials in unforeseen ways.  This, then, feeds forward to everyone else in the course.  Remixing, or using and expanding upon someone else's previous work, is something that academics have done for a very long time.
  • Open as in free is also quite important.  How free is free is certainly up for debate, as I've written at other points in this blog. From a 30,000ft view the course and the ability to enroll and interact with the course materials, classmates, and facilitators should be without cost. If it's not, then you're back to that virtual large lecture hall, and we are just not there any longer at this stage of the game.  The optional costs, such as those required to be assessed by someone and get college credit, can cost some, and can be completely optional for the learner.  If a learner is content with what they've learned and have no need to an 3 college credits, why pay?
As I've said above, I disagree with the analogy of the pill (or other physical object for sale).  Pharmaceuticals may cost a lot of money in Research and Development, and the cost pennies to make, but they don't sell for pennies.  Beyond that, everything in academia is already paid for.  Researchers get NIH, NEH, and other government grants to subsidize their research, and to get these research findings out via publishing.  Individuals who are tenured or tenure track (or even those interested like I am, who are neither tenured nor tenure track), work on research and publishing on their own time, unpaid, and we don't see a cent for the journals we publish in.  Neither do the peer reviewers who check our submitted articles!  This work is either paid for already, or donated.  Thus, putting together a course with materials that ought to be free outright should not be something that cost money, even if it's pretty cheap.

The whole innovation bit (i.e. if it's free, then people won't innovate) is complete baloney. Non-free and copyright go hand-in-hand for this argument since people use copyright to get money for their work.  I have not followed this field extensively, but when it comes to innovation, what I have seen is that bad copyright laws do have a chilling effect on innovation. Thus, when something is available for free, more people will see it, therefore more people will be able to use it, cite it, remix it, and innovate.  That's just my take, feel free to disagree.

Finally, yes, we do want people to have access to education at a reasonable price.  I just disagree that MOOCs the necessary approach to solve this issue.  Your MOC seems like a digital equivalent to a giant lecture hall, which isn't sound pedagogically. Whether people admit to this or not, MOOCs, as they are setup, favor those who are autodidacts and have sound pre-requisite foundations to succeed in such environments. As far as world-class goes, I refer you to my first paragraph of this response and ask: What is world-class?  The world of the "elite" Western schools? Do we not have room in this conversation and paradigm shifting for voices other than big western schools?

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PhD journey: Hidden Literature

Image by DawnOfHope2012
Over the past few weeks I've been knee deep in an initial literature review. This past summer, while vacationing, I met up with a colleague who teaches for my department as an adjunct, but he's got him own full post in Greece as well.  While having coffee and talking about life in general we spoke about my PhD prospects, and my current feeling on the subject is that I am interested in getting my hands dirty and working on a dissertation already.  I have already spent 2004 - 2010, full time (including summers) as a graduate student, having earned 4 masters degrees. Throughout those six years, I have taken 47 courses (138 credits). Thus, at this point, the prospect of spending late nights in class (another 14 of them minimum), plus qualifying papers before I get to have my dissertation proposal approved doesn't specifically appeal to me. If there were a PhD where I could just start working on my cool dissertation project, and fill in any gaps in my own knowledge as I go, I'd certainly do that.  The good news, as I found out, is that European PhD programs are like that, so there might be hope yet!

After this conversation I was reinvigorated and started on a bibliographic search to gather articles that and books that may be useful in my cool topic.  The topic?  Investigating the efficacy of  MOOCs (cMOOC) in language learning.  Pretty cool topic (I think so anyway) and it draws from both my Instructional Design and Applied Linguistics backgrounds (although I suspect the IT background will come in handy in setting everything up).  It also, to some extent, continues the work that the MobiMOOC Research Team started back in 2011 with the examination of MOOCs, and what MOOC participation can tell us about learners.

My first stop, as usual, was Google Scholar.  I know that they don't index everything, but it gave me a good place to start.  After getting some articles from there I decided to go through each and every journal that might have articles of interest.  Journals included language acquisition journals, computer assisted language learning journals, educational technology, and educational psychology journals. When all was said and done, I looked at research in 41 journals (each issue) from 2007 to 2013 for this initial pass through, and there was one thing that really stood out:  Unless I had gone through each and every journal, I wouldn't have caught quite a few articles of potential interest!  There just isn't one unified search that can hit all journals that we subscribe to. Then again, I'd also like to know what's out there for things that we don't subscribe to so I can request it via interlibrary loan.  The way that journals do business these days is very very antiquated in that the lack of adequate union searches and journals being behind pay-walls makes the research invisible to fellow researchers and thus useless, gathering digital dust.

The other thing I hope journals realize is that Embargos are pointless. All libraries seem to have interlibrary loan, and at least for my library I don't have to pay for ILL articles; so why have embargoes that are one or two years in length?  I can just request the article via ILL and get it in a few days, no problem to me! Except maybe that my library pays through the nose probably.  In educational technology, or more specifically CALL, a two year virtual embargo means that the research is probably stale once it gets to the reader who can't go through your pay-wall to the physical journal. In those two years the technology moves on and our understanding of what learners can learn and how they learn from certain utilization of technology evolves. It's just sad to see so much hard work in research hidden behind paywalls and embargoed issues of virtual journals.

Friday, August 23, 2013

MOOC Hype...disruption...and more acronyms - oy!

Now that my fun (and educational) little excursion to the world of the Ancient Greek Hero is over, I am more energized to go back into the world of the reportage and punditry around MOOCs.  I am not all caught up yet, but I did go through enough articles to have some thoughts on the news that has transpired over the last couple of months in the world of the MOOC. First of all, more Acronyms.  What's up DOCC?

This was an article on Inside Higher Ed this past week. On the one hand it's great to have big universities do something other than the xMOOC format, on the other hand the lack of background research on the format you are trying to "disrupt" is disheartening when it comes from academics.  I guess this fine group of folks wanted to disrupt the disruptors by coming up with their own concept, along with a nice little acronym (DOCC: distributed open collaborative course) that they can lay claim to.  The definition of DOCC is as follows:
A DOCC is different from a MOOC in that it doesn't deliver a centralized singular syllabus to all the participants. Rather it organizes around a central topic," Balsamo said. "It recognizes that, based on deep feminist pedagogical commitments, expertise is distributed throughout all the participants in a learning activity," and does not just reside with one or two individuals.

What's dishearetning is that there is blatant blindness here in that "original" MOOCs are completely ignored, and this revisionist view of where MOOCs came from seems to be center state.  The original Original MOOC definition (wikipedia ca. 2011, based on MOOC intro video by Dave Cormier)
Massive open online course is a course where the participants are distributed and course materials also are dispersed across the web. This is possible only if the course is open, and works significantly better if the course is large. The course is not a gathering, but rather a way of connecting distributed instructors and learners across a common topic or field of discourse 
Can you spot the differences? DOCC is MOOC...or rather DOCC is cMOOC.  But then again, no one involved, from the 17 participating universities, bothered to do some research.  Pretty sad if you ask me :) Now, it's impossible for one person to know everything, this is why I like working with others, I can learn from them, and hopefully I have something to teach them. It's hard to believe that someone who participated in the conception of this process didn't go deeper into this concept of MOOCs (after all it's not that old, and there isn't that much research on them, so this shouldn't pose a problem) and point out the original roots of the concept. The cynic in me thinks that someone wanted to make up a term so that they can get some citations for publishing purposes :-/  The comments on the article verge on the absurd sometimes, so you'll get a chuckle out of them.

Then, an article was send my way from a recent CampusTech 2013 acquaintance: MOOCs not as disruptive as once thought. This article was too shallow for my linking, and all over the place. The headline seemed to me to provoke the reader to read for something deeper, or something more "aha!" but in reality it starts off with politics, and it isn't tied into the "disruptive" element at all, and then goes on to talk about coursera, udacity et al. as an LMS company (essentially).  To anyone who's been paying attention we've seen the writing on the wall.  Coursera et al are LMS companies at their core, nothing new to see here.  I don't subscribe to the notion that MOOCs are disruptive. I think they are an evolution of our thinking and our experimentation with educational technology and pedagogy.  There may be something that comes out of them, but it may not. Personally I think that the whole disruption was introduced so that we could maybe have a big bang in the space with the opportunity for a gold rush, and when that doesn't work out in two seconds VCs and the corporate suits say "well, that was a bust. Let's move on from this failure." I guess Anti-MOOC is the new black ;-)

Finally, at least for this blog post, I read an article from back in May on MOOC Completion Rates.  Now the dip-in/jump-out (DIJO) ethos of MOOCs does pose a problem for participation rates. I have written about this in the past.  Back in 2011 when I was writing about cMOOCs and participation rates I did find this aspect (DIJO) troubling, mostly because if you don't have a stable core of people participating, your own social participation will suffer (as you could see from my experiment in #ioe12). That said, completion takes on another meaning (just like "dropout" does, as I have said in other blog post).  What it means to complete a MOOC, versus "not complete" it is different from a traditional course. From the article:
Although she acknowledged that many people would benefit from taking a course even if they did not reach the end, she said completion rates were indicative of how successful a course had been. "People might have no intention of completing assessment when they register, but I don't agree that completion rates are entirely meaningless."
In this context I would say that we have to rethink what our definition of "completion" means. If we are asking our participants to complete modules in the course that they don't want or need because we want to make sure that they check off all the boxes so that a course is "complete," then that's a logic fallacy for us as designers and instructors. MOOCs operate under a different set of assumptions than regular courses, thus your assumptions of what "course completion" means in one context does not carry over to another context without some sort of fundamental rethinking.

Your thoughts?  More of my MOOC thoughts as I catch up with the backlog :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First EdX (classics dept.) course done!

It's been a while, but I have completed the course.  I don't know if EdX considers me a "completer" but I got what I needed from the course ;-)  That said, the course I started back in the spring was The Ancient Greek Hero, offered through EdX (HarvardX in specific).  I had been looking for an EdX course to take so I could evaluate the platform and the pedagogy, but most of the topics really didn't jive with my interests, until this one.

When I started the course in Spring things were busy at work, then I went on vacation, and when I came back the course was over, with me not having done more than half of the readings.  I did take the course textbook (downloadable as a free ePub from the course page), so I took the opportunity at the beach, and on the boat, while on vacation to do some reading.  In addition to the textbook ("slow reading") there was also a free reader with the Iliad, and additional original texts.  This was meant to be "fast reading" but I ended up not reading many of them.  Why?  Because I wanted to take my time with them, not get through them quickly, so I opted to ignore that part of the reading for now.  I guess it didn't impede my progress through the course much.

I have to say that for me this course was much more of a self-paced course, sort of like how I tackled #ioe12 because I was way too late to the game.  That said, even in the weeks prior to my vacation when I was synchronized with the rest of the class, I think that the course really lacked that something "special" to make me really care and engage with my peers. MobiMOOC (2011) had that, so did other MOOCs (cMOOC variety) but through quite a few coursera, and now my first EdX xMOOC I just didn't know why I should engage with others when the book and the videos were sufficient for me.

I have to say that the MOOC did do some things right, and some things just seemed bolted on (I'd like to see a research paper on pedagogy and engagement come out of the data for this course).  One of the things that the course did well was to try to engage the participants through video.  It seemed that the professor paid attention to at least some of the comments on the course, and made reference to them in the course videos - not bad!  Even though I didn't participate, I did feel that someone was paying attention to what was happening in the course and acknowledged it in some sense.

I also think that an actual downloadable course reader, downloadable videos, and audio extracted from the videos were a nice idea.  If one wanted to, they could download the appropriate media each week on a tablet and view it offline.  That said, this option was a bit of a pain, so I didn't exercise it.  It would be nice to streamline this option somehow for tablet users because right now it seems more like a "download this as your archive" type of usage.

The assessments were really a bit off.  You had multiple choice and...multiple choice. The second type of multiple choice (pictured below) depended on a reading passage, then you focused on a specific part and answered a question on it.  The question had 3 components:

  • Reading the entire passage (or not) and clicking "respond to annotation"
  • A textbox to provide a free style response (which seemed to go right into the ether)
  • and, A selection from a list of choices as to which answer...sorry "tag" was best suited.

So, before I realized that I needed to click on "respond to annotation" (several chapters/modules later), I was already losing points, even though my response  (tag selection) was correct. The textbox seemed utterly pointless because I could have pasted in Lorem Ipsum text and it would have accepted it as having typed something thoughtful in.  There were other fail moments with this type of multiple choice assessment, and that is also seen below. The tags vary only by a little, specifically the connecting words between sentences (so, and, but).  I do understand that nuance is important, but when you might be dealing with participants whose native language is not English, these three items read almost the same.  Not the mention that I've come across some assessments where the tag text was 3 of the same, and then you are left wondering if this is a psych experiment :-)  Also, I've come across instances where I picked the right answer, it was marked as wrong, and when I looked at the explanation it told me that what I picked was right, even though it was marked as wrong.  For me it doesn't matter, because I was doing this for fun and my own learning, but if some researcher is looking at this data, they are getting a false picture.  I do have to say, however, that the explanations as to why a specific tag was correct were detailed and quite helpful as a self-check. This part was well done.

Sample free style answer (aka multiple choice)

Test setup fail

Finally, there are some really basic analytics.  What you see below is my performance in the course.  Some answers I got deliberately wrong as I was testing the system, others I legitimately got wrong and I learned something, and others I got wrong because the test apparatus was broken (see above for examples). I have to say that I do like this visualization. It's easy enough to provide, and it gives you a bird's eye view of your "progress" (in some sense) through the course. Now, I guess some of my results are invalid in that this graph doesn't really represent my true progression through the course (i.e. me experimenting and trying to make things break), but I still do think that I would like to benchmark  my own performance against those in the course. I think this would be a really valuable metric to have as a learner.  Maybe the top 10% (or whatever arbitrary number you wish to assign) could be identified and they can act as peer mentors and teachers.  EdX does have meetups in the Boston area, and other areas, so why not tap into that?

My performance in the course (at least what the researchers will see)

So, that was my inaugural EdX experience and experiment.  I did put a lot of MOOC news and punditry on the side while I was doing this, and there aren't any upcoming EdX courses of interest, so I think I will take a break from EdX and return to the MOOC news that's been piling up on my Pocket account.  More on that soon!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CALL FOR CHAPTERS: Great Big MOOC Book (Open Access Book)

Call for Chapters & Illustrators: The Great Big MOOC Book (version 1.0)

Apostolos Koutropoulos (University of Massachusetts Boston).

Call for Chapters & Illustrators 
Proposals Submission Deadline: October 1st, 2013
Full Chapters Due: April 15, 2014
Revision Submission Date: August 1st, 2014

This book will explore the various aspects of MOOCs (cMOOCs and xMOOCs). It will serve as a primer into the MOOC field for professionals in the field of education, including professors, instructional designers, educational technologists, project managers, and administrators. The idea for this book came in 2011 after I had completed my first few cMOOCs, and seeing the nascent state of the field, I wanted to facilitate an open access book on the topic.  The original proposal, which got some traction but I never pursued, can be seen here:

Objective of the Book
This book will present chapters that revolve around the issues associated with the MOOCs in Higher Education, K-12, Corporate Learning, and other formal and informal learning environments.  Issues in this book can fall under the areas of Pedagogy, Design & Development, Institutional Policies, Alternative Credentialing, Teaching and learning and so on. The book aims to present chapters that are research based.

Target Audience
The anticipated audience includes researchers,  teachers, instructors, professors and senior managers in Higher Education, policy makers, open learning designers, instructional designers, open learning Universities, professional accrediting associations, and government qualification recognition bodies. 

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
The following list is taken, as recommendation, from the initial Great Big MOOC Book Call. It should be noted that the term "MOOC" here is short hand for both cMOOC and xMOOC. The book aims to strike a balance between the two varieties of MOOCs. Chapters can include original research writing, researched position papers, articles describing the design and development of past MOOC, and lessons learned.  All chapters will be peer reviewed.

  • The History of MOOCs
  • Pedagogical Foundations of MOOCs
  • Theory and Practice of Connectivism
  • Learning Theories and MOOCs
  • MOOC Planning  and development
  • Learns Learning from MOOCs
  • Learner profiles in MOOCs
  • Learner Motivation in MOOCs
  • Learner Engagement in MOOCs
  • OCW, OER, OLI and MOOCs
  • Learner Assessment in MOOCs
  • Frameworks for MOOC Evaluation
  • Self-Organization Process in MOOCs
  • How to design a MOOC
  • MOOCs and the Language Barrier
  • MOOCs and Designing for Learner Success
  • The realization of Openness in MOOCs
  • Digital Badges and alternative credentialing in MOOCs

Submission Procedure 
Chapter contributors are invited to submit on or before October 1, 2013, a 2-3 page manuscript proposal clearly describing and explaining the topic of the proposed chapter. The proposal should include the chapter summary, table of contents, and authors’ contact information. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by December 1, 2013 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter organizational guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by April 15, 2014. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.

Individuals interested in providing illustrations for this book, please contact the book editor

This book is scheduled to be an Open Access, self-published book. Copies of the book will be hosted for free on scribd, scholarworks (UMass Boston), and Contributing Authors and Illustrators are also invited to host the book on sites of their preference.  I am also planning on working with my University to sponsor the project so we can have University backing, we can get an ISBN and other resources to help expedite the publishing.

The Anticipated release of this book is December 2014 (sooner if I can ;-) )

Important Dates
October 1, 2013: Proposal Submission Deadline
December 1, 2013: Notification of Acceptance
April 15, 2014: Full Chapters Due
May 20, 2014: Review Results Returned
August 1, 2014: Final Chapter Submission

 This book will be released for free under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Authors and Image Contributors will need to license their work accordingly in order to be compatible with this license.

Inquiries & Contact
Please direct all inquiries, chapter proposals, submissions, and so on to Apostolos Koutropoulos a [dot] koutropoulos [at] umb [dot] edu