This is the fifth part of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso, Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital open textbooks.
After figuring out the adoption cycle, finding OER and CC resources, teaming up with CK12 Foundation and getting a team in place (See links at bottom of page), the next step in was to get everyone on the same page.Collaboration was the key to success
Once the team was selected, it became obvious that we were not going to be all meeting at the same time in the same location. Part of our team was teaching summer school, part of the team was away on summer vacation, part of the team was ready to roll, and of course the CK12 team was back in Palo Alto. We would have to figure out a way to work collaboratively not only locally but with the CK12 personnel that were helping us.
We had several factors that were going against us, the major one being time. We were tasked with creating the books but we had a deadline of Oct. 1. It was June 21 before we got everyone in place, trained and running.
We didn’t want to have to train everyone on a collaborative solution that would require extra equipment or extra training time, so we as a group decided to use a Google spreadsheet as the place where we would work online.
I know a spreadsheet may sound unusual as a collaborative space for this type of work, but it worked out surprisingly well. We shared the spreadsheet with anyone on the team that had ANYTHING to do with the process, including the trainers. All were able to edit the sheet.
All the curators had to agree to some basic rules:
1. They would actually USE the spreadsheet as their collaborative document
2. The local writers would have to agree to keep a daily diary on the document of what they accomplished that day
3. Any questions both content related and technical had to be written on the spreadsheet
In order for the collaborative document to work, it could not be a one way conversation. The CK12 team had to be a daily contributor as well. The Ck12 team agreed to:
1. Actually use the spreadsheet as their collaborative document
2. Check the document on a daily basis
3. Leave any answers that they had on the document
The larger spreadsheet had many subsist that went with them:
Sheet 1. General Information:
Contact info, who was writing what, emails, phone numbers. This was for everyone.
Sheet 2-5: These were the daily question sheets:
All questions for the CK12 team, the managers, and the trainers were left here. All answers were given in red so the writers/curators would not have to dig through all the spreadsheet to find the answers. Anyone who left a question or answered had to leave their initials next to the entry so we would know who wrote it.
Sheet 6: Professional Development:
This was a running list of all the topics that anyone thought a new teacher to the electronic textbook would need.
Sheet 7: Daily Agenda:
Each team wrote their daily accomplishment on this sheet. While this may sound inconsequential, it became a running diary of accomplishments. That was good for looking back and seeing how far the team had come in such a short period of time.
Sheet 8: Daily Editor Diary:
When we brought in editors (upcoming entry) they would leave a list of changes that they had made, so the curators could go back and see where changes were made without freaking out about big changes. This became important because the curators could see exactly what the editors were doing so nothing was a surprise and the editors were able to get feedback.
Sheet 9: Resource Links:
Both CK12 and our own curators created a list of resources (mostly online) that would be embedded into the new books.
Sheet 10-12 Cross Check Rubrics:
All of the books and all of the chapters needed to have some non-negotiable components that were common across the books. For instance, all chapters needed to have the standards that were being addressed at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter had to address vocabulary. This sheet forced all the editors and writers to address missing components or ones that were not formatted properly. Missing components were listed in red until corrected.
Sheet 13-15 Standards Review:
All of the standards for each content area were listed and then the curators checked off where they were addressed in each chapter. This was a great visual for making sure all of the standards were addressed. Missing standards, or ones that needed extra love because of low test scores could be addressed.
Some of you may be thinking that a wiki is a better way to go with this type of work, or even an online group, and you might be correct. However, for our purposes, and with the timelines and personnel we were working with, the collaborative Google Spreadsheet was the way to go. Training is the key to all of this, and that is the topic of the next entry.