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Friday, October 22 • 11:00am - 11:25am
An OER Textbook: Design Thinking and Piñata Innovation

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Jack Welch said, “Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.” I say create the reality you want or need by pursuing usefulness, weaponizing empathy, and embracing failure as a means to innovation.

This presentation examines inclusion and accessibility through the lens of an OER US History textbook project, with student content, at a minority-majority, first-generation, urban community college in Houston, Texas.

The problem was the outdated, uninspiring, undemocratic, US History textbook. Most US History textbooks are traditional, conservative, and anticipatory in their coverage, themes, and examples. The authors' pedigrees are understood only by the professors who assign the books. Lost on the students. Although some textbooks attempt to view US history through a lens besides privilege, that lens can often be missed by students who just do not hear their own voices, their culture, or their history within the pages of the books. There is a lack of inclusion in traditional textbooks.

I use Design Thinking which is collaborative, innovative, and nonlinear. It starts with empathy for students’ needs. Actual need: “learn this stuff” vs. Felt need: “I want an A.” Then we, as a collaborative, define the issues, ideate (brainstorm), prototype, then test. This has sparked a perspective shift among my students as the receiver interprets the message (active) as opposed to being told (passive). But creativity and unlearning are central parts of the process. Ultimately, the process is “Pinata Innovation.” Bust open the thought, examine individual ideas, pick what you want to work with, take what’s good from that, and leave the rest.

I authored a US History OER textbook and use it in my classes but a few years ago I brought students into the process. My students create content. They are putting historical events and the people who participated in these events into their own words. My students are viewing US History through their own voices. They perform research and find examples not covered in other textbooks such as three mass murderers in the 1920s, Mexican barrios in Houston, and Cold War Houston hip hop culture versus post 9/11 hip hop culture.

I think the most important part about this OER textbook is that students provide content and thus ultimately, they hear their and their fellow students’ voices and ideas and sometimes their own culture and histories within the electronic pages.

After participating in this session, attendees will be able to:
  • Apply Design Thinking
  • Understand "pinata" innovation
  • Consider using student content in their OER

avatar for Jim Ross-Nazzal

Jim Ross-Nazzal

Professor of History, Houston Community College - Eastside Campus
I am a history instructor at a minority-majority, urban, community college. I am interested in the creation of OER to be used in our own classrooms, specifically US history. The OER that I create includes student content. Students' views are unique (or at least different) from subject... Read More →

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Friday October 22, 2021 11:00am - 11:25am EDT
Room C