Collaborative platform for reporting textbook errors (#oahack)

Geschrieben am 08.05.2018

I recently joined an open access hackathon at the MIT and got the chance to contribute to a project concerning open educational resources. While OER is a broad subject reaching from the creation of open resources by teachers or lecturers to their open distribution, especially reusing and revising them shows the collaborate potential of openness. A nice idea from Daniel Gracia fits well in that spectrum while at the same time demonstrating the benefits of open collaboration on educational resources. It`s the idea of collaboratively collect errors on educational textbooks as used in schools, classrooms or universities. These errors may help students learning with that textbook and they may also improve the resources itself. Even if the original book is not available as an open textbook, a collection of textbook errors can be helpful for the author to revise the book.

At the hackathon we discussed about types of errors that people may report. Especially from an educational perspective the possibility of reporting some kind of pedagogical or instructional disagreement at a certain point in the book appears to be interesting. This kind of “errors” may points out missing explanations, unclear instruction, a lack of examples and so on. Of course beside those pedagogical errors all kind of errors regarding the content are also subject of collaborative collection. So collecting textbook errors becomes a way to share feedback regarding a book. It is a kind of revising educational content.

We sketched some wireframes demonstrating on how users might interact with the platform and designed a database schema for an early prototype of the application. This schema basically shows that reported errors refer to a textbook while the platform also allows errors to be commented in order to enable discussions about them. Especially because of the subjective nature of several “errors” the discussion feature may aim towards a collaborative development of a common understanding what might improve the textbook.

Figure: Database structure for the platform

Finally we worked on implementing early prototypes. But there is no usable result so far, so the project remains an inspiring idea for now.