Annotations
Posted on July 3, 2014 · Posted in Siyavula, South Africa, Uncategorized

In my last blog post, from way too long ago, I described a plan for a prototype of the process for reworking our Grade 10 textbooks taking community feedback into account. I wanted to revisit that process as well as tell you about implementing a comprehensive rework of our Everything Maths Grade 10 textbook.

Prototype of rework process

The short version of what happened is that I put one physics chapter out for community feedback. I got a lot of feedback and then realised that helping run Siyavula and editing textbooks just isn’t compatible any more. I wasn’t able to actually take the feedback into account and develop a new version, there just wasn’t enough time to do the process justice.

The good news is I got a lot of feedback very quickly. I received a total of 382 annotations on 27 pages of content from the following volunteers, identified only by their username part of their email (that’s just how the site works):

  • pamella.lloyd
  • rvanzyl7
  • adam.daniel.reynolds
  • lchivaka
  • s.khanye
  • hmccread
  • grovekoch
  • mark.carolissen
  • fstrass
  • nomaledimbambisa9
  • shanaazmanie
  • dominicj
  • murewiag
  • kgarrett
  • annjeand
  • banda.eric
  • oliviagillett

Getting over 300 comments on a few pages might seem horrific, especially if you are the author, but it is the really exciting part about working with a community and trying to be as transparent as possible. In the interests of transparency, I’ve shared the annotated version of the chapter for anyone to take a look at – download it here. The benefits of getting a lot of comments include:

  • increased likelihood that all errors are picked up;
  • a wider variety of suggestions based on different contexts, needs and experiences; and
  • my favourite – transparent discussion amongst reviewers, educators and our team.

If an educator were to teach from the book, these kinds of annotations are invaluable even if the educator isn’t an active participant in the annotation process. If we updated the book every year fixing errata and allowed annotations on every new version, the annotations would be a great source of suggestions and ideas from educators to other educators as well as the Siyavula team.

I would like to actually follow through and do this properly for then entire Everything Physical Sciences Grade 10 book but it will have to wait until we have capacity we can dedicate to the process. The good news comes next, we do have capacity we can dedicate for Everything Maths Grade 10, so please read on.

Everything Maths Grade 10 rework

The main lesson from the prototype process was that you need someone with time to edit the books and manage the process and we’re very excited to have a dedicated Content Coordinator, Luke Kannemeyer, to manage a rework of the Everything Maths Grade 10 title. This process has actually kicked off already.

It will be similar to the process outlined for the prototype, we never saw that process through to completion so it is still our best plan, but also includes some dedicated review capacity as well. The new version will benefit from more than just the community feedback but also all the improvements we’ve made in the last few years. Ultimately we will produce a completely new edition that:

  • benefits from a comprehensive review internally and by the community;
  • has undergone a comprehensive audit of all exercises with more to be added;
  • has new styles and layout which are still being finalised; and
  • will be freely and openly available in the following formats:
    • PDF optimised for print,
    • PDF optimised for web,
    • HTML5 for use on a website,
    • EPUB3 for use as an e-book, and
    • mobi-site format for use on feature phones.

When we produced the original grade 10 books many of the output formats weren’t yet part of pipelines.

The community review is already underway, with the chapters being done in batches of three, but they are all already uploaded onto the annotation platform. If you want to jump in and help out it is best to contact Luke but you could also jump in an give feedback on a chapter. It is important to note for foreign volunteers that these are curriculum-aligned chapters so sequencing and notation is often dictated:

  1. Algebraic Expressions
  2. Equations and Inequalities
  3. Exponents
  4. Number Patterns
  5. Functions
  6. Finance and growth
  7. Trigonometry
  8. Analytical geometry
  9. Statistics
  10. Probability
  11. Euclidean geometry
  12. Measurements

I am very excited about this process as we’ll get to put out a much improved book, in many new formats that looks so much better than the original. It is also very important to mention that this rework process is being generously sponsored by the Old Mutual Flagship Project.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.