Day 44, 28 April 2020

Sneak peek: Korean history OER

In two of my courses, students are working on Pressbooks chapters for an Open Education Resource. For Korean history, we could have ended up with something different, but the pandemic meant I felt I had to put on my dictator hat and decide for the group, while the students were finding their bearings in this new remote learning situation. I have some experience with Pressbooks, and it is pretty accommodating. If students want, they can easily add timelines and hyperlinks, or embed videos, and they are already familiar with the platform: Pressbooks is based on WordPress, which the students use on their own course blogs. Each student writes a chapter about a topic of their choice, and before you know it, you have the basics of next year’s course materials, from a student perspective.

And there is some really interesting stuff coming your way! We have a chapter on the Imjin War, or Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of Japan in 1592 (he came back for more in 1597), but we also have a chapter on the different names given to this event by Chinese, Korean and Japanese historians. Another chapter in that cluster looks at the way Korean–Japanese relations develop following that devastating war, and it’s not as black and white as you often see it portrayed in most other textbooks.

If you want to know why you should study early Korean history, one of our chapters will tell you all about how the Japanese tried to portray some archaeological finds as evidence of their early ancestors’ occupation of part of the peninsula, named Mimana, in the third-fourth century CE. (Koreans refer to it as Kaya (Gaya.) The Japanese used this to justify the occupation and colonization of the Korean peninsula in the early twentieth century. And if you’d like to read more about what historians and archaeologists now think about this small state, there is another chapter in the works setting out what we know with certainty, and where there is error for erm… creative interpretation.

Also in the lineup are chapters about life during the colonial period, the Korean war, and the post-war South Korean economic miracle, because we can’t just skip the twentieth century. And that’s not even all of the chapters.

I started re-designing my assignments when I realized I love teaching, love helping students grow and seeing their skills develop, but hate grading. Then I realized too many of my assignments must feel like busy-work to the students: they jump through the hoop of writing the essay or doing the presentation, but they know as well as I do it just disappears into a (virtual or physical drawer) and likely ends up in the recycling bin after a few years. But with a website or a textbook that lives on after the end of the course… students help to build a better experience for their successors.

I hope all of the planned chapters will make it into the published Pressbook. That is ultimately the student’s choice: they reserve the right to not have their work published, or withdraw it, or publish under a pseudonym or anonymously, and they sign an agreement with me spelling out the conditions. Last year, when I did the first Pressbook in a Chinese history course, all students who submitted final chapters wanted to have their work published under their own name; and the book has been a great resource for this year’s students. Tomorrow, if all goes well, I’ll share what’s coming up in the second edition of China’s Magical Creatures. Check out the first edition! (Note that Part 2 in the TOC is not yet available. I have to do some editorial housekeeping and we have students LIVE in the backend adding their chapters! How exciting is that?)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *