DOKK Library

Getting the JITERs: Just-In-Time Educational Resources as a Mode of OER-enabled Pedagogy

Authors Jonathan A. Poritz

License CC-BY-SA-4.0

                               Getting the JITERs:
                       Just-In-Time Educational Resources
                      as a Mode of OER-enabled Pedagogy

                                              Jonathan A. Poritz
                                        Center for Teaching and Learning and
                                       Department of Mathematics and Physics
                                          Colorado State University-Pueblo

                                               30 October 2019
                    This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

                            These slides can be found at

Poritz          OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                        30 October 2019      1 / 25
The “ideal OER platform of the future” question

          What platform do you think would be the most ideal for OER,
          going forward?

                                                                    [Almost certainly not an exact quote!]
                                             Question posed to me almost exactly thirteen months ago by
                                          Jessica Stevens, Global Network Representative for CC Australia
                                           and PhD Candidate in the Intellectual Property and Innovation
                                                    Law Research Program at QUT in Brisbane, Australia

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                       30 October 2019    2 / 25
The “ideal form of OER” question

          What is the most ideal form for OER, going forward?

          What are some forms of educational resources that have been
          successful in the past?

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   3 / 25
Maybe the earliest educational resource for mathematics

                                ”Plimpton 322, Babylonian tablet listing Pythagorean triples,” circa 1800BCE. In the public
                                    domain. Downloaded from 322.jpg

I think it’s safe to say this is fairly primitive edtech, and unless this is some
early precursor of a spreadsheet, or at least a numerical table, it has not
left much of a mark on the history of educational resources.
Poritz           OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                       30 October 2019         4 / 25
Euclid, the great stylist

Oxyrhynchus papyrus (P.Oxy. I 29)
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin
and other countries and areas where the copyright term is
the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer. Downloaded from Oxy. I 29.jpg A proof from Euclid’s Elements (Book I, Proposition I)
                                                           The original uploader was Bcrowell at English Wikipedia. [GPL]

Poritz          OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                       30 October 2019            5 / 25
Euclid’s style still dominates
               124                  TODD A. DRUMM AND JONATHAN A. PORITZ


                                                   X −m                       p
                                      φ(p )

                                                   X −n

                                                 �∂ = X
                                     Figure 4.1. X    � ∂ is a single point
                                                   n    m

                  We now turn our attention to tangency of Xn ’s. This turns out only to be an
               interesting issue for loxodromic generators γ, so we shall assume we are in that case
               for the remainder of this section. Further, since all X n ’s are centered on C,� any
                                                   � So we shall also now restrict our attention to
               point of tangency will also lie on C.
               X          � objects which lie on C.
                �n ’s and Δ,                        �
                  Our conventions for loxodromic γ imply that 1 is in the interior and 0 the exterior
                   �                         �        �
               of Xn when n > 0. Thus if Xn and Xm are externally tangent, then n and m must
               be of different signs. If X                             �m , then n and m are of the
                                          �n is internally tangent to X                                      Drumm, Todd, and Jonathan Poritz. “Ford
               same sign and |n| > |m|.
                  It is convenient to make the following                                                     and Dirichlet domains for cyclic subgroups
                                            � is a smooth point of the boundary if p lies in the
               Definition 4.6. A point p ∈ ∂ Δ
               interior of a side.
                                                                                                             of PSL2 (C) acting on H3R and ∂H3R .”
                   It is possible for a smooth point p of the boundary to be in the interior of two          Conformal Geometry and Dynamics of
               sides Sn and Sm which are externally tangent at p. It is also possible that p is a
               corner and a smooth point of the boundary, such as when there exists an X n which             the American Mathematical Society 3.8
               is internally tangent to a side at p.
               Proposition 4.7. Suppose γ is loxodromic.
                                                                                                             (1999): 116-150.
                       �m is internally tangent to Sn at a smooth point p and m > n > 0, then
                (a) If X
                    m = 2n.
                (b) If Sk is externally tangent to Sn at a smooth point q, then k = −n and
                    q = 1 ∈ C.
               Furthermore, if either one of these cases occurs, then the other one also occurs and
               γ −n p = q.
               Proof. Suppose that m > n > 0 and X      �m is internally tangent to the side Sn at a
               smooth point p.
                  By Proposition 4.3, X  �−m is internally tangent to the side S−n at the smooth
               point t which, by Proposition 4.2 must be the point γ −m p. Further, q = γ −n p
               is a smooth point on S−n . γ m−n t = q and by Proposition 4.1 this implies that
               q∈X  �m−n and t ∈ X  �n−m . Since t is a smooth point of S−n , either X �n−m contains
               or is internally tangent to S−n ; see Figure 4.2. The latter is impossible, since either

Poritz                                                    OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                   30 October 2019    6 / 25
Well, with some changes

The modern document has color and equations!

The technology for color already existed in the 19th century:

                                                       “The First Six Books of the Elements
                                                       of Euclid in which coloured diagrams
                                                       and symbols are used instead of let-
                                                       ters for the greater ease of learners”
                                                       by Oliver Byrne, London (1847).       In
                                                       the public domain.   Downloaded from

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                  30 October 2019    7 / 25
Equations were harder

The Greeks were far from equations, because apparently their idea of
numbers was closely tied to geometry.

    “English: Illustration derived from Heath 1908 showing Euclid’s algorithm for finding
    the greatest common divisor” by Wvbailey. Released under a Creative Commons
    Attribution 3.0 Unported License,

Equations came from the ideas of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
(c.780-850CE), but only took a form we would recognize now several
hundred years later, in western Europe.

    “English: en:Muammad ibn Ms al-wrizm.”, author unknown. This work is not an
    object of copyright according to article 1259 of Book IV of the Civil Code of the
    Russian Federation No. 230-FZ of December 18, 2006.

Poritz           OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                 30 October 2019   8 / 25
Monographs vs textbooks

I’ve learned from the Open Textbook Network’s Pub101 Open Publishing
Curriculum that textbooks are very different from monographs.

                                                                Cover page for Authoring Open Textbooks
                                                                by Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen. Re-
                                                                leased under a Creative Commons Attribu-
                                                                tion 4.0 International License.

...Maybe not always? My research paper with Drumm is not to be
expected to be in the same style as a good textbook. But it is in a
strikingly similar style to Euclid’s Elements, and we’ve seen that the
Elements was used for a couple of thousand years as a textbook.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                    30 October 2019        9 / 25
Maria Gaetana Agnesi, textbook author

One of the earliest calculus textbooks was by the remarkable Maria
Gaetana Agnesi from Milano. It was solidly in the style of the modern
monograph/research paper (with some paper-folding innovation!), it was
definitely a textbook.

                                                                      “Instituzioni Analitiche - Libro
                                                                      Secondo - Del Calcolo Differen-
                                                                      ziale” by Maria Gaetana Agnesi,
                                                                      Milano (1748).      In the pub-
                                                                      lic domain. Downloaded from

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                 30 October 2019           10 / 25
Other disciplinary styles through the years
Agnesi’s textbook looks a lot like the books I learned from as a student,
more than 100,000 years ago (base 2). It doesn’t look much like today’s
Maybe today’s books (even in mathematics?) look like textbooks of years
past in other disciplines: different academic disciplines have different
Interestingly, if you look at the styles used in ancient Greece, philosophy
was often written in dialogs! This mostly died out before the present
time, although Galileo wrote many works in
dialog form (and he was a “scientist” from
the time before that word was used, so he
would have been called a “natural philosopher ”!
English: Title-page of Dialogo by Galileo Galilei (Florence, 1632), Museo Galileo - Istituto e
Museo di Storia della Scienza. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
4.0 License,

Poritz              OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                   30 October 2019   11 / 25
Past styles ... what is the modern textbook style?

Poetry predates writing.

Probably so does the dialog form.

The style of modern history writing can apparently be seen already in

We’ve seen that Euclid laid down the style of mathematical writing which
persists, almost unchanged.

So what is the antecedent of the style of modern textbooks?

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   12 / 25
The modern textbook style is noisy

To me, the modern textbook looks like a thick, expensive version of a
tabloid or glossy magazine: full of noisy, distracting ads, the main stories
broken into little bits with panels giving some bit of “human interest,” the
succession of articles seemingly fairly random and not driven by the
reader’s sequence of intellectual curiosities, ....

         Radio Show by Joe Haupt. Released under a Cre-      Times Square by Matt Wade. Released under a Cre-
         ative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License,   ative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License,

Poritz         OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                 30 October 2019        13 / 25
An alternate modern mode of expression

Another very modern form of expression might be a better model on which
to base the structure of modern educational resources: the World Wide
Web, or a subnetwork of the whole WWW.
The modern Euclid who created this form was Tim Berners-Lee who came
up with the idea of a hyperlinked set of documents and resources when he
was working at CERN in 1989.

                                                                 “English: Comparison of articles net-
                                                                 work in August 2015 and August 2017”
                                                                 by - Wikipedia Primary School.
                                                                 Released under a Creative Commons
                                                                 Attribution-ShareAlike   4.0     License,

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                  30 October 2019         14 / 25
Features of highly networked information resources

Resources modeled on the WWW, or parts thereof, often have some
features in common:
   • They are highly linked, internally and externally.
   • They often show many different styles, have different authors,
     incorporate different media types, etc.
   • The can have a non-zero number of errors!
   • Especially after Web 2.0, they are often are responsive to their users,
     changing their connections and content in response to user actions.
   • When operated by for-profit entities, they can become the
     instruments of surveillance capitalism.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   15 / 25
Comparison to traditionally structured electronic textbooks

In this model, a traditional electronic textbook
is an ordered sequence of items, each linked to the
next, and fixed in its immutable form before the
instructor and students begin their time together.                    “Linked List” by Vhcomptech,
                                                                      released into the public domain.

The OER I’ve written which look more like “textbooks” have been these
ordered sequences of items – usually created (at least the first time) one
step (or a little more, or sometimes a little less!) ahead of where the
students in my class were working as they followed the syllabus and the
classroom activities or lectures.
Even though they were produced in this “one step ahead of the class”
fashion, these were really static textbooks matching a static syllabus,
merely being built by someone with very poor project manager skills and
no idea of best practices for publication programs.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs        30 October 2019         16 / 25
But it’s more thrilling to go “Just-In-Time”

When I’ve known the subject I’m teaching really, really well, including
knowing where to find resource fragments all over the Web, I’ve been able
to put aside a static, predetermined syllabus and lower the window of time
between what the class was working on and where I was working on new
edge of the networked resource to nearly zero.

This is where the Just-In-Time-Teaching [JITT]
approach comes into play.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   17 / 25
A JITT course

Imagine building a scaffolded experience for a class meeting, with links to
readings and other resources all over the Web, or containing newly
adapted or created such resource fragments.
Much of the work students then do in class or as their next “homework”
(depending upon whether the instructor wants to run this as a flipped
class or not) is exploratory, based on the new material they have just
consumed, but going out to investigate questions of their own interest on
the Web, or to state and then to solve problems in which they are
interested (related to the new material ... at least somewhat, presumably).
The scaffolding, adapted or created materials, and links both internal and
external, together form what what could be called a
              Just-In-Time Educational Resource [JITER]
A JITER won’t look much like a textbook. Instead, it will look like a wiki
or web site, or maybe somewhat messy PressBooks book.
Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   18 / 25
Requirements to get the JITERs
Making JITERs is time-critical, all-encompassing, exhausting work. For it
to succeed, the stars must be aligned properly:
  • There must exist a vast (findable!) network of OER [or, at least,
     openly licensed resource fragments] out on the Web.
  • The instructor/JITER author must be
       ◦ extremely comfortable with their subject matter
       ◦ equally comfortable with tools to create engaging, linked,
          appropriate resource fragments
       ◦ in constant contact with their students, seeing how they are
          making out in their work and acquisition of skills/knowledge.
  • The course material must be amenable to a very active, Inquiry-Based
     Learning approach. [I am comfortable with this for computer science,
     because CS is so interactive. Likewise for math, because it is in my
     blood. I have no idea how to do this in other disciplines, but I
     imagine my skilled colleagues will immediately know what to do in
     their home disciplines.]
Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   19 / 25
Sidebar: communication with students

For the constant contact part, it helps to have the students do some work
or reading and then have a required communication with their instructor.

I usually call these “T&Qs”, which stands for
“Thoughts and Questions.”
    The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, photo by Joe deSousa. This file is made available under
    the Creative Commons

After every reading or unit of work, the students must send me a T&Q, no
more than 24 hours and no less than one hour before the next class. That
way, I can adapt the new material to what they have thought of on their
own, or what questions they still have after recent classes and readings or

Poritz           OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs                 30 October 2019   20 / 25

The Thinker was Dante,
contemplating the Gates of Hell!

 Gates of Hell (1900), photo by Rodney.        This
 file is made available under the Creative Commons

Poritz    OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   21 / 25
Some examples of JITERs

The end points of a class organized around a JITER tends to look like a
very long and detailed class schedule with lots of information and links
mixed in.
Here are three I’ve built in the last few years:
   • For CSUP Math 242: MATLAB Computation
         JITER here.
   • For CSUP Math 411: Introduction to Topology
         JITER here.
   • For RU Computer Science 850-CYCR: Cryptocurrencies
         JITER here.

These all tend to look like insanely detailed schedules or homework/project
assignment lists, which I suspect is in the nature of first editions of JITERs.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   22 / 25
Back to the ideal platform question

The ideal platform for JITERs is probably the bare web, in the hands of
someone comfortable with authoring in that environment – institutions
with Domain of One’s Own programs are well set up for this. Otherwise,
a platform like PressBooks is also a good alternative, although the
restrictions it places on which FLOSS tools one will be able to deploy may
start to chafe.

At the end of a course organized around a JITER, there will be a
somewhat messy web site [or other, complex, highly linked web object]. It
will be hard to share this back out to the community, and it is unclear
what kind of repository can hold these “finished JITERs.”

In short, JITERs belong on the platform-less platform.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   23 / 25
Apology and sheepish call to action

The work of fantastic groups like Open Stax, The Open Textbook Library,
and many others, is amazing and wonderful – high quality open textbooks
are clearly the gateway drug to a life of servitude to OER.

But it is possible that the future of OER is not high quality, zero cost
versions of a hundreds or thousands of years-old approach to education –
textbooks – but rather a messy, constantly changing, highly hyperlinked
JITER, looking (in a way that makes today’s students quite comfortable)
like a piece of the modern Web.

I think of this as             The Beauty of Ugly OER.

Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   24 / 25
Questions, comments? Contact. Getting slides [links!]

Questions? Comments?

Email (feel free!): ; Tweety-bird: @poritzj .

Get these slides at and all files for
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Poritz   OpenEd19: Getting the JITERs   30 October 2019   25 / 25