The MELSIG Digital Voices (Digital Voices: a collaborative exploration of the recorded voice in post-compulsory education) book is now free for download from the MELSIG site.
If you do download it for free please promote it by citing it in blog posts, Tweets, guidance documents, academic papers and chapters, etc. Download it here:http://melsig.shu.ac.uk/?page_id=33
Why free? Why now?
It’s been interesting getting to this point of making it freely available. Here are a few notes about the journey.
Digital Voices was always first and foremost a communal open scholarship project. It epitomised one of the core principles underpinning the bookitself: that by co-creating knowledge we learn. The ‘book project’ (like our current MELSIG book project on Smart Device Learning) can be thought of as a communal constructivist learning environment. This is further discussed in the preface to the book. Similarly the idea of educational podcasting and its potential to post compulsory education is often discussed within the pages of the book as a common environment for learning through co-production (though there are a hundred or more other ideas and spins on this idea within the pages of the book).
There was a tension (in my own mind) about the credibility of a book that is first published without charge. My heart says give it away, but then it asks will our ideas receive the respect they deserve if we don’t stamp a pecuniary value on them? My head says open scholarship brings credibility and respect…
Then the book coincided with MELSIG moving from a funded initiative to the untested territory of a self-sustaining community of practice. That is not to say we will never seek funding, but for the moment it is good to look at how well we can do without money by using our comradeship, energy and collective expertise. In that context a little cash every now and then from book sales could help us to travel further afield to continue to organise the events we have run around the UK since we started in 2008. But to be honest, books like this don’t generate the amount of money you need for hotels and train fares to run the events as we used to run them. Instead we are finding other ways to manage things – but we’re still open to invitations to run an event near you!
Recently I’ve been reviewing the literature on educational podcasting and the use of the recorded voice in higher education. Progress is slow (see forthcoming post here). Thinking about practice in this area is remarkably conservative. I am so aware of the many wonderful ideas in Digital Voices and, quite frankly, I want to get them out there. I really hope making the book free and accessible on the Web will encourage more academic innovators to flick through its pages, find inspiration and challenge their thinking about the use of the recorded voice to enhance teaching and learning.