Mashing-up Platforms and Gaining Permissions: Our Diversity E-book Project

Book cover photo: Diversity: The Source of Our Strength. OSU 4H publication 372.
Diversity: The Source of Our Strength. OSU 4H publication 372.

E-books are old hat. Right? There are numerous platforms upon which one may design, write, and offer content. But do these mash-up with your university’s (or organization’s) server? Do you need permission? Or do you go rogue (using a different system)?

Here at Ohio State, our “Online Project Book” team left the Feb. 2017 eXtension Diversity & Inclusion Issue Corps meeting with great excitement. With the help (and inspiration) of experts and colleagues from around the country, we successfully developed an initial content layout plan and began the design formation phase.

Our aim was simple: translating a print version of a 4-H Diversity project book to an interactive, online option. I use “translate” purposely. We did not wish to simply transfer content. (That could be boring online!) Instead, we wanted to translate the spirit of the readings and activities into an interactive, online book that would engage and (hopefully) inspire.

Sound easy enough? Well…

Our main challenges began with the platform. OSU uses different systems (sometimes depending on what college your department is housed in). Then, there were permission issues. Some team members could not access the content that others had begun. What we thought would be an easy online sharing process turned out to cause quite a delay in progress.

So what’s to be done?

Start early! But mostly, involve your technical peeps. They can help you avoid platform and permission issues BEFORE they happen. Also, look for non-team members who may have interests in your topic or expertise in design and delivery. They can be life-savers, contributing both small and large ideas that propel you forward. Lastly, look for students or interns that might be available to assist. We got very lucky in finding some free student hours. It moved our project forward… and perhaps more importantly, gave her a very nice resume item!

We continue moving ahead and look forward to the launch.

Brian Raison, Jo Williams, Jane Wright