OER Metafinder Goes Viral

Another important step in the march toward reducing the cost of textbooks for Mason students has been achieved with the national release of a new search tool by the Mason Libraries. The Mason Open Educational Resources Metafinder (MOM) greatly simplifies the discovery process for existing Open Educational Resources (OER).

Created by Wally Grotophorst, Associate University Librarian for Digital Programs and Systems at Mason, the new OER Metafinder has been described by some as “the Google for Open Educational Resources.” Just a few months after its release, there are already more than 170 libraries, colleges and universities across North America linking directly to the MOM to help their faculty locate useful learning materials (https://publishing.gmu.edu/whos-using-the-mason-oer-metafinder/). Reflecting this national buzz, a recent Inside HigherEd article on the difficulty of finding OER materials recognized the Mason OER Metafinder as the “new kid on the block” that “yields more diverse results.” (https://insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/01/10/finding-oer-remains-challenging-solutions-abound).

Prior to the release of the MOM, discovery of open educational content began with a tedious dive in and out of open educational content silos. So many different collections, wildly different interfaces, no standard metadata – any and all conspiring to drain the educator’s enthusiasm for open educational resources. The Mason OER Metafinder breaks this paradigm by simultaneously searching in real-time across sixteen different OER sites, presenting the de-duplicated and ranked results drawn from these sites in a single, modern, easy-to-understand interface. As the Metafinder’s creator, Wally Grotophorst has observed, “What I keep hearing from the many colleges and universities using MOM is how it has opened up their discussions with their own faculty about the availability and quality of open resources. MOM shows in minutes results that once took hours of hit and miss searching to discover.”

Read more about the Mason Open Educational Resources Metafinder and the Libraries’ work in OER and reducing students’ costs.

 

Virginia Wine Book Launch: April 10

Join us as we launch George Mason University Press‘ new book: Virginia Wine: Four Centuries of Change.

No state can claim a longer history of experimenting with and promoting viticulture than Virginia—nor does any state’s history demonstrate a more astounding record of initial failure and ultimate success. Virginia Wine: Four Centuries of Change, a new book written by Andrew Painter and published by George Mason University Press, presents a comprehensive record of the Virginia wine industry, from the earliest Spanish accounts describing Native American vineyards in 1570 through its astonishing rebirth in the modern era. Grape cultivation—for agriculture, horticultural curiosity, and wine production—has absorbed ambitious Virginians since April 1607, when a few casks of European wine washed ashore onto the dunes of Cape Henry in the company of a band of travel-weary English settlers. The author chronicles the dynamic personalities, diverse places, and engrossing personal and political struggles that have established the Old Dominion as one of the nation’s preeminent wine regions. Virginia’s wine industry now accounts for nearly $1 billion in annual sales, with more than 275 wineries growing more than 30 varieties of grapes.

Join us to hear Andrew Painter discuss a multitude of wine industry trends, events, secondary industries, and jobs that have revolved around the growing of grapes and the making and promotion of wine. To that end, the book emphasizes the unique aspects of the wine industry’s role in Virginia’s history and culture—a history that continues to be made in an agricultural and industrial sector that is itself unique among world commerce and society. Refreshments courtesy of Mason Bookstore.

About the author: Andrew A. Painter is an attorney specializing in land use and zoning. A Virginia native, Andrew has spent more than eight years researching the growth of its wine industry. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond.

For more information, contact John Warren, Director, George Mason University Press and Mason Publishing Group, gmupress@gmu.edu.

Research Reflections: Dr. Alexander Monea

On March 29, join us in 2001 Fenwick Library from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dr. Alexander Monea, Assistant Professor serving jointly in George Mason’s English Department and Cultural Studies Department, will present “I Know It When I See It” – An Overview of Google’s Safe Search & the Politics of Automating Judgment. In this presentation, he refers to such “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” concepts as extra-linguistic concepts because they contain an intuitive, inductive, and/or felt component in the classificatory logic that affords their generalization. This paper argues that contemporary machine learning applications have successfully operationalized this classificatory logic at mass scale, and he looks to Google’s work to filter Not Safe For Work (NSFW) images as a particularly compelling success story.

This presentation continues the Mason Libraries’ new Research Reflections series.

Playfair Book Launch: March 22

Join the University Libraries on Thursday, March 22 for the George Mason University Press book launch for Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World. The event will take place in the Fenwick Library Main Reading room, from 2 – 3:30 p.m.

William Playfair may be the most famous person you have never heard of. Best known today as the inventor of “statistical graphics”—the line, bar, and pie charts we all use today—Playfair was also a pioneer in strategic analysis, and a secret agent who carried out espionage and subversion against France on behalf of Great Britain.

This is the first book to uncover the full, true account of this remarkable, colorful man—undeniably brilliant, hopelessly flawed, and fundamentally important. Its pages reveal the astounding inventions and adventures of this larger-than-life swashbuckler, rogue, genius, and patriot.

“In addition to being a draftsman, inventor, company promoter, land speculator, economist, patriotic pamphleteer and bank-note counterfeiter, Playfair was a secret agent and international conspirator… He was adept at ducking and weaving from the truth, covering his tracks, mystifying his motives, and protecting his sources. Mr. Berkowitz’s Playfair is above all a work of ingenious detection and reconstruction.” —The Wall Street Journal

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided. The event is co-sponsored by the University Bookstore.

About the Author: Bruce Berkowitz is the author of several books and articles about national security, history, and international relations.

About GMU Press: The George Mason University Press supports the academic mission of George Mason University by publishing peer-reviewed, scholarly works of distinction, written by authors from a wide range of intellectual perspectives, for a diverse, worldwide readership. GMU Press publishes in a variety of disciplines with special focus on the history, politics, and culture of Northern Virginia and the wider District of Columbia metropolitan area, as well as other topics such as public policy, international affairs, and higher education.