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.

 

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.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Join us in observing National Consumer Protection Week. A representative from  Fairfax County Consumer Affairs will present “Protect Yourself from Fraud” on March 7 from 4 – 5 p.m., 1009 Fenwick Library. The Consumer Affairs Branch mediates and investigates consumer complaints against businesses, tenant-landlord disputes, and cable issues if the transaction occurred in Fairfax County. Services offered by this branch include answering advice inquiries, assisting consumers with pre-purchase information, and community outreach.

For more information, please contact Katara Hofmann, kwright1@gmu.edu, 703-993-9061

Mason Author Series: Lincoln Mullen

Join us on Thursday, March 1, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fenwick Main Reading Room, for our next Mason Author Series event with Dr. Lincoln Mullen, Assistant Professor, History and Art History.

While the United States has a long history of religious pluralism, Americans have often believed their faith determines their eternal destiny. The result is that Americans switch religions more often than any other nation. The Chance of Salvation traces the history of the distinctively American idea that religion is a matter of individual choice.

Lincoln Mullen shows how Americans’ willingness to change faiths has created a shared assumption that religious identity is a decision. As Americans confronted a growing array of religious options in the 19th century, pressures to convert altered the basis of American religion. Evangelical Protestants, Cherokees, enslaved and freed African Americans, Mormons, American Jews, and Catholics each experienced their own patterns of conversion.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided.

About the Author: Lincoln A. Mullen is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Mullen is a historian of American religion and also teaches digital history, U.S. history, and the history of Christianity.

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu, or Jessica Clark, Development & Communications Officer, jclarkw@gmu.edu.