Author: lizmays

Elizabeth is the marketing and community manager for Rebus and director of marketing and operations for Previously she worked in higher ed, leading a variety of innovative efforts for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is now an adjunct professor at the Cronkite School teaching media entrepreneurship.

New Resource from the Rebus Community: Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students

Are you interested in doing an open pedagogy project to have your class create an open textbook or open educational resource? This new Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students, from Rebus Community, will help!

At Rebus Community, we’ve heard a lot about projects that involve students in the creation of open textbooks.

In many cases, these were classroom projects with robust learning objectives. In others, students collaborated with professors as research assistants, TAs, or a similar role. Some of these resulted in completely new OER; others expanded upon existing resources.

The more we learned, the more we got excited for the possibilities when students get involved in the production of open textbooks. We decided to share these stories, and some related resources, in hopes of both inspiring and equipping others to follow suit.

The result is the Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students, developed in collaboration with students and faculty who have been at the forefront of such projects.

This new resource contains:

  • An introduction to open pedagogy from experts Robin DeRosa, director of interdisciplinary studies at Plymouth State University, and Rajiv Jhangiani, University Teaching Fellow in Open Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Project ideas, case studies, interviews with and first-person accounts from faculty and students engaged in open textbook projects in the classroom
  • Three sample assignments for creating or updating open textbooks from faculty who have done such projects
  • Resources such as a guide to CC licensing, an MOU for students and faculty
  • And more!

As with everything we do, this is a first edition that we plan to expand on in the future, so please let us know if you would like to see something added in future, or have something to contribute yourself!

You can leave feedback on the book using, or let us know your thoughts by replying to this thread in the Rebus Community Forum.

We’d like to once again thank all the contributors that made this guide possible, and to all future open pedagogy explorers, we wish you luck! If you are embarking on an open textbook project with your students, please let us know in the forum as well — we’d love to hear your ideas and experiences.

September Office Hours: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in OER

September 26, 12 p.m. EST

Guest Speakers Maha Bali, Tara Robertson, Susan Doner, and others TBD

We have an opportunity to leverage open educational values to create a vibrant publishing culture. How do we increase diversity, equity and inclusion in OER publishing? How can we work together to ensure that diverse voices are equally valued? What barriers may exist in open textbook publishing that inhibit this vision? Join us for a discussion about how we can best move forward.

RSVP here for the session.

If you have any questions, or have difficulty entering the call, email us at

August Office Hours: Metadata for Open Textbooks

Open Textbook Network & Rebus Community Host Office Hours

Wednesday Aug. 30, 2 p.m. EST

Guest Speakers: Laura Dawson and Naomi Eichenlaub

What are best practices for open textbook metadata, in order to maximize discoverability and account for the utility and remixability of openly licensed materials? How might we standardize metadata across open textbooks? What attributes should be included? How should metadata be handled across multiple versions of textbooks?

RSVP for the session. (Note that the session will be recorded.)

If you have any questions, or have difficulty entering the call, email us at


July Office Hours: Keeping Open Textbooks Up to Date

Open Textbook Network & Rebus Community Host Office Hours: Keeping Open Textbooks Up to Date

Guest Speakers: Lauri Aesoph, BCcampus; Shane Nackerud, University of Minnesota Libraries; Kristen Munger, SUNY Oswego

Wednesday, July 26, 2 p.m. EST


Technology enables open textbooks to become living documents with longer lifespans than traditionally published textbooks. With that in mind, how do we care for open textbooks in the long term? How do we systematically ensure that new editions are created and that instructors know up-to-date versions are available? This session will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of maintaining open textbooks.

RSVP for the session. Click to join the session day of. (Note that the session will be recorded.)

If you have any questions, or have difficulty entering the call, email us at

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Student Contributors Wanted: Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students

At Rebus, we think one of the best ways to produce open textbooks is by involving students in the process.

That’s why we’re really excited about the handbook we have in development, A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students. The book is designed to help faculty find or create projects involving students in the creation of open textbooks or open resources.

The guide will contain:

  • an overview of open pedagogy – what it is, why it’s valuable, learning objectives and outcomes
  • resources and assignments for faculty wanting to adopt open pedagogy in their classrooms
  • case studies of projects in which faculty and students collaborated  to create open textbooks and similar open educational resources
  • student perspectives on their experiences working on such projects
  • tools you can use for open textbook projects, such as licensing guides, student agreements and more.

Currently our focus is on finding students who have worked on open textbook projects to write 300- to 500-word narratives about their experiences.

If you know of someone who has worked on such a project and might be willing to contribute such a sidebar, please sign up to the forum and reply to this post, or encourage them to do so. 

We also still welcome contributions from faculty, so if you have an idea for a resource that you can contribute, we’re all ears–reply here.

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Five More Chapter Authors Needed for Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship Open Textbook

One of the pilot open textbook projects the Rebus Community is supporting is Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship, designed to be used in media entrepreneurship courses or other journalism, mass communication or media courses in which media entrepreneurship is taught.

Each “chapter” of the book will be a module that can accompany a week’s lesson in a 15-week course. The work will be designed to be used as a whole, or as standalone modules.

We’ve been reaching out to chapter contributors for the past month or so, and are now only five chapters away from having every chapter in this open textbook project spoken for. Can you fill, or help us find someone to fill, the last major holes?  

The final topics in need of a chapter author are:

  • Ideation
  • Project Management Skills & Technologies
  • Human-centered Design
  • Competitive Analysis
  • UX/UI Testing and Iterating

If you can contribute (or have someone to suggest we reach out to), please sign up to the Rebus Community Forum and reply to this post.

After these chapters are claimed, we’ll be looking for professionals to contribute sidebars with firsthand experience and faculty to contribute classroom activities. A future edition will also include companion resources for instructors.

You can view the table of contents in development here and learn more about the project here.

Dr. Michelle Ferrier of Ohio University is the lead author on the project, with assistance from Rebus’ own Liz Mays, who is also a faculty associate at Arizona State University.

The project is planned for beta release and student use and testing in August 2017.


June Office Hours: Accessibility in Open Textbooks

Monday, June 5, at 3 p.m. EST

Topic: Accessibility in Open Textbooks

Guest Speakers: Josie Gray, BCcampus; Jess Mitchell, OCAD University; Michelle Reed, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries; Krista Greear, University of Washington

What are the best practices to ensure accessibility in open textbooks? In this session, we will talk about methods to ensure accessibility during authoring and post-authoring processes. We’ll also discuss how to audit the accessibility of existing open textbooks.

RSVP for the session. Click to join the session day of. (Note that the session will be recorded.)

If you have any questions, or have difficulty entering the call, email us at

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Next Office Hours: OER Workflows for Open Textbooks

Monday, May 1, at 3 p.m. EST

Topic: OER Workflows for Open Textbooks

Guest Speakers:

Allison Brown, SUNY Geneseo; Rebel Cummings-Sauls, Kansas State University; Dianna Fisher, Oregon State; Billy Meinke, University of Hawaii; and Anthony Palmiotto, OpenStax

Is there a typical process and timeline for producing an open textbook? Where are the pain points? How could the process be made more efficient? How are staff and faculty working on these projects managing the tasks and timelines involved? How is progress tracked and momentum sustained?

RSVP. Click to join the session day of.

(Note that the session will be recorded.)

If you have any questions, email us at

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Office Hours Recap: Peer Review for Open Textbooks

In this month’s Rebus Community & Open Textbook Network Office Hours we were joined by special guests to discuss peer review for open textbooks.

Anthony Palmiotto, Editorial Director at OpenStax, discussed the OpenStax approach to peer review, the first part of which follows a traditional in-development review model, similar to that of the major commercial publishers. During this process, they work to ensure a mix of different types of reviewers, profiles and representation of different regions, especially for disciplines where geographic and political balance is important. The second part of their review process involves a post-development feedback mechanism where anyone can submit feedback on a book. This feedback is then reviewed by faculty, with minor revisions being made monthly, and major revisions yearly. OpenStax aim to be as transparent as possible with these processes, listing reviewers at the beginning of each book, which also helps to establish credibility.

Karen Lauritsen of the Open Textbook Network shared the OTN review process, in which faculty who attend an OTN workshop are asked to complete a review of a textbook of their choice in the Open Textbook Library. Karen indicated that this process reassures faculty of the quality of available open textbooks, and encourages adoptions. She also noted that because the Library brings together texts from a wide range of sources, they have all undergone differing levels and methods of pre-production review. This highlights the current variability of open textbook review processes. Later in the session it was suggested that there might be an opportunity to standardise this in such a way that is useful for everyone working on open textbooks, similar to the Creative Commons licenses (i.e. providing a shorthand indicator of the type/level of review done to a book).

Deb Quentel from CALI (The Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction) shared her approach to finding reviewers, which is to call on authors for suggestions first, then on CALI’s editorial board of about 60 faculty and librarians, all with different areas of expertise. Deb gave some great advice for finding ‘strangers’ to bring in as reviewers, looking online for those writing and teaching in related areas. Once found, reviewers are given some guideline questions and two weeks to produce a 1-2 page memo, and are offered a small honorarium in compensation. Deb also mentioned that CALI often asks subject matter experts to proofread chapters as well, adding a second layer of review that can catch other errors or make additional suggestions.

Jon Udell joined us from Hypothesis and gave a short demonstration of how the current Hypothesis annotation tools can be used to review content. He also indicated a strong interest in engaging with the Community and finding test cases for Hypothesis’ current and future tools, so that those using them can be involved with the development.

Hugh McGuire of the Rebus Community capped off the session by framing the Rebus approach to the question of how best to manage peer review for open textbooks. He reiterated the Rebus objective to develop community-driven processes, and leveraging collaboration as the key to making open textbooks successful at scale. He discussed the different kinds of review we might expect to see develop, from a formal/traditional peer review, to an open review later in the publication process, to ongoing feedback from users of the book to the author. Last, he closed with an invitation to all who are interested in the topic to help us figure out what this should all look like by joining a working group.

The discussion continued on once the speakers wrapped up, touching on compensation, building community around books, the importance of transparent processes and the possibility of creating standardised measures or levels of peer review, similar to the Creative Commons license, where there’s a widely recognised ‘badge’ as a shorthand. The working group will pursue these questions and ideas and we encourage you to join us!

You can see the full video of the session here:

Changes to the Community Forum

Here at Rebus we’re always reflecting on how we do things, and changing as we learn. In light of this ever-evolving approach, we’ve recently made a couple of changes to the forum. These changes reflect how we have found the Community uses the forum since we launched, and will hopefully be more useful for those visiting our shores.

The biggest change is that we have two new categories replacing one that was intended for discussions about managing open textbook programs. Instead, we have added Projects: Working Groups which will house the single-issue projects/discussions we’re looking to foster, including our accessibility and peer review working groups. The second new category is a General Discussion where anyone in the community can share their experiences, challenges, ideas or interesting tidbits! We look forward to seeing you there.