Category: Resources

Resources for people producing open textbooks.

In the market for new course materials? Don’t forget about these great resources!

There are some great openly licensed open textbook resources supported by Rebus that are available for classroom use! Keep reading to see whether any of these resources would be a good fit for your upcoming course. If you are planning on adopting or adapting any of these open textbooks, please let us know!


Are you or others at your institution planning for the upcoming semester or academic year? Then it’s time to take another look at all the Rebus supported open textbooks that have been released over the past year! All our books are licensed CC BY, most are peer reviewed, and all can easily be adapted to better fit your course’s needs. And, even better, they are freely and easily accessible to you and your students in a bunch of formats (web, PDF, ebook and editable formats).

Titles available for adoption/adaptation:

Financial Strategy for Public Managers (Sharon Kioko and Justin Marlowe)
Financial Strategy for Public Managers is a new generation textbook for financial management in the public sector. It offers a thorough, applied, and concise introduction to the essential financial concepts and analytical tools that today’s effective public servants need to know. Financial Strategy for Public Managers has been peer-reviewed by 8 subject experts at 8 institutions.

 

Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship (edited by Michelle Ferrier and Elizabeth Mays)
This is a modular open textbook designed for entrepreneurial journalism, media innovation, and related courses. This book underwent student and faculty testing and open review in Fall 2017. Feedback has been implemented in Version 1.0 and will continue to be implemented in Version 2.0 (ETA August 2018).

Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students (Linda Frederiksen and Sue F. Phelps)
This open textbook is designed for students in graduate-level nursing and education programs. From developing a research question to locating and evaluating sources to writing a sample literature review using appropriate publication guidelines, readers will be guided through the process. This book has been peer-reviewed by 7 subject experts and is available for adoption and use in courses or as a library resource.

Blueprint for Success (Dave Dillon)
A free, Open Educational Resource, Blueprint for Success in College and Career is a students’ guide for classroom and career success. This text, designed to show how to be successful in college and in career preparation, focuses on study skills, time management, career exploration, health, and financial literacy.

The Blueprint for Success series comprises three books for the College Success and FYE (First-Year Experience) genre. The central text, Blueprint for Success in College and Career, is designed to show how to be successful in college and in career preparation. In addition, targeted sections on Study Skills and Time Management, and Career and Decision Making are available separately as Blueprint for Success in College: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies, and Blueprint for Success in Career Decision Making. All have been peer-reviewed by an experienced team.

Antología abierta de literatura hispánica (Julie Ann Ward)
Una antología crítica de textos literarios del mundo hispanohablante. Se enfoca en autores canónicos y también se intenta incluir voces marginadas. Cada texto tiene una introducción y anotaciones creadas por estudiantes. // A critical anthology of literary texts from the Spanish-speaking world. A focus on canonical authors and an attempt to include voices that have been marginalized. Each text includes an introduction and annotations created by students. You can also contribute to the expansion of this text by having your students contribute! Find out more about implementing the assignment.

The Science of Human Nutrition (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program)
This peer-reviewed textbook serves as an introduction to nutrition for undergraduate students and is the OER textbook for the FSHN 185 The Science of Human Nutrition course at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. The book covers basic concepts in human nutrition, key information about essential nutrients, basic nutritional assessment, and nutrition across the lifespan.


Additional Resources

For those running an open pedagogy assignment in your class, creating a new open textbook, or working with students to create a new open textbook, there’s something for you too:

Authoring Open Textbooks (Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen)
This guide is for faculty authors, librarians, project managers and others who are involved in the production of open textbooks in higher education and K-12. Content includes a checklist for getting started, publishing program case studies, textbook organization and elements, writing resources and an overview of useful tools.

 

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students (edited by Elizabeth Mays)
A handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources. This is a first edition, compiled by Rebus Community, and we welcome feedback and ideas to expand the text.

 

 


If you are planning on adopting or adapting any of these open textbooks, please let us know!

Introducing Rebus Projects: A Custom Project Management Tool for Open Textbook Creators

We are very excited to unveil Rebus Projects, new web-based software that we think will be a better way to manage open textbook/OER publishing projects, and gather and organize contributors and collaborators. The platform is currently in beta (meaning it’s still in development! And there will be bugs!), and your feedback will be critical to future development, to make sure it meets the needs of all open textbook creators.

We encourage you to take a look, and see if there is an OER project you can help with. Or, let us know if you have a project in mind, and submit an application to join the beta.

 

We’ve been working over the past 18 months with a collection of almost two dozen open textbooks projects, with partner institutions and faculty from around the world. This has helped us develop a flexible yet clear open textbook publishing process, that builds in best practices, including attention to accessibility, and fosters collaboration on open textbook projects. We are building everything we have learned (and continue to learn) into Rebus Projects, to help guide open textbook projects through the publishing workflow, and to make it easy to find, recruit, and organize collaborators.

A quick FAQ about Rebus Projects:

Q: How do I access Rebus Projects?
A: It’s pretty simple! Just visit https://projects.rebus.community/ and Sign Up. If you’re already a member of the Rebus Forum, you can log in using the same account.

Q: How can I help on someone else’s OER/open textbook project?
A: Great question! Visit the site and find a project that needs help you’d like to offer (Peer review? Proofreading? Chapter authoring? And more …) Click on the activity you’d like to help out on and volunteer.

Q: How can I get my project listed on Rebus Projects?
A: For the moment we have only have capacity to support a limited number of new projects, but as that changes we will be inviting more to join us. You can request access to the beta for your project here.

Q: How can I give feedback on the platform?
A: Your input is critical to shaping the future direction of the platform, so we absolutely want to hear from you. You can leave comments and feedback in the Rebus Forum or email us at contact@rebus.community. You’ll find some prompt questions in the forum to help guide you.

Q: What if I don’t want collaborators on my open textbook project?
A: We make it easy to collaborate only on the parts of your projects you want help with. It’s up to you. Some projects only want collaboration on specific aspects, such as: peer review, editing, proofreading, beta testing, ancillary materials, marketing and more. Some projects want collaboration for authoring chapters, or even conceiving the project itself. The people behind the projects decide.

Q: Who owns the copyright on open textbooks in Rebus Projects?
A: The authors own the copyright. However, all open textbooks in Rebus Projects must be licensed under a Creative Commons license. We encourage creators to adopt a CC-BY license, but recognise that it is not suitable for some projects. In particular, for projects involving traditional knowledge or other similar content, we will work with project teams to amend our licensing policy as needed.

Q: What do I get if my project gets listed on Rebus Projects?
A: You get access to a brand new software platform, that is being developed specifically to help support the open textbook publishing process. You also get:

  • A public web listing of your project, where basic information of your project, team, activities, discussion threads, and documents can be shared. This listing can be used to promote the project, generate interest from potential adopters, and recruit collaborators.
  • Support & guidance on the publishing process from the Rebus team and the wider Community via the Rebus Forum
  • Guides and templates related to the OER publishing process
  • Amplification of recruitment calls and project updates in the Rebus Community’s media channels (newsletter, blog, social media, etc.)
  • An onboarding call with the Rebus Community, with training on how to use the platform
  • Four one-hour drop-in webinars, where you can pose questions and talk through challenges in the process
  • Access to the Rebus Press (powered by Pressbooks), if needed
  • An opportunity to contribute directly to the development of tools and resources that benefit the wider OER community

Q: Will it cost anything to put my project on Rebus Projects?
A: Accepted individual projects will always be free. We are actively working on a sustainable funding model, with educational institutions and state and provincial education systems. Stay tuned.

Q: Who is behind Rebus Projects?
A: Rebus Projects is a part of the Rebus Community, a project run the Rebus Foundation. The foundation is a Canadian non-profit dedicated to building infrastructure and communities to promote open education, and books on the open web. The Rebus Foundation is generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Q: How can I get more information?
A: If you still have questions, head to the Rebus Forum and ask away! Or, you can always email us directly at contact@rebus.community.

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students Wins 2018 Open Education Consortium Award for Excellence

Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students coverWe just found out that the Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students that Rebus Community released last summer has won the 2018 Open Education Awards for Excellence in the Open Textbook category.

This resource could not have come together without contributors Robin DeRosa, Rajiv Jhangiani, Timothy Robbins, David Squires, Julie Ward, Anna Andrzejewski, Samara Burns, Matthew Moore, Alice Barrett, Amanda Coolidge, Maxwell Nicholson, Steel Wagstaff, Gabriel Higginbotham, Zoe Wake Hyde, and Apurva Ashok.

Also, we’d like to thank whoever nominated this resource for this incredible honor from Open Education Consortium. (We honestly don’t know, but we’re very grateful that you thought enough of this resource to nominate it.)

You can view the full list of winners on the OEC website.

New Resource: Rebus Community Contributor Engagement Guide

Central to our mission at Rebus is the goal to document the process involved in publishing open textbooks so others can use what we learn to create their own. Our hope is that the resources we develop can simplify the workflow for open textbook creators everywhere. We have been working hard on several of these resources over the past months and we’re excited to announce the release of the first of these, the Rebus Community Engagement Guide.

Licensed CC BY, the guide suggests ways to keep the community around projects active, engaged, and committed to seeing books through to publication, while also ensuring that the process is rewarding for them. This guide is based on our experience managing open textbook projects to date, and we welcome your feedback and additional suggestions. Stay tuned — we’ll be releasing more guides, templates and other useful tidbits in the coming months!

8 Things We Learned About Making Open Textbooks from Making Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship

When Rebus Community agreed to support the JMC Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship open textbook back in January of 2017, we had no idea the impact the project would have on our knowledge of the processes involved in open publishing.

Michelle Ferrier of Ohio University and Liz Mays, who is Rebus’ marketing manager and also an adjunct faculty at Arizona State University, had the idea for the open textbook.

For Rebus, the thought was one of us would personally go through the process of creating an open textbook start to finish, with Rebus’ support, and we’d use what we learned to inform Rebus Community resources, processes and software in development.

Ten months later, V1 of Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship is available, and it’s time to share some of those learnings with the broader OER community.

Why Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship Was Needed

But first, some context. In recent years, faculty of media, journalism and communications have begun to teach concepts of entrepreneurship in their classrooms, in response to the disruption the journalism industry has experienced. In some departments, entrepreneurship is a full course (or series of courses); in others, it’s part of an existing course.

As faculty who had been asked to teach entrepreneurial journalism and media innovation concepts in our classrooms, Michelle and I, along with others we knew, felt there was no one seminal text that covered the key concepts of media innovation and journalism entrepreneurship that media, communication or journalism students need, especially as the development of content and technology businesses is very different than traditional brick-and-mortar entrepreneurship.

When we embarked on this project, it was our aim to build the resource we ourselves needed, and make it freely available for use to others teaching media innovation and entrepreneurial journalism courses across the globe.

Michelle and I came to the project with two somewhat different drafts for a table of contents. First, we merged our TOCs into a new skeleton. Then, we held a webinar with others who teach these subjects to help us add to, refine, whittle down and revise that into a working, public Table of Contents, which was posted with the Rebus Community Forum call for contributors, along with an Author Guide and Precis. (Note: We stopped maintaining the TOC and moved to other working spreadsheets after beta launch.)

For each chapter, we identified a number of qualified and diverse potential contributors in our networks, and by around April, we were reaching out one by one. Here’s a sample of the baseline verbiage we used to reach out. Some chapters were easier to find authors for than others. (In fact, there are few sidebars and chapters that are still being written to add to the 2nd edition.) While some people didn’t have the capacity to participate, or weren’t interested in helping, by and large, author recruitment went smoother than I had expected. Which brings us to lesson one.

Lesson One: Don’t just build a textbook; build a community.

Throughout every phase of this book–TOC, author reachouts, peer review, beta testing and more–we leveraged community input and contributions around the book, and those efforts paid off. This project could not have happened as quickly had Michelle not been as well-connected in the discipline as she is, and able to bring a good many of her peers and colleagues to the project. At Rebus, we’ve seen the value of faculty leveraging their professional networks. Their involvement helps to drive participation.

I came to the project to build a textbook. Michelle came to the project to build a community. It turns out we could never have built the former without the latter. At the end of the day, 20 authors, 10+ peer reviewers, 12 official faculty beta testers, classrooms full of students–at multiple institutions across the U.S. and as far away as Chile, Greece, and Ukraine–were involved in the making of this book. Nearly 40 others have been following the updates, with an interest in adopting parts or all the book.

Contributors said they found the community aspect of the process rewarding.

“Many thanks…for the gift to join you in such a fascinating intellectual and collaborative journey for making the Open Textbook on “Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship” a dynamic learning, writing, and mentoring experiment,” wrote contributing author Betty Tsakarestou. “Along with the open textbook and the upcoming instructors’ manual, I think you are also helping to create a very dynamic network and community of practice.”

Lesson Two: Building an open textbook is going to take a lot longer than you think.

Once we assigned sidebars and chapters to authors, that’s when we learned the next major lesson. How long does it take to build a community-created open textbook?

In hindsight, we suggest people to allow more than a year, and that’s if you plan to be aggressive about staying on timeline.

One thing that lengthened our editing process was that we didn’t anticipate the questions authors would have about how their chapter ought to be different for an “open” textbook than a traditional textbook. We had never thought of them as any different, but realized we could have made clearer suggestions for the voice, which we wanted to be accessible to students rather than in a formal style. Quite a few authors sent us substantive outlines to edit to make sure they were on track before their full chapter, which added another round of editing that more clarity up front on our part could have eliminated. Also, in a transparent process, I learned it’s a good idea to give all contributors roughly the same deadline, assuming you’ve allowed ample time for editing and revisions.

After a frantic summer of editing and formatting, we found ourselves barreling toward peer review (which went quite smoothly) and then getting a “minimum viable product” up by Aug. 1 for the faculty who would beta-test it in fall semester. All the while we were scrambling behind the scenes to live-edit that version for when students would see it, mid-August.

We ended up in a similar scramble to implement the tail end of revisions from the extensive feedback we received in the book’s first semester of use, just in time to enter the book into the prestigious AEJMC Tankard Award competition, which required that the book be “available in print” in 2017. For teachers wanting their students to be able to get a print copy (that they didn’t print off at home), the timeline wasn’t much later.

If you want to produce an open textbook in a leisurely way, consider spreading it over a year and a half.

In hindsight, here’s how I would adjust to make a new open textbook happen on a roughly yearlong academic timeline. (I’ll note though that every open textbook has different nuances that may add or remove time from your schedule.)

Our Timeline Ideal Timeline
Jan-April: planning Nov: planning
May-June: writing Dec-Jan: writing
June-July: editing, peer review, formatting Feb-May: editing, formatting
Aug-Oct: proofreading, beta testing, open review June-July: peer review, make available for beta testers to consider, proofreading/fine-tuning, accessibility
Nov-Dec: POD first edition Aug-Nov: beta testing, open review
Nov-Dec-Jan: 2nd edition additions Dec-mid-Jan: POD first edition (most of this is waiting after you upload)

Lesson Three: Find collaborators who have different skills than you.

One of the startup culture concepts j-entrepreneurship faculty stress in their classrooms is the need to build a team around you with skills that are different from, but complement, your own.

Prior to Rebus, I had been a professional editor for 10 years full time and for another 7 years on the side. Michelle too, with her background in journalism, brought this expertise. But our editing skills were different and complementary, which enabled us to tag-team and divide the work fairly, without stepping on each others’ toes.

With a national profile from researching and practicing the teaching of media entrepreneurship and innovation in higher ed, Michelle served as subject matter editor and line editor–she did the intense “heavy lifting” types of editing and rewriting. I wore the hat of managing editor and proofreader, making sure project deliverables came in and were tracked; proofreading the book; and dealing with image logistics and footnotes. We also had help with additional copy edits on four chapters from some great volunteers–in retrospect, we wish we had put out a call more widely for volunteers who could assist with the editing. Supporting the process of finding collaborators for editing, images and similar non-writing, non-reviewing components is something Rebus will be working to expand in the future.

Lesson Four: Modularity for OER is a “capital D” decision.

Early in the project, we had to make some decisions, decisions we didn’t recognize as Big D decisions, and probably should have.

First, it never occurred to us to build the book in any way other than a modular way. This was because media innovation and entrepreneurship are taught in vastly different ways at different institutions. In some cases, there is a full class in journalism entrepreneurship, media innovation, or business of journalism. In others, these concepts are part of a media management, magazine writing, student media, or other reporting course. In some programs, students might be from the broader fields of media, communications or P/R, rather than just journalism. Also, at Rebus we care a lot about the remixability of open textbooks, and a modular format works really well for that. It means future faculty can take parts of the book or most of the book as a baseline and write just the pieces they need to accommodate the specific way they teach their class.

Knowing this, we designed the book modularly. And we stand by that decision. Some initial users were quite enthused by it.

“I really get why it makes sense to be a modular “book” because we could rearrange our curriculum and almost build courses around it. Like we could focus on 4-5 chapters per course, depending on how it makes sense to break up the coursework,” wrote Mark Poepsel to Michelle and I, who has been using portions of the book. “Then courses would be built to the professor’s expertise or they’d be designed around resource availability. You’re making the IKEA of information.”

However, we got a lot of feedback in beta testing about the modularity of the book from those who were using it straight through–some things are repeated because we’re cognizant that students reading only an isolated chapter of the book will still need background on a concept that might also be introduced somewhere else earlier. While we couldn’t fix that repetition easily, it’s something we would like to smooth out for the second edition.

Lesson Five: Pressbooks — did I mention we broke Pressbooks? (Don’t worry, we fixed it too.)

Most people who know the folks at Rebus know that some of us–Apurva Ashok, Zoe Wake Hyde, Hugh McGuire, and I–also work for Pressbooks. So here I’m switching hats. This was the first educational book we ourselves had tried to format, to see what problems we ran into.

Some of those included:

  • Because the book is produced from a single source, and will be available in multiple formats, including printable PDF and print-on-demand, anything that might otherwise have been a link from the digital formats also needed to be a footnote, because embedded links wouldn’t be clickable or visible in the print edition.
  • How to handle multiple authors in the metadata (we’re working on a new way to handle multiple contributors in the metadata of a book)
  • Wide charts and tables (temporary fix in place on this book; long-term fix in process)
  • Import from Google docs, including footnote and link import (we learned a few things)
  • Easier glossary making and figure numbering (on the Pressbooks roadmap)
  • Editing (I recommend doing as much of the editing process as possible before importing to Pressbooks as it does not have tracked changes or similar functions that copy editors rely on at earlier stages of editing.
  • Images (Apparently, in addition to throwing errors if you send too low-res of images, POD will actually throw errors or cause delays if your images are too high-res. For large images displayed in a small area (such as author images), this became a problem.

These are problems that lots of educational books would run into. This book turned into an opportunity to use our own product and find the flaws. We were able to put these issues into Pressbooks’ queue to improve the software not only for us, but for all the others using it for open textbooks and OER. Changing back into my Rebus hat…

Lesson Six: Someone (maybe us) should build a mechanism to track feedback from beta testing

We put the book through a formal peer review process, with most chapters getting their own single-blind peer review prior to the beta launch. The book was then formally beta tested in classrooms. We gave beta testers a guide and as many ways to give their feedback as possible. We enabled hypothes.is on the book. We asked for narrative feedback by email. We opened a “suggestion box” Google form and offered a place to suggest revisions on the Rebus Community forum. One student even reviewed the book as his honors project. (Read Kyle Kercheval’s review.) We then held biweekly calls with the community of practice teaching these subjects and using parts of the book. Through this process, we received hundreds of points of feedback. (And we still have three peer reviewers still working their way through the full book!) I can tell you from that process that there is no magic way to track and incorporate beta feedback–yet. Just a lot of heavy lifting.

We learned that having too many avenues isn’t practical but no one of these avenues was sufficient. This is another problem Rebus would like to help solve in the future.

Lesson Seven: Print-on-demand is still not instant.

Having a print book comes with many benefits, especially for students who prefer non-digital formats, but preparing the print format and ensuring its availability can be tricky!

No. 1: If you just want students to be able to purchase a print copy of the book in Amazon if they want it (rather than a university bookstore ordering a bunch of copies), you should know Ingram recommends you allow 6-8 weeks before you need them to be able to do so. (Createspace doesn’t allow CC BY content, so we went through IngramSpark for print-only distribution.) That’s two months of waiting added to the time it takes to bring an open textbook into the world. That meant for us, with a contest entry that required the book to be available in print by a hard deadline of Dec. 31, we had to declare a first edition a few weeks earlier than we would have liked.

No. 2: Some POD platforms only allow you to cite up to three contributors in the metadata (even though Amazon allows up to nine). This is going to be a challenge for the burgeoning cadre of open textbooks with multiple contributors. Also, we had issues with the metadata we used transmitting incorrectly, a problem we’re still working through on both sides. It seems neither Ingram nor Amazon can fix an Amazon entry that didn’t originate on the Amazon side.

Lesson Eight: Publishing versus authoring

The question in open textbooks, and the problem we’re trying to solve at Rebus, is how to help authors do, or find other volunteers to do, the things that publishers have traditionally had a staff to do, in the absence of a traditional publisher.

Among these are permissions, accessibility and other “invisible” labor.

We believe strongly that all those things still need to happen for open textbooks, especially those produced with support from Rebus. Editing, images, Pressbooks formatting, and accessibility are four areas where we want to specifically build up pools of potential volunteers interested in contributing their skill sets in these areas to open textbooks.

When we embarked on this project, we weren’t sure what accessibility for open textbooks really entailed. We have a much better idea of that now, after starting the Rebus Community Accessibility Working Group, but we didn’t have that information in time to tell the writers what to send us, so that we wouldn’t end up writing alt text for most of the images ourselves, for example.

At Rebus we have since been working on some guidelines for accessibility for open textbooks produced with Rebus support, and these will be part of the author guides for future projects.

Styling footnotes, from both an editing and a formatting perspective, was a monumental effort, and one that I can say with absolute confidence needs its own volunteer or volunteers.

Another of the inherent challenges to creating a CC BY-licensed open textbook is images. Our goal was to use all CC BY images. Some writers found that limiting (since traditional publishers help to source permissions), or did not quite understand the nuances (for instance, buying stock photos doesn’t skirt this problem).

We cut any images that weren’t necessary. Of the rest, some image suggestions were general enough for us to create new openly licensed images. I had the benefit of support for this from Rebus staff member Apurva, who with her design background was able to help create some illustrations for the book from scratch. (This is another job, by the way–one that needs a volunteer.)

In other cases, even if using an image would have been fair use, the fact we were setting the book up to be remixed downstream and would lose control of the content, made us err on the side of caution while we figure out all the nuances to this.

Some images were so central to the subject matter that we simply had to include them. How do you not include the Business Model Canvas in a chapter about startup business models, for instance? There’s no way to remake what’s important about that chart without exactly copying it. Thus, we had to hunt down permissions for some images.

Luckily, the Business Model Canvas folks, along with a few others, were awesome to us. They got the concept of what we were doing right away and gave permission to include their image in the textbook, and to them we are eternally grateful. There were others too who had to bend internal rules to work with our paradigm, but were ultimately able to grant us the permissions we needed.

Then there were the publishers that wanted to charge an exorbitant rate, which would increase with every format or new edition (exactly what does that look like for a book that is continually updated, and can be remixed?)

Still others were never able to grant us permission to use the simplest of things. These included one data chart that, according to the site’s TOS, could be embedded in our website with no problem but could not be published in something like an ebook or print book. With single-source formatting, this was unworkable. Our multiple calls and emails requesting a solution went unreturned.

In the end, the thing I thought would be hard about building an open textbook (getting contributors to write and review the content) was not the thing that was most challenging about building an open textbook. Our authors, reviewers, beta testers, and everyone else who played a role in refining the content for this book were awesome, and they built the content into the open textbook we envisioned.

What was hardest was getting these behind-the-scenes jobs, many of which take a lot of invisible emotional labor, done. We at Rebus will now be working to build up pools of volunteers to enlist in these efforts on future books. Of course, we will credit them with their efforts. In addition, the software we have in the works may help. If you have further ideas on this front, please reach out to us in the Rebus Community Forum.

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 Hypothes.is, 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.

Peer Review Working Group & Office Hours Recap

At the Rebus Community, we see peer review as a critical part of publishing open textbooks. In particular, it plays an important role in encouraging adoptions – both by assuring those looking to adopt a book that the material is of high quality, and also by building an engaged pool of reviewers who are themselves potential adopters.

Recognising this importance, we are working to develop – with community input – a clear, robust peer review process that can be applied to all open textbooks produced with Rebus (and potentially beyond).

Our recent Office Hours session on Peer Review for Open Textbooks  surfaced some of the issues we will seek to address with the working group. These include:

  • What should pre- & post-production review processes for open textbooks look like?
  • How can we enable faculty adopters & students to provide feedback directly to authors?
  • How can we leverage the peer review process to market the book to potential adopters?
  • How do we manage the concerns and uncertainty around any non-traditional aspects of the review process?
  • How might reviewers be compensated for their contributions?
  • What tools do we need to support the process?

If you would like to be part of this group, please visit the project page and let us know you’re interested!

You can read a summary of the Office Hours session or watch the recording below.

Best Practices: Making Open Textbooks With Students

In our January Office Hours, special guests Robin DeRosa, chair of interdisciplinary studies at Plymouth State University, Steel Wagstaff, instructional technology consultant at UW-Madison, and Amanda Coolidge, senior manager of open education at BCcampus, spoke about their experiences working with students to create open textbooks.

Robin spoke about her experiences working with students to develop The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature as well as an open textbook for a first-year seminar looking at student retention from a student perspective. Steel discussed two UW-Madison projects where faculty and students have engaged with local community organisations to create open resources. In one case, architecture students created an open textbook on local examples of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and in another, museum studies students worked with a local museum to create an open catalog for an upcoming exhibition. Amanda and her team at BCcampus have overseen a few projects where students have contributed to everything from adapting an OpenStax economics textbook to contributing to a psychology question bank.

The three talked about pedagogy, faculty responsibilities, student rights and agreements when students work on open textbooks and OER projects.

One of the key threads that emerged was the need for students to have agency over their choice of license–meaning they’re not forced into an open license without understanding what it is, and the alternatives.

Robin said she handles this by giving her students choices: They can choose whether to openly license their work or not, and if they do choose an open license, they can choose which license to use. (But if their chosen license is not compatible with the other licenses, their contributions may not get into the finished book, she said, citing the more restrictive CC ND license as one example.)

Students also get the option to use a pseudonym.

“You might have people who want to be in the open but they don’t want to develop their own digital identity attached to their real identity,” Robin said. “But if you’re going to allow that as an option you just have to understand enough about how privacy works on the web and data so that you’re not offering them some false sense of privacy that isn’t actually authentic.”

Robin said over the three courses in which she has focused on open, she has only had one student keep their coursework fully private inside the LMS.

“I don’t think there’s any problem giving them all of that choice. It only works to reinforce the open pedagogy, which is that you are in the driver’s seat and you have control over what you do,” she said.

Steel said he has several considerations when faculty work with students to build an open resource. The first is the students’ right to privacy under FERPA. He suggested several options to protect this federally mandated right of students.

  1. Get FERPA waivers from the students.
  2. Make the open resource and credit the students who contributed, but without identifying that they were part of a specific course.
  3. Allow students to use pseudonyms when building the open resource.
  4. All of the above.

He also mentioned the students’ intellectual property rights (i.e. copyright) to what they create. “In part I think open pedagogy is empowering them to say, ‘hey this is your content. What do you want to do with it?’” Steel said.

When publishing an openly licensed book, he said, “our strategy was that we wanted to obtain consensus on the license.”

He also talked with students about the attribution component of the license and encouraged students to think about how they wanted their work to be cited and attributed.

He noted that students should be able to choose not to use the open license and still get credit for the course and meet its educational goals.

Amanda said open pedagogy provides a great opportunity to teach digital literacy to students around the concept of openness.

“What does it mean to contribute back to the public good, and is that something you want to do or is that something you feel restricted by?”

One of the outcomes of the session was a decision that we at Rebus would organize the creation of a brief guide to practices and pedagogy when working with students on open textbooks and OER. Rajiv Jhangiani, senior open education research and advocacy fellow at BC Campus and Jeremy Smith, digital projects manager in scholarly communication, University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as Steel, Amanda, and Robin, volunteered to contribute.

If you have thoughts on what should be included or experiences of your own to share, please let us know by replying to the post about this project.

And if you missed the Office Hours session, you can catch the Q&A portion on video. Watch the replay of Office Hours.

Next Office Hours: Peer Review for Open Textbooks 

Open Textbook Network & Rebus Community Host Office Hours

Wednesday, March 29, 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST

Guest Speakers: Karen Lauritsen, Open Textbook Network; Daniel Williamson, OpenStax; Jon Udell, Hypothes.is; Deb Quentel, CALI; and Hugh McGuire, Rebus Foundation

What should peer review look like for open textbooks? Guest speakers Karen Lauritsen of Open Textbook Network, Daniel Williamson of OpenStax, Jon Udell of Hypothes.is, Deb Quentel of CALI, and Hugh McGuire of Rebus Foundation will talk about their organizations’ approach to peer review for open textbooks. What does / should the peer review process look like in this space? Why is it important? How can we ensure quality of open educational resources?

RSVP with this CORRECTED LINK and join the session at https://zoom.us/j/245321928

(Note that if you had trouble with the RSVP form earlier, that issue should now be fixed.) 

Office Hours Video: Recruiting Open Textbook Authors

In our February Office Hours session, we talked about Recruiting Authors for Open Textbooks with guest speakers Kevin Ahern, Oregon State University; Karen Bjork, Portland State University; Caitie Finlayson, University of Mary Washington; and Amy Hofer, Open Oregon.

Guests included both faculty authors and open textbook program managers. The conversation covered tenure, promotion, stipends and other ways universities. and related organizations can incentivize the creation of open textbooks.

Thanks again to our speakers and those who attended.

If you missed the session, you can watch the video here.