Sharing Our Experience in Open Textbook Publishing

Last month OLS co-presented a talk on the experiences of University of Toronto and Ryerson University faculty members who authored Open Textbooks in the previous academic year at the 15th annual Open Education conference held in Niagara Falls, NY.

The well-received presentation titled “Learning about Open Educational Practice through Open Textbook Publishing” provided an overview of our work to date with OERs, including:

  • The number of Open Textbooks we have authored
  • Participating faculty members’ past and current use of Open Textbooks (OERs in general)
  • Reasons for authoring Open Textbooks
  • The existing and desired institutional support for authoring and publishing Open Textbooks
  • Insights for future Open Textbooks authoring projects

Kindle device with text

Over the past two years, faculty members at Ontario’s post-secondary institutions have applied for funding to author open textbooks with the support of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and administered by eCampusOntario. eCampusOntario recognizes the importance of Open textbooks to the post-secondary culture in Ontario because they have the potential to;

  • Make education more affordable and accessible for students
  • Improve learning experiences by allowing faculty to customize resources
  • Create possibilities for sharing, creating, and collaborating to expand knowledge

Summary of the presentation

The Open Ed 2018 presentation was a collaboration between U of T and Ryerson University. Between the two institutions, 28 authors and co-authors created nine open textbooks in a variety of disciplines including sciences, social sciences, medical sciences, and humanities.

Seventeen faculty members shared their experience of the OER creation process through a survey and the presentation focused on the synthesis of the survey responses from both institutions. Instructors chose to author open resources in order to reduce the cost of textbooks and increase the variety of resources available to local and international students. One instructor underscored how open textbooks enable faculty members to contextualize the context based on their geographical location. The majority of the respondents, 76%, had little previous experience using or creating OERs, which highlights the importance of institutional support structures and resources.

Between both institutions, the instructors had access to an extensive array of support structures and resources. Among the highest used resources were: technological information, copyright information, existing open textbooks used as examples, PressBooks platform information, and accessibility audits. An insight for facilitating future open textbooks was to provide authors with a prototype of a sample chapter. Another insight related to facilitating team work by providing the team with project management support and to monitor the steadiness of the work progress.

The authors also shared the main benefits of authoring open textbooks as a commitment to open pedagogical tools, deeper understanding of the affordances of OER, and the ability to inform other faculty members about the open textbook authoring process to other faculty members. For more details on the study view the Learning about Open Educational Practice through Open Textbook Publishing presentation file.

For More Information

To learn more about the process of creating your own open curriculum materials, explore information related to processes and practices in our Open Textbook Toolkit which offers information related to stakeholders, technology, copyright, accessibility, and more general production, classroom use workflows and more

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