Why adopt an open textbook?
An open textbook is a textbook that the author has made available online for free. To be considered an open textbook it should be:
- easy to use, get and pass around,
- editable so instructors can customize content,
- cross-platform compatible,
- and accessible so it works with adaptive technology.
Open textbooks don’t have to be completely free, for example Flat World Knowledge is a publisher of open textbooks, charging for extras like printed versions and test banks.
If you’re interested in adopting an open textbook you should become familiar with the Creative Commons license. An example of a Creative Common license is CC-BY, which means that you can use the material as long as you give attribution. CC-BY-NC means that you can use, give attribution, as long as it is for non-commercial use.
There is one obvious reason to adopt an open textbook. Money. For students that don’t read the textbook because they can’t afford to buy the textbook, an open textbook might help them be successful in your course. There are other reasons, with many open textbooks you can add, re-order and change content. Why not? I can think one reason is the time needed to find and evaluate open access material.
Speaking of finding an open textbook there are several ways of identifying potential open educational resources, including open textbooks.
Here are some places to start:
OER Commons has forged alliances with over 120 major content partners to provide a single point of access through which educators and learners can search across collections to access over 30,000 items, find and
provide descriptive information about each resource, and retrieve the ones they need.
This collection of sixteen educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges. This includes providing training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, and mentoring online professional networks that support for authors opening their resources, and other services.
An online, statewide initiative to store and manage Florida’s instructional, organizational, and professional development resources for discovery, use and remixing by Florida faculty and administrators.
Search by terms, for example, physics textbook
- Intro to Sociology by Ron Hammond and Paul Cheney
- College Success By Bruce Beiderwell, Linda F. Tse, Tom Lochhaas and Nicholas B. deKanter
- The Free Physics Textbook by Christoph Schiller
- chem1 virtual textbook by Stephen Lower (Simon Fraser University)
- Français interactif developed at the University of Texas at Austin in theDepartment of French and Italian
Open textbooks have gotten attention south of the border, with federal and state backing. Finding examples of Canadian open textbooks is a bit harder, so if you know of some or are authoring, please let me know!