This institutional context case study was provided by Dianna Fisher, Director of Open Oregon State.
The Open Access Textbook Initiative began in 2014 and is a collaboration between Oregon State University Libraries and Press, and Division Extended Campus’ Open Oregon State. The initiative provides financial, technical, and editorial support for OSU faculty to create open textbooks that reduce student costs, enhance the learning process, and further position Oregon State as a leader in teaching and innovation. Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian and OSU Press Director, Faye Chadwell, Associate Director of Oregon State University Press, Tom Booth, and Director of Open Oregon State, Dianna Fisher, are the team that started the program and manage it today.
Publishing an open textbook is, in most cases, more time intensive than publishing a textbook with a traditional publisher. We offer similar services — we edit, proofread and send the text out for review by at least two faculty in the same field of study — but on a smaller scale. Our goal is to enable authors to concentrate on content creation.
Currently there are 24 open textbooks in production, all of which will be available in at least four formats – HTML, PDF, ePub, and print-on-demand.
After we accept a proposal we create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines who will do what, when, and for how much (if funding is involved). The faculty member and the department/school or college head, sign the MOU.
When work begins, authors are given as much support as they need. We sit down together and go over the process, expectations, and different services that we provide.
Right from the beginning, we ask authors to consider what types of multimedia or graphics they will want to incorporate. For instance, if they know students always have trouble understanding a certain concept, authors will want to demonstrate the concept in various ways (not just text). By asking authors to think about this as they write, our media team can gather resources and add media as they receive text. In addition, we can work with OSU’s Ecampus media developers who create media for online courses. Working with chapters as they are written allows us to collaborate and format the textbook for faculty review. This process often sparks new ideas.
Along the way, we keep in touch with authors. As they write, we contact the peer reviewers authors have suggested, and set up a subject editor and proofreader for the book. We also have a student editor and proofreader who reviews content as it’s posted. Faculty submit their materials in a format that they are comfortable working in and our student employees format and post in Pressbooks.
We have learned that the more support we offer faculty, the more productive they are. Some of our authors have told us that we make the task much more manageable, because they know that we are there when they need us.
Students support authors at every stage of their projects. We employ students from many different majors around campus: new media, writing, communications, graphic arts, art, computer science and others. Some students who are studying to be project managers, work directly with faculty, as do graphic arts and art students. Since the work is CC licensed, students can share their work in their own portfolios, which is a bonus.
Overall, we have learned that if we provide full-service support to our faculty, we get a great publication in return. When they have time to concentrate on their writing and envision what they would like to provide to their students, we can work together to see this to fruition. It allows us to provide a meaningful experience for everyone.