I couldn’t find another textbook that effectively met my revised learning objectives and approach… so writing my own, open text seemed like the best way to both address the cost issue while at the same time providing my students with the material I wanted to cover exactly how I wanted to cover it. — Caitie Finlayson, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Mary Washington. Author of World Regional Geography (CC BY NC SA).
This guide is for authors, project managers, librarians and others who work together to write and publish open textbooks. It includes step-by-step action items, best practices, and case studies from colleagues who’ve produced open textbooks and launched open textbook programs. Our goal is to provide a combination of practical advice, problem solving strategies and support.
Defining and Understanding Open Textbooks
1. Familiarize yourself with open licenses, if you haven’t already. Select which license you’d like to use, as it may impact what openly licensed material you can include in your work.
2. Learn where to find openly licensed material you can use. Librarians can help! You can also search Google by license. If you will be creating material (photos, for example) consider how to openly share those assets with others (like Flickr).
3. Decide where you plan to share your completed open textbook and what those repositories, libraries and distributors may require.
4. Consider who may be able to offer help at your institution. Reach out to librarians and instructional designers, for example.
5. If working with others, take the time to meet and clarify expectations and roles. Draft and sign a contract or MOU.
6. Develop a timeline for textbook production. Include writing time as well as editing, proofreading and peer review time.
7. Develop a plan for your textbook’s design, including how you want to define the content and element structure. Each chapter needs to be consistent with the next so that students know what to expect.
8. Decide which style guide you’d like to use for your textbook and use it as a reference.
9. Commit to making your textbook accessible for a range of students.
10. Make a plan for how you’re going to handle updates and revisions so that your textbook stays up-to-date.
11. Create a list of peers who are willing to review your textbook and offer constructive feedback.
Community & Tools
12. Find a community who can support your work. Decide which tool or tools may be helpful for writing your textbook. This may differ depending on whether you’re writing solo or with others.
13. Survey which publishing tools look like a good fit for your textbook. Consider their capabilities related to your planned textbook content and elements.
14. Jump in!
15. Share lessons from your experience with your colleagues in updates of this guide. (Thank you!)
For more, see Self-Publishing Guide, Appendix 5: Checklists [New Tab].