Open Textbook Advocacy

Back in May 2009, I wrote about the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, CCCOER, which had launched in 2008 the Community College Open Textbook (CCOT) Project with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Their goals are to centralize open textbook information for use by community college professors and other educators and to document sustainable workflow approaches for producing, maintaining, and disseminating open textbooks.

What is an Open Textbook? 

Generally, they are:

- free, or very nearly free

- easy to use, get (download) and distribute

- editable so instructors can customize content

- cross-platform compatible

- printable

- accessible so it works with adaptive technologies

Recently, I began attending webinars offered by Open Textbook Advocate Trainers (a part of the Consortium) which uses a Ning social networking site as a learning stream for college campus promoters of open educational resources. Though I wasn't able to attend all the webinars yet, I am interested in being an Advocate/Trainer. These advocates foster interest in open textbooks, help faculty discover, select, and adopt open textbooks and help students choose a format (online, downloaded, printed, bound). Hopefully, they will work with all the stakeholders on campus (including bookstore, print shop, library, and administration) and also provide feedback to the authors and educational community.

Our own New Jersey Educational Activities Task Force is holding an event on April 9, 2010 on e-readers, e-books, e-textbook and I will present briefly on open textbooks. It will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison and anyone is welcome to attend (information at http://njedge.net/activities/ ) I'm hoping to get some interest so that we can offer an open textbook adoption workshop soon.

Although open textbooks are electronic textbooks by their delivery, when there are discussions about eTextbooks, it often means textbooks from traditional publishers that are also offered in an electronic format at a reduced cost from the print editions. Open textbooks are a very different approach to using textbooks.

An nice introductory article from Educause Review about the CCCOER project is called "It Takes a Consortium to Support Open Textbooks" and that is probably true.

I have just started collecting some materials on electronic textbooks online at http://pccc.libguides.com/etextbooks that will include information on open textbooks, commercial eTextbooks and free textbook resources.


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