Open Textbook Project

In April 2008, the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources CCCOER launched the Community College Open Textbook (CCOT) Project, funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with the goals to centralize critical open textbook information for use by community college professors and other interested parties, and to document sustainable workflow approaches for producing, maintaining, and disseminating open textbooks.

What are the ways to make free, open textbooks a sustainable resource for faculty and students?

We can start by asking, "What is an Open Textbook?" That is something still being defined, but some working standards are that it is:

- 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

You can help shape and define open textbooks by adding your voice to the standards, guide development, and vetting procedure to review textbooks and recommend texts that meet those quality standards.

Right now you can browse textbooks by subject but reviews are just beginning.

Math is the first area that is being reviewed and there are open texts on Applied Finite Mathematics, Dimensions (geometry), Elementary Algebra and Fundamentals of Mathematics. For example, if you look at Understanding Algebra and then check a review of it, you can see the rubric being used and comments on each of the existing chapters.

There is also an online meeting place for those involved in the project at http://collegeopentextbooks.ning.com/  using the popular Ning social networking platform.

It Takes a Consortium to Support Open Textbooks is a good introductory article from EDUCAUSE Review about the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources efforts.

Dr. David Yonutas, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, at Santa Fe College reports the launch of an initiative at his college to promote the use of digital textbooks. His argument, which has bee well-received, includes:

1. Digital texts require computers. Fostering a "Go Green, Print Less" culture at our campus and digital texts are a component of this culture.

2. Students receive money for technology as part of their financial aid awards.

3. Faculty are reluctant to adopt a "You MUST purchase a laptop" policy at the college because of hardships of cost.

4. Many Netbooks now cost less than $300, so using ONLY two or three digital texts that are OERs OVER HIS OR HER ENTIRE CAREER AT THE COLLEGE would save the student more than enough money to purchase the Netbook.

Visit Community College Open Textbook Project

Connexions is an open-source platform and open-access repository for open educational resources, enabling the creation, sharing, modification, and vetting of open educational material accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime via the World Wide Web.

Mary Zedeck at Seton Hall passed on a link to a call for manuscripts for an upcoming special issue of Innovate on "The Future of the Textbook." Innovate is an open-access, peer-reviewed, online periodical published bimonthly by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology to enhance education and training in academic, commercial, and governmental settings.

The projected publication date is December/January 2010. This special issue is on the future of one key element of "old school" education that survives in a Web 2.0 world: the textbook.The questions that the issue will explore are good questions for any discussion you might be starting on the future of textbooks. If you teach, how do your students feel about e-textbooks?

1. What will textbooks look like in the future? Will the textbook as we know it continue to exist in some recognizable form, or is the future of the textbook limited?

2. How will emerging technology (downloadable textbooks, Kindles and cell-phone-sized readers) transform the content, function, and uses of the textbook?

3. How can textbooks be made accessible and affordable for disadvantaged learners and those in developing countries lacking the resources to acquire and maintain print textbooks?

4. What is the current state-of-the-art in textbooks? How are K-21 educators already experimenting with e-textbooks and other innovations? What can these experiments tell us about the future of the textbook?

5. What role will wikis and other Web 2.0 technologies play in the textbook of the future?

6. How can the textbooks of the future incorporate the best features of constructivist and authentic learning principles, by tailoring content to individual learner needs (including the needs of disabled learners) or through other technological innovations?

7. How will textbooks shape the interaction between teacher and student and the role of the teacher in education?

8. What developments -- in technology, in funding, in pedagogical theory, and in politics and copyright law -- will be required to make e-textbooks readily available, especially to students in developing countries?

If you would like to contribute a manuscript on this topic, review their submission guidelines. Deadline May 31, 2009.