OER (Pressbooks) Sprints: How to Optimize the Authorship Process

Hi Rebus Community! I am looking for tips on how to optimize the OER sprint process for a resource that is currently in-progress in Pressbooks. In short: tips on both facilitating sprints and anyone connected with Pressbooks in general would be appreciated. :slight_smile: Currently, only the introduction has been written, and it was done by one person. We are now ready to bring the full team together and want to provide sound recommendations to make the process better for all. Thanks for any help you can provide. :slight_smile:

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Hi @woodcockd! This is just awesome, I love the idea of doing a sprint to kick start the content creation phase. We haven’t run any of these events ourselves, but I can share some general thoughts - some may need adapting to your plans, number of people, what stage you’re at etc., but hopefully it’s somewhat helpful :slight_smile:

  • Be clear on the goals & roles going into it - both of for event itself and the project as a whole. We recommend spending a good amount of time scoping your project and documenting it so that everyone participating is on the same page (read more on project scoping).
  • Consider preparing a chapter template ahead of time, and maybe even writing a sample chapter that everyone can review ahead of time, or on the day. The more prep in advance, the more consistent the output, even when there are many authors. If your goal is just to get an outline for each chapter, this can still be structured with learning outcomes, major points, examples and other standard elements. OTN has a great resource on structuring your text.
  • I’d also recommend reading through the ‘considerations’ section of our content creation overview in case anything sparks a thought
  • Put some time into making sure you have a lot of different voices and perspectives in the room, and that there are opportunities built in for everyone to have some input on all the work underway. For example, if you split off into groups around each chapter, consider then circulating the output from each group to at least 2 other groups for review & input.
  • Also consider whether there is space to include the student perspective, whether it’s having a student presence on the day, or gathering some input ahead of time that everyone can keep top of mind while they work - keeping a clear picture of who they are writing for and why can be a great motivator
  • When managing discussion, remind everyone that silence is ok, and leave gaps for more introverted folks to speak up. Give some thought, too, so how else people can give input in whatever way they feel comfortable - whether it’s on the day or later on (having a project discussion space here is one way to do that - hint hint!)
  • Make the event a social one too - this might be obvious if you already know your team well, but the goal of these events can both be the output of your work, but also strengthening the community around the content so you can keep creating & maintaining it long into the future!

Those are some initial thoughts, and I’ll come back and add more if I think of any. If I had to boil it down, it’d be: be prepared coming in so you can make the most of your time together, and remember to centre the people, both in the room and those who will benefit in future.

In addition, I’d like to loop in a few people who I know have run sprints and other in-person events to share anything they learned - @billy.meinke ran some of these earlier this year, and I believe worked with an organisation to facilitate them? Do I have that right, Billy? @Deborah.Amory, @allisonbrown, @carrie.cuttler and @danaleighton have all run in-person events for their projects recently, too. And I believe BCCampus does this too - @laesoph, would you or someone else in your team have any thoughts to share?

As for the Pressbooks element, I know that working in the interface directly, there is not a lot of support for collaborative writing/editing, but it can definitely work. A lot of the projects we’ve worked with start in Google Docs, then move the content into Pressbooks when it’s more stable (after editing and sometimes review), but it adds some work to move it over (we’ve asking PB about a better import from Google Docs, so it’s on their radar!). @steelwagstaff, do you have anything to add to make the most of working directly in PB?

Very excited to get this discussion going, so thanks for prompting us, @woodcockd. My goal is to take whatever is shared here and turn it into a new resource in our guide, so others can benefit from it in future :tada:


Aha! I’ve thought of an addition already. Building on the idea of leaving space for everyone to talk, I think it’s valuable to have a clear set of guidelines or expectations for everyone participating. This just makes it explicit that everyone should be respectful and constructive, which is often assumed, but it gives you something concrete to point to if ever a difficult situation does arise. We have an example of these kinds of guidelines in the MOU for our Textbook Success Program (hat-tip to @apurva for creating this) which might inspire you - you probably don’t need anything as formal as an MOU but having something similar is a gesture in that direction that makes sure everyone knows what’s expected of them on the day.

Thank you for the insightful replies! I am glad to have kicked of a discussion that you (and hopefully others) will find intriguing. All sharing is appreciated.


Great question, Dylan! I will add to @zoe’s excellent suggestions with these resources:

I definitely agree with this: take your time at the start of the sprint to plan out your goals. It will help you and the team make the best use of your time together. If you have scheduled times during the day or sprint to check-in with the group, be sure to revisit these targets and don’t worry about needing to modify them based on the amount of time you have left or the resources you have at hand.

As for Pressbooks, it may also be worth chatting to your team to see if there are skills that they would like to work on during the course of the sprint. If some are new to Pressbooks, and want to develop their proficiency in the tool, this might be a good opportunity for them to do so.

Looking forward to seeing how you get on with the sprint — please feel free to share updates or more questions here. As Zoe said, we’d love to turn some of this conversation and shared knowledge into additions to the guide, so that others in similar situations can benefit!