Session 7. Content Creation (May '21)

Good afternoon, @may21-cohort! We’ll meet this Thursday to discuss creating different kinds of OER content and considerations to keep in mind. We’ll talk about writing for readers, textbook structure, chapter structure, ideas for what to include in parts of a cheapter, and more.

As always, you can access the handouts and slides:

  1. Handout: Content Creation and Working with Authors
  2. Slides: Content Creation and Working with Authors

See you all soon!

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Thanks for the great discussion during our Week 7 session on content creation. Here’s the chat transcript. @ttomlin1 shared how her team scaffolded their project, what openers and closers meant to them, etc.; Andrew S. shared his conversation with an expert on h5p and the additional questions it raised for him; @emily.frank posed some excellent questions about style; and many others had similarly helpful contributions around the topic of content. Next week we’ll likely follow up on these conversations since the topic is about h5p and other ancillary materials.


Content creation is one of the most important stages in the process, as this is where subject-matter experts put together the bulk of the resource. Regardless of whether you are a solo author or working in a team, the work you do in this phase can make the next phases of editing, review, and formatting much easier. Organization will be easier if you’re a solo author, but you will want to explicitly solicit feedback or review comments to bring other perspectives to the mix. Conversely, small and large teams will have a varied mix but may require more management to keep everyone on schedule. Documentation, templates, agreements and clear workflows will help keep things consistent across different sections of the book. The author guide in particular will be the cheat-sheet for contributors. It’s worth noting that with a large team of authors, you may not need the voice to be identical throughout. Ultimately, what you have is a collaboratively authored resource, full of interesting, original, diverse perspectives, and that can be very important to highlight!

Providing your authors with a clear structure or pattern for their sections can help ensure some uniformity throughout the book. Keep in mind that the body of the book is where the bulk of the content will be added; frontmatter and backmatter sections can be added in later phases to round out the resource. Get started by running through your Table of Contents with the authoring team and identify areas of overlap. This process can determine when concepts will be introduced, making it easier to construct each section. Before writing, decide exactly how elements will be laid out in the section, using the pattern of openers, body of the section (with multiple integrated pedagogical devices), and closers (take a look at the Open Education Network’s list of each). Compare this layout with traditional textbooks, work with instructional designers, and test it out visually in a model chapter on your publishing platform. If you’re including interactive or multimedia content in your text, be sure to provide an overview of any special tools used to your authors. Identify areas relating to accessibility and formatting that could begin at the same time as writing, and include them in your author guide. This will help you more easily work through the remaining phases in the publishing process, as you’re setting up for future tasks.

With all this set, you are ready to begin writing! Keep in mind some considerations as you go, and remember that you will continue to refine drafts during editing and review. Writing can take place over a long period, so do what you can to continuously engage and motivate all the authors on your team.

Reflective Checklist for Week 7 (optional)

  • Outline the authoring and editing workflows so you and authors are aware of next steps
  • Make an appointment to meet an instructional designer at your campus
  • Encourage your existing team of authors to review your book outline
  • Conduct an overview of existing OER that you may want to remix
  • Create an author guide and chapter template for your project
  • Set learning goals that include and enhance students’ identity, belonging, and skills
  • Write a model chapter that adheres to the author guidelines
  • Host regular calls or check-ins with your authoring team
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