What are your biggest challenges to open textbook development?

When you go to produce an open textbook, what are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to work through–administrative constraints, faculty time, licensing issues–and how have you successfully resolved any of these?

@lizmays Recruiting. Hands down, that is the greatest challenge so far. I have:

  • sent targeted emails
  • sent the email equivalent of cold calls to departments and individuals
  • posted the CFA in likely communities such as H-Net and scholarly societies related to the textbook’s field
  • posted the CFA on Academia.edu

My suspicion is that potential contributors are skeptical about the value of an open access project to their CVs. The greatest response has come from targeted emails to people who are living the OER struggle. They not only want good OERs; they need them because traditional textbooks with a price tag are no longer allowed. These scholars are invested in solutions because they need them now. I would imagine that as OER quality grows through efforts like those here in the Rebus Community, potential authors will be more willing to invest their time.

@danielle This is really helpful to know as this is one of the major places we hope to add value. Thank you for these concrete insights.

@lizmays You bet. One of the things that drew me to this community was its quest for efficiency as we share our challenges and what has worked and not worked in overcoming them.

@danielle do you have a list of the institutions where OER has been adopted & commercial textbooks banned discouraged from being assigned … I would imagine these schools will be our best recruiting ground for the Rebus Community …

Or do you know of where to find such a list?

@hugh Sorry, I don’t. I wonder if we might try to start a list here. That would be very helpful for recruiting purposes. I didn’t know anyone else had done what UMUC has done until I saw @stevefoerster 's post.

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Yes, let me check in with SPARC, they have a list of OER commitments generally, see:

This seems like a good starting point for us.

(Which reminds me I need to contact the person at USM I spoke to last winter).

@hugh Great!

Hi @danielle, on the one hand, “banning books” is not my preferred metaphor, but I suppose I can see how one might put it that way. :smile:

Given the limited set of programmes on our road map, I’m reasonably sure we will always be able to avoid commercial texts. That said, we would consider a policy of first using OERs if available, but if not then using resources that are not open but are costless to students, e.g., ND-licensed works, works in online libraries where we’ve already paid for institutional access, etc.

In a sense, we already compromise, in that we use NC and SA licensed works even though we agree with Rebus’s position that these are suboptimal.

@stevefoerster Good point. There is no censorship going on here. :slight_smile:

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@stevefoerster our preference for CC BY is as a group helping to create Open Textbooks … that is, we want the best license that will:

  • encourage & value people who contribute to creating Open Textbooks
  • provide the maximum freedom to various users of these textbooks, so that they can build upon them in a variety of ways

So, we have a strong opinion about the license of works we will help usher into the world.

But, for students/teachers … definitely find what you can & use that ! There is no negative impact on the overall ecosystem for people using works with non CC BY licenses … whereas for us, helping produce works, there would be.

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