There are a lot of faculty out there, more than I originally thought there would be, looking for a solution to both the problem of high cost materials and publishing their course content in a way that can reach the most students and help them succeed. Faculty have content that they want to share, and they are very excited when they find out our library can help. — Shane Nackerud, Technology Lead, Library Initiatives, University of Minnesota Libraries
An intake process can go a long way in establishing understanding between people who may have different objectives, resources and feelings about the same project. For example, in higher education, faculty often approach academic librarians and ask for help authoring an open textbook. On some campuses this may mean a project manager is assigned to facilitate some or all of the production process. On other campuses, resources may not be available for that level of support. Either way, the questions in this chapter can clarify expectations and define priorities among those involved.
The intention of this chapter, comprised of the questions below, is to provide a grab-and-go framework that can be used as a conversation starter between author(s) working together or with a project manager.
Author(s) Goals and Vision
- Why do you want to write an open textbook?
- How does this project fit into your professional and personal goals?
- Do you intend to include this project in your tenure and promotion process?
- Briefly describe your project.
- How do you define your student and faculty audiences?
- For which courses could your open textbook be used?
- What textbooks are out there in your field, and how is your vision similar or different?
- Is there a timeline for this project? Is your subject area impacted by current events?
- Do you know which open license you’d like to use? The Open Textbook Network and others in the open education community strongly recommend CC BY. The Open Textbook Library no longer accepts no derivatives (ND) textbooks.
- Do you plan on developing ancillary materials to accompany your textbook?
- How many authors are involved? Are they at different institutions? In which order will authors be listed?
- If more than one author, how do you imagine working together? For example, will you divide and conquer, or share ownership of each chapter and element?
- What stage is the project currently in? Is there existing content? If so, what format is it in (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, LaTeK)?
- Have you defined your textbook’s structure, in terms of what elements you’d like to include (e.g., chapter learning objectives, glossary of key terms, chapter exercises)?
- Have you selected the tool you’d like to use to write your textbooks? Do all of the authors have access to the tool?
- Have you signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with your institution, if applicable?
- Are you exploring open pedagogy options? If you’re considering involving students as authors, you will want to clarify their rights at the forefront.
- How will editing work? Do you know who will edit and how changes will be reconciled?
Check in with your co-authors and others involved after the first two chapters have been completed. This can be invaluable in catching format inconsistencies and common issues, like the inclusion of images that aren’t openly licensed. It also provides an opportunity to check in about the authoring process, and what’s working and what could be improved.
- Are there particular formats (PDF, EPUB, for example) you’d like to produce, considering both student needs and institutional needs?
- Does your textbook require a significant number of tables, graphs, images, formulas, or unique typesetting challenges?
- Is any of the existing content copyrighted by other people?
- Do you want to include peer review in the authoring process? If so, some faculty ask colleagues for reviews that can be included in the front matter of the textbook.
Sharing Your Textbook
- How and where will you make your textbook available?
- Consider adding your textbook to stable locations where your textbook can be accessed including your institutional, statewide or disciplinary repositories.
- If your textbook is included in the Open Textbook Library, other faculty may review it using a provided rubric.