Critical to the success of this approach is including mechanisms to ensure that open textbooks produced with Rebus are high quality, and meet the needs of all students around the world who will one day use them. Rebus books undergo both peer review from faculty subject matter experts and beta testing in classrooms, where student and instructor feedback is collected.
This book was peer reviewed by six subject experts. Each chapter received a single-blind peer review from one reviewer, based on their area of expertise. Some reviewers reviewed more than one chapter. Reviewers included a mix of academics (professors and adjuncts), professionals (in higher education, with former expertise in academia), and institutional staff (deans and librarians).
Reviews were structured around considerations of the intended audience of the book, and examined the comprehensiveness, accuracy, and relevance of content. Reviews were also focused on relevance longevity, clarity, consistency, organization structure flow, grammatical errors, and cultural relevance. Changes suggested by the reviewers were incorporated on a chapter-by-chapter basis. The average number of amendments and edits was 30 per chapter. Dr. Poepsel submitted a document tracking how each edit was made to Rebus.
Part of Rebus’ mission is to build vibrant, sustainable communities around the open textbooks it helps to publish. All our books are licensed CC BY, most are peer reviewed, and all can easily be adapted to better fit course needs. Each book, including Media, Society, Culture and You, is freely and easily accessible in a range of formats including web, ebook, PDF, and editable formats.
To encourage wider adoption and ensure the book’s discoverability, Rebus lists each resource in repositories such as MERLOT (Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), Open Textbook Library, BCcampus Library, and OER Commons, and shares the news about the book’s availability within its community of academic librarians, faculty, administrators and OER advocates. To get a sense of the impact of Rebus supported open textbooks, consider Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the first book Rebus released in a related field (Journalism and Mass Communication). The book was released in August 2017 and has been adopted by 26 instructors since.
We are aiming for similar results once we begin promoting Media, Society, Culture and You later in 2018.
Among the key tenets we build into the open textbooks supported by Rebus Community are the 5Rs of open content, first developed by open education advocate David Wiley. Because these books are licensed CC BY, that means the book comes with inherent freedoms:
- Other faculty can not only adopt the book, but also adapt it (with attribution) – revising, remixing, and redistributing the work to meet their personalized classroom needs.
- These faculty can use parts of the book, or write new additions, which they can send back to the original creators if they would like. They can translate it into other languages, enabling international usage.
- Students have no limitations. They can access the book freely, and read it in a variety of formats to suit different learning modalities (mobile-responsive web book, ebook, digital PDF). Those wishing to print the book can do so easily using a designated PDF optimized for printing.
- Students can interact with, comment on, annotate and leave feedback for the book using Hypothes.is, a web-based annotation tool, and in so doing, enable continuous iteration and conversation around the resource.
These freedoms are built into Media, Society, Culture and You, which enables the text to have an impact not just in Dr. Poepsel’s classroom, but in classrooms nationally and around the world.
Dr. Poepsel and the team at Rebus would like to thank the review team for the time, care and commitment they contributed to the project. We recognize that peer reviewing is a generous act of service on their part. This book would not be the robust, valuable resource that it is were it not for their feedback and input.