What is an open textbook?

Adapted from Christina Hendricks’ What is an Open Textbook

An open textbook is like a commercial textbook, except: it is publicly available online free of charge (and at low-cost in print), and it has an open license that allows others to reuse it, download and revise it, and redistribute it. This book has a Creative Commons Attribution license, which allows reuse, revision, and redistribution so long as the original creator is attributed. Additionally, most duets in the Let’s Play Compositions category have a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which bears an additional stipulation that the content may not be used for commercial purposes. This license was adopted in large part to credit the composers who generously contributed their duets to the series.

In addition to saving students money, an open textbook can be revised to be better contextualized to one’s own teaching. For example, in an open textbook one may add in examples more relevant to one’s own context or the topic of a course, or embedded slides, videos, or other resources. Note from the licensing information for this book that one must clarify in such cases that the book is an adaptation.

A number of commercial publishers offer relatively inexpensive digital textbooks (whether on their own or available through an access code that students must pay to purchase), but these may have certain limitations and other issues:

  •   Access for students is often limited to a short period of time;
  •   Students cannot buy used copies from others, nor sell their own copies to others, to save money;
  •   Depending on the platform, there may be limits to how students can interact with and take notes on the books (and they may not be able to export their notes outside the book, so lose access to those as well when they lose access to the book).

None of these is the case with open textbooks. In this open resource, Sight-Reading for Guitar: The Keep Going Method Book and Video Series, students can download materials in this series and keep it for as long as they wish. They can interact with it in multiple formats: on the web (YouTube lectures, PDFs, and streaming MP3s); MP3s; as a physical print book (coming soon), and more. Further, they can add notes and annotations via Hypothes.is.

See the Licensing & Attribution Information section for more information on what the open license on this book allows, and how to properly attribute the work when reusing, redistributing, or adapting.


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Sight-Reading for Guitar Copyright © 2020 by Chelsea Green is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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