Adaptations mark the beginning of a new set of steps (and lives) for your open textbook. As people make substantial alterations to the resource, they create a stand-alone “fork” of it. This expands the potential reach and use of the book for new audiences, contexts, regions, and languages.
Adaptation is openness in action. It’s easier and more collectivist to create a new resource by building on one that already exists. The freedom to do so with open texts is distintinctive and rarely possible with conventional All Rights Reserved textbooks.
As open as possible and as closed as necessary. While there’s no single license that’s right for all creators, give back to the ecosystem by selecting the most permissive license that works for your project.
Boundless opportunities for customization. Adaptation projects can range from small-scale to very large in scope. In both cases, adapters should reshape the resource to fit their exact needs.
Modularity makes everything easier. A clear, consistent structure across your book, including a common template for each chapter, not only makes it better for learners, but also helps adapters swap in and out some elements of your text while keeping others in place.
Give what you get. Help grow the community of practice around the book with your adaptation, and do what’s needed to track adaptations, demonstrate the book’s impact, and maintain and improve the adaptation over time.
There are two sides to adaptation: one is setting up the original book so it can be easily adaptable, and the other is embarking on a new adaptation project. Many different people can be involved:
- Project manager: coordinates with new adapters and connects them with the team, tracks adaptations, collects corrections from adapters, encourages editorial and authoring teams to think about modular content
- Adopters: use new adaptations, start new adaptation projects
- Adapters: start new adaptation projects, submit changes back to the original book, join the community of practice, check permissions and licenses
- Authors: use new adaptations, create modular content, join adaptation projects
- Editors: check permissions and licensing, assist with the creation of modular content, join adaptation projects
- Reviewers: joins adaptation projects
- Marketing and communications: shares new adaptation projects, promotes demonstrable impact and success of adaptations
Creating an adaptation that stands alone from the original book (or setting out the pathway for others to do so) is no small feat, but you can get going with these suggestions:
- Select a license that is as permissive as possible.
- Make your book available in at least one editable format.
- Support modularity by referring to chapters by titles not numbers, and by keeping context-specific information separate from theory or concepts.
- Create a backmatter section that gives adapters a reference for content-specific information in your book, as well as permissions or licensing information of elements.
- Provide sample messaging for attribution, which adapters and adopters can use to give their thanks to you and your team.
- Request that adapters remove the attribution if you do not want to be associated with the adapted version.
- Track adaptations by asking adapters to self-report.
- Clearly indicate how adapters can connect with you and the community.
- Join forces and collaborate with others who are already underway with adaptation projects.
- Consult the backmatter sections of books for permissions and licensing information.
- Adopt a license that meets the features of the original book’s license, or consult with copyright librarians about fair-use or fair-dealing rules in your region.
- Define the differences between the adaptation and the original book, on the book’s homepage, in front matter, or in the metadata.
- Provide links from the original book to the adaptation and vice versa.
- Update the original creators about your adaptation project’s progress.
- Generate buzz around your book and community with the added value that an adaptation provides.
Ultimately, adaptations are a measure of the value of the book to its discipline, to educators, and to students. Stay proud of the opportunities that your open textbook creates, and use this kind of work to encourage more adoptions of the book and to boost your professional profile!
Keep reading to learn more about how to set up or create adaptations.