The idea that books are the work of a single person, the author, is a bit of a myth, really. In reality, it takes a village to create any book. Even single-author or self-published book will have editors, proofreaders, designers, and ultimately, readers who come to form a community around the book. Creating, publishing, and sharing knowledge is not a solo endeavour!
This section will cover what to keep in mind as you’re building and managing a team as part of your open textbook project.
Teams come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a team of four or forty, it’s important to have people who are invested in the project, and believe in its mission and goals.
It’s not just about sharing the workload. Having a diverse and representative mix of people on your project lets different perspectives and experiences shape the book, so it’s not just a product of one person and actually reflects the experiences of readers.
Communication is the key to a well-functioning team. Set up clear expectations about what needs doing, and be sure to communicate clearly and frequently with your team to avoid delays and surprises.
Every team needs project champions or cheerleaders. Reminding your team about successes along the way, and having someone cheering them on at each step does wonders for team morale. Not only will this lift spirits, but may even encourage team members to do more for the project by adopting or marketing the book.
As you start to put your team together, make sure you think about the many combinations of people you can ask to be involved. We’ve often seen OER and open textbooks projects include:
- Project leaders
- Contributors at all scales
- Students (graduate and undergraduate)
- OER champions or advocates
- Institutional supporters, eg.: instructional designers, librarians, accessibility experts etc.
- Interested observers
If you’re leading a team, here are some things you should keep in mind to nurture your team, so it grows into a thriving community of practice around your book:
- recognize the efforts of each contributor, big or small, that goes into making the resource what it is
- develop community guidelines to create a safe environment for your team (and make sure people follow them!)
- sign MOUs, contracts, or other agreements so expectations are clear
- Make sure clear documentation on the project goals, roles and responsibilities is available to all team members and kept up to date
- set an example for your team, so they can look up to you and emulate your behaviour over the course of the project
- be kind and understanding – everyone is juggling responsibilities and we’re all only human!
Ultimately, having a team around the book ensures that the project will be an easier and more enjoyable experience, and that the resource will be more valuable and valued – so try to make your project a social, collaborative, and overall fun experience!
Read on to explore the whys and hows of building a team for your open textbook project.