4.1: Creating & Editing Content Summary
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the meat of the project – creating and editing content. Content in your OER should be consistent with the assessments your team designs, to prepare and support students through the assessment process, regardless of the type or format. This is also an important time to pay attention to considerations such as accessibility, inclusion, tone, reading level, and other structural elements, which together will improve the overall quality of your content.
Whether you’re starting a new OER or adapting an existing resource, this summary outlines the different processes of creating and editing content that help make your resource into a whole, cohesive resource that fulfills its intended learning objectives.
Always keep the audience front of mind. Authors should have a clear understanding of the resource’s eventual readers, why it is being created, what needs it fills, and how to keep the content culturally relevant, and accessible to make the resource work better for its readers. Ensure that your authors and editors keep accessibility, reading levels, and format in mind, so that everybody reading the OER can find value in it.
Get support from others. Create pathways for authors to work with and get input from instructional designers, potential adopters, and students, so the finished book is effective and valuable.
Model good practices. Use your author guide and model chapter to show authors how to incorporate accessibility, structure content in modules (for potential adapters), track glossary terms, properly tag key concepts, and enter citations.
Remember that creation can be iterative. Content can be expanded on, revised, and improved over time: the first release doesn’t need to include everything. Start with the core concepts, and then add case studies, media, quizzes, assignments, question banks, and slide decks. Editing and revisions will always expand to fill the time allotted to it. At a certain point, you need to stop and be satisfied with your content, rather than trying to make everything ‘perfect.’
Content creation is all about writing (and editing) for a student audience. We believe that collaborative approach to creating and editing content is key —it means multiple perspectives are embedded throughout the resource, which is ultimately better for readers.
Authoring teams should have multiple people collaborating, such as:
- Subject matter experts (including collaborators from outside your institution!)
- Instructional designers
- Curriculum developers
- Community members, senior experts, or industry professionals
When it comes to editing, it can take place at many points during the resource’s production, with different kinds of editors involved at each stage:
- Substantive editors are ideally subject-matter experts, and do a lot of work related to resolving questions and issues, and addressing areas of improvement (as identified by the developmental editor)
- Copyeditors work at the granular level, closely reading and editing for sentence structure, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, voice, and punctuation. They may also assist with permissions, citations, layout, and design details during the book’s formatting
While creating and editing content is a major part of the authoring process – it’s not the only part! Putting in planning and decision-making time up front is one of the most important things to do. The careful combination and documentation of this process also plays an important role. Transparent documentation and good project management helps your teams understand expectations, keep consistency throughout the resource, and creates a positive experience for everyone involved! .
- Critically reflect on the alignment of your outline, chapter structure, and assessment plan with your project summary (learning objectives, goals, measures of success) to support student learning
- Envision how your OER is part of your classroom toolkit to guide students to success (and what success means to you as educators)
- Act on input from your team members with specific expertise in curriculum development and instructional design to finalise your OER structure, pedagogical devices (sequence of themes, topics covered, activities, prompts, non-textual elements), and assessment plan
- Build a sense of teamwork by connecting your editors with authors, instructional designers, and other collaborators, while encouraging open dialogue among them
- Decide what content that needs to be produced, adapted, remixed, or researched (text, images, videos, interactive elements, case studies, etc.)
- Discuss and delegate ways to split content creation and editing work throughout the team (consider: activities, prompts, sections, non-textual elements, subject-matter edits, copy edits)
- Ensure authors and editors are aware of their roles, deadlines, and project management tools by adapting an author guide and style sheet to track the progress of your OER as it is being written, produced, and edited
Collaborators should get out of the project as much as they put in, so do what you can to reward them, recognize their efforts, and make their experience a good one! This will leave you with a happy and vibrant community around your resource, which will also be reflected in the final product.