From the beginning, the Rebus Community as an organization has been dedicated to building a new, collaborative model for open textbook creation in partnership with the OER community. Our idea of this model has also always been that it be replicable and scalable, meaning that anyone – including you, the undoubtedly intrepid OER creator reading this guide – should be able to use it to create and adapt more and more OER without running into the limitations of traditional publishing models. From early on, we knew we had to think hard about how to actually go about achieving this vision — not only how we would develop our model and share it with the world, but also how it could then continue to grow and change over time as the community needs and values evolve.
There’s no one way to meet that goal, but this guide, and how we went about creating it, is one of them. It is the result of thousands of hours of work by dozens of open textbook creators who were generous enough to allow us to join forces and learn about open textbook publishing together. We have spent many months researching, creating resources, problem solving, celebrating, commiserating, and more with the projects we’ve supported – all the while being responsive to their needs and learning not just from them, but also from the wider OER community.
This guide is our effort to distill that learning and experience into a comprehensively documented process for you to use, in part or in whole, keeping as true to or deviating as much from it as you choose. While it does a deep dive into the publishing process, it also includes summaries and videos for each section to give you an easier pathway in. In addition, the templates and examples throughout keep it grounded very much in the practical. This is a useful book. It’s made to be used. It’s also made to be used in whatever way is useful to you, whether that means reading it start to finish, out of order, in pieces, skimming quickly, or any other way you can find.
We’ve also worked hard to make it easy to tackle big questions like how to make sure your content is accessible, and how to manage a big team of volunteer contributors. Our philosophy of creation as a collaborative act is woven throughout, as is the belief we share with the community that OER content should be created to serve all students, with all their unique contexts, understandings of the world, needs, and goals.
The goal of this guide is very simply to help you create quality OER, build a community around it, and have it make a positive impact in the world. We believe that those in the classroom – both instructors and students – know best what they need to be successful in their teaching and learning. What they and those supporting them on campuses (librarians, instructional designers, etc.) don’t always know is how to go about creating and publishing their content. To do so, they have typically had to invent a process, or pull together information from many sources. But, true to the open education ethos, there is no need to reinvent the wheel!
This guide offers concrete, practical steps to go from the idea of a textbook (or other OER) to a thriving community gathered around a robust resource being used in classrooms around the world. It’s also just as useful if you want to work with a small team on a resource for your own classroom, that may or may not end up being used by others. At every stage, you get to decide what works best for you. Whether you’re a faculty member acting as lead author or editor, or a librarian or OER program manager tasked with supporting creation on your campus, we’ve got you covered.
The final critical piece of this guide is the fact that it is a living document, and will continue to change and improve over time. This is reflected in the title, of course, and we very much want the community at large to be part of the evolution. So, if you’ve read or used this guide and have some thoughts – maybe something worked well or not, maybe you came up with another approach, maybe there’s something missing, or something is overly-complicated – please share them with us on the Rebus Community project home. We also encourage you to share this resource with anyone you know who is starting out on their OER creation journey, or who is looking to add some more tools to their belt.
The Rebus Community has never sought to be the gatekeepers of knowledge. We don’t want to keep it for ourselves and dole it out to a select few as we see fit. Knowledge shouldn’t be contained, and knowledge should never come from only one source. These principles inform the very best of what open education has to offer, and we take them very seriously. This guide is a prime example of that philosophy, and we hope it serves you well on your adventures.