From the beginning, Rebus Community has always been dedicated to building a model for open publishing with collaboration and inclusivity at its core to serve the open education field’s needs while highlighting the community’s values. 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.
The goal of this guide is very simply to help you create quality OER, build a community around it, and in doing so, to make a positive impact in the world. Education is intrinsically tied to social justice, and the ways in which you create and disseminate knowledge shape our societies, structures, and selves. 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!
Our philosophy of creation as a collaborative act is woven throughout this guide. So is the belief that OER should be created to serve all students, with all their unique contexts, understandings of the world, needs, and goals. In this guide, we encourage you to reflect on your current pedagogical practices by keeping diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind throughout your open publishing journey, with the goal of creating valuable learning experiences that are accessible, equitable, and inclusive.
This guide offers concrete and practical steps to help you take your idea of a textbook (or other OER) and help you create this resource. It also will help you establish your OER as a robust resource being used in classrooms around the world, with a thriving community gathered around it. The steps in the guide can take place in a non-linear fashion, or be adapted to suit your project’s needs as you see fit. Throughout the guide, you can see how pieces connect, and get a sense of what can happen in tandem as you delegate the work and utilize your skills in the best way. At every stage, you get to decide what works best for you. The approach is meant to be flexible, so 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. OER is not one and done — truly, one of the most exciting things about OER is the endless possibilities of forms it can take as another educator reuses, remixes, and iterates on what you published.
This guide is a living document, and will continue to change and improve over time. Many themes and topics of discussions with the OER community were built into this guide- so feedback is not just welcome but wanted. 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 forum. We also encourage you to share this resource with anyone you know who is starting on their OER creation journey, or who is looking to connect and contribute to the open community.
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. The guide is a prime example of that philosophy, and we hope it serves you well on your adventure.