Open Textbooks… So why didn’t you tell me about this before?

Today I have had a bit of a revelation.  In finding out about Open Textbooks I feel as though I have just been given a huge, shiny, new present.  I have just found out about a whole world of open and fee open textbooks in a huge range of subjects including, most pertinently to me, business and management.Image

Years ago I remember having a bit of a fumble around in Google Books before all the hoo-ha put the lid on that, but since then I have only really seen ebooks accessible through the virtual libraries I am a member of.  I couldn’t share these with colleagues or learners, however, as the sites were ‘paid-up members only’.

It’s amazing what a bit of googling and tweeting can do.  In just a short time this afternoon I have come across a wealth of open textbooks, just waiting for me to adopts, recommend, share and adapt as I fancy. So why didn’t you tell me about this before?

I will try to attach a link to what I have found as I am keen to pass this knowledge on to anyone interested and time-poor. Click here

My mind is reeling from the potential of these open educational resources (oer).  Who is using these?  Are they any good?  What is the likely impact of these on educational leaders, practitioners and learners?

Petrides et al (Petrides et al., 2011) note that teachers less confident in using online technology used open textbooks in similar ways to traditional textbooks.  They suggest, however, that this could be built on through:

  • use of social networking tools
  • modelling new behaviours and tools with learners
  • collaboration to discuss oer curriculum materials
  • new teaching practices
  • leveraging learners’ ‘technology behaviours’ to drive open textbook adoption.

I can say straight away that these are not yet happening in any of the environments I have worked in recently.  I am keen to ensure that I trigger some of these though.

Conole (in Weller, 2011) suggests ‘resource based learning’ as one of a number of pedagogies suitable for our times.  Clearly then, selecting, curating, remixing and sharing resources including open textbooks is one way forward.  This is genuinely quite exciting and opens a whole set of thought processes.

One of these thoughts is connected to cost.  As an example, I teach management, and the recommended course textbooks cost £25 per module.  In the past we provided these free of charge to learners, but only some learners made use of them, and we didn’t always think they were very good in any case.  If the average learner takes 2.5 modules, and there are 10 learners in a group, the cost to us is £625.  That’s £625 for books we don’t really rate and that learners don’t really use.  Open textbooks provides a means of offering a textbook we approve of without the associated financial risk or charges.

Time.  Time is always the issue in publicly funded education.  Who on earth has the time to trawl through the available open textbooks, curate, remix and repurpose them?  And then keep up to date with any updates and new offerings?  Any volunteers?

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton‐Detzner, C., Walling, J. and Weiss, S. (2011) ‘Open textbook adoption and use: implications for teachers and learners’,  Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 39-49.

Weller, M. (2011) The Digital Scholar:  How technology is transforming scholarly practice, London, Bloomsbury Academic.


4 thoughts on “Open Textbooks… So why didn’t you tell me about this before?

  1. I think you are touching on some of the key issues with open resources generally, Jo. Because they are generally produced on a voluntary basis, the quality is often mixed and that means you need to spend time (sometimes a lot of time) trawling through to find the good stuff. Paid-for content from a reputable source often has more quality assurance attached to it and, of course, people are much more likely to use resources if they come from a “big name”.

  2. Great post, Jo – and glad you feel that you have been given an exciting present here – Christmas come early?

    Do you know, too?

    Of course the problem with books is that they can rapidly become out of date – this is where magazines, journals, blogs etc. can supplement information.


  3. Pingback: What is a digital scholarship? Martin Weller | My Mind Bursts

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