What is an Open Source Textbook?
An open source textbook is a collection of educational resources available on the Internet. They are free and can be modified by instructors. This flexibility allows instructors to tailor course materials and make them more pedagogically appropriate for their classrooms.
They also help instructors avoid costly textbooks. This article explains what an open source textbook is and how they can be used by instructors.
They are free
Many of the open textbooks available are curated by libraries and other institutions. These resources are governed by Creative Commons licenses and made available to students at no cost. They can be used online or downloaded as PDFs. Many of them also have ancillary materials to support learning.
Open source textbooks are an excellent option for teachers because they can choose the content they want to use and tailor it to their course. They are also more affordable than traditional commercial books. Moreover, they can be read on multiple devices.
Several organizations have developed tools to help instructors find and use open textbooks. MERLOT is a resource that curates college-level OER, and BCcampus has created a collection of OER for the 40 highest-enrolled first- and second-year courses in British Columbia. Other options include the Saylor Academy Bookshelf, which offers a large collection of free, openly-licensed texts. You can also try a new tool called LibreTexts, which allows instructors to edit and remix existing OER into a custom textbook for their classroom.
They are customizable
Open source textbooks can be customized to suit the teaching style and content needs of individual instructors. However, it is important to check the licensing for each piece of text before making edits or adding additional content. Some open textbooks contain restrictions that limit what you can do with them, such as the Creative Commons No Derivatives license.
Creating an open source textbook requires a great deal of time and effort. It may be easier to adapt an existing book than to create one from scratch. This is especially true if the original book has been released under a flexible license that allows for modification or adaptation.
Several publishing tools are available for authoring and publishing open textbooks, including Word, Google Docs, and Pressbooks, a web-based platform that has been adopted by many Canadian institutions. These tools provide functionality for collaborative editing and commenting, and allow users to easily export changes to other formats. They also include accessibility tools such as Grackle, which helps evaluate and fix issues with documents.
They are a charitable activity
Open source textbooks are freely available to students and instructors. These books are typically digital and can be accessed online, in downloadable format or as a print copy. They can be shared, retained, remixed and reused under an open-copyright license. They are more affordable than traditional textbooks and enable students to stretch their education budgets.
They can also be customized by faculty to suit their teaching and learning needs. For example, a professor may modify the content of a textbook to address gender or cultural issues in their class. They can also include video, audio or supplemental material.
Nonprofit organizations such as the Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative and OpenStax College publish free textbooks for popular college courses. These organizations provide training for instructors, an online professional network and support for authors opening their work. Other resources include the MERLOT collection of OER, which includes textbooks, syllabi, lecture notes and homework assignments. It also contains interactive models, simulations and lab activities.
They are flexible
Unlike traditional textbooks, open source books can be modified for the purpose of teaching. For example, a calculus teacher may want to use different equations or examples from the text for their course. The flexible nature of these textbooks allows teachers to modify the content without breaking the copyright laws.
Another benefit of open source books is that they can be digitally printed or purchased in print at a low cost. This helps students save money on costly textbooks and can also improve access to materials. In addition, these resources often provide access to supplemental materials, such as test banks.
Several resources offer open source textbooks, including the MERLOT Collection of Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching, the Open Education Network, and the Milne Library Publishing Initiative at SUNY Geneseo. OpenStax, an initiative begun at Rice University, has a growing collection of peer-reviewed open access textbooks in various disciplines. Another example is BCcampus, which has created open textbooks for the 40 highest enrolled first and second-year courses in the public post-secondary system.