I posted the paragraphs below on my blog page on the Community College Open Textbook Project Ning. Until then, I didn’t think my understanding of how to use Open Textbooks (depending on their licensing) was outside the norm. To explain, I look at the Open Textbook like an a la carte menu, where I can just order what I want and leave the rest for some other patron. In my mind, closed (and print) textbooks are more like seven course meals with a menu decided for you. Take the whole meal or none of it.
Since OERs generally come in bite-size modules, I assumed Open Textbooks came with the same kinds of options of utilizing a single chapter here or module there. But Judy Baker‘s reply (listed in blue following my post below) got me thinking maybe my vision of Open Textbooks is way off base from the intent of the Open Textbook movement.
My Ning post: I teach pre-college English composition online. My students are not English majors and it is doubtful that they will ever be interested in becoming the next Hemingway or even the next Stephen King. They just want to pass the minimum English requirements necessary for their particular certificate or degree program. In their eyes, everything else is busy work.
When I think about Open Textbooks and the ability to remix, reuse, and repurpose – this is where I get a little excited. Creative Commons licensing means I can pull a chapter here and a section there – cobbling together just what my students need. Instead of a tome meant to create future Nobel Laureates in literature, I can build an online composition guide meant to help future auto mechanics, nurses, turf managers, and cosmetologists be able to communicate in writing in a clear and concise way in eleven weeks.
Once I create it, others can use it, too. Or improve upon it. Or remix it.
Toni Morrison once wrote, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Open textbooks are kind of like that. If there’s a book you really need for a class, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must create it. (And, of course, put a Creative Commons license on it so others can use it, too).
Judy Baker’s response: Well put! You put a whole other spin on this that I haven’t considered. Thank you!
Help me out readers – do I have a good grasp of the Open Textbook concept – or have I missed the forest for all the trees we’ll be saving by going digital?