Riffin’ on the Open Textbook

There has been a fair amount of riff on the open textbook after #opened15 and I feel I would by shying away from the conversation if I didn’t provide my own input into the conversation.

The open textbook movement began as a response to student’s financial burden to education. It was and still is about providing students access to education in an affordable way. Open Textbooks has been the initiation into open that many faculty and institutions need. Why? Because, textbooks are tangible, textbooks are already a known concept, and open textbooks fundamentally reduce student cost. Yes, they are static. Yes, they are still in the exact format and structure of a “Regular Textbook”.


…open textbooks has sparked a wider conversation and a call to action from various attendees to begin to use open as a pedagogical movement in their institutions vs. open as a static tool. Prior to open textbooks I am not sure that faculty, students, and administrators had an idea as to what open education meant. How did it impact them, as individuals and as an institution? What did it mean to remix a piece of content?

For each of us, we come to open for different reasons. For Robin it is about access. “I care about access, broadly conceived: access to ideas, access to pathways to contribute to knowledge, access to research so that we can collaborate and build.” http://robinderosa.net/uncategorized/open-textbooks-ugh/

For Tom, it is about creation of OER. “I need to get more students and professors involved in creating OER material that’s closer to primary source/research material than textbooks. We have bits and pieces of it going on but if I’m going to advocate for considering OER as more than textbooks, I need to make sure we’re doing it often, across a spectrum of content areas, and in inspiring ways.” http://bionicteaching.com/opened15-now-what/

Yet for students, it is about cost. We have to remember that although we may be at the stage in open where we need to start talking and implementing open pedagogy many in the movement still care deeply about reducing student costs, and those are our student leaders. Students care about access and for students access to education means reducing financial barriers.CPUDnkOVEAAzO-Q.jpg_large
As OER thought leaders it is our role to take open to the next level, not by dismissing the open textbook but by taking action on what can be done to further the education of our students. As Amy Collier suggested in her talk, perhaps we stop talking about a system where open is good and closed is bad. I suggest the same when it comes to open textbooks. Fundamentally we have to keep in mind that we are all in the initiative to serve the common good and to change the way in which our institutions and classrooms pedagogically operate.


6 thoughts on “Riffin’ on the Open Textbook

  1. Yes, exactly. I, too, think going beyond the textbook is important, but at the same time there are millions of students without access to the educational materials they should be using to get the education they’re paying for through tuition. And I don’t want to tell them I’m giving up on their fight because what I mostly care about is beyond their immediate concerns. Now, ultimately, open pedagogy helps students too, but in the meantime, too many are spending too much money and going without access needlessly. I don’t know why we can’t focus on both things.


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