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Posts Tagged ‘Open textbooks’

Publishing Open Textbooks to Lulu and Create Space

March 30th, 2012

I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth Hanson and Jenae Kirby,  instructors at Shoreline Community College, have co-authored an open textbook that faculty and students can use for free. On-Ramp to Nursing Assistant Certified is designed for students who speak English as a second language who are beginning their healthcare career training. Previously, Elizabeth authored a Human Anatomy textbook for a major publisher. This time she and Jenae Kirby were funded through an SBCTC grant, and because of the SBCTC Open Policy their NAC textbook is available free to the world.

Yesterday I helped Elizabeth post her NAC open textbook on Lulu.com, a website for digital and print-on-demand publications. We started with the 180-page word document, added a Creative Commons CC BY license to the title page, and the NAC open textbook was published on Lulu.com in about 30 minutes. It’s great that Lulu lets authors select a Creative Commons open license!

A couple caveats with Lulu:
1. Students have to create a free account with Lulu to “order” even the free books (no biggie).
2. There is a 30-60 min. delay to access even free, digital textbooks. I’m not sure why the ordering process isn’t instantaneous, but the user gets an email when the file is ready for download.

Another comparable print-on-demand service is Amazon’s Create Space. I like it because print copies tend to be cheaper and students can download open textbooks more quickly. Both services give you a free ISBN and allow you to add new editions later. Like Lulu, Create Space can convert Word files to make them available via iPad and eReaders like the Amazon Kindle. We were not able to do this yesterday because the NAC textbook contained some text boxes. Once these minor issues are ironed out the NAC open textbook can be made available in a variety of eReader formats. It is currently available as a PDF.

One caveat with Create Space: Setting up a  account requires the author to give it a bank routing number or other financial information (presumably for authors to collect royalties). It would be nice to be able to skip over this part for open textbook authors. I need to experiment a bit more before deciding which service I like best for publishing open textbooks. I’ll post an update soon.

With the NAC open textbook printing in color was important. If your students need a printed color copy of your textbook, Create Space is significantly less expensive than Lulu. For a color 180 page softcover book Create Space charges $13 per book compared to Lulu’s $56 cost. If you have found other good print-on-demand solutions for publishing open textbooks please post them in the comments.

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CA’s Digital Open Source Library and WA’s Open Course Library

December 13th, 2011

California Bill Pushes for Free Online College Books (via KQED MindShift)

Here’s a quick summary of the bills (there are actually 2):

• The first CA bill would create 50 open textbooks for high-enrollment college courses that would be free online and available in print for ~$20.  Book contracts would be awarded through competitive grant process open to publishers, faculty and organizations, and must use a Creative Commons Attribution license.

• The second bill would create the “California Digital Open Source Library” to serve as a platform for accessing and customizing the 50 open textbooks, and will include incentives for faculty to adopt these and other open textbooks.  It also requires that publishers provide free library reserve copies of textbooks adopted in high-enrollment courses at California’s public colleges.

• No cost is indicated in the bill summaries, but an article on KQED’s website quotes $25 million.  This is a lot of money given the state’s budget issues, but the return would undoubtedly be huge — the state has close to 3 million college students, at least half of which are at the community colleges where books on average cost more than tuition (as of ’08).

How this compares to the Open Course Library:

• WA is covering more courses (81) with less money (about $2 million).  However, CA would create a full open textbook for each course, while the Open Course Library can include non-open materials as long as the cost is under $30.

• Both programs use the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) open license for all new materials, which allows the public to freely use, distribute and adapt the material.  It also would allow publishers to improve and re-sell proprietary versions.

• Both aim to address high-enrollment courses, but WA’s focuses specifically on community college level.  It appears that CA will focus on all three public systems: the UCs, CSUs and CCCs.

Thanks to Nicole Allen and Brandon Muramatsu for this information!

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Will publishers engage with open textbooks?

May 26th, 2011
There’s a great conversation happening on The Chronicle of Higher Education blog, in the comment thread of the article entitled “Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources.”I want to capture some of it here, particularly the exchange I shared with someone named RWEJD. Feel free to add you comments to the main discussion, but I want to try to isolate some of these arguments here so I can think about them more. 

From the comments:

The $2B grant from government is a great idea for students, instructors, taxpayers, and society *if* the content and courseware created gets *used*, and matches the quality produced by professional, commercial publishers. To date, that is not even nearly the case.

Over the last decade The Hewlett Foundation (primarily, with others, like Gates) has spent well over $100M to create open content, and courseware. What’s the outcome of that investment? How much of that content was developed in a way that guarantees quality, interoperability, currency, etc. What plans are in place that make the many Open content repositories fiscally sustainable over the long term? How could this much money be spent with so little in the way of positive results? Read more…

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My 140th Blog Post: Tweets on Open Education

May 24th, 2010

In honor of my 140th blog post on http://tomcaswell.com, I am posting a few tweets I just submitted to the College Open Textbook Community in response to their call. (The call is still open if you are interested in submitting tweets for their book.) This is my first time blogging tweets so bear with me…

My Tweets on Open Education

1) What is Open?
Open is the natural habitat for educational materials. Imparting knowledge implies sharing it. The ideal environment for education is open.

2) Why Author an Open Textbook?
To author an Open Textbook is to give something back, to replenish the pool of education from which we ourselves have drunk so deeply.

An Open Textbook is the new currency in a reputation-based economy. It survives w/o the protective vacuum of copyright. In fact, it thrives.

3) Why Adopt an Open Textbook?
Open Textbooks should be adopted for their quality, affordability, adaptability, portability, scalability, and accessibility.

4) How to Adopt an Open Textbook?
Tell your administrators why you want to adopt an Open Textbook, join with others in the OER movement, build support, & overcome barriers.

5) Why Should Your College/University Care?
Because Open Textbooks are part of a growing movement towards education affordability that makes sense & is supported by the US Dept. of Ed.

6) How Does the Student Benefit?
Students benefit now from educational affordability & later by having high quality educational resources available to review at any time.

7) Where are we Headed?
We are headed towards educational affordability and openness, where quality content can be created, rated, shared, & adapted by all.

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