Module 8. Textbook Work Sessions

This page provides a step-by-step method for creating an open textbook.

Each work session should be preceded by a 2-5 minute demonstration of expected activities during the session.

Each group will be provided with at least one example open textbook and may also be provided with coopies of copyrighted textbooks. The example open textbook is intended to be a starting point for creating your own textbook.

Evaluate a Copyright-Restricted Textbook

Session Goal: Evaluate a copyright-restricted textbook.

Many K-12 classrooms use a copyright-restricted textbook. Using Google Docs or another tool, collaboratively create a document responding to the questions below, and create a simple evaluation statement of the textbook. You will use this document to share your results with the larger group and to guide your later open textbook development work.

  1. Take notes on the collaborative document, answering the following questions:
    1. How well does the copyright-restricted textbook address your classroom needs in the following ways:
      1. Alignment with standards;
      2. Contextual appropriateness;
      3. Accuracy of content;
      4. Richness and completeness of content?
    2. What does the textbook do well?
    3. What does it do poorly?
    4. If you could change anything about this textbook to make it better fit your needs, what would you change?
  2. Complete the evaluation survey for this textbook.

Evaluate an Open Textbook

Session Goal: Evaluate an open textbook.

Many open textbooks already exist on the internet. Find one that is suitable for your grade level and subject area, and in the same collaborative document used above, evaluate it.

  1. Take notes on the collaborative document, answering the following questions:
    1. How well does the open textbook address your classroom needs in the following ways:
      1. Alignment with standards;
      2. Contextual appropriateness;
      3. Accuracy of content;
      4. Richness and completeness of content?
    2. How does the open textbook compare to the copyright-restricted textbook?
    3. How does the open textbook need to change to meet your needs?
  2. Complete the evaluation survey for this textbook.

Organize Chapters

Session Goal: Create your own adapted textbook from the example open textbook, and organize, delete, and/or add chapters as needed so that your table of contents is complete.

Based upon the previous activity and using your subject area standards as a guide, first create an outline of chapters that will be necessary in your textbook and then reorder or rename existing chapters as needed. You may use the chapter structure of a copyrighted textbook for reference to consider meaningful ordering of content and to ensure that you are not forgetting any necessary chapters.

If a chapter in the example open textbook is not required, delete it.

If you need to add any new chapters to your adapted textbook, do so while making a note that you will need to add content to these chapters later.

Update Content

Session Goal: Populate all textbook chapters with open content.

Beginning with any chapters you may have created in the previous step, find open content to fill the chapter and copy/paste it over. As you do so, be sure to properly attribute content that you include.

Once all chapters have content, begin checking through the content for areas that are weak or need expansion. Improve these chapters by editing or expanding the content.

Update Media

Session Goal: Populate all textbook chapters with open media.

Scan through all chapters of the textbook and find areas where the text could be improved by providing additional visuals (e.g., images, videos) or other forms of media (e.g., links to external resources). Find appropriate open media to improve the textbook, being sure to properly attribute media that you include.

Note: Links do not need to be attributed.

Prepare Supplementary Materials

Session Goal: Prepare or update any supplementary materials that are needed for the textbook (e.g., teacher's guide, equation cheatsheet).

Supplementary materials can be useful for any textbook. A teacher's guide, for instance, can be useful for providing answers to questions and helping the teacher to understand how the textbook should be used (e.g., associated activities), while an equation cheatsheet can be used to help students to easily find commonly used equations. Include any supplemenatary materials that will be necessary for the textbook to be successful.

Refine and Prepare for Publication

Session Goal: Put the finishing touches on your textbook.

Now that your textbook has all necessary chapters along with content and media, work on refining the textbook to prepare it for publication. Collaboratively do the following:

  1. Check formatting for uniformity (e.g., font size, spacing);
  2. Verify that grammar and spelling are correct;
  3. Update content as necessary to address standards;
  4. Include additional media (e.g., images) to support the content;
  5. Reword content to make it more accessible for your age of learners;
  6. Clearly mark your textbook with an appropriate open license.

Evaluate the New Textbook

Session Goal: Evaluate your textbook, correct any problems that arise, and make a plan for the future.

With your adapted open textbook in hand, revisit the collaborative document you created in the first session.

  1. Discuss and answer the following:
    1. How well were you able to address problems that were initially present with the textbook (e.g., accuracy of content, alignment with standards)?
    2. How well does your product compare to copyright-restrictive textbooks?
    3. What additional work needs to be done on the textbook for improvement?
    4. How much time would it take to get the textbook to the point where you want it to be?
  2. Complete the evaluation survey for this textbook.

If there are still items that need to be addressed in your textbook, take this time correct the items (if small) or to make plans for how to address the items in the future (if large).

Share the Textbook Electronically

Session Goal: Provide a sharable version of your textbook to the world.

Prepare a PDF version of the textbook, and share it with your colleagues.

Print the Textbook via On-Demand Printing

Session Goal: Prepare a proof for printing.

You can print your textbook via on-demand publishing services, such as Lulu, blurb, or CreateSpace.

In most cases, the best format for printing your book is PDF. So, you should:

  1. Convert your textbook to a PDF;
  2. Select a service that is cost effective and provides quality tools;
  3. Upload your book to a service of your choice;
  4. Print off a proof.

A few things to consider:

  1. Cost of printing will generally go down with greater volume.
  2. You can easily create your own cover for your textbook using a variety of services, such as Google Draw, Google Slides, or Paint.net.