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Title: Alleviating students' burden: An introduction to open textbooks at the Dominica State College

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Edited by Winston Ettienne, Wednesday, 15 Jan 2020, 15:18

Traditional textbooks have been the main text used by both teachers and students for many years, and even with the advent of the digital age having a standardized textbook is still appropriate to facilitate examinations and studying purposes (Moore and Butcher, 2016). Moreover, the introduction of open textbooks will serve as a complement to the traditional text and not as a means to replace them. Over time however, the cost of textbooks has sky-rocketed, some of the books are so expensive, it is practically impossible to be accessed by some students (Moore and Butcher, 2016).  

In a recent survey conducted at the Dominica State College (DSC) 71% of students indicated that they spend between 0 and $100 on textbooks, a further 71% said they did not receive any financial aid for textbooks, another 40% claimed that the cost factor was a deterrent to purchasing textbooks, and 22% indicated they received poor grades as a result of not having a textbook (Ettienne, 2019). Open textbook is not a new phenomenon and 50% of the students surveyed indicated that they are familiar with the concept and also 50% of lecturers indicated that they will use it in the next three years (Ettienne, 2019)

Open textbooks fit the theme of openness and innovation since they are freely opened to be used for the first time at the DSC. One author defines innovation as “executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer” (Skillicorn, 2016). My project will be of an innovative nature and will involve a multimedia object (A website developed using Google sites or WordPress). The website will provide relevant and useful information about open textbooks in terms of creative common licenses and the 5Rs framework by Wiley and Hilton (2018) of open which are namely to Revise, Remix, Redistribute, Retain and Reuse. More specifically the following four key questions will be critically analyzed and answered:

·         Why do we need open textbooks at DSC?

·         What are open textbooks (how are they defined)?

·         How will open textbooks be produced and then used at DSC?

·         When will open textbooks be available in adequate quantity and quality to have a positive impact at DSC?

(Frydenberg et. al, 2007, p. 2)

Additionally, my presentation will highlight the potential benefits open textbooks would bring to instructors, students and administrative staff at DSC making use of two testimonial videos that will serve as motivational tools. Also, examples will be drawn on of courses that are available in open textbook format from different colleges and how they can be easily structured, adapted, adopted and customized for use at the DSC under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share alike license. Notwithstanding the potential benefits of open textbooks, my presentation will conclude by highlighting a few of the potential drawbacks and barriers to open textbooks (Frydenberg et. al, 2007). The link to access the website will be given to lecturers, students, administrative staff and other stakeholders via social media and the DSC learning management system (LMS).


Moore, A. and Butcher, N., 2016. Guide to developing open textbooks. http://dspace.col.org/bitstream/handle/11599/2390/2016_Moore-Butcher_Guide-Open-Textbooks.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Survey conducted E. Winston (2019)

Wiley, D. and Hilton III, J.L., 2018. Defining OER-enabled pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4).

Frydenberg, J., Matkin, G. and Center, D.L., 2007. Open textbooks: Why? what? how? when. William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, pp.0-33.

Skillicorn, N. (2016) What is innovation? [Online]. Available at https://www.ideatovalue.com/inno/nickskillicorn/2016/03/innovation-15-experts-share-innovation-definition/ (Accessed 10 January 2019).

The H818 Conference website can be found here: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/OU-H818/

POSTER LINK:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=201772e1d9&attid=0.1&permmsgid=msg-a:r7086225201845472082&th=16fa961e2b765dab&view=att&disp=safe&realattid=f_k5fc77pj0

YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/gNwvSpifAPQ

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Answers to Presentation Questions

Questions from the Conference

Hi Winston

Here are the questions and comments from your conference presentation - please respond in whatever way you wish!

Best wishes

  • great summary of different types of CC licences

Thank you.

  • would love to know which perspective is the presentation looking at between inclusion and implementation


  • Would you,envisage encouraging student participation in creating Open Textbooks? 

Definitely, since the students have the ability to work directly with key decision-makers to build the open textbook use at the college.

  • may i ask why within 3 years - can it be sooner ? 

I said within 3 years of course 3 years being the maximum time-line but most definitely it can be done sooner.

  • Would the open text book be 'a book typed up online' or would you incorporate multi media elements as this would be an option.

I would incorporate multi-media elements so that the text book could be more interactive and able to cater to a diverse group of students.

  • What do you think needs to happen in order for open textbooks to be produced in DSC in 3 years?

The college can give incentives in terms of providing compensation to faculty members to write or customize open textbooks for their department and also organize workshops and seminars to educate faculty about open textbooks and to assist them in the adoption process.

  • how to keep quality of OT continually updated - survey students very concerned about traditional textbooks in relation to quality.

Faculty members will be solely responsible for updates. In order to determine the quality of the open textbook peer reviews should be conducted by faculty members of open textbooks.

  • An opening for a MOOC perhaps, a real support to openness and sustainability.

Yes certainly.

  • What would be a good entry point for getting academics interested in open textbook production?

A good entry point would be to review a few open textbooks from a reputable source for example OpenStax.

  • Do you have examples of really good open textbooks that you would want to use?

Yes, from Openstax, Rice University and BcCampus to name a few.

  • awareness of OER seminars is a really good idea

Yes indeed

  • Winston, maybe getting some early adopters to make an open textbook will help to bring that 3 year period forward.

Most definitely. As I mentioned before books can be adopted from OpenStax and BcCampus.

  • check out Robin DeRosa's student-created open text book - awesome!

Awesome resource indeed. I have checked it out.

  • So sensible, Winston, to involve also students.

Very much so indeed

  • in  my experience, getting one or 2 early - adopters lecturers to do an initial few modules that the community can familarise itself with.

Great idea indeed!

  • Students also useful for momentum .... can help drive change

Oh yes students are powerful advocates and can play a large role in spreading the word about alternatives to traditional textbooks.

Picture of Brenda Nicolson

"Title: Alleviating students' burden: An introduction to open textbooks at the Dominica State College"

I was very interested to read this article on the concept of "Open Textbooks". 

Provided that all proposed educational "open textbooks" are signed off by educational establishments to validate them as an accepted source/resource for students' study, research, and referencing, then I believe that this innovative approach will be extremely beneficial to promote student equality, diversity and inclusion.  

For example, this inclusive "open textbooks" resource will help to overcome some aspects of disability, (since the written online words within texts 'can be read aloud' - with the advent of technology), by easily and readily including visually impaired students/dyslexic students, in a cost effective way.  

Reducing the prohibitive cost of purchasing textbooks will potentially promote greater uptake of prospective, but discriminated and marginalised students, presently prohibited and excluded from striving for educational attainment and self actualisation, by imposed poverty, and postcode lotteries.  One can only climb the social ladder, 'if'',  the first rung of the ladder, is able to be reached.....

Moreover, authors of "open textbooks" can update their work quickly and efficiently to keep the content of their work current and valid, which will facilitate quality in students' assignments.  This measure will contribute to reducing fiscal budgets and expenditures for colleges, universities, and government educational departments in times of constrained devolved budgets; thereby demonstrating responsibility and accountability.  Further, adopting an "open textbooks" approach will statistically and measurably contribute to the reduction of climate change, by markedly conserving valuable scarce resources; i.e. trees. 

Ultimately, it is my view that individuals, society, nations, and the planet will benefit, as a result of introducing and inculcating an innovative approach to cost effective online teaching, by incorporating and adopting "open textbooks" as a new way forward. 

Brenda Nicolson, Open University Student, (Arts & Humanities), Scotland