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Topic: Open Education Week - Let's continue to grow!

A webinar for librarians doing OER work in WA

Time: Mar 8, 2019 1:00 - 2:00 PM Zoom Meeting

Making Open Textbooks with Pressbooks - a small Community College perspective

Short Description: With resources lean we have been priveledged to be able to rely on large community run open source projects to meet the pedegogical needs of our instructors enabling them to engage with OER in ways that contribute to greater supporting student success.

Nutshell Photo by Max Pixel, Creative Commons Zero - CC0.

Powerpoint Slide

Title Slide

The Community College Consortium for OER proclaims that "Open education is an attitude, a practice, and a method of teaching that inspires inquiry, equal access to course materials, and sharing lessons and materials with the wider community. At the center of open education is the belief that education is strengthened when shared openly. Open education relies on OER and open licensing."

Slide 2 Sharing is Caring

Here at Whatcom Community College we've seen OER evolve from grant developed one-time resources to a growing culture of curating, sharing and updating materials. The SBCTC was instrumental in this culture shift through the initial creation of the Open Course Library. As a faculty librarian on this project I also saw how challenges around the technical operability of the materials was an obstacle to downstream use though LMS lock-in and how much work was required to move the materials to a different vendor so that they were more easily accessed on the open web.

Slide 3 Pressbooks

One way that Whatcom is building our institutional OER culture is through the deliberate and purposeful use of open source software and open standards so that the work we do can also be as technically open and interoperatible as possible.

Despite our size as a small, 2500 FTE, rural college we've been able to leverage the collective power of large community driven open software projects (such as WordPress) to be the backbone of our OER infrastructure.

This focus is emphasized by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, in a piece called “The Importance of Interoperability in Achieving the Potential Advantages of Digital Curriculum”. Interoperability is recognized as a catalyst to reduce costs, increase digital interactivity and learner engagement, and assist in accessibility work.

Slide 4 Pb Con't.

Pressbooks is a Multisite WordPress install with a book publication overlay. We host our own on a leased server, but institutions can also pay to have their instance managed for them at Needless to say, to manage your own install, some technical skills are required. Nevertheless, we haven't expereience any major issues in part because we've chosen to keep things vanilla so that when we do need minor assistance we are able to maximize the help we can get from the open source software community.

Books produced can be downloaded in a verity of formats and books can be easily cloned.

Slide 5 Common Uses

We choose this software in part because of the flexibility it has to work seemlessly with additional open source projects and for the potential it can give us for our current and future library publishing needs. You can see some potential uses on the slide.

Slide 6 Anthologies

The first OER Textbook that was piloted was a Science-Fiction and Fantasy Anthology that came about due to challenges the english instructor had in locating exisiting anthologies that adequately reflected the diversity of writers and voices in these genres.

During this collaboration process we identified stories and authors, including many in the public domain that we were able to incorporate wholly into our text.

We also included licensed library resources (such as entire short stories and scholarly materials) that were added to provide access to, and additional pedagogical resources for, the students. Materials in library databases are free to the students and are a rich trove of resources.

Multimedia was also incorporated (such as audio versions of public domain works)and videos. Movie trailers are a great way to get students interested in exploring literature through a different medium.

Slide 7 Open Textbook Collection

From this pilot our Pressbooks install grew via demand from our cybersecuirty and health sciences programs as well as political sciences and naturally, our 200 level library research class.

Government publications that have existed only as pdf's were migrated into html which improves their accessibility.

Slide 8 Things I Learned

During this learning process I had a strong learning curve when it came to textbook collaborations. If you are thinking about engaging with this type of collaboration there are a couple of key points and questions to consider such as:

  • What are the limits of support in a 1 person operation? (Technical support, training, copy-editing, etc.)
  • A firm grasp on copyright and creative commons licenses is a neccesity. There is a Creative Commons Certificate I would recommend if you are not already immersed in this work.
  • Knowledge of accessibility is also a requirement.

Slide 9: Immediate Future "Information Literacy has Value"

Open Education has an exciting future on the web, I'm currently exploring open annotations with the Project as well as accessible interactive native html5 elements with Both of these projects are also supported on the Pressbooks platform (as well as other CMS/LMS).

This spring I will be facilitating a "Faculty Education Workshop" around OER and Open Pedagogy and I hope that this will be an avenue to further develop WCC's collective skills in OER authorship.

On a final note, I learned this week that the entire state of Wisconsin now can write books on the Pressbooks network through their public libraries. How amazing is that.

Resources Mentioned

Reference Works

Banerjee, K. (2018). How to Incorporate Open Educational Resources (OER) into the Infrastructure and Pedagogy for Promoting Ubiquitous Learning. In Innovations in Open and Flexible Education (pp. 177–184). Singapore: Innovations in Open and Flexible Education.

Cooney, C., Almond, A., Belli, J., & Seto, J. (2018). Building a Culture of Open Pedagogy from the Platform Up. Retrieved from

Evolving to digital curriculum based on open interoperability standards, Part II | IMS Global Learning Consortium. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2019, from

Getting Started with Pressbooks: A guide for Higher Education use cases. (2017, November 9). Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

Green, K. C. (2015, November 18). OER Issues: Apples, Orchards and Infrastructure | Inside Higher Ed [Inside Higher Ed.]. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from

Guodong. (2007). From open educational resources to open source software: On the use of OSS in higher education institutions. Distance Education in China, (1), 62–67.

Jones, S. (2018). A Solution to OER Publication Resistance: Using Blockchain Technology to Protect Scholar Copyright. International Journal of Open Educational Resources, 1(1).

Levin, D. (2018). OER Technology Infrastructure Assessment. EDTech Strategies, LLC: William + Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved from Nyland, R. (2018). The Infrastructure of Openness: Results from a Multi-Institutional Survey on OER Platforms. International Journal of Open Educational Resources, 1(1).

The Value of Open Source Software In Higher Education | Open Source Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

Why Can’t OER Enjoy the Same Success as Open Source Software? - EdSurge News. (2014, September 3). Retrieved March 7, 2019, from

Wiley, D. (2014, July 15). The Open Education Infrastructure, and Why We Must Build It. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from

Wiley, D. (2018, January 29). Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source [blog]. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

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