Checklist for Adopting an Open Textbook
While specifics and time schedules vary from college to college and instructor to instructor, the steps in adoption and use can be enumerated and checked off. Some will be eliminated if they do not apply in a particular situation. This checklist assumes that an open textbook has been located and vetted.
____ 1. Identify the rules and policies for open textbook adoption in your state, college, and department.
____ 2. Create a timeline that matches these rules and policies.
____ 3. Add additional stakeholders that should be notified and modify the timeline as required.
____ 4. Write a description that includes the academic department, class, level, how often you have taught it in the past, who else teaches it, what textbook(s) are currently in use, cost of current textbook(s), ancillaries in use from the publisher and from other companies, integration with an LMS if any, and other pertinent details.
____ 5. Write a similar description for the proposed open textbook. Compare the two lists: a two column format would be best.
____ 6. Write the reasons for adopting the open textbook (e.g. quality, modularity, modifiability, cost to students, availability of multiple formats, hyperlinks to active media, other).
____ 7. Describe any disadvantages of the proposed textbook (e.g., lack of certain types of ancillaries) and proposed workarounds to these disadvantages.
____ 8. Put the above information into the forms required for textbook adoption that were listed in step 1.
____ 9. Present the proposed adoption to the approving bodies (curriculum committee, department dean, other). If possible, do this face-to-face taking a copy of the textbook on a laptop or in bound format.
____ 10. If the textbook adoption is approved, proceed to Step 11. If not, determine the reason for the disapproval and move to correct these, perhaps for a future term. Modify the description based on input from the textbook approval process.
____ 11. If you have been ordering large quantities of an expensive textbook in the past, alert that bookstore manager immediately so that s/he will be aware that these revenues and profits will not occur. Also s/he will need to know that the books currently in use by students may not be viable used books.
____ 12. Test the textbook in various formats: on the web from a computer, on a handheld device, downloaded and read off-line, printed from the download, bound black and white copy, and bound color copy.
____ 13. Decide if you will require the students to use the textbook in class. If you will, can you provide a computer lab or can you ask your students to bring computers to class? Is the textbook available on a handheld device and can you require your students to have one? If no electronic means are available, will you recommend self-printed copies or purchased bound copies?
____ 14. Will you be installing the textbook in a Learning Management System? If so, determine who will do this and how.
____ 15. Decide when you will capture a version of the textbook for your students. Is this a slowly-changing book so that you can capture the version months in advance or should you wait until near the beginning of term? If the students will be buying bound copies, choose your version at least 2 months before the beginning of term.
____ 16. Discuss your textbook adoption with your peer instructors.
____ 17. Alert your teaching assistants if any.
____ 18. Alert any adjuncts who may have to take over your class if you become ill or injured (or win the lottery).
____ 19. Meet with the bookstore manager if students will be purchasing bound copies. Inform the manager of the policies of the repository from which the book can be ordered: volume discounts available? Markups allowed? Returns possible (very rare for open textbooks). The manager will need to be more conservative in ordering copies of open textbooks.
____ 20. Integrate the textbook into your course, modifying lessons, assessments, assignments, and other items as needed. Typically this will be the most time-consuming step.
____ 21. Alert the students in the paper and online course catalogs, in your email greetings, and in handouts for the first class.