Selecting and Finding More

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In this topic you will explore several more repositories and the various criteria that helps faculty select one open textbook over another. Peer reviews provided by College Open Textbooks and other repositories will be analyzed.

Open Textbook Get Reviewed

At the Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative, books are reviewed on the following criteria:

  1. Clarity and comprehensibility - content, including the instructions and exercises
  2. Accuracy - this requires subject matter expertise
  3. Readability - in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow
  4. Consistency of course materials - consistency in the content language and use of key terms as is necessary to facilitate understanding by novice users
  5. Appropriateness of content - appropriateness of the material for community college level courses
  6. Interface - technological issues such as broken links, improperly displayed graphics, and ease of navigation
  7. Content usefulness - the ways in which the content could be useful for teachers, students, and those with a general interest in the subject area
  8. Modularity - the ability to adapt, rearrange, add, delete and modify the content by sections
  9. Content errors - the presence or absence of factual errors, grammatical errors, and typographical errors in the content
  10. Reading level - appropriate for community college level students
  11. Cultural relevance - use of examples that are inclusive of diverse races and ethnicities

Visit the Review site

When you are considering an open textbook, it is good to know what other instructors think about its quality. Several organizations, including the College Open Textbooks, have posted reviews of some of the open textbooks that are now available.

Practice Finding and Selecting

  1. Using the COT website, find the textbook called Collaborative Statistics by Illowsky and Dean.
  2. Once you locate the title, click on it.

Did you notice that you were brought to the Connexions website? This is where the actual textbook is stored. COT is merely linking to it and acting as a search engine or filter for open textbooks. Some repositories actually store the books, others will be like COT and link to them.

It's now time to head off on your own. Using COT's website,or another site look for a book that may work for your subject area. Be prepared to report back what book you found, and what repository you found it on.

There are several things to note about this particular book - it has been adopted, peer-reviewed, and reviewed for its accessibility by all learners. All of that information is available before even going to the actual textbook itself.

You can also see the copyright license. CC is Creative Commons and BY requires you to include an attribution when using the book.

Question: Of the above information provided by College Open Textbooks (licensing, adoption, peer review, and accessibility review), which is also available from the actual textbook site on Connexions?

Now search in the other Open Content Repositories

Where else can you find open textbooks and peer reviews?

MERLOT is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. Its collection of peer reviewed higher education, online learning materials are catalogued by registered members and includes a set of faculty development support services. Over 1000 open textbooks are listed on their site.

The Assayer is the web's largest catalog of books whose authors have made them available for free. Users can also submit reviews. The site has been around since 2000, and is a particularly good place to find free books about math, science, and computers.

FolkSemantic is a website that provides a more personalized experience than search engines in finding open educational resources and courses. Through the use of meta-data tags, folkesemantic can search for OER on websites as you are browsing. Members are encouraged to recommend OER by registering the URL and tagging the content contained there.

Project Gutenberg contains over 100,00 books that were previously published but their copyright license has expired with the result that they are now available in the public domain. As such they may be freely used, distributed, and adapted in the United States and in many other countries that hold to the public domain right.

Weekly Forum Questions

Question #1 - Now that you've had some time to explore the open textbooks repositories and read the COT peer reviews, please explain what you consider the most important criteria for instructors as they make open textbook adoptions. Are there ones beside the 11 factors used by COT peer reviews that are more critical? Do you think the criteria are discipline-specific? Please continue to brainstorm with other participants.