23 How Stable Are Open Textbooks
Here are some concerns that faculty have expressed about the stability of the open textbooks in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection and answers to those concerns.
Q: If an instructor adopts an open textbook, what is the guarantee that it will be available for the length of the term? Is there any chance that the publication’s author could restrict access after some period of time?
A: The open textbooks in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection are controlled by BCcampus Open Education, not individual authors or outside publishers. On occasion, a textbook in the collection will be archived. When this is done, these steps will be followed:
- Inform other projects that mirror our collection.
- Inform the textbook’s authors, if possible.
- Inform faculty who have reported that they have adopted this textbook.
- Notify members of key listservs we maintain related to open education.
- Place a notification in the BCcampus newsletter and BCcampus OpenEd email sent out every two weeks.
The main reason for archiving is to replace a textbook with a newer edition.
Q: If an open textbook can be changed, does this mean that the books in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection are always changing?
A: No. It was decided at the beginning of this project that all books in the collection be static. They can be changed by anyone, but the copies in the collection are not affected by these changes.
If an updated version or edition of a textbook is added to the collection, this is clearly marked on the book’s cover.
Q: If anyone can make changes to an open textbook, how is the quality and integrity maintained?
Authors making changes to an existing textbook and wanting to publish the new version to the B.C. Open Textbook Collection must meet the criteria requirements laid out on the Suggestion for the Collection web page. In addition, open textbooks are typically scrutinized by the open community through peer reviews published next to the book. These reviews are uncensored and generally give a good sense of the quality of the resource.
Lastly, quality and integrity of a personal derivative of an open textbook is the responsibility of the derivative author.