Look Before You Write

Quality

Questions about the quality of open educational resources has been cited as one of the top three concerns among faculty who are considering adopting OER, including open textbooks, to use in the classroom.[1] Therefore, as an author of a textbook, it is vital to factor in the quality of your work during the planning stages.

The quality of an open textbook is determined by many different things. When designing a textbook, an author should consider the quality of the following aspects:

  1. Information. Is it current, complete, relevant, and well-cited?
  2. Design. Is it well-structured and consistent? Does it include pertinent learning objects and align with learning objectives for the intended curriculum or curricula?
  3. Accessibility. Is the content in the book accessible to the greatest number of students?
  4. Copy. Is the writing clear and concise? Is the text grammatically correct with no spelling errors? Is the writing style, spellings, layout (use of headings, bold, italics, etc.) used in an appropriate and consistent manner? Are all figures, tables, graphs, and other learning objects clearly identified, numbered, and labelled for easy reference? Is a style guide being used? Has a style sheet been created for the book?

Open-copyright licences allow people to share and build on knowledge, both of which are beneficial, and technology has made these tasks faster and easier. However, quick and simple sharing can also perpetuate an error made by the original author.

If you decide to include a portion of a colleague’s openly licensed work in your textbook, review it carefully as you would any supporting academic source.

  1. Rajiv Jhangiani et al., BCcampus Research Report: Exploring Faculty Use of Open Educational Resources at British Columbia Post-secondary Institutions, (Victoria, B.C.: BCcampus, 2016), https://open.bccampus.ca/files/2016/04/BCFacultyUseOfOER_final.pdf (accessed August 1, 2017).

License

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Quality by Lauri Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.