The second Open Sustainability Project story I have for you is Michelle Clement’s. Michelle teaches in Marketing, in the School of Business at Camosun, and has been using Open Education Resources (OER) for a number of years already. So it was a natural lead into this project – deciding to revise an existing open textbook for one of her courses.
Initially, Michelle had a different textbook in mind, but when she took a closer look she realized that someone else had just updated it the year before. So, she decided instead that she would revise an open text called The Power of Selling. There were many reasons for her choice: first, it was over 600 pages long, and she really felt it needed to be streamlined; second, it was out of date – about 10 years old, and you can imagine how many things have changed in marketing over 10 years; and third, “two other people teach this course that this book is targeted for…I was just trying to think of the value for open education.”
Michelle went through the existing textbook chapter by chapter, checking content and references, making sure everything was current and correct. “I read through, I [checked for validity] of the subject matter, and [realized I] needed to add information on privacy and social media: everything that ten years ago [didn’t’ really exist].” She also reorganized the chapters, making sure the format was more what students were used to, writing two new chapters, adding learning outcomes where they were missing, changing all the language to be gender neutral, adding study questions, and taking out instructor suggestions which she didn’t feel were relevant for students (instructor resources are one of the things she is hoping to add back in in the future.) When she was finished, 600 pages had become just over 200!
Michelle encountered some challenges along the way. Finding images and visuals that are Creative Commons licenced, and specific to your content, can sometimes be difficult. And creating your own visuals can be time consuming. As a result, she didn’t add as many images this time around, but has plans to find/create more in the future. “If I can just create even one more [visual] per chapter, then it will make it a little more engaging than just the written word.” Another challenge she sees beyond the revision process, is encouraging other faculty to adopt an open textbook. This is where the instructor resources, which she is planning to add this spring, come into play – having PowerPoints, quiz questions, etc. along with the textbook is hugely helpful especially for Term faculty, or new faculty who have not taught a course before.
Michelle piloted the revised textbook last fall, adding it as a PDF file into her D2L course site. Eventually she will move it into Pressbooks to share it back, but she wanted to see how it worked for her students, and was able to get some feedback from them during the term. She reflects now, as a takeaway from all the work she did, that “when you write the textbook, you know it really well” which she sees also as a positive from a student’s perspective.
If Michelle could give someone advice about revising an open textbook, she says to “prepare for it to be bigger than you think!” Of course, while it’s important to allocate the right amount of time for a project like this, be prepared for it to take more time. She also advises to “have a really good sense of what you’re trying to do first.” Have a plan, make sure you are consistent with your design, and keep it simple. She says it also helps if you enjoy research – “you do need to enjoy having that meander through the library.” Finally, Michelle also advises to enlist someone to proof your revisions, to “just have another set of eyes on it.”
Michelle says she has been, and still is, “full on open.” She uses OER, library resources, or her own materials for most of her courses, reminding us that “you can actually teach around a topic and don’t necessarily have to teach around a textbook.” She will be continuing her work on The Power of Selling this spring (adding images and working on an instructor resource guide), but also is considering revising another open textbook, one for Marketing 110, in the future.