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"In addition to making great supplements, OER make great replacements for core instructional materials – and the peer-reviewed research on the topic demonstrates that OER are generally at least as effective as the commercial materials they replace. The significant cost savings, comparable student outcomes, and greater pedagogical flexibility facilitated by OER are some of the reasons why dozens of colleges across the country are at this very moment switching their core instructional materials from publisher resources to OER across entire degree programs." Dr. David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning


Northwestern is committed to supporting the use and adoption of Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources. Since 2015, Northwestern has been a leader in Minnesota and the CCCU by partnering faculty and instructional designers across all venues have found creative ways to enhance their courses with open resources. The following page provides information about the process and expected level of effort to implement open textbooks in a course. 


ServiceGeneral Description of ServiceEst. Lead Time (for OLO assistance)Faculty Investment
Light (Adopt)Adopt a book and use it as is1 monthMinimal (< 5 hrs)
Medium (Remix)Use portions of a resource; re-order or remove whole sections such as chapters or pages (but not change any content within the pages, such as chapter numbers)1 - 2 monthsModerate (5 - 25 hrs)
Heavy (Modify)

Change content within pages (text, images, formatting). Add new sentences. Change headings, phrasing, chapter numbers, etc.

Limited to less than 33% of the book.

3 - 6 monthsSignificant (25 - 40 hrs)
Extensive (Contribute Original Material)Create multiple new sections/chapters of content3 - 6+ monthsSubstantial (> 40 hrs)

Open Textbook Questions

  1. What books are available for my course?
    Consider looking at OpenStax https://openstaxcollege.org/ and Open Textbook Library http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/ to get a feel for what materials have been created. Northwestern's library can also provide access to many ebooks and resources which are freely available to students. You can also check https://www.oercommons.org for additional resource ideas. New books and resources are being added all of the time. You can also contact the Online Learning Office (OLO) to discuss additional ideas. 

  2. Do I need to communicate that I am not using a traditional, printed textbook (PM, Dept Chair, Dean, Bookstore)? 
    Just like with any course revision, you should communicate with your Department Chair for TRAD courses. For A&GS or DE you should talk to the PM. The UNW Bookstore will also need to be informed of textbook changes. For all courses, let the Online Learning Office know. For TRAD courses, also let the bookstore know.

  3. After selecting a book what do I need to do to get it in my course? 
    This is best discussed on a case-by-case basis. One of our OLO designers can assist and offer support. In most cases direct linking the book or chapters in your course is sufficient.

  4. What if I want to make changes to the book? How does that work?
    This is also best discussed on a case-by-case basis. One of our OLO designers can assist and offer support.  Self-starters may appreciate the resource produced by the Open Textbook Network, entitled Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know found at https://press.rebus.community/otnmodify/

  5. How will students know I am using an open textbook and how to access it? 
    You can communicate it to students verbally, via email, and on the syllabus. There will be a link to access the online text on the Moodle course site. If students want a physical copy of the book, instructions for printing can be added to the course site. One of our OLO designers can offer support on printing options and instructions.

  6. How do I receive a desk or physical copy? 
    Contact your department for TRAD and OLO for A&GS or DE.

  7. Who is responsible for paying print fees if I want a desk or physical copy? 
    Your department for TRAD and CGOAL for A&GS or DE.

  8. How long will it take to implement?
    Implementation time depends on whether you are simply adopting it or adapting it, and if you are adapting, how much will be changed (see chart above)

  9. Does the course registration deadline for book changes apply in this instance?
    Yes, the course registration deadline applies as usual.

  10. Can I edit the book as the course is running?
    Editing the book mid-course is not recommended. This may cause confusion for students who access the material at different times. If changes are needed for DE or A&GS course books, contact OLO for assistance.

  11. What if students have trouble accessing the electronic copy of the textbook? 
    You will want to verify that the link to the book is working. If questions or issues continue, contact OLO

  12. Will I be compensated for modifying an open textbook to fit my class? 
    For A&GS or DE, this is dependent upon the percentage of the course that will be necessary to be revised due to the book change. Modifying an open textbook for TRAD courses will not be directly compensated. 

Helpful Information for Open Books

Self-Publishing Guide:  https://urls.bccampus.ca/6cp
Blog post about the guide: https://urls.bccampus.ca/6co
The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish an open textbook. This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook. (The guide updates/replaces the BC Open Textbook Authoring Guide.) 

Authoring Open Textbooks: https://press.rebus.community/authoropen
This guide is for faculty authors, librarians, project managers and others who are involved in the production of open textbooks in higher education and K-12. Content includes a checklist for getting started, publishing program case studies, textbook organization and elements, writing resources and an overview of useful tools

Modifying an Open Textbookhttps://press.rebus.community/otnmodify
This is a five-step guide for faculty, and those who support faculty, who want to modify an open textbook. Step-by-step instructions for importing and editing common open textbook file and platform types are included.

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Studentshttps://press.rebus.community/makingopentextbookswithstudents
A handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources. This is a first edition, compiled by Rebus Community, and we welcome feedback and ideas to expand the text.


Helpful Information about Open Educational Resources

Find OER Respositorieshttps://mason.deepwebaccess.com/mason__MasonLibrariesOpenEducationResources_5f4/desktop/en/search.html
Use Mason OER Metafinder to simultaneously search OER repositories.

Best practices for attributionhttps://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Best_practices_for_attribution 
"You can use CC-licensed materials as long as you follow the license conditions. One condition of all CC licenses is attribution. Here are some good (and not so good) examples of attribution."

Open Educational Resources: Good for Affordability; Better for Learning | Temple University
https://teaching.temple.edu/edvice-exchange/2016/09/open-educational-resources-good-affordability-better-learning

OER to be a Game-Changer in Higher Education | CIO Review
http://knowledgemanagement.cioreview.com/cxoinsight/open-educational-resources-oer-to-be-a-game-changer-in-higher-education-nid-18534-cid-132.html

OER: Some Questions and Answers  by David Wiley | Open Content Blog
http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/4529

Digital Tools Provide Cost Savings, Flexibility | The Argus Observer
http://www.argusobserver.com/news/digital-tools-provide-cost-savings-flexibility/article_183cd824-acd8-11e6-a191-cf11e5616c34.html

Education without limits: Why open textbooks are the way forward by David Wiley

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