What are Open Textbooks?
Open textbooks are like any other textbook, except that a dedicated team of authors, instructional designers, and/or organizations have made them available for free and have given users the power to adapt them for their students and their pedagogy. Open textbooks are usually licensed under Creative Commons licenses, which give permissions to all open textbook users up-front to revise, remix, redistribute, retain, and reuse them. While new commercial programs for instant access to textbooks exist, such as inclusive access programs, only open textbooks allow adaptation and remixing, and they do so at no cost to students.
Open textbooks are created and funded through a variety of groups, including system-wide initiatives like ALG, university presses, state or federal legislation or budget measures, libraries or library consortia, nonprofit organizations, individual institutions, and even individual authors creating materials on their own.
Finding Open Textbooks: Start Small, End Big
Starting Small: Browsing Collections
When you’re starting to look for open textbooks, start small. If you know about an open textbook provider in your particular subject area, or a smaller curated collection that may have a textbook for your course, start there instead of searching through a larger index or database. For example, check out these smaller collections:
- NOBA Project (Psychology)
- American Institute of Mathematics: Approved Textbooks
- Open Textbook Library
- BCCampus Open Ed
Ending Big: Searching
After you have looked within smaller collections, it’s time to end big by searching in larger OER databases and indexes. This can be daunting with the large amount of OER existing on the web, but luckily there’s OASIS, an easy-to-use search tool developed and curated by a dedicated OER team at SUNY Geneseo. Within OASIS, narrow your search by subject by clicking Advanced Search, or do a basic search and narrow the list by subject on the left side of the search results page.
Other places to search for OER include:
- MERLOT (California State University)
- OER Commons (Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education)
- Mason OER Metafinder (George Mason University)
Affordable Learning Georgia’s grant programs and partnerships have led to the creation of open textbooks. View all of these at the GALILEO Open Learning Materials repository.
Why use Open Textbooks?
Commercial textbook costs are still high for United States higher education students, and the causes for this are complex and changing over time. Open Textbooks are accessible on day one for students with zero cost, and open licenses permit customization to fit your students’ exact needs in the classroom.
Through the 5R Permissions of Open, students have free and equal access to materials which can enable new forms of teaching and learning, contributing to more Georgia students’ retention and progression.