Saturday, January 31, 2009

Due diligence

Thanks everyone for the feedback about Open Textbooks. It is good to know that you see Open Textbooks as OERs and these general conversations apply.

I did get a note back from Wayne Mackintosh at WikiEducator, that there will be a lot more about this coming shortly.

About vetting and the perceived authority of the textbook - This is an interesting issue. If authors get their textbook published, it immediately gains status as a reliable source of information on the subject. Exactly what does that imply? Many instructors rely on the publishers' commitment to the textbook as a sign that most or all of the material contained has some legitimacy and authority.

If we move away from textbook publishers doing the due diligence, then how is that "star quality" conveyed? Most instructors and their institutions put a lot of stock in the current system. For example, part of the articulation agreements that allow our community college courses to be accepted for transfer to a four year university are based on the use of known, suitable textbooks - usually the same ones as those in use for the equivalent course offered by the 4-year school (and written or peer reviewed by the department chair). What happens to this accepted foundation if you don't have textbooks prepared, published and distributed through that system?

Obviously, there are lots of other / better ways that this might be handled in an OER environment, but until there is something in place that provides this level of "quality assurance" and credibility, getting Open Textbooks adopted is going to be tough sledding.

Is there anything available now or in discussion that addresses this vetting, credibility-bestowing? What would your institution and/or your colleagues need to replace the publishers' selection, review and commitment as evidenced by the $100,000s publishing, marketing and distribution costs?

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