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Adopting an Open Textbook: Home

For those familiar with open textbooks, this guide provides information on adopting one for use in a class.

Summer 2024

Please note: This guide is in the process of being updated during Summer 2024. Check back soon for updates and visit our Open Educational Resources guide for additional information!

Adopting an Open Textbook

Find the right textbook.

Review and evaluate the textbook.

  • Identify your criteria. Consider content, presentation, online accessibility, production options, platform compatibility, delivery options, interactivity, consistency between online and printed versions, and available ancillary material (test banks, PowerPoints, etc.).
  • Look for sites that provide reviews. For example, the Open Textbook Library does not publish any textbooks but lists many that are in use at multiple institutions and provides faculty reviews of those titles.
  • Ancillary materials may be available from a source of other open educational resources (such as the OER Commons), or you may need to build your own.

Decide if you want to use as is or modify it.

  • One of the benefits of open textbooks is flexibility to modify and customize them for specific course designs as much or as little as you desire. If you want to make edits or append content, make sure the Creative Commons license allows for that. (Every CC license except the non-derivative license allows for modifications.)
  • If you are interested in modifying an open textbook, check out the Libraries' guide on Modifying an Open Textbook.

Distribute to your students.

There are a number of ways in which you can do this.

  • Provide the link to the textbook to your students. They will have the option to select which file type they would like to download, if those options are available.
  • If you tell us about your adoption using this form, the Libraries will notify the VolShop, so they can notify students about the assignment of an open textbook. The VolShop may be able to offer low-cost bound versions for students who wish to purchase a print copy.
  • Alternatively, you can download copies of the book and put them on another site. Some examples of where you could put your own copies of the book files are:
    • Our institutional LMS (Learning Management System). Load the book files into your Canvas site and make the books available to your students via the LMS.
    • Use an online file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Docs. Upload a copy of the book files to Dropbox or Google Docs and send your student the link to that copy.
    • If you have a faculty website, put copies of the files on that website and send students to your website to download your copy of the textbook. OIT offers faculty and staff server space for personal and organizational websites.

Keep in mind that textbooks that have a specific non-commercial clause (CC-BY-NC) cannot be sold with a markup or at a profit. However, charging a modest cost-recovery fee for printing physical textbooks is considered reasonable.



This content is based nearly entirely on "Adopt an Open Textbook," from BCcampus OpenEd, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Only (CC BY 4.0) license. This guide is also under a CC BY 4.0 license


Modifying an Open Textbook

Ready to modify a textbook you've adopted? Visit the Libraries' Modifying an Open Textbook page.