Once you have made the decision to adopt an open textbook, you may wish to modify or adapt that textbook to fit your specific needs.
How easy or difficult this will be depends on a number of factors, including:
Here are some steps to consider before modifying or adapting an existing textbook.
First, check the license to make sure you have the permission to modify the contents. As long as the Creative Commons license does not have a No Derivatives clause, you are able to change the contents of the book. See Creative Commons for more information on licenses.
Modifying a textbook licensed under a No Derivatives (ND) license restriction should be done with caution. The license does not allow changes to the content, but that does not mean that other options are not available to you.
If you are unsure as to the license, please contact Rachel Caldwell at the University Libraries for assistance.
If you wish to adapt an open textbook, you need to be able to have the textbook in a technical format that you can work with. This usually means the original source files used to create the textbook.
Common source formats for open textbooks that you should look for are:
What tools you will use to create your version of the textbook will depend greatly on what format you find the original textbook in and what you feel comfortable working with.
Avoid PDF documents.
It is common that open textbooks may only be available as a PDF document. PDF documents are not editable. If you want to modify an open textbook that is only available in PDF format, you will need to convert the PDF document to one of the formats above.
Before you consider converting a PDF version of the textbook, you should contact the original author and ask for a copy of the textbook source files. Converting a PDF document to an editable format is a difficult, time consuming, and imprecise process.
Once you have a source format that you can edit, you can then begin to modify the textbook. What tools you will use to do this will depend greatly on what editable format you are working with, and your comfort level with working with that format.
Many open textbooks are created using PressBooks, a web-based authoring tool based on the popular WordPress authoring platform. Working in PressBooks is similar to working within a Learning Management System like Moodle or Canvas.
You can import a number of different formats into PressBooks for editing, including Word, ePub and HTML. PressBooks will output the textbook as a mobile-friendly website, an ePub document (for use in e-readers), and PDF (for printing).
The chart below shows you some of the tool options you have for working with the various file formats. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. You may have a tool that works for you that you wish to use to create your open textbook.
|Original Format||Possible Editing Tools (Web-based)||Possible Editing Tools (Desktop)|
|Word or OpenOffice||Google Docs, PressBooks||Microsoft Word, OpenOffice|
|Text||Google Docs, PressBooks||Word, OpenOffice|
|HTML||Google Docs, PressBooks, MediaWiki||Dreamweaver, MS Expression Web|
Once you have finished creating your own version of the textbook, you should decide on which Creative Commons license you will use to license your book. This will depend a great deal on how the original textbook was licensed.
CC licensing at this stage can be a complicated process. For assistance, feel free to contact the University Libraries for consultation on how the various CC licenses work together.
Students like flexibility when it comes to their textbooks. Some may prefer printed versions of the textbook, others prefer using a website. Still others will like to use an e-reader or e-reading software.
To make your book as accessible as possible, consider making your textbook available in multiple formats so students have the ability to choose the format that works for them. It is recommended to make your textbook available as a website (HTML), ePub document for e-readers, and PDF document which students can print or choose to have printed via a print on demand service.
For more on accessibility, the B.C. Campus Open Ed Project (University of British Columbia) has created an open textbook toolkit on accessibility. It is written for those creating open textbooks, but is relevant to those making modifications, too.
Once you have edited your version of the textbook, you will need a place to put your textbook where your students can access it.
You can add the files to your UT webpage. OIT offers faculty and staff server space for personal and organizational websites. Alternatively, you may want to add it to the university's open repository, TRACE, where it will be indexed by Google and GoogleScholar and preserved by the University Libraries.
The University Libraries is exploring additional hosting options for open textbooks. Contact Rachel Caldwell for more information.