Office Hours: Defining Textbook Structure and Elements


Welcome to the Rebus Community and Open Textbook
Network Office Hours. We are delighted to collaborate on these monthly
conversations together, to bring all of you together as a community of open textbook collaborators
and practitioners. As many of you know, in these sessions we
talk informally about issues in open textbook publishing. As a reminder, these conversations are community
driven, and are one way that we can think and work together on support and solutions. So, please let us know if there are topics
that you would like to explore in future sessions. I would now like to introduce my colleague,
Zoe, at Rebus. Thanks, Karen. Hi, everyone. Wonderful to see everybody here today, and
in good numbers, too showing up for this one, which is great to see. For those of you who may not have encountered
the Rebus community before, we are developing tools and resources to support collaborative
and community driven open textbook publishing. So, we’ve been working very hands on with
about 35 projects all around the world, and in all sorts of subjects to really draw out
learning. What we can learn from the process and to
turn that into a replicable publishing process that others can then use and can then adapt
to their contexts. And as Karen says, these Office Hours are
a wonderful place for us to explore some of the issues that come up, within the community,
and really engage with them in what we find to be really fascinating and interesting ways. And so, for today’s session we’re very pleased
to be handing over to OTN to be talking about some of the work that they’ve been working
very hard on, we know for many months. So, this is a great moment to be able to hear
about that for all of us here. So, I’ll hand back to Karen and Dave. Thank you. Thank you, Zoe. I appreciate that. So, my name is Karen Lauritsen, I’m managing
director of the Open Textbook Network. The network is a community of almost 800 institutions
working together to move higher education towards open. And today’s format for Office Hours is going
to be a little bit different than our usual, because as Zoe alluded to, we’re very excited
to announce a new open textbook publishing curriculum. And are dedicating this session to a module
within that curriculum, and the module is called “Defining Textbook Structure and Elements”. So, I’m just going to talk briefly about the
curriculum, what we’re going to talk about today, introduce Dave, and he’ll finally take
it away. So, just a little bit more about the Open
Textbook Publishing curriculum. It is open to everyone, online as an asynchronous
experience. And in addition, OTN members will have access
to synchronous support around the curriculum, much like today’s talk. And this curriculum was developed as part
of our publishing cooperative pilot. The coop includes teams from nine institutions,
working together to grow open textbook publishing expertise in higher ed, and of course, produce
open textbooks. And so, some of the content that you’ll find
is specific to the methodology we’re experimenting with in the coop. But however, the vast majority of the content
applies to publishing open textbooks through a variety of methodologies and programs. So, it’s not exclusive of any one particular
method. I’d also like to say it’s of course, iterative
and we’ll continue to build on it as we move forward in open textbook publishing as a community. So, your feedback is always welcome. So, I am now going to introduce our topic
and speaker. Many of you may wonder what makes a textbook
a textbook? They are of course fundamentally different
from monographs and other publications and it’s really their structure that defines them. But how you define a consistent structure
for the entirety of a textbook is a question, and it’s critical to students’ reading expectations
and their learning. So, how can project managers and authors work
together to structure their textbook? And I keep saying the word structure, ’cause
it’s something we talk about a lot in the publishing coop. So, today, we’re going to learn about common
instructional design elements found in textbooks and a methodology for working with authors
to create a consistent structured textbook. So, our guest, as many of you already know,
is Dave Ernst, he’s the chief information officer in the College of Education and Human
Development at the University of Minnesota. He’s supervised instructional designers, curriculum
designers, educational technologists there for more than 15 years, is a PhD in curriculum
and instruction and learning technologies from UMN and has worked in ed tech and curriculum
design for 26 years. Dave is also the director of the center for
open education and the executive director of the OTN. So, what we’re going to do today, Dave’s going
to present the module, and then, we’ll open it up for questions and discussion. So, I’m going to put a link to the module
in chat, this is what Dave is going to be talking us through shortly. So, Dave, I hand it over to you. Okay, hi everybody. I am David Ernst, it’s exciting to see so
many familiar names on the list of people here. I want to start just by saying how much I
really appreciate these Office Hours and the partnership we have with Rebus on this. And this is what the open education community
needs to be doing more of, talking with each other, sharing with each other their expertise. As Karen mentioned, what I am going to talk
about today is iterative, it’s in progress, it’s something we’ve learned, and we just
want to share. It is in no way perfect. It’s no way a solution for everybody who’s
ever going to be publishing a textbook. It’s what we’ve learned works well and is
a tool that we use and a process we use working with faculty and helping them create something,
a textbook that they can envision that’s good. So, anyway, I want to start off with that,
and thank you all for coming here. What I’m going to talk about today, is basically
the Open Textbook Network really started out focused on adoptions of open textbooks and
open textbooks that already exist. So, they’re out there, they’re kind of the
low hanging fruit. But as we’ve traveled around, ran workshops
for faculty, talked with staff, librarians and so on at institutions, it became clear
there was a real appetite for publishing as well. And so, we have spent the last probably two
and half years trying to get a better understanding of what it takes to publish a textbook, and
we are definitely still learning. And a large degree of thanks goes to all of
the institutions who we’re working with, and the cooperative, and the other institutions
we’ve talked with, that have helped us understand this. So, what I’m going to talk about today comes
from some of that digging deep into the actual in the dirt, on the ground, I guess might
be a cleaner way of saying that. On the ground discussions we’ve had with faculty
about what they need and about publishing textbooks. So, it’s a very step by step process that
I’m going to walk through here. If you’ve opened up the module, what I’m going
to do is walk through it and try to explain it, and how it works, and why it works. I’m also going to share my screen here, so
hopefully this is working. Okay, good. And so, again, I’ll put a plug in for this
open curriculum that many people have worked hard on, Karen in particular, that’s out here,
and this is just one little piece of it. So, please we are putting it out there for
the open community, please use it. So, this particular process came from working
with about 15 different instructors a couple of years ago, over the last two years, I guess. And trying to help them design textbooks. One thing that we discovered early on, which
is probably obvious to most of you, but oftentimes, if you ask a faculty to write, they will write. They will write what they know, and they will
put it all down perfect. That’s what we ask them to do. If we want it to be a textbook, that’s a different
thing, that’s an additional thing. So, just want to point out as Karen first
asked that question, you’ve probably asked the question “What makes a textbook a textbook?” I’d like to know the answer to that question,
I don’t have a really great answer to it. But, I guess I would say that basically it
is this content but wrapped in it is actually instructional design. Like my PhD program was in curriculum and
instruction. They name it that way, because curriculum
and instruction are two different things. Curriculum you can think of content, as what
you want students to know. And instruction is the process of teaching
it. A textbook is primarily, we think of it primarily
as curriculum, as content. But what makes a textbook a textbook, I think,
is the attempt to design the textbook in a way that help students learn. And so, this first diagram up on the top here,
really, it’s just a simple illustration of that. You can see a monograph on the left, which
is just the content dumped on the page. And the book has some structure to it, it
probably has chapters, and it might have sections to it, but then it’s just content. It’s just the written word. If you look on the right, that’s the OpenStax
biology book. That’s one page, that’s the first page of
chapter one. What things there are helping students learn? Look at that, see how many things that you
can pick out that are helpful for learning. A big part of learning is context and structure,
is understanding how this piece of something that I am going to learn fits into the larger
context of this field, or what I’m going to be taught. So, if you look at this, they use everything
from font size, font color, the styling, the styling within the, you see the chapter outline
there is in a box? It’s in a green box, and then, it basically
gives you the outline of what’s to come in the chapter. There is an introduction, which is just basically
setting you up, here’s what you’re going to be learning. There are learning objectives, there is an
image here. The content, frankly, pretty much everything
on this page is structured to help students learn. The content itself, about the study of life
isn’t even on this page, really. These are just summaries, structures, and
so on. So, what we found is that faculty generally
need help getting from a monograph to a textbook. Getting from simply content, to content and
structure that helps students learn. And what we found is what is I’m going to
go over here today, not only provides structure to get to a textbook that helps students learn,
but the structure also at the same time, will help faculty write. It will help kind of, you know your work is
cut out for you phrase? It basically helps kind of cut out their work
for them, giving them a structure to kind of work within. So, here we go. So, let’s start with the simple highest-level
structure of a textbook, and that’s the first question that we’ll sit down and ask. What do you want this textbook to look like? What do you image it’s going to have? And so, if we start at the book obviously
being the highest level, the whole book. The book is going to be broken up into what
pieces, and so you can see three different options here. You can say a book has chapters, and chapter
have sections, then we’re done. Or a book might have units, and a unit might
have chapters, and a chapter might have sections, and a section might have sub-sections. Or any variation of those things, it’s a pretty
easy decision, pretty simple decision, but it’s something that we’ll just start with,
so that we have this very highest-level book structure that we ask instructors to identify. Once that’s identified, that then really defines
the whole high-level book. You have the book, the book has chapters,
each chapter has sections. This would be an example of this first one:
book, chapter, section. And this really illustrates just chapter one,
but you would have that same tree structure then for each chapter. That’s pretty obvious. So, you need to start with that, ’cause that’s
the high level. Structural elements, then, these elements
are really the interesting part. And these are the pieces that help students
learn, these are the pieces that oftentimes, perhaps without our assistance and prompting,
instructors might not think about. So, these structural elements is what we’re
calling them, are the pieces that for instance we see in the OpenStax book here that we will
add to provide help and learning. And I’ve broken them up into three categories. What we call openers, we call closers, and
then, down here a little bit, integrated pedagogical devices. I think I should find a simpler name than
that. But openers are basically things that you
find at the beginning of a chunk of the textbook. So, it could be a textbook has openers. Could be a chapter has openers, could be a
section has openers. So, if we look up at this example, every chapter
in this biology book from OpenStax has a chapter outline, it has a banner image, it has an
introduction and it has these learning objectives that by the end of this unit you will be able
to… It’s consistent across the whole book, that
is what students expect. They expect a structure that’s consistent,
that’ll help them learn. So, it could be a banner image, learning objectives,
introduction, so on. And there is a link here that’ll bring you,
if you click on this, to a list of some common things that publishers will use for openers. Closers similarly, are things that come at
the end of a chunk. So, it could be the end of the book, could
be at the end of a chapter, could be at the end of a section, or whatever. There could be review problems, summary of
the chapter, links to external resources. I mean, if you think about textbooks you know,
you’ve seen all of these things. And they usually are things that we think
of as coming in the back of the textbook. So, if we think about the textbook, if we
look at a chapter, for instance, if this is a chapter, the chapter might have openers,
like learning objectives, introduction, focus questions, have the main content in some form,
it might be broken up into sections. And then, it’ll have some closers. Notice that this can happen again, at multiple
levels. Let’s say the main content of this chapter
is actually sections. The section itself then, could have openers,
closers and main content. Should I be stopping for questions? Or do we want to wait? The plan was to wait, but I see them rolling
in. There is a question, Dave, on evidence for
the highly structured approach, and I think I may be able to track something down. So, we’ll put that question on hold, which
Jonathan says is fine if you want to keep rolling on. Okay, does that mean evidence as in evidence
of its success? Yes, like the structure of a textbook makes… Yeah, okay. Got you. Let’s see. I will take a quick stab at that. And I am no expert in textbook design. What I’m going to talk about today is lessons
learned from working with faculty, really. But I will say that I’ve spent, I don’t even
know how many, a couple of decades probably, working on online courses. And there’s a lot of research about structure
in online courses, and the way that instructional designers that I’ve been working with their
whole job is to, well, not— A big part of their job in instructional design
is to provide structure for online courses. And we know there’s a ton of evidence there
in online course design that that structure is helpful to students and facilitates their
learning. Helps them find the content, helps them put
it within context of the other content. And the way that we talk about textbooks oftentimes
is I’ll say this is really like to instructional designers who are used to designing online
courses, this is really pretty much exactly like designing an online course. Except the end result is not an online course,
it is a digital textbook. It’s just a different medium when we’re done. So, anyway, I’ll stop there with that. These integrated pedagogical devices are really
just elements that live, that aren’t openers, and not closers, but are other pieces of content
that are connected, that are within the main content of the section, chapter, or whatever
it happens to be. Oftentimes, these pedagogical devices are
intended, are focused on meeting some specific needs, like for instance, the biography element. Oftentimes, you’ll see in a textbook the biography
of maybe it’s a biology textbook. It’s a biography of a famous biologist, or
it’s a biography of a biologist who’s working in the field right now on something really
interesting. Or it’s a biologist who can maybe connect
with the students in the course for some reason. And so, typically, those biographies are really
laid out there to show that these are people, they have some goals that they’re trying to
accomplish by putting this element in the book. A case study sometimes will say it will address
the goal of saying I want to take this content, and I want to see how does that really work
in the real world? A case study is exactly the element you would
want to show. I know we just talked about all this abstract
stuff, here is a case study of its application in the real world. So, there are a number of different elements
like this, that we can integrate into the content. And again, they will typically be there to
provide extra insight, or scaffold some goals that we really want the students to understand. Again, there’s a list of some common integrated
pedagogical devices there. So, that’s the basics of what we’re talking
about here. We have these elements that we want to put
in the textbook, to help students learn. The question is how do we get authors to work
with these things? And not only do we want them to work with
them, but we want them to do in a consistent way. A part of the instructional design of the
textbook is its consistency chapter to chapter, section to section. Students know what to expect, they know that
when they see the blue box with the blue heading that those are oh, those are learning objectives,
or those are… It helps lower barriers to learning by providing
this context. So, here’s what we did, and we’ve written
this, I’ve written this section to be technology agnostic, there is no technology involved
in this, except for magical Post It notes, invented right here in Minnesota, thank you
very much. So, this is exactly the technology that we
used to work with the instructors that I worked with. We sat down with them and had them structure
their book in the way I’m going to show you here with sticky notes, and it worked beautifully,
actually. So, we’re going to start out, like I said,
we’re going to start out at the very highest level. We’re just going to say, “Please describe
the structure, the highest-level structure of a book.” So, in this example, book chapter, section,
subsection. Let’s just say that that’s what they decided
they wanted to do. We would have them then, look at each level,
starting at the book level, and say, “What elements do you want in this book at the book
level? What elements live at the book level?” And there are openers, there are closers,
and then, there is the main content. So, for the book, in this example, the instructor
wants to make sure there’s a cover page, wants to make sure there’s a table of contents. Some of these things are so basic, they hardly
need mentioning. But it isn’t unhelpful to actually have the
instructors think about it, just to be aware that this will exist in your book. And then, at the end they want an index, and
they want a glossary. Okay, pretty simple book structure. The next thing we would do then, is go down
to the chapter. So, you notice that we include chapters in
here. And there might be 20 chapters, but we’re
just going to put one placeholder chapter in there. That’s where all the chapters are going to
live. And then, we define what a chapter looks like. And in this example, the instructor says in
the chapter I want a little intro paragraph, I want a chapter outline, I want a list of
learning objectives, I want to list key terms upfront. I want sections then, so those are all openers,
those are all things that at the beginning of every chapter you’ll have intro, chapter
outline, objectives and key terms. At the end of every chapter, you’ll have discussion
questions and case studies. And so, we would then go to the section, and
we would do the same for the section, which would of course have subsections, and every
subsection then, we would also define. And they might have openers, they might have
closers, and so on. So, there you can see how the structure is
building level by level. So, so far, we haven’t even talked about the
content of the book. We haven’t talked about biology, we haven’t
talked about whatever this book is about. We’re just saying, “What are the pieces that
you want?” I want to add a caveat to this, I think we
need a lot more work here in this area, to attach these different elements to actual
learning objectives, and having elements that will address learning objectives, specifically. Right now, the way that we worked with these
faculty is we relied on them and their expertise to say, “What pieces do you think would be
useful to your students?” We don’t get into depth about why and what
specifically, how this is going to help them meet their learning objectives. I think we should go deeper in that area right
now, we need a little more work on that. So, the next step that we went through then,
is basically content structure. We were working now we’re going to talk about
the content. In this case, let’s talk about biology, for
instance. So, the term Scope and Sequence is usually
more of a K12 kind of word. I hardly ever hear it used in higher education. But basically, the scope means what’s the
breadth? What are you going to cover? What’s the scope of the book? Defining that. And then, defining the sequence in which it
will be covered, what comes first? What comes second, and so on? And those are important discussions to have,
when we worked with some of these instructors in the last two years, they were working in
teams. And we basically asked them, again, we had
them use sticky notes. And they’ve taught these classes for a long
time, they knew what concepts needed to be addressed. They together, collectively just went through
and defined here’s all the things we need to cover, and then they sat down and sorted
them into the sequence. And you’re going to have disagreements between
instructors on that. And I give this example here, of an OpenStax
chemistry book that I believe was revised, is Kathy in here? I believe it was revised by UCONN instructors,
was my memory, at least. Sorry if I’m wrong there. And they decided they wanted to teach the
concept of atoms first, before other elements. And so, they worked with OpenStax to actually
move content around, ’cause they didn’t agree with the sequence of the chemistry book as
OpenStax had published it. So, you’re going to get disagreement there,
but it’s important to agree on that upfront. And then, once you have that basically, you
fit it into this structure that you have built. You have a book chapter, section and subsections
and you should, you work with them to work that out. I just said that in 10 seconds, it will take
a long time to get this kind of pushed through, especially if there’s multiple authors. But you want to end up with a structure like
this, and so I just yanked this out. This is the actual book structure, I believe,
of the biology book of OpenStax. And so, here’s unit two, unit two is the cell. Chapter four is cell structure, section 4.1,
two, three, and so on. And then you can see here’s unit three and
so on. They have a book structure, of book, unit,
chapter, section, at a high level. Once you have this structure, this content
structure mapped out, and once you have this kind of element structure mapped out, you
have everything you need to map out the whole book. And this is the piece I think that this is
kind of the magic of doing both of these things and then, integrating them together. So, if we look for instance, let’s look at
this example. Sorry, I hope you’re not getting sea sick
on me, as I move the screen around. Here are two chapters, Chapter 11, Chapter
12 of this textbook. Here is the element structure they agreed
on, before they wrote the book. So, you have a book, chapter, section. This is what a book has in it, this is what
a chapter has in it, and this is what a section is. This is the content structure. Chapter 11 and 12. So, if you combine these two structures, you
can now say “All right, the very first thing in this book is going to be the cover page.” Here’s the book structure, the next thing
it’s going to have is a table of contents. It’s going at the end have an index and a
glossary. For each chapter, so here’s Chapter 11, there’s
going to be an intro, objectives and key terms. So, you see that? Here’s Chapter 11, intro, objectives, key
terms. And then, in this chapter there’s two sections,
and each section is going to have the main content, and it’s going to have review questions. Here’s section two, 11.2 review questions,
or main content, review questions. And then, there’s going to be discussion questions
at the end of each chapter. So, that repeats itself for each chapter:
intro, objectives, key terms, review questions at the end, I missed one, discussion questions
at the end of the chapter. And then, each section is structured the way
a section is structured. So, when you’re done, when you combine these
two structures, the content structure and the element structure you end up with basically
an outline of the whole book, of everything that needs to be written. So, that’s what I said at the beginning, when
I said, “Not only does this process help you end up with a better textbook that ensures
that you use some of these elements and is more consistent. But it actually will help the instructor,
their work is cut out for them, now. They know exactly what they need to do.” They need to write an introduction for this
Chapter 11, they need to write key objectives, they need to write key terms, they need to
write the main content for section 11.1, they need to write review questions, and so on. Just go down the list, it’s like a checklist. So, when it comes down to it, this is why
we found it to be successful, because writing a book can be an overwhelming task, it really
can. It’s just huge and it takes many months of
time and any kind of structure that you can give, that not only helps them, but ensures
that you end up with something better, than if you hadn’t, you want to use that. And that’s why we find this useful. I want to make a few just really simple notes
here. A few comments. When coming up with a structure, especially
the content structure like this, I made a note of it in here, in the text here. You should know that in 2012 there was actually
a lawsuit. There were a number of publishers who sued
Boundless and they sued Boundless not because they copied the content of the books per se. But Boundless copied, or at least that’s what
they asserted, the structure of the book. The outline, like this. What Boundless was trying to do, Boundless
was trying to say, “This commercial textbook over here, look, we have the same outline,
but it has open content in it. So, you can use this one to replace that one.” And they were trying to say, “Look, this is
equivalent to that one.” It should be an easy swap. And so, it made sense for them to try to just
take the structure of the book and copy it up. They were sued and so what was claimed, basically,
was and there may be some on the line who know more about this than I do, but it was
claimed that they claimed copyright on the structure of the book. And that there was a copyright violation,
and so on. So, they settled, it was never decided in
court who was right and who was not, and can you actually copyright this kind of thing? How close is this getting to be copyrighting
facts, which you can’t do? They settled, so unfortunately, we don’t know
what you can or can’t do. But just be aware of that, and something that
if you’re working with instructors to make them aware of, so they don’t just go to their
book say, “I’m just going to copy the outline of this book.” They might think that that might be a nice,
easy way to get to where they want to go. And even if they come up with it on their
own, it’s likely going to be very similar to the book they just got done using. But just to make you aware of that. Let’s see, what else? I guess, I would just then throw out a couple
of caveats to this. I guess that, I know that this isn’t going
to work for everybody. This, I kind of put together, because I work
this way. When I write, I write an outline and I fill
in the outline. My wife on the other hand, she just writes. I don’t know how she does it. And then, when she’s done she rearranges it
to a way that makes sense to her. So, she actually ends up with the outline
kind of in a way. So, again, I want to just point out that I’m
not saying necessarily that this is the best case for absolutely everybody. But it’s a tool that we found, a process that
we found to be useful for many to give them, to remind them number one we don’t want to
end up with a monograph, we want you to think about consistency and elements. And number two, we’re going to help you structure
this, to make the job easier of writing. I think I’m probably ready to answer questions. Thanks, Dave. So, we are ready for your questions or discussion. There’s been an exchange in the chat. Thank you, Anita, for finding some articles
on the Boundless lawsuit that Dave mentioned. So, Paige has a question about whether you
found an outline like this may work better for certain disciplines or areas more than
others. (Silence) Dave, I can’t tell if you’re thinking
hard or if you froze. No, I’m sorry, I’m reading the chat. Well, I’m also reading…. I’m sorry, you were asking me a question. I was reading. I thought you were asking everybody else the
question. No, I have no evidence to show that it’s better
for any other content there is. A textbook is pretty much a textbook. If that’s your aim, I think this structure
probably works similarly for anyone. It could have very little structure. They might decide I just want book and chapter,
and they want very few elements, ’cause they don’t feel like it would add pedagogically
at all. That’s quite possible. So, it could be that some areas, where there
isn’t a need for quite as much stuff in there, they could do that. It just would be a minimalist approach to
this. So, no I don’t have anything that points to
specifics about content. And then, related Deb is asking she’s interested
in more recently established disciplines that don’t have consensus on fundamental concepts,
and how that would impact this particular process. Well, that is a really good question and a
question that’s kind of outside of the scope of this. But probably the hardest part of all of this,
you know how I said that about “Oh, they came up with this content structure and it sounds
easy”? I mean, I can only imagine in the field of
education, getting people together, and that’s a much more well-defined field, it’s been
researched and talked about and studied and focused on for centuries. If you got five people in a room, they would
all disagree on what you ought to be teaching in this education course. So, that’s a whole challenge in and of itself. The way that we worked on it with some of
these teachers, there were some multiple authors on some of these books is we just got them
in the same room. Went through the process of having them define
what concepts, whatever level they want, high level, low level concept, whatever it is. And write them all down on sticky notes and
then, sat them down together and made them duke it out. And they sat there, and they moved things
around on the table, sticky notes and this and that. And they did agree and disagree on things. But eventually, at the end of the day, they
knew that they wanted to get this done, and they kind of settled, I’ll put it that way. Well, you had a hard deadline on that project,
too, right? Yeah, that’s right, it was a very short timeline. Right. But I didn’t need to push them, they actually
came to some consensus pretty quickly on it. Okay, I’m going to keep reading through the
chat. Matt mentioned a question about Pressbooks
and wanting to go deeper into potentially other levels and subsections. And then, Naomi chimed in that Pressbooks
just came out with a two-level table of contents option. Just wanted to invite Apurva or anyone else,
if they want to add anything on the Pressbooks’ front. People use that for open textbooks. Yeah, I can chime in on that a little bit. For those who don’t know, I was formerly the
product manager at Pressbooks and we still share an office with them. So, we know them quite well. So, as has been noted, right now, Pressbooks
has kind of a two-level structure. So, you have chapter and then there’s the
ability to define subsections. And what Apurva mentioned in the chat is there’s
some work happening at WordPress that’s really interesting that might enable us to expand
on that. So, I still say us, but but them/us, same
thing. And so, what the Gutenberg editor, which is
the big, big change coming with WordPress if anyone’s aware of the work going on. What that does is it really breaks what in
the Pressbooks context is a chapter into blocks. So, very defined clear blocks of content,
much like what Dave’s been describing here. So, that’s new added functionality that’s
really exciting when you’re looking at in this context of being able to break down a
chapter into its smaller pieces. And also, to be defining what each of those
pieces are. So, that’s a big, big project from WordPress
and there are big implications for it, but it’s something Pressbooks is keeping a really
close eye on, because we see the applications as we can see here. I think it’s easy to make the connection between
laying out a book and really dedicated pieces of content. And in being able to replicate that and leverage
that in the Pressbooks context would be really interesting. So, we’re watching closely and if anyone has
more questions about that, I’d be happy to answer them offline. Thanks, Zoe. And too, if any of you prefer to unmute your
mike and ask your question that way, you are certainly invited to do so. I’m just going through the chat, but feel
free to interrupt that process at any time. So, Deb also had a question about integrating
multimedia into the text, in instructional element. And I would think that that could certainly
be a choice that the author makes or makes with the project manager. There’s no reason why that, maybe every chapter
opens with a video, for example. A video introduction to that particular topic,
I think that would be great. It’s something I aspire for the curriculum
that we shared in this call. So, Terry says, depending on the specific
aspects of textbook structure that are subject to copyright, might OTN create a repository
of openly licensed textbook structures? And this is something we talked a lot about
in the coop because we think it would be pretty helpful to sit down and have a starting point,
when project managers begin those conversations with authors after they’ve selected their
projects to support. And so, we are looking at doing something
like that, as well. So, stay tuned. Jonathan seconded as an amazing idea. I would not want to be too prescriptive, of
course, part of the process is uncovering your unique perspective on the subject and
how you like to present information. And if you’re thinking particularly of your
student body and their needs it really can take a lot of different directions, as all
of you know. Absolutely, just to follow up, Karen. I was thinking specifically around providing
just to provide authors and project managers and all other stakeholders with options that
are like really effective. And that draw on all that genre and layout
and all of the design aspects, but which can be created for this and made open. So, that people can play with them and remix
them without feeling like boy, is Pearson going to show up at my house in the middle
of the night with a cease and desist order? Right, thank you, Terry. That makes sense. Yeah, we’ve encountered that before with people
approaching a project, they sometimes just want to look at what else is out there. But do have this slight nervousness of not
wanting to replicate something like what happened in the Boundless case. So, that just as a prompt, as a resource for
like these are the kinds of things that could go into something that have been thought through,
I think would be really, really interesting. And then, Jim is wondering if there’s any
history buffs out there, who know about the history of the textbook? And when higher ed moved from trees to textbooks,
and he knows in Econ the first real textbook was Samuelson just post-World War Two. Jim, I’m not brushed up on my textbook history. But a link I shared a little bit earlier,
our partners in the coop, which is Scribe, the founder and CEO David Rech does a lot
of reading on this topic. And I will admit I did not cull his reading
list, so it’s rather long, but if you want to sift through it, there could be some books
and articles there that dig into the history of the book and textbooks. And could start getting at your question a
little bit. And if it does, we’d love to hear back from
you. And if I can chime in with a little bit of
publishing nerdery, post-World War Two was a really kind of critical time for journal
publishing and monograph publishing and the formalizing and industrializing of that process. So, I imagine, I don’t know for sure, but
I imagine it was kind of caught up in that similar process of commercializing knowledge. I wonder, too, if outside of academia traditionally,
like especially in the trades, and technical fields, there might well have been, this seems
like a very technically minded structure, which academia might be late to. And technical people not so much, so the plumbers
may have been way out ahead of this. I certainly know the radio people were, it
really is like the 20s. Can I just add to that? Jim, good to see you. I was in Scotland well, it was right after
I saw you. And I went and visited some castles up there,
and in one of them there was a textbook from the 18th century. I’m trying to pull up the images of it, it
was a math textbook, and it was shockingly similar to what a textbook would look like
today. It had problems in it. Yeah. I’ll send you those photos, they’re kind of
fascinating, if you can real old English. Go ahead, Richard. I’ve got one bit of comment for Ian. I can’t find my video, so I can’t unmute myself. As somebody who dabbles with print and printing
history, there’s a couple of other things that might be interesting. The post-World War Two period is also there
we go. The post-World War Two period is also the
time at which there’s a technological shift from letterpress to offset letterpress, or
offset printing. So, there’s a technological reason that you
can add complexity to pages, much more simply. It’s not exclusive. The firm that I used to work for, back forever
ago, started off as an offset publisher. The other thing that happens is the ability
of developing film setters in the 1960s, which is another bit of technology. So, there’s printing shifting, but there’s
also compositional shifting in the way that plates are actually produced. That happens I could probably look it up,
I think it’s 1968 or ’69. They start really taking off about then. At that point, compositors are able to change
from a text based to a graphic based production. So, you actually look at the page as a space
that you can put different things on, rather than as a line that you have to follow. So, just a couple of bits and pieces. That really shifts in the late 1980s with
the creation of Aldus Pagemaker and the first real desktop publishing software. I’m sorry, I think we should all get together
and talk about the history. It’s fun. There’s a lot of conversation in the chat,
too about it. So, thank you all for sharing your vast knowledge
on that. And very appropriately, what we’re now talking
about is a new technology and how that’s impacting things as Dave said, a lot of this has come
out of online courses as well. Nice parallel there. Okay, so I’m going to look back at the chat
and just see if there are a couple of other questions we can answer. So, Claudia, hello, it’s been a long time
and nice to see you. Your question when individuals are composing
a textbook do you also encourage them to consider development of supplementary materials, or
is it too much at once? I love this question. ‘Cause there’s two answers in my mind. In the projects I’ve worked with, supplemental
materials were not part of the project that I worked on. And Karen, I don’t know if you can say any
more about what the cooperative is doing? We really wrestled with this question, because
we know it’s such a big part of adoption decisions. People really look for those supplementary
materials. I answer many questions about supplementary
materials every week, related to the Open Textbook Library. But ultimately, we did decide it was too much
at once to make a requirement. But I could imagine another proposal, or another
program, deciding to require it and see how it goes. And maybe people out there have something
to add, based on their publishing programs. I certainly welcome any of you to chime in. Can I just add that in the Open Textbook Network
we had a work group that put together an amazing document about what they felt needed to be
done with these materials, these supplemental materials because they are so important. And we’re going to be working towards that
vision that they laid out. But I think to some degree, we’re a little
behind on it, because there are a number of things that need to be developed simultaneously. There is the technical side of it. There’s if you’re writing a quiz bank, there’s
psychometric sides to it. You can’t just write a quiz and there are
valid questions and questions that don’t really help you learn and so on. So, thank you Karen. So, anyway, there’s a lot of extra additional
expertise that needs to be rolled into this, and technological expertise as well. But it’s important and the open community
really needs to work on it, if we’re going to catch up. Yeah, I can speak very briefly about our experience
at Rebus and the projects we’ve worked with have largely decided that it was out of scope,
that they wanted to focus on content first. And then, the few cases where that hasn’t
happened, we found it has affected the pace of work, it has proved to be distracting in
a way. And so, I think as Dave said, I think it needs
to be considered really carefully and in a similar structured kind of way. And really, done with the proper support and
not lumped in with what is already a really big project, that it needs the space, the
time, the effort that is given to the content as well. So, a lot to work on there, because it is
critically important. Paige has a question about any specific recommendations
on the lengths of sections in a book. I don’t, I’m afraid. Fair enough. I don’t know if anyone else does. Yeah. I’m reading now. I think most of this chat that I’m reading
about is related to the history of textbooks. Let me know if I’m missing any questions to
pose to Dave, please. Thanks Jim, you really sidetracked is. (Laughter) I can chime in a little briefly on length
of sections. Apurva’s just reminded me that some of our
projects have looked at things like reading level and considered that they’re writing
for an introductory course. And that’s really been their guiding principle,
of how long they want the sections to be. And that’s been really important, in particular,
I think our introduction to philosophy book there are many, many sections. There’s a whole lot of authors, there’s a
lot going on, and so they’ve had to really pare themselves down to I think the chapters
were kept to 3,000 words each. And authors found that difficult, but it was
a good tool to keep it scoped to the particular audience that they were writing for. Okay, I think that we’ve covered the questions
that are in the chat so far, and we only have a few more minutes left. So, if something is top of mind, please unmute,
or type it in. I also would like to invite, again, there
are so many people on this call who have experience developing open textbooks either as authors,
or as project managers, librarians. So, if you have feedback about this particular
methodology or would like to share the methodology that you used, please chime in. This is the part where I pause and wait for
chiming. Can I ask a question? So, this was what I posted way early about
whether there’s empirical, whether there’s studies about these things. I’ve written a couple of open textbooks, and
I wrote them more like monographs, ’cause that’s more what I was used to. And my students certainly have lots of complaints
about lots of things, but I don’t know that it was that particular thing. So, when I’ve looked at the open textbook
world, one of the things, not to badmouth them, but I look at the OpenStax books, and
they look like commercial books. And I think this is a strategy of theirs to
try to slide into what we’re all familiar with. But then, oh hey, look, it’s open, that’s
great. And so, I’m wondering, the answer might be
that I have to get more up to date, but is there real evidence that for example, student
learning outcomes is one of the things? Your learning outcomes you mentioned was one
of the sections in the outline that you were talking about. Do students ever actually look at those? I’ve seen no evidence that my students ever
notice any of the other stuff than the text and the problems. And one more wrinkle on this, the other thing
I’ve noticed that in a lot of undergraduate classes, if you use a textbook, the students
finish the class and they don’t know how to read anything but a textbook. And you say, “Oh wait, we need to spend a
semester in the senior year teaching them how to read actual scholarly material in whatever
discipline they’re in.” And maybe we’re doing them a disservice by
not teaching them from the very beginning to read scholarly material. I’m just putting it out there. Sure, no, I would agree. I sympathize with those questions, and I don’t
in any way would say that we ought to replace everything that students read with textbooks,
but there is a place for textbooks, as well. So, it could be, Jonathan, that what you’re
doing is that whatever you’re writing, you would know. You’re the instructor, you would know best
whether what you write is working for your students. I would leave it you to make that judgement. And if it’s more monograph like, or however
you want to frame that, then it is. And the reason we focus on textbooks is simply
because it’s a place we know we can make a difference, and we know that there’s a big
problem. It doesn’t mean that we believe textbooks
are necessarily the solution to all problems, or that that’s what students should read. So, I understand exactly what you’re saying. I would agree with your questions, I don’t
agree with your questions, I don’t know how that works, but I understand. Thanks. Can I toss out one more odd observation? My career in publishing, academic textbook
publishing, as a matter of fact, broke across the shift from film setting to desktop publishing. It was really a kind of remarkable time to
be in the business. I noticed personally as somebody with an academic
background that as soon as color printing became low cost opportunity, that the complexity
of textbooks exploded. And that’s where I think that you see a lot
of the first elements, because you could now click new design elements to them in ways
that you could never do prior to that. Now, obviously that’s not exclusively correct. I think a really good model if you’re interested
in following the way textbooks have evolved is graphic presentations. Take a look at college algebra textbooks. Those in many respects, because they have
problems that were set in the text and usually numbers and then examples and whatnot that
tended to very quickly be the place where things diversified. And then, you went to two-color textbooks,
so you had the black text, with usually a blue bar or something like that over elements. And then, you had three-color textbooks and
then you had four- and then five-color textbooks, where you would put teacher notes on one side
of the edition that went along with the text. You could do that all in hot metal, but nobody
did it because it was enormously labor intensive. When you started film setting, and when you
started desktop publishing, especially in the 80s, that’s where you really see the big
shift and the change. And the reproduction with images, as well,
was a major change. If I could hitchhike off of that, in a prior
career, I was actually in strategic planning for paper and the paper business. And remember studying a lot of stuff in the
80s and 90s about all the change in digital printing. And one of the things that struck us particularly
because I mean, there was this giant wave of how litho and offset could do all this
wondrous stuff and this high quality. And what was stunning was when desktop printing
came along, to find out really, people just needed good enough color. They didn’t need litho, they didn’t need all
that high-quality stuff. And I wonder if there’s an analogy here on
textbooks, in the sense of the big publishers have all gone with fancy grandiose stuff and
I mean, it’s not just structure, but it’s also structure and color and layout and everything
like that because they can now. And what I’m wondering is if we don’t have
a great advantage here with something like Pressbooks and now by having some common language
about structure like David’s given us. I’m thinking we need to decentralize this
and what we need are good enough textbooks that are rapidly iterated. Rather than and perhaps this also applies
to the ancillary problem, like I mean, I agree quiz questions and stuff like that need to
have the goal is you want to get to the validity and stuff like that. But if we set out that the whole bank needs
to be done first, and totally verified, before we iterate through it, we’ll never get there. And of course, the reality is the big publishers
don’t validate their ancillaries either. I’ve got to differ on that one, just a little
bit, Jim. And I’m not saying you’re wrong, just saying
it’s a little more complex. I remember, in fact, I actually have a copy,
this was my last, I happen to have a copy. And I one time counted up the number of people
who had been involved in that, that were name credited and there were 150 people. Now, there were only three authors. But it was an entire village full of problem
checkers and designers and verifying of various sorts. They pour money into it, because they know
they can get a return on investment, the first printing of this particular book was 50,000
copies. A standard academic book is like 500 now and
dropping quickly. And clearly, we need to continue this conversation
in future Office Hours. I’m sorry to cut everyone short, but we are
at time. And I really appreciate all of the experience,
expertise and knowledge that everyone here has brought to this conversation. It makes it really fun and exciting and we
appreciate the input. As a reminder, this is related to a new open
textbook publishing curriculum. I put the link in the chat again and would
love if anyone wants to contribute a module on the history of the textbook, or some of
the topics we’ve been talking about today, get in touch. It would be great to talk to you. Thanks to our partners at Rebus, Zoe, Apurva
and everyone, and of course, to our guest speaker today, Dave Ernst. And all of these sessions are recorded, they’ll
be on YouTube shortly. And stayed tuned for a few more Office Hours
in the remainder of 2018. Okay, everyone, thank you and farewell.

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