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The following table compares the capabilities of open and traditional textbooks.

Open textbooks Traditional textbooks
dynamic static
modifiable/customizable non-customizable
targeted in-depth material generic material
timely dated
personalized for local conditions standardized content
addresses multiple learning styles assumes a uniform learning style
free costly

Read about a teacher’s experience in adopting an open textbook: No Books, No Problem: Teaching Without a Text .

Read about how an editor from a major publisher gives his insider’s perspective of the inner workings of textbook publishing.

Read Monte Wolverton’s humorous look at the textbook creation process (via Edutopia’s web site).

See a list of ideas for How-To: Toss the Text .

How are open textbooks created?

Here are two stories of how two different groups collaborated to produce open textbooks in a peer production environment.

A South African graduate student saw a need when a group of high school students told him they did not have a science textbook. This encounter led to a worldwide initiative calledthat provides free science and mathematics textbooks for Grades 10 to 12 science learners in South Africa.

An interested group of individuals started a Free Textbooks group during the 2007 iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The group seeks to create a knowledge base to help educators worldwide develop Free Textbook projects. For more information, go to: (External Link) . Subscribe to their mailing list: (External Link) .

How can you participate?

Open textbook projects rely on volunteers who are committed to a vision of providing high-quality, freely available textbooks to the worldwide community of educators and learners. Most of the projects mentioned in this module have information on their site on how you can participate in their project. There are many levels of participation; for example, you can:

  • subscribe to their mailing list or news feed
  • proofread pages
  • contribute content you have already created
  • help locate authors who may want to contribute content
  • author new content
  • create images
  • write a review about an open textbook
  • provide translation support for content
  • donate funds to keep the project running
  • use open textbooks in your teaching and learning and talk with your colleagues about your experience
  • host an in-person event for content creators to gather and work together
  • contact the project’s coordinator and ask what is needed and how you can help.

Oer stories from around the world

It's 2 am in South Africa and a delivery van is taking 100 hard copies of the free high school science text to a school in a small village …

Your experience using open and freely shared course-related materials is valuable in the reuse and evolution of the materials. Tell us your story ; how you’ve used these materials and how their use has impacted how you teach or learn.

Activity: review an open textbook

Using the sites mentioned in this module, review a few open textbooks that you can use in your teaching and learning. If you are not ready to replace your existing traditional textbook with an open textbook, analyze what topics are weak or missing in your present textbook and use the open textbook for supplemental materials.

Activity: share your experience

We’re discussing the new avenues for teachers and learners to select and augment learning resources that meet one’s unique teaching and learning needs, including open textbooks. In the OER Commons discussion “ Teaching and Learning, ” share your thoughts about this important issue. Here are a few questions to consider in your post:

  1. If you have used an open textbook, share your experience.
  2. If you haven’t used an open textbook, what are the adoption issues?
  3. What have been your students’ reactions to using an open textbook?
  4. What are your thoughts or experiences with participating in open textbook projects? What role(s) did you take? (e.g., authoring content, editor, etc.)

For more information

The following resources have been selected to provide more information on concepts we covered in this module.

Other modules in this course include …

For more information about OER Commons, send an email to info@oercommons.org .

Use this feedback form to send OER Commons general feedback, a feature request, or information about a bug/problem you had using the site.

To see the ever-growing list of the new content providers and contributors to OER Commons, visit the Content Providers page often. You can be one too!

“quotable quote”

Knowledge is the only kind of wealth that multiples when you give it away. Schwartz, P. (1996). The Art of the Long View. New York: Doubleday.

About this module

The "How Tos" of OER Commons is a set of learning modules evolving out of the development of OER Commons ( (External Link) ), a teaching and learning network for free-to-use educational materials from around the world, created and licensed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME).

Course contributors are Lisa Petrides, Amee Godwin, and Cynthia Jimes, and online learning consultant, Patricia Delich.

For more information, visit (External Link) and (External Link) .

Questions & Answers

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Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
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At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
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Source:  OpenStax, The "how tos" of oer commons. OpenStax CNX. Oct 16, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10468/1.4
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