Friday, 16 February 2018

Open Textbooks through REBUS community #opened

Great open textbook opportunity! Ever contemplated writing and sharing an open textbook? This might be the moment/community you were waiting for. The Rebus community offers an organized (actively learning) option to create, review, add, to open textbook initiatives… and - in the end - get them published. So open access, open writing, open collaboration … all the way and with an international perspective as well, in addition to being open minded about using multiple languages. 
Driven by a huge goal: “building a universal library of free Open Textbooks in every subject, in every language”, I have the feeling this is something to volunteer for, even if it is simply to gain more knowledge on the subject itself. They gather librarians, educators, researchers... to start or help with getting projects realised. I am very tempted (which book first?!).

How does the Rebus community achieve this goal? By supporting initiatives to write, organise and publish open textbooks on specific subject matter, and in as many languages as possible. As it is a non-profit organisation, those willing to put an effort into creating an open textbook, will not be paid… but like in Wikipedia, every contributor adds to a greater good: available open textbooks.
Every open textbook is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license, where the copyright remains with the author(s), and readers have access to the content without any kind of payment. 

Forum-driven, but with social extensions and network
Their main medium to create these textbooks is a forum. Forums have been trialed, tested over decades and they work if they are actively moderated. In this case, it is a dynamic and focused forum moderation.
They partner up with institutions and organizations dedicated to Open Textbooks, including: The Open Textbook Network, BCcampus, eCampus Ontario and OpenOregon (University of Arizona, University of Washington, University of British Columbia, Cleveland State University, University of Saskatchewan, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Brigham Young University, University of Hawaii, University of Maryland, and Plymouth State University).
More practical FAQ’s can be found here:

Some practical first findings

  • The collaboration can take place on multiple levels: copy edit/proofread/illustrate (etc.).
  • The forum is well organized, and clearly aims at promoting collaboration based on social interaction.
  • They have monthly, online office hours/meetings: video meetings offering advise or sharing knowledge (one definitely worth watching is the “open textbook: internationalperspectives” video with guest speakers from South-Africa, Haiti, Chile, Australia and USA), all of the videos can be seen here, e.g. how to adapt open textbooks, as well as planning options (e.g. who is willing to work on what).
  • Although the community relies heavily on a forum, there is a clear and well-designed social media integration, both for projects, posts as for social purposes (e.g. following).

The Rebus community describes itself as
The Rebus Community is a non-profit organization developing a new, collaborative process for publishing open textbooks, and associated content. Rebus is building tools and resources to support open textbook publishing, and to bring together a community of faculty, librarians, students and others working with open textbooks around the world.
We want to make it easy for the community to contribute to the creation of open textbooks (their own, or others’), and support the creation of new, high-quality open textbooks, available for free to anyone, in standard formats (web, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and print).