July 28, 2015

A new online learning platform from New Zealand

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The Open Polytechnic, New Zealand

The Open Polytechnic, New Zealand

Open Polytechnic (2015) Open Polytechnic launches online learning platform Lower Hutt NZ: Open Polytechnic

I’m not sure the world needs another LMS (sorry, an ‘online learning platform’) but this one, called iQualify and built from scratch by New Zealand’s major distance learning organization, has a number of features that advance LMSs to the next level, such as:

  • being designed from scratch for use on multiple devices (computers, tablets and mobile phones)
  • supporting multimedia content (text, video)
  • virtual study notes linked to course materials
  • interactive quizzes
  • inbuilt assessment tools
  • learning analytics.

Perhaps more importantly, the platform design is based on the Open Polytechnic’s ‘almost 70 years of expertise in learning design’.

The Open Polytechnic is marketing iQualify to employers, industry and professional organisations for online training. There’s not much detail on the iQualify web site, though.

I just hope this will not be yet another ‘in-house’ online learning platform design that hits the dust, such as the University of Phoenix’s adaptive-learning LMS that it has just abandoned. In the meantime, though, I can hear the groans all the way from New Zealand to Vancouver as faculty switch their courses over to the new platform. I wonder if this cost of change is ever factored in to LMS budgeting decisions.

I’d be interested in getting some views on this platform from users of the system.

Conference: Canada MoodleMoot 2015

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MoodleMoot 2

Most Moodlers will already be aware of this, but if you are not aware of, or are just moving to Moodle, or even just thinking about it (it is after all open source and free), this conference is a must:

What: A Moodle Moot is a conference all about Moodle. The theme for Canada Moot 2015 is Connecting with Moodle. There are three streams:

Some presentations are in French, some are in English and some are bilingual.

Where: Université de Montréal & Polytechnique Montréal in partnership with Canadian Moodle communities. Organized by Open2Know.ca (Moodle authorised partner).

When: Pre conference:Tuesday, October 20, 2015; Conference: Wednesday, October 21 – Friday, October 23, 2015

Who: Keynotes include:

  • Martin Dougiamas (the founder of Moodle)
  • Samantha Slade (PercoLab)
  • Yves Otis (Percolab)
  • Dave Cormier, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Bonnie Stewart, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Jeff Wilson, Executive Director, BrilliantLabs.ca

How: Call for presenters: click here. This als
o gives a good idea of who has already submitted papers and the topics.

Register here. Fees vary from C$49 for a pre-conference half-day workshop to C$469 for the full conference. There is online access at lower fees than for the onsite attendance.

 

Guidelines for reviewing an open textbook

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Image: © educatorstechnology.com, 2014

Image: © educatorstechnology.com, 2014

I’m not sure that there is much of an immediate ‘market’ for these posts on issues around developing an open textbook (or maybe everyone is sensibly enjoying the summer), but for those who may in the future be contemplating self-publishing a textbook, I though it may be helpful to draw on my experience in authoring both commercial and open textbooks to lay out some guidelines for reviewers of open textbooks.

The issue

I discussed in my previous post the need for independent reviews of a self-published open or academic textbook, and the criteria I used in selecting reviewers.

Commercial publishers, when commissioning reviewers, usually send a letter or a standard document that sets out guidelines for reviewing a book in its first, full draft before printing and distribution, to ensure both consistency between reviewers, and to identify to reviewers what the publisher is looking for. Although sometimes the publishing editor will require responses to elements that are specific to a particular book, there are also a number of guidelines that are pretty generic.

The situation is somewhat different for a self-published textbook, where it is the responsibility of the author to decide whether to get independent reviews and if so, to provide appropriate guidelines to the reviewers. At the same time, many guidelines will be similar for both types of book, but there are also some aspects of open publishing that require specific guidelines. I have outlined in blue below those that are specific to open textbooks or to my book in particular.

Of course, many reviewers will have their own criteria in assessing a textbook, and they are to be encouraged to use such criteria and make them explicit in the review. At the same time, it is my experience that most reviewers welcome guidelines as to what to comment on, and this is particularly true for an open textbook.

I contacted BCcampus, which obtains independent reviews of all its open textbooks before making them available, and they provided me with a set of questions for reviewers, and I have added some of my own.

Target audience

It is important first of all for the author to be clear as to the primary audience that is being targeted by the book. In my case, it was faculty and instructors in post-secondary education wishing to ensure that their teaching is relevant to the needs of contemporary learners and students. In another case, it may be first year undergraduate students. So one general question for reviewers is:

To what extent is the book successful in meeting the needs of its primary market?

Other questions for reviewers

  1. Does the book meet the requirements of a scholarly work? Is it research and evidence-based, and does it provide a critical analysis of the key issues in the field?
  2. Does it provide evidence-based, practical guidelines for faculty and instructors that will help them improve their teaching?
  3. Does it cover adequately the main contemporary issues in teaching in a digital age?
  4. Is the book well written? Does it read well? Is it well organized and structured? Are there errors of grammar or serious typographical errors? Are the graphics and cases appropriately chosen?
  5. What major changes, if any, are needed before you can recommend this book? What minor changes would you like to see?
  6. If this book was to be offered to a commercial publisher, would you recommend it for publication?

Question 6 may seem a little odd, but my aim here is to ensure that the book meets the same standards as commercial publishing, where there is the added risk of financial loss for a commercial publisher if there is no market for the book, or if the book is not good enough to attract new readers over a period of time. While these risks do not apply to free, open textbooks, the fact that it is judged suitable for commercial publication will carry weight with those looking to ensure that the book meets quality standards.

There may be other questions or guidelines that will be specific to your book that you may want feedback on.

Practical considerations

I specified a length for the reviews of between 800-1,500 words, and that the review would be covered under a Creative Commons CC-ND license. This means the reviews cannot be changed without permission of the writer of the review. However, reviewers would be free to publish the same review in an academic journal, if they wished, and the review could be re-used by, for instance, the author for marketing purposes (but unedited).

I sent out invitations to reviewers within two months of the full publication of the book. Ideally, on hindsight, the invitation should go out almost immediately after full publication, but not before, as it is important for reviewers to see the whole book in context. I gave a suggested deadline of two months to do the review.

I did not offer a fee for the review, but a small fee may be appreciated, as it is a substantial piece of work if the review is done properly.

I am waiting until all three reviews are submitted before posting them, so the reviewers will act independently and not be influenced by someone else’s review.

Over to you

Do you feel that this process (including selection of reviewers, as covered in the previous post) ensures the same degree of independence and quality of peer assessment as you would find for a commercially published book? If not, what suggestions do you have to improve the process?

Even if this process was followed, do you think that there will still be concerns about adopting an open textbook or referencing it in student work?

Writing an online, open textbook: is it worth it?

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Original html web version

Does it look like a textbook?

In earlier posts, I have discussed how to measure the success of an open, online textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age, and also discussed the costs of developing and writing the book. In this post I will look at what I learned from this activity, and will discuss whether it was worth it.

Why did I want to write an open textbook?

1. The need for change in teaching and learning

My main reason is that there is a major paradigm shift happening in education, driven partly by a changing economy and the need for a highly skilled and knowledgeable work-force, greater diversity of students as access has increased, and of course new technologies that not only have great capacity to change the way we teach, but which are also in common use by our students.

Although there are lots of articles and discussion about online, blended, hybrid, open learning and MOOCs, and too many books that exhort faculty and instructors to change, I felt (this muzzy, subjective word expresses well the intuitive rather than empirical basis for my view) that there wasn’t any other book ‘out there’ that really provided evidence-based, strong guidelines for faculty and instructors about how to teach in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. At least writing the book and throwing it out there would test that idea.

If I was going to do that, though, I needed to practice what I preach, so it was important to design the book to embed some of the key principles and guidelines that I was extolling. An open textbook, easily accessible, technological, interactive, collaborative and dynamic, seemed a good way of doing this.

2. The BCcampus Open Textbook Project

A second reason is that right at my back door was this exciting, government-supported project for open textbooks. This provided me with the technology support and encouragement that I needed, as I had never written an open textbook before.

3. Giving back

This is the most difficult motivation for me to write about, so let me be frank. I’ve had a wonderful 40 year career in open and distance learning, earned good money by any standards, and I really believe in what I do as an open and distance educator. I don’t need the money from book royalties, I’ve already got 12 commercially published books behind me, and I’m at the end of my career, so I can afford the risk of it not working. So now is a good time to give something back.

Most important of all, there’s vanity (or is it narcissism?). Writing this book is a way to encapsulate all that I’ve learned in my career, and leave it, if I’m successful, in an easily accessible form for anyone who wants to make use of this experience – a sort of legacy project.

Perhaps most importantly, I believe knowledge – or at least academic knowledge – should be free and open to all. Why not the knowledge that I’ve acquired, for what it’s worth?

4. Testing the concept of open publishing

A big challenge is to get (other) authors to write an open textbook. There is no direct financial reward, and perhaps even more importantly, there is a much higher level of risk than going through commercial publishers. Who will read it? Will it be accepted in the academic community? Will it have as much influence? And a very practical question: how to do this? What do you need to know? Who can help you? How do you preserve the integrity of the book if people can just copy or alter what you’ve written? What will it cost?

I’m a researcher and evaluator by desire and training, so writing this book seemed to me to be a good way to examine and maybe stretch not only the technology of open textbooks, but the larger concepts and questions about open publishing. Hence this blog post, which is an interim report on the experiment. These motivations provide a framework for assessing the experience.

What did I learn?

I’ll start with the easiest question

1. The technology worked – mainly

I used the BCcampus version of Pressbooks, which is an open source, ‘simple book’ production software, built around WordPress. Thus anyone who has experience in blogging, particularly if they have used WordPress before, will find it very easy to use Pressbooks. I was literally writing within 10 minutes of opening the editing page.

BCcampus added a few extra features, such as edit boxes for learning outcomes, activities, and key takeaways from each chapter, that I was easily able to embed into the main text. BCcampus gave me a url for the editing and publishing and hosted the book on their server. There is a function, controlled by the author, that enables each part of the book to be private, or published on the open web site.

Figure 1: The Pressbooks editing page

Figure 1: The Pressbooks editing page

I also wanted my book to be multi-media so it could easily demonstrate the value and appropriateness of different media for teaching. Importing graphics and podcasts is simple in Pressbooks, through the Add Media function. For video (as with most of the graphics) I use entirely copyright cleared material (i.e. OERs). I just provided a url to the site hosting the videos, with a graphic from the video where appropriate as the hot link. I created my own podcasts, using Apple’s Garage Band and a few graphics myself using Powerpoint. However, next time I would use a graphics designer from the beginning (see an earlier post on this) and get original graphics designed properly.

Second, it is easy to edit and re-structure the book, which I needed to do when I finished the first draft. I had to merge materials from different sections, split lengthy chapters into two or three separate chapters, move some parts earlier or later in the book, and make sure I had a consistent set of references throughput the book. This was all very easy to do, using the ‘Text/organise’ function, which allows you to drag and drop each section of the book.

Figure 2: Text/organise page

Figure 2: Text/organise page

The most important feature of all though, which I did not get to appreciate until I had finished the book, is that as well as the html version that can be read online, Pressbooks exports the html version into a variety of formats for downloading, including pdf, epub, mobi, xhtml, and wxr, so it can be read on tablets and mobile phones as well as laptops. Creating these different versions is also extremely easy for an author to do, using the ‘export’ function in the text/organize page.

However, there were of course some unexpected technical problems that I ran into. Pressbooks confusingly uses the terms ‘parts’ and ‘chapters’ in a way that may suit novel writing, for which it was originally developed, but is not intuitive for a text book. The ‘parts’ function is really a header (like ‘Part One’ in a novel). I found that I could use the ‘Part’ function as a chapter heading and an advanced organizer, with learning outcomes, a brief list of chapter contents, and key takeaways/summary points, and the ‘Chapter’ function as ‘Sections’ of the chapter. This was critical, as research indicates most people spend a maximum of one hour on any particular chunk of academic reading, so I wanted to ensure that each section of a chapter was relatively short and could be covered within one hour. However, I was a third of the way through the book before I realised that I needed to reverse ‘chapter’ and ‘part’, so that ‘part’ was the header, and each ‘chapter’ was in fact a section of the chapter. (I should have followed my own advice, and read the Pressbook instructions before starting, but it is still not intuitive.)

The other, more serious, problem was exporting graphics into the different versions (pdf, epub, etc.), which I have discussed elsewhere. This is a problem on which I am still working.

Lastly I ran into a problem that most bloggers face at some time or another, persistent hacking attacks on the site, which required a lot of help from BCcampus technical support to manage. However, the public version of the book was never compromised.

Overall, though, the technology worked wonderfully well and should not stop any technology neophyte from writing an open textbook, although as always, good technical support is a necessary back-up when problems do occur.

2. Textbook or course?

One conceptual issue I kept running into was whether I was writing a textbook or a course. It’s important to realise that Pressbooks is NOT a learning management system, and does not come with all the functions of an LMS. For instance, although there is a comment function available at the end of each section of a chapter (as in blogs), this is not an adequate tool for discussion, compared with a threaded discussion forum in an LMS.

I wanted to incorporate a threaded discussion tool into the book, but there were two problems, one minor, one major. The minor problem was my inability to find a suitable open source, secure, password protected online discussion forum that I could integrate into Pressbooks. It’s a minor problem, because there are probably such tools available, and if not, it wouldn’t be difficult to build one.

However, the major problem is conceptual. An open textbook, if successful, will be used in many ways, by many people. Thus you need a way of separating out discussion between different groups, so that Instructor A using the book has his or her own group of students and discussions separate from Instructor B using the book. The same issue arises with embedding tests or even activities.

I therefore had to step back then and design the book as an open resource, parts of which could be incorporated or linked to easily from within an existing learning management system or even some other range of tools, such as social media.

The nice thing about a Creative Commons-licensed text book is that instructors – or students – can go the other way, and embed parts of the book within their LMS or e-portfolios or other platforms for their learning. So the looser the technological and conceptual structure for the book, the easier it is for end users. Nevertheless, the book is not as interactive as I would like, although if I had more time, I could probably incorporate more tests, open-ended questions and maybe even some games or simulations to reinforce the writing.

3. Accessibility

This leads to another point, which comes back to my goals for the book. My main target group for the book are mainstream, subject discipline faculty and instructors who are very busy doing research and have relatively little time to become experts in teaching. I wanted therefore a book that was easily accessible, organized in such a way that faculty could find what they were looking for with one or two clicks of a mouse. Each section can be read in less than an hour, but the whole book hangs together as a coherent whole. If instructors wanted to go further or deeper, I added activities and further reading within the section.

The contents page on the first screen/page of the book enables this – just click on the topic and you’re in.

Figure 3: Pressbooks table of contents: one click to the topic

Figure 3: Pressbooks table of contents: one click to the topic

4. Independent peer reviews are still necessary

I used my blog to float drafts of each chapter to a wide community of practitioners in online course design and research, and had an instructional designer and a group of digital learning specialists at Ryerson University giving me detailed feedback as the book progressed.

I also published each chapter when it was ready, seeking comments from general readers, as the book progressed. I also have 12 other peer reviewed, commercial publications behind me.

Nevertheless, I still had graduate students writing to me saying that their supervisors did not want them using my book as a reference in their theses as the book was not peer reviewed. My initial reaction was to tell the supervisors to go to hell, but that wouldn’t help the students, who were all anxious to quote my work, so I have requested three independent peer reviews that will be published as an appendix to the book. These will be ready by the end of June.

Was it worth it?

Emphatically, yes, from my perspective:

  • the book has been downloaded roughly 10,000 times within two months, and more importantly, the qualitative responses to the book through e-mails and comments indicate that I am reaching my main target audience (see Measuring the success of an open textbook for more details);
  • although all the reviews are not yet in, the response to the contents of the book have been generally highly favourable;
  • I have been able to practice what I preached; I was able to write the book mainly in the way I wanted as someone with an instructional design background;
  • there does seem to have been a gap in the market which the book is filling;
  • the technology does work, and even technologically-challenged authors will be able to use the technology easily;
  • I was able to go from initial idea to final publication of the book in 15 months. I have had a publisher take that long from handover of the final draft to publishing. For a book of this kind, quick publishing is important otherwise it starts to look out of date, even if the main foundations do not change;
  • open publishing offer many possible routes for getting the book known, and with a little effort by the author, open textbook marketing works far better than the usual pathetic marketing efforts of commercial publishers;
  • the book is dynamic; I can continue to edit, change and update the book on an ongoing basis.

So I feel really good about it. However, this kind of publishing may not work for others. It may be too risky for someone early in their career to go the open publishing route, in terms of credibility or academic acceptance. Those not experienced in writing books probably need the support of a commercial publisher. If you are looking to make money from writing, this is definitely not the way to go, unless you have a very creative business model. The support of BCcampus was essential for me, and others may not have such support.

But if you have something important to write and want to get out to as many people as possible, then I strongly recommend open publishing. But I’m not doing another one for a while!

Audio recording

A 41 minute audio of the full presentation on ‘Why write an open textbook?’ can be downloaded from here

The cost of developing an open textbook: $80,000 – $130,000

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The main cost of an open textbook is the author's time

The main cost of an open textbook is the author’s time

Open textbooks may be free, but they are not without cost.

So what is the cost of developing an open textbook from scratch?

Answer: a minimum of $80,000, more likely around $130,000.

Here’s how I arrived at the figure, based on my own open textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age.

Context and ‘sponsors’

As always in education, the context is important. I wrote the book as an individual, without the very considerable ‘hidden’ support that working in a university or college often provides. However, working as an individual meant that I was able to track most of the costs.

Second, although I was working as an individual, I did have two very valuable external ‘sponsors':

  • BCcampus: The BC Open Textbook project, that BCcampus manages on behalf of the provincial government, meant that I had a ready-made platform, based on BCcampus’s own version of PressBooks, on which to develop and host the book. Furthermore, I received essential technical support and help from the BCcampus team when developing the book;
  • Contact North/Contact Nord: Contact North is a somewhat similar organization in Ontario to BCcampus in British Columbia. In particular, it provides professional learning opportunities in digital and online learning for faculty and instructors across the 22 colleges and 24 universities in Ontario. CN saw the book as a potentially valuable resource, and provided some financial support for the development of the book, as well as commissioning a French translation of the book (due later in the summer).

I also received a lot of support and feedback from the online learning ‘community of practice’ while writing the book. Without this support, it would have been very difficult for me to produce a high quality online textbook.

How much work for the author?

How much work is there in writing an open textbook? This is one of those ‘length of a piece of string’ questions, but while not clocking every minute, I did keep a track of how much time it took me.

Again, though, context is important. I am a very experienced writer, with 12 commercially published books behind me. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to write about and quickly developed a structure and plan for the book. A lot of potential content already existed from many of the blog posts I had been writing. Others without such experience will almost certainly need more time.

Figure 1 below gives a breakdown of my time spent writing and editing:

Figure 1: Timeline for writing 'Teaching in a Digital Age'

Figure 1: Timeline for writing ‘Teaching in a Digital Age’

I spent roughly 20 hours a week on writing and editing, over roughly 50 weeks, so 1,000 hours of my time is a pretty reasonable estimate. This works out at roughly six months work over one year.

In reality, of course, in my context this was done for free. However, this would be equal to a minimum of $50,000 in salary for someone working full-time in a college or university, and for a consultant it would be even higher. So I would estimate the opportunity cost of writing this book to be a minimum of $50,000, with probably $75,000 being a more realistic ‘average’ cost for most authors.

It should be noted that:

  • I published first drafts as blog posts, in order to get feedback from the several thousand professionals who follow my blog;
  • I ‘published when ready': in other words, once a chapter was ready after the above feedback had been incorporated, I published the chapter on the book web site. Thus the book slowly grew between June 2014 to February 2015, which also brought in more feedback;
  • I spent nearly all March, 2015, on a major re-edit of the book, splitting up or re-integrating some chapters, removing redundancies, checking references, and copy editing.

Instructional design/editing

I hired an independent instructional designer/editor to review and advise on the overall structure of the book, each draft chapter, the design of activities and other ‘pedagogical features’, and the actual writing. It was essential to have someone with instructional design experience responsible for providing a second opinion throughout the book. The Centre for Digital Learning at Ryerson University also provided regular and valuable feedback on drafts of chapters on a voluntary basis. These activities to some extent replaced the normal (and valuable) role of an editor from a commercial publisher.

The total cost of this support was $9,000. However, given that I also have a background in instructional design, the costs may be higher for another author, especially in the early stages of designing the book.

Graphics design

I hired a graphic designer, not to do actual graphics, but to advise on the design and layout of the book, and to do a cover for the book. I contracted the designer when the book was two-thirds finished. His input was valuable, but limited to designing frames for imported graphics, and to the design of the book cover. I mainly used graphics imported from other web publications, or designed graphics for the text myself, using Powerpoint. The cost of the graphic designer was in the range of $5,000 – $10,000 (he was on contract to Contact North).

Next time, I would do this differently. In another post I have described the problems of fitting graphics to different versions of the book. I really needed a graphics designer who was familiar with publishing for mobile devices. I should have hired the designer before I started writing the book, and then worked out a way of testing graphics for each version (html, pdf, mobi, etc.) as I wrote the book. In fact, designing for an open textbook requires specialist knowledge, and I’m not even sure that this knowledge or even appropriate software for fitting graphics into different versions exist yet, but it is really important. I suspect though that one would need a minimum of $10,000 to cover the graphics design, probably more, in order to work in the way that is needed.

Copyright clearance

Although recent changes in Canadian law and Supreme Court decisions on copyright have made it much easier to include third-party material without copyright clearance, it is essential in an open textbook to ensure that all materials can be freely reproduced and re-used. Thus while I may be willing to waive my rights, I cannot do it for material where other people own the rights. Thus I had to make sure that all third party material in my book, such as extracts from other written work, and particularly graphics, were:

  • in the public domain, or
  • covered by an appropriate Creative Commons license, or
  • covered by a written permission for use in an open textbook by the copyright owner.

I therefore hired a graduate student from UBC’s School of Library and Information Sciences to trawl through the whole book and ensure that all material was cleared for open publishing. She produced a detailed spreadsheet for each case (about 120 in total), identifying the source of the material and whether rights were cleared or approved for open publishing. This often meant tracking down the original creator of material already freely available on the Web. In the end, we had two refusals (alternatives were found and used), and five cases (all web-based graphics) where the original creator could not be found, but the material was in widespread use on the Internet, and in these five cases I took the risk of reproduction. In all other cases I have cast-iron clearance.

A systematic approach to copyright clearance is really essential for open publication, and there is a real cost in doing this. In this project approximately $5,000 was spent but an average figure would probably be around $7,500. It is money though well spent.

Technical support

As mentioned earlier, BCcampus provided the platform (their own version of Pressbooks, built on WordPress), advised me on how to get started, and provided essential technical support as I developed the book. They offered this service free, because basically I was a ‘marginal’ cost on their own major open textbook project.

There are though a number of alternative platforms, including Pressbooks, for open publishing that are available for free or at reasonably low cost, but someone working with such platforms would have to pay possibly somewhere in the region of $1,000-$2,000 annually for technical support, because things will always go wrong, and in particular hackers will try to corrupt the site.

Marketing

I used the following for marketing the book:

  • my own blog posts, Twitter feed and LinkedIn network
  • the WCET Frontier’s newsletter
  • Contact North’s worldwide media release
  • book reviews in academic journals (to come).

Each of these helped (or should help) to boost the number of visits to the book web site, but the only real cost is the Contact North media release, at around $10,000, but again an essential cost in getting the book to the right market.

Summary of costs

Figure 2 collects together these costs:

Figure x: Costs for developing Teaching in a Digital Age

Figure 2: Costs for developing an open textbook

I have provided both a minimal cost and a more realistic average cost. All these individual items can be contested, and some of these costs may be hidden or absorbed through clever accountancy, but to offer a high quality open textbook, there is no arguing that there are real and substantial costs.

Implications

If original texts are to be developed as open textbooks, we need sustainable business models. These can take several forms:

1. Sponsorship

This was the model used for Teaching in a Digital Age, with the author offering his time free, BCcampus supporting the technical side, and Contact North funding the direct costs of instructional and graphic design, and marketing.

Universities or colleges could also act as sponsors in the same way (and for the same reasons) that they sponsor MOOCs or other open educational resources

2.  Government funding

This is the model used to support the BC Open Textbook project. This would be a very practical way for governments to reduce direct costs to students and to provide a practical implementation of a policy for open education.

3. Crowdsourcing

This may be a way for an author to recover costs. The book would be partly or even wholly published, and potential readers would be asked to donate towards the cost of the book. This however would require some means by which payment could be collected and audited, which would add to the overall cost. This might be a viable model though where there is strong demand for the product, with individual readers donating as little as $10 each, although it might sully the purity of the concept of open-ness, and is a high risk for the author if there is no demand for the book.

4. Other models

One possibility I am considering is using my textbook to raise money to support, for instance, African students wanting but unable to attend university, by having a link to a suitable charity and asking readers to donate $10 to the charity if they download the book.

There are many other possible models and I would like to hear from readers with suggestions.

However, at the end of the day, there are real and substantial costs to developing open textbooks and it is important to be not only aware of this but to be willing to find appropriate means to support open publishing in education.

In my next post, I will answer the question: was it worth it?