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Open and Affordable Course Materials

1. Peer Review

Effective peer review ensures the quality and integrity of your open textbook.  The creation and seamless publication and distribution of open textbooks created by educators themselves, are designed to provide flexibility in the use of learning resources tailored to specific learning outcomes and support learner-centred approached to teaching and learning.

This flexible user-focused publishing model may not follow the commercial publishers traditional editorial and distribution processes.  Some large-scale textbook projects may have an open review process e.g. eCampusOntario's Open Textbook Library .   
If you do not have in house expertise for professional copyediting and layout of your publications, you can:

  1. Reach out to other subject matter experts in your discipline
  2. Engage a freelancer to perform those functions for you. See:  Identify Available Support Services.

You can provide them with the following open textbook review criteria to help guide their feedback: 

2. Open Textbook Output Formats

To make your book as accessible as possible, consider making your textbook available in multiple formats so students have the ability to choose the format that works for them. Remember to include editable files so that others can use your work to create their own adaptations. Pressbooks will allow you to export your book in a variety of files types, both editable (.xml, .odt, .html, .epub) and less editable (.pdf and .mobi) files.

  • MOBI:  for Amazon Kindle. You do not need to have a Kindle device to use the Kindle software. Kindle apps and software are available for download on Mac, PC, Android, BlackBerry, Windows OS and iOS.
  • Website/HTML: a good format to distribute your textbook in if you want others to be able to edit or customize your book. If possible, you can create a zip file of your HTML documents and make those available for other instructors to download, edit and host on their own websites.
  • PDF: Free PDF readers include Adobe ReaderFoxit, and Nitro. PDF is a good format to distribute a printable version of your textbook.
  • Word/OpenOffice: these file formats will be have the .docx or .odt file extensions. You will need Microsoft Word or  OpenOffice to view these files.  Convert the Word/OpenOffice document to PDF, ePub or HTML for distribution to students and provide Word/OpenOffice as a source file for others who may want to edit or adapt the textbook.
  • LaTeX: a document format often used when complex scientific or mathematical equations and notations are required. LaTeX requires special software to read and edit. These files are not recommended for students, and are primarily provided as source files for instructors who wish to modify or customize a textbook.

3. License Your Open Textbook for Re-Use

Apply a Creative Commons license to re-distribute your OER. These copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way for you to give others permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice.

See: considerations for licensors and licensees.  

New open textbooks created at Queen's should ideally should be released with a CC-BY 4.0 International license.

A page called “About the Book” should be added to the front matter including the following sentence about licensing:

This open textbooks has been published openly using a Creative Commons license, and is offered in various e-book formats free of charge, or as a printed book available at cost from a printing service like Queen's University Printing Services.

Information about licensing should also be added to the book information section of PressBooks. This information will then appear as the footer on each page of the online version.

4. Distribute and Share Your Open Textbook

You can distribute your adapted textbook by:

  • Providing a link to the book on Pressbooks (Queen's instance of Pressbooks, a collaboration with eCampusOntario)
  • Downloading copies of the book and placing them on another website or file-sharing service (e.g., on D2L, Dropbox, or Google Drive)
  • Asking Queen's University Library to catalogue your book, and sharing that link as well.

You can also consider sharing your work with the larger open community. One way to do this is by adding your adapted textbook to an established repository or open textbook collection. Some of these require undergoing a formal review before being accepted.

Printing Services

Let your students know there is the option to have a printed copy of their open textbook. They are free to download the PDF and take it to a copy shop such as Queen's University Printing Services.  Inform the printer that the work is licensed under a Creative Commons licence, and can be freely copied in full for a non-commercial educational purpose.

If you prefer teaching from print copies of a textbook you can order copies for students to purchase through the Queen's Campus  Bookstore. The cost of the textbook is determined by the length of the book and type of binding. You can request a quote before printing.