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THU: Taming the wild or wilding the tame? Supporting the implementation of open textbooks. (Jo Jacob)

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Dr Simon Ball
2 February 2014

This paper is based on the presenter’s current action research into the preliminary stages of the adoption and implementation of open textbooks – a type of open educational resource – by a team of trainers delivering formal classroom-based learning programmes to apprentices. The presentation will briefly explain what open textbooks are and how they may be used.

The context for this is organisations which provide training for apprentices in England. In 2012/13 nearly 860,000 people participated in apprenticeships, which combine paid work with learning. This means apprentices, as well as the colleges and training providers which work with them, are potentially significant users of suitable open educational resources.

People as well as existing and new practices and technologies may be seen as ‘wild’ or ‘tame’, and change may mean ‘taming’ or ‘wilding’ them. The paper will consider how open textbooks, practices and people may be considered wild and tame.

There is a body of research literature on open textbooks which suggests that the use of open textbooks improves outcomes for learners and sheds light on how they are used in practice. Highlights from a review of the research literature will be presented and a discussion of their implications for their use by work-based learning practitioners and apprentices.

Adopting and using OER may mean a change for practitioners and leaders which engenders new understanding, skills and practices. Change from the existing state to a new desired state does not ‘just happen’ as individuals and teams often have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The action research aims to investigate leadership approaches which will support the team to implement new technology and practices. Some early findings will be provided, which include a tentative model for considering the support needs of teams implementing open textbooks.

Extra content

Twitter hashtag #H818conf

I won't be able to keep up with comments using this hashtag during the presentation, but will try to connect with people later for follow-ups.

Jo Jacob
19:08 on 9 February 2014

Embedded Content

Conference Poster - Jo Jacob

Conference Poster - Jo Jacob

added by Jo Jacob

Open Textbook Animation

Open Textbook Animation

Accessible Alternative
added by Jo Jacob

Blogpost: Open Textbooks… So why didn’t you tell me about this before?

Blogpost: Open Textbooks… So why didn’t you tell me about this before?

added by Jo Jacob


Ulrich Tiedau
11:48am 5 February 2014

Hi Jo, looking forward to your presentation. There is a collaboratively written Open Education Handbook in the making which you will probably know. Might be of interest in this context.



Jo Jacob
12:25pm 7 February 2014

Thanks Uli!  I am beginning to look forward to this conference now - all the other speakers' topics look great.

Jonathan Vernon
5:07pm 9 February 2014

Inspired by your work here I am determined to follow the discussions regarding how to add further content so that I can in due course post a slideshare presentation and a one minute video - both ready to upload if I can keep my calm. Wanting to look forward to it too Jo and know that this can be done. 

Regarding 'Open Textbooks' is is the case that there is more to it that simply being 'open', that authors and producers should create for the new format rather than simply puttin online and making available what was previously in text?

Nicola Morris
10:12pm 11 February 2014

Jo, possibly outside the scope of this presentation but I wondered if you have considered dynamic books as a "next" extension. These allow providers to take an open book and continue to add to this creating their own unique textbook. One advantage of this might be to overcome some concerns that the book is too generic. Good luck Thursday especially being the first Nicola

Cara Saul
3:34pm 12 February 2014

Jo lots to look at here - find the content you have provided and the comments have made me much more interested in looking at this topic in more depth - thanks

Agree with Jonathan that simply reproducing online limits the learning experience. Dynamic books that allow readers to customise create and interact with the text are very interesting. But I have wondered how additional content is peer-reviewed or separated from the original.

Very much looking forward to your presentation - Cara

Jo Jacob
7:05pm 12 February 2014

Evening Nicola, my presentation is very close to what you suggest, so hopefully that will be of interest to you.

Sarah-Louise Quinnell
6:00pm 13 February 2014


I was wondering during your presentation when does an open access collection become a textbook? Are there any specific rules that apply that make it a 'textbook' by definition. I was just thinking about the very large PhDchat wiki I work with which is full of information, gudies, tips, questions and answers on the PhD process. So I was wondering at what point could something similar be classed as a textbook?

Dr Simon Ball
6:26pm 13 February 2014 (Edited 6:29pm 13 February 2014)

Following the live presentations, we asked each speaker to respond to questions posed by audience members. In the short time available, it was not possible to put all of the questions submitted to the speaker for a response. We asked all speakers if they would respond to the unanswered questions here on Cloudworks. Here are all of the questions asked during the session:

  • Regarding 'Open Textbooks' is is the case that there is more to it that simply being 'open', that authors and producers should create for the new format rather than simply putting online and making available what was previously in text?
  • I have wondered how additional content is peer-reviewed or separated from the original?
  • How is the quality of open textbooks assured?

  • Do you think open textbooks can be used outside of educational environments?

  • Who takes responsibility for updates? Our own internal material becomes disjointed over time. Could it be centrally coordinated?
  • In theory can I 'create' my own open text book containing things relevant to just my students?

Avril sweeney
10:43am 15 February 2014

Hi Jo,

Teams implementing Open textbooks sounds interesting.I work in a regulated environment  where compliance with  Job position curriculum is a requirement.  I could see  how your ideas could be taken forward- teams implementing open textbooks .I think implementing open textbooks could work well as an add on to identfied job position curriculum , as the open textbooks could act as additional practical on the job information that colleagues identify.

Te combination of job position curriculum and open textbooks could be added to the learning management system and the open textbooks  would act as an engagement model where colleagues could write  additional compliance requirements into the open textbooks - which includes practical on the job knowledge that the could be captured and uploaded to the leaning management system Avril.


Deborah Meakin
6:10pm 16 February 2014

Hi, I don't know if you have come across this? I came across this book about 4 years ago, it is referred to as an 'unbook' which is a notion I have always liked. The book is published (as a paper copy) about every 3 months or so as the content changes constantly. While there are about 5 editors, they are all experts in aspects of learning and workplace development. The book is full of QR codes and other links which go to videos which are updated or forums or blogs which are contributed to regularly. Just a thought. This is a link I found for an up to date copy. It is a different approach to open, I was thinking, but is an idea using user generated content. Thanks, Debbie

Helen Johnson
9:55pm 16 February 2014

Hi Jo, I'm really interested in the idea of Open Textbooks, but don't really know where to start. Is there a way to search for them, or a repostitory or something? Ideally something with reviews so I can get a feel for quality? Thanks


Jo Jacob
10:09pm 16 February 2014

Here is a link to my curated collection of open textbooks etc on Pearltrees.  There are links to various directories and repositories as well as publishers, plus articles etc about open textbooks.

I discovered a lot of the links in a networked way - through Twitter, Pearltrees, Pinterest and Delicious.  There are some collections which I have 'picked' from others in Pearltrees.  

My collection is open for all to view and share.  Please feel free to pick any pearls or links from my collection.  It is on no way definitive, and I would welcome suggestions for any other links to add to my collection.

Helen Johnson
1:10am 18 February 2014

Thanks Jo, I have your Pearl and I've started working through it. I've already found a couple of texts that look promising, and one is BY-NC-SA so with a bit of tweaking it could be perfect. Exciting stuff!

Cara Saul
12:23am 21 February 2014


Very much enjoyed your presentation. I loved how you had used Pearltrees to become much more than a collation tool, you have pushed the graphic design element of the software to beautifully present and sense-make.

Is there any research about how students and teachers feel about using open textbooks? Their quality? Or any qualitative data about how effective they can be in comparison to more expensive tectbooks or e-textbooks? Thanks.

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