February Office Hours: Developing Maintenance Plans for Published Open Textbooks (Audio Transcript)

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Audio Transcript


  • Josie Gray
  • Liz Mays
  • Anthony Palmiotto
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Deb Quentel
  • Steve Covello

Zoe: Welcome, everyone. It’s lovely to see you all here today. Thank you for joining us. I’m Zoe from the Rebus Community. And this is our regular Office Hours that we have every month. This time talking about maintenance for open textbooks. We’re really pleased to have a good group of guests with a lot of experience in the area that we think will have a lot to share.

And we’re really excited to see how different approaches can be adapted and changed to different contexts. That’s the kind of ground we’re looking to cover today and interested in what you’re all wanting to find out more about as well. So, I will handover to Karen, my lovely co-host from the Open Textbook Network. And every call I try and think of a new way to say how great and wonderful OTN are, and how much we enjoy doing these, and that’s my version of it today, so over to you, Karen.

Karen: Thank you, Zoe, I also consider you a lovely co-host. And am similarly delighted to be co-hosting Office Hours for another month. We’re going to have to celebrate an anniversary soon, I think. So, hi, everyone. I’m Karen Lauritsen with the Open Textbook Network, as Zoe mentioned, we’re going to talk today about maintaining open textbooks. There are probably many of you on this call who also have recommendations to share, so we look forward to hearing from you in addition to our guests.

Obviously, you’re here because this is of interest to you. This has also been part of the conversation in the OTN Cooperative. And so, as a follow up for this Office Hours, I will start working on a document trying to I think coordinate some of the things that we learned today. And then, we can work together on it to move a maintenance plan forward, perhaps. Get some guidelines and recommendations from it.

So, our guests are going to explore how they as authors and publishers can develop a plan to ensure their textbooks that they worked so long and hard on stay up to date. We are going to hear from Liz Mays, Josie Gray, and Anthony Palmiotto. And we’re going to start with Liz. I’m just going to give you quick introductions and then, hand it over to them. If you haven’t been to Office Hours before, each person’s going to talk for maybe three to five minutes about the topic.

Then, we’ll hand it over to you to drive the conversation. Liz Mays is adjunct faculty at Arizona State University. She’s also director of sales and marketing at Pressbooks. And co-editor of Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is an open textbook that you can find in the Open Textbook Library and in the Rebus Press. Josie Gray is coordinator of collection quality at open education at BCcampus.

And Anthony Palmiotto is editorial director at OpenStax. So, we’ll get a variety of perspectives. I will now, wait, before I hand things over to Liz, I just wanted to include this survey for all of you to perhaps open in a tab and complete, sometime in the next few hours even. Just to let us know how Office Hours are for you, what we could do to improve them, what other subjects and topics we could explore, we would really appreciate your input there as well. Okay, without further ado, I will hand things over to Liz, who is muted.

Liz: Thanks, Karen. As Karen mentioned, I’m the co-editor of the Media, Innovation and Entrepreneurship open textbook. And this is a book that’s already been through a couple of iterations and updates. And I’ll give some context on that here. It was built with support from Rebus Community in spring and summer of 2017 at that point it went through peer review for every chapter, as well as a variety of input and edits from the community of practice around the book.

In fall 2018, we beta tested the book in a dozen classrooms, and we received updates and suggestions and feedback in a spreadsheet, in Hypothesis annotation, in narratives from students and faculty. And we incorporated most of that and we officially released a first edition in January 2018. And that included a print version. Last summer, in August 2018, we updated the book for fall.

We incorporated more input from whole book reviewers, as well as additional student annotations that we went through. And we added some missing pieces, things that were nice to haves but not necessary in order to launch the book. So, now it’s spring 2019, almost and Karen reminded me that it’s time to think about summer edits for the book. And I started to panic briefly, and then I thought oh my gosh, I’ll talk about challenges.

We like to talk about challenges here, at Rebus, right? So, I took a look at the book and was relieved to remember that we did build it in a pretty modular and evergreen way, where it was intended not to go out of date too quickly. However, there were a couple of exceptions. So, one of the big exceptions is things like examples. An example of that is there’s a chapter on how the journalism field is changing.

And there are lots of industry mergers and acquisitions and business challenges. And all of that is still of course true and hasn’t changed. But it doesn’t mention the mergers and consolidations and acquisitions and layoffs and buy outs and all of those things that have happened in the last couple of years. It has really older examples and we should probably update those.

Another example that I was relieved to find wasn’t as in need of update as I feared was the social media marketing chapter. Luckily, we stuck to broad principles and concepts like reach, engagement, conversion, things like that. However, a lot of the images in that chapter are of things like Facebook’s analytics dashboard, which I image has changed considerably since that screen shot was taken and things like that will need to be updated, too.

But even for all of those being more minor than I expected, there are still a few things that scare me. There are probably tons of annotations that we need to incorporate, feedback from since the last update. And then, the biggest issue is probably the links, there may be about 1,000 or more links in our footnotes that probably all need checking. And I’m not quite sure if there is a programmatic way to do that, rather than checking them one by one at this point.

And then, also there are things that I want to be spending time on adding, that are nice to haves. Things like maybe a video series of practitioner videos with media entrepreneurs. It would be fun to build that and add that. But there are some logistical questions, like where does that live? And who puts forth the work and the budget to make those accessible, make sure they’re captioned? All of that work that has to happen beyond just the general production of content.

And that’s a point I wanted to make today, is that even if you’re not doing the actual content, managing is still work. Refining, editing, embedding the content that volunteers do is still work, chasing down that content is work. And then, just interacting and even discussing the changes that need to be made is work. So, there’s lots of work to be done. The challenges with all of that, this in particular, this book was built from the bottom up, not from the top down.

This was built by myself and my co-editor saw a need for this book, and we got together. And we worked to bring together the community of people teaching these types of classes, to help more than 40 contributors ultimately build and contributed to this book. However, there’s no grand institution incentivizing the development of this or the ongoing maintenance or that kind of a thing.

And as two people, we’re pretty professionally engaged, and time is always going to be a limitation. We can’t do it alone. There is also that sense of ask a favor, owe a favor. A little bit of that. So, we need to be careful in identifying people where it really benefits them to be contributing to the next iteration. And then, there’s also the question of logistics. So, should we have new editors updating old authors’ chapters?

Or is that putting words in their mouths? Should we have a new chapter instead? And what if we have a new chapter, should we replace the old chapter? Or it’s pretty soon to take away someone’s work out of the book that volunteered to do something. So, those are some decisions that probably need to be discussed and made. And then, finally, there’s the issue of print on demand.

If we release and when we release a second edition, what happens to the old one? If we take it out of print on demand, will people be hawking and price gouging copies of the old one and confusing the students, who we want to be buying the new one? So, all of those things are what I’ll call the challenges and things that need to be done with that particular book.

Karen: Liz, there’s a lot there, thank you.

Liz: You’re welcome. (Laughter)

Karen: I will now hand things over to Josie.

Josie: Hi everyone, thanks, Liz and thank you, Karen and Zoe for inviting me to speak today. So, as Karen mentioned, I am the coordinator of collection quality at BCcampus open education. So, I help manage our open textbook collection. And that means adding books to the collection, working with authors to help them meet our collection requirements, managing our open textbooks reviews for all the books in our collection.

And this year, I’ve also started an annual review of our entire collection. So, what this looks like is me going through all 250 books, or whatever number we’re at now, and making sure that all of the books still meet our collection requirements, which we have revised as our project has progressed. I’m looking for updated files or new editions of books that we might have missed or haven’t been communicated to us.

And I’m also reading reviews and flagging books that might be in need of updates and revisions and communicating that to authors. BCcampus also publishes a number of books ourselves. So, of the books that we publish, we want to make sure that those books that we’re maintaining the technical and formatting aspects of those books and ensuring that all of the metadata is complete and consistent across all of the books in our collection, so that’s part of our review, as well.

And then, so for those books, I’m flagging books that need some attention on our end, and then communicating to authors if there’s work that they need to do. And I think I’ll talk a little bit in addition about our process of updating files and posting new editions of books. So, for books that are undergoing small fixes, like maybe there’s an error correction or things like that, we generally will replace the files right away.

And then, we keep a versioning history page for all of the books in our collection, where we can communicate the different changes and the dates those changes were made. So, everyone who’s using the book through our collection can be on the same page with what changes have been made since they last downloaded the book. And then, we also replace the print on demand copy right away.

As for new editions, we’re more careful about when we change those files, to make sure we don’t change and replace files in the middle of a semester, which might throw students and instructors who are using the book off. So, what we will do is we will post both copies, both versions of the book, and then we’ll link between the old version and the new version, so people get a notice that there’s a new version existing and that they should go check it out.

And we will leave the old version hosted, up until the first month of the second semester, of the next semester. So, that gives people lots of time to see the notice and figure out where they can find the new version and figure out what it looks like and what those changes are. And then, so once the first month of the next semester passes, we will take down those files and then, save them in our file system that we have at BCcampus.

So that we still have those copies if someone emails us frantically and says, “I need this version of the book, where is it?” And we can still provide it to them that way. A few other things I’d like to highlight is part of the work that Laurie Aesop has done in our self-publishing guide, which I will post a link in the chat. So, this is for strategies individual authors can take for maintaining their book.

And in this guide, one thing she’s highlighted is establishing a revision schedule, which Liz has talked about, to try to figure out when’s the best time to make these changes and when you have time to make those changes. So, significant errors can probably be fixed right away, but smaller changes that aren’t as important might be things you can address a few times a year. But if you’re looking to make big changes or revisions, it’s best to keep a running list of the things you’d like to do.

And then, put that aside for when you have time to actually tackle them. And another thing to keep in mind with open textbooks is that you’re not alone in maintaining them. There’s the instructors and students using your textbook are often a great resource for helping you keep it up to date. Students are great fact checkers, and the instructors using your book will be best placed to flag outdated research and suggest potential new chapters or updates or maybe even to collaborate on future revisions.

And as such, you’ll want to make it easy for people to contact you, and you may also wish to ask people to let you know if they’re using your book. So, you can communicate with them and let them know of any changes that are coming through. And in the books that BCcampus publishes, we do this by providing a link to a form, where people can contact us to let us know of any errors they find or problems that they have with the book.

And as Liz mentioned, Hypothesis is another way that you can encourage people to send you feedback. And I think the final thing I’d like to touch on is being really open and transparent about the changes you’re making. Make sure you let people know so that means email or letting the collections that host your book know if you have a new edition. It means emailing anyone you know that might be using your book to let them know that changes are being made.

And also, posting what those changes are so people can stay on top of how the book has changed over time. Thank you.

Karen: Thanks, Josie and thanks for all of the resources you mentioned. There’s already a great conversation in the chat, and so we will turn to that after hearing from Anthony, who I will turn it over to now.

Anthony: Great, thanks so much. I will just say I’m just piggybacking off of what Josie was saying. I think the theme of our approach at OpenStax is really trying to be as transparent as possible. The most frequent type of maintenance we do is related to updates and error reports we receive from our users. So, either partners, other collections, or faculty, and even students, who are finding things that they take issue with or think should be updated.

So, I think the first area that I’ll touch on is transparency around the errors and the updates. Many faculty know that textbooks and other resources will have errors. Not everybody, not every stakeholder in the process will however, some people are very surprised to see that. But it’s a common thing around all educational resources that no matter how much rigor is put into it, that errors and things can persist.

Our process involves running any suggestions we get through a panel of faculty subject matter experts in that discipline. And that might include the author or authors, sometimes we try to not have it include the author or authors, so there’s a degree of independence there. Depends on who’s interested, and who wants to contribute that way. We also do have a lot of link issues in our textbooks that we try to update.

And we have some automated, I’ve seen in the chat, some discussion about it, maybe methods are similar to what’s being mentioned there. We do have a lot of that, and we have to update those regularly as well. In terms of the frequency and scope of the changes we make, the decisions are really made course by course. For math faculty, for example, as long as it’s not disruptive, the general approach is they want to see the errors corrected, anything updated as quickly as possible, to avoid any incorrectness getting out to students.

And to avoid frustration amongst students. But and that’s a generalization of course, but that’s one example. In other areas, for example, even American government, or in political science, although we could update basically every day, with the pace of changes in politics, especially nowadays. But American government faculty have clearly indicated they don’t want that, they want a much longer cadence of changes, and that they actually use the outdatedness to an extent, as a teachable moment.

Saying something’s changed, something about media, something about a person in a position in government and so on. So, there are certain benchmarks that they want to be updated around, such as every major election, regular election, mid-term election in the United States, at least. So, we base our update practices on feedback from the individual instructors in that discipline, and then we come up with a plan based on that.

And on the macro scale, very similar to what Josie was describing, we decide on the updates whether it should be annual, whether it should be semi-annual and try to avoid things in the middle of a semester, unless it’s really critical, unless it’s a real critical error, or an error that we don’t think will be disruptive to anybody if we go and change. We do track our versions and our version history, so users know which ones they’re using.

And then we filter down updates to a lot of our partners, on an annual basis around the middle of March, so they have plenty of time to update any versions they’re using before the start of the big usage in the fall semester. I’m going to try to show a couple of things, I’m going to share my screen, I hope that’s okay? And here we go. So, I hope you can see my screen? I’m looking for nods, okay, great.

So, one thing I mentioned transparency is just in our books, and this is just what we put. There’s a lot of other ways to say this. But to make it really clear that we will have errata, that we will do updates, and making that clear to any users, so that they know. And that they know hopefully any users, whether it’s a partner, whether it’s another OER organization, or whether it’s an individual faculty member or student know a little bit about it and also that they can ask us about it as well.

And that they can go and post errata, so I don’t have to read this to you. But basically, we have this in all of our books, and we try to keep it as front and center as possible. Another thing I wanted to share is so, Josie mentioned a form, we have a form as well. This is just an example of one type of form you can use. And what this helps us do is to direct the thing, a broken link or a typo or something can probably be handled by an editor.

But something about an incorrect answer or general pedagogical suggestion probably needs to go to that subject matter expert, that faculty member. And we just try to get as much specificity as we can. And then, finally, I’m tracking, this is just a list of errata and this looks very automated and it is. But I will say that we also do things in a very personal way, we try as much as possible to get back to everybody.

We know that nobody wants any submissions to go into a black hole. So, we annotate it here, and we make this very public for everybody, but I still get emails from people on a weekly basis about hey, update this, or I think this is wrong. Or I was going through this chapter, and it happens all the time. So, we try to take it as much as possible. And again, as long as you’re transparent about the process and the delivery most of the users seem okay with it. Thanks.

Karen: Thanks Anthony. So, that last screen you were showing, that’s a public screen for everyone?

Anthony: Yeah, on every one of our book pages there’s an errata list, and some of them, even our most widely used books will have hundreds of them. And we welcome that, and we look at every single one and update it as needed.

Karen: Great, thank you. Okay, so there was a conversation about link checks in the chat. I’m not sure if there’s more to discuss with that? So, I’m just going to pause to see if anyone wants to talk about that now that we’ve heard from all of our guests?

Josie: I think I would just add the internet archive can be a way to find a link if you’ve lost it. You can sometimes find the original version of the webpage that you’re referring to.

Karen: Thanks, Josie. I think the first question I see here is from Steve, who’s interested in strategies for how to implement student content creation with minimal user account management. Would this be done using comments and an editor? Is this maybe a Pressbooks question, Liz?

Liz: I can probably take that one. I would probably just give them a certain level of user access, all the same level. I want to say right now I’d give them an editor access. But I’ll triple check that and actually follow up, that way they can create things, but they can’t do too much that’s destructive, like destroy the book that you’re working on and that kind of a thing.

Steve: Can I just add to that question? Okay, well, I’ve got many years of WordPress developer experience, so I’m familiar with what is possible on the off the shelf capabilities of Pressbooks from a user account perspective. I’m just trying to think about putting myself in the instructor’s place here, about how this individual goes about managing all of these user accounts as students come and go.

And at this point right now, there’s no single sign on integration where there is an API or some sort of connectivity that could take our LDAP or OFFNET or whatever it is that we’re using for online course access and get that integrated into Pressbooks. So, I’m just trying to figure out would it be easier if students who wanted to add content to a chapter to just put in comments?

And then, the instructor or whoever owns the book goes through the comments and makes selections and copy pastes it. Or whether there’s something that someone has discovered that seems to work perfectly in minimizing the amount of logistics and still getting the same effect.

Liz: Just from my opinion, if it were me, I would probably suspect that going through the comments might actually be harder for the instructor, than just if the students were submitting in something like maybe a Google document. If the instructor is going to be the one managing that content, where maybe they’re pulling it in, all of the content, as opposed to 30 students participating in that way.

It probably depends on whether the instructor wants the students to get the experience of working with the WordPress and learning that tool. I’ve heard different variations of that. I did want to just say we do have SSO, not everyone has it enabled on their system, and that’s a different issue. But I think that would be my suggestion.

Steve: Okay.

Karen: Steve, do you also want to ask your question about version tracking? I’m just going in order here in the chat.

Steve: Sure. We’re a really small college compared to the BU and Boston College and some of the larger institutions. So, I guess what I’m trying to figure out here let’s put it this way, in the Pressbook that I created for my course, and I’m one of the staff instructional designers here, so I’m practicing what I preach and using my course as a laboratory, as a way for advising other instructors.

And whenever I have a revision, whether it’s in the middle of my course term or before it or after it, I just regenerate the files. And we point students to the title page, to the download section of it below the image. And if they get the most recently generated EPUB file or PDF whatever it may be, that’s that. We don’t maintain any kind of version tracking. Now, maybe there’s a better way to do this.

But it seems to me like that would require either delegating to the library staff or delegating that on some department level or something. And I just can’t imagine that human resource being allocated to do that. So, I’m curious to know how that whole version tracking thing is being done as part of task management?

Josie: I guess I could speak to that maybe a little bit. So, for the books that BCcampus publishes, once an author has published their book, we remove their permissions, so they can’t edit the copy that we have in our collection anymore. So, that means any error reports that come in are managed by me, generally. So, I take over contacting the author with the error report, getting them to approve any changes they want made.

And then, I go in and make the changes in the book, I update the versioning history page, and I’m going to post a link of an example of a book for introduction to sociology textbook. And then, I re-export all of the files that way. So, I don’t know if that exactly answers your question, but that’s how we manage.

Steve: All right, so forgive me for asking you this, but what’s your title and what department do you work in?

Josie: So, I don’t for an institution, I work for BCcampus, so we’re outside of the institution. So, we are an open textbook publisher.

Steve: Okay, so I see. So, what you’ve worked out is a situation where you provide that service for the college?

Josie: Yes, we support the authors in that.

Karen: And so, I just want to acknowledge Steve’s comment, which I was going to mention earlier, in that we try to also have a guest from a library publishing program, who could speak about their process. We have people from BCcampus, OpenStax and then a co-editor on a project in Rebus Press. And we’re really hoping to get that library perspective as well, because I hear you and your question, Steve.

And that it’s a different environment and so, these challenges about well, who’s going to do this work? And on what schedule? I think there’s a lot more to explore there. Liz?

Liz: And I can add just one thing as well. Each semester, originally when we were in beta, we actually it was an ostensible beta and we had been very upfront about that. So, we would, if we made changes during that semester, we would actually add them to the bottom of the chapter. We also collected them all, there were like 273 changes or something in a spreadsheet.

We didn’t publicize the spreadsheet of what got changed, necessarily, but we did at the end of that semester when we were releasing the book, we sent a pretty sort of like a summary of here are all the changes we’ve made to the book in this semester. And then, again, when we did that in August, we did sort of a high-level summary of we changed this to be this. We added these things, we found one major error in this chapter.

So that people knew from the community to go to download those new downloads. And that the book had changed just a little bit, so they weren’t surprised for their semester.

Karen: Thanks Liz. Apurva, I see your question in the chat. Do you want to ask it? I’m going to put you on the spot. (Silence) Terrible construction, okay. Josie, this question is for you, from Apurva. She’s wondering if you also pull older versions of textbooks from repositories when a new version or edition comes out? Or is that a decision left with the repository itself?

Josie: I’m not totally sure what you mean, Apurva. But what I can say is that so if we have a book in our collection and a new edition comes out, no matter who published that, we will save that old edition. But if we post a book, if we decide to add a book, and there’s older editions existing of it, we won’t be saving those. Does that answer your question? Great.

Karen: It does. Great. Okay, continuing down the line here. I think Clare has the next question, which is around budgeting and how much you budget for book updates on an annual basis and what cost that money goes toward?

Anthony: I can take that, at least from OpenStax’s perspective, we expect that it’s going to be at least a couple of thousand dollars, I think for a newer book. Because of especially a quantitative book, where we know we’re going to see a lot of errors and a lot of requests for updates and things like that. And also, books that are heavy in links that we might have to do updates, and somebody might have to go find those links, rather than use a bot or a spider, or something.

But that definitely tapers off over time. And it gets down, significantly less over years, after a lot of the stuff’s been cleaned out. And to be honest, from my experience, that’s a pretty similar pattern to a lot of commercial publishers, even. The second edition of a book costs a lot more than the fifth edition, unless you’re doing something tremendously different. That pattern can siphon off a little bit, but it’s an expense.

Karen: Thank you, Anthony. That is definitely another question I think that it would be good to get the library perspective on. ‘Cause we’ve got the big OpenStax publisher perspective as you guys are sometimes perceived. So, Steve I think you have some more questions here, I’m not sure if they’ve been addressed in the chat? If you don’t unmute, I will assume you feel they’ve been addressed.

Steve: I’m good for now. I always have many, many questions. But I don’t want to overrun my stay.

Karen: Well, we appreciate your questions. And actually, I think this is about time to invite more questions, ’cause we’ve covered the ones that are in the chat. So, feel free to unmute, or type away, if you prefer that method. I’m going to ask a question myself. So, are any of you working off handy checklists that perhaps we could use as a starting point? Josie, you put Laurie’s self-publishing guide in the chat.

I’m wondering if there are other existing tools that we could use as a way to think about okay, annually, I’m going to put a reminder in my calendar, in July to run through this checklist. Darn.

Anthony: We have checklists.

Josie: We should make one. (Laughter)

Karen: Okay, I guess the next question would be checklists you can share? Was that a nod?

Anthony: Yes, at least I’d be glad to share ours, one version. Sure.

Karen: Super. Thanks.

Anthony: I don’t have it handy, but I’ll grab it.

Zoe: We may or may not have something similar to that in progress, but it is not yet ready to share.

Karen: Okay, great.

Zoe: This conversation is already really influencing, which I’m enjoying, so thank you, everybody. And one thing I wanted to pick up on again, and it’s not quite a question but it’s something that really struck me as Liz was talking about the work that you can do upfront, to make sure that your content stays evergreen. And so, if you build in this mindset of okay, I want this content to have a long shelf life.

That there’s work you can do from the very beginning to set it up for that and to make it as easy as possible to maintain over the long term. I think that’s a really important point that is useful whatever kind of scale you’re working at, I think. Sorry, that was a question, not a comment, I shouldn’t do that (laughter).

Karen: Well, maybe Liz, you mentioned some evergreen techniques, or that you had that in mind when building your book. Can you come in?

Liz: Yeah, one of the things that is a little unique about our book is a lot of it is about personal experience. We are trying to give students in the media industry, whether that’s communications or journalism, an understanding of what it would be like to create their own job, whether that is a content or a technology play. And in that, a lot of the book is sidebars with it might be an interview with someone who does Kickstarter funding on how to best do that for your venture.

It might be like there’s a first-person sidebar from a student who won a competition to get a grant to start his venture and then, the venture failed. And so, it’s very personal experience, and a lot of it. And that isn’t going to go out of date, and that’s great. We might add to it, but that is pretty stable. The chapters themselves were also built in a very modular way. We decided that this was for about four different types of classes, not just one.

And so, we wanted people to be able to use just this chapter, or these three chapters. And there are a lot of use cases where that’s the case. And some of them, the way we envisioned it is we were curating the resources we didn’t have to teach this course. And the resources we knew all of our colleagues didn’t have to teach this course, when they were thrown into teaching this course. And it was like each one addressed a missing resource.

And so, there were other things, like there’s a case study by Jake Batsell that was done with he had done it in conjunction with Knight Foundation. So, that’s a chapter, and he updated that research for the book. But in general, it is about his experience at this one media company. So, that is what happened, it doesn’t necessarily change because time has gone on.

So, we were conscious of that, and I think also the subject matter is a little different in the sense that I mean, there are aspects of entrepreneurship and ideation and business principles that just don’t change all that much. So, we got lucky, I guess (laughs). But we were thinking about that at the beginning as well. Yeah.

Karen: Thanks, Liz. So, I’m going to group, Rebel has two questions that Anthony has addressed in the chat. But I’m just going to bring them out, audio style. Traditionally, a new edition would not be published until 5% or more change of content. Do any of you follow this particular standard?

And with that question she also asked are you registering ISBNs new with each edition? So, Anthony in the chat mentions it depends on what you mean by revision. A full revision with ISBN. Second edition, third edition would be that 5% to 10% but an update with links, errors those things might be less. Josie, or Liz, do you have anything you’d like to chime in there? The shake of the head, okay.

Anthony: That ISBN issue, too, in the past, at least at OpenStax and we’re wrestling with this all the time. We only did new ISBNs for new editions, new formal, second, third editions. And we don’t do those very often. But we’ve run into some problems with that means that print books and things like that it all gets mixed. And that’s a traditional that people see with commercial publishers, too, so many faculty and any distributors, book stores, whoever else, is actually okay with it.

But it does make things more difficult for users. So, we’ve been trying to see if we could do new ISBNs even for updates without being too disruptive, and it’s been a little bit of a question mark for us that we’re wrestling through.

Zoe: I think it’s somewhere where OER runs into traditional standards in some really tricky ways that are not always easy to figure out. And that these books are more like a living document, where they can be changing a lot over time. And there is a point to your point, Rebel, we don’t work on a 5% to 10% number, but have a sense of what kinds of changes merit a new edition.

But it’s just a different kind of text that we’re trying to fit into a system that was designed for a publishing system that is very much structured and they will release their new edition. And it’s a little tricky sometimes to find ways to work within that. But I think as Anthony gestured to is what’s that actually useful for? And how is that useful to users and readers? And to approach it from that side, to make the system work for what we need out of it.

Karen: Okay. There’s another question related to open pedagogy in the chat about if anyone here has a rubric for determining what student work can be incorporated in the textbook? I’m thinking of something that can be shared with students to set expectations of acceptable work. Let me know if you’d like to add any details to that question.

Zoe: I think there are likely many examples of how people approach that in their projects. And really as a function of their course, there are lots of people who do share their projects that they’ve put in place with their students and include details like that. So, I wouldn’t say there’s one that I could necessarily point to. But I could have a think of a couple of the well-known projects that might have stuff like that available.

And I think we’re always hearing really new and interesting ideas of how people do get that student input. So, it’s an exciting area, and I think enough different versions of what that can look like. That there isn’t one answer for that, but many that could be very interesting. And I know that are a couple that I’m thinking of that are in our guide to making open textbooks with students, which Liz has just kindly dropped into the chat, thank you for that.

So, that would be one place to start, and then as I say, I think there are a few around, I’ll see if I can get any others.

Karen: Sheryl added to your point, Zoe, that it’s going to depend of type or genre or discipline, I assume of the textbook. Go ahead.

Zoe: And I was just going to say, and what you’re asking students to do. So, we in one of our better projects recently, who has gone through and adapted a text and then, had students working on a wiki books version of the text, to edit it and update it and that’s part of their assignments to do. So, is to make at least one change in the book that’ll be retained in the next edition.

And then, there are others who are having students create a chapter from scratch, and that’s their assignment that they’re fulfilling. So, there are different kinds of work that they can be doing, too that will be assessed differently.

Karen: Rebel has a great question about the context of our conversation so far. So, she mentioned it seems like most examples are about getting input for changes. But what happens when you don’t get any input or revision advice and years have gone by? Would you still force a revision or update or do something? Anthony, you unmuted.

Anthony: I think it depends on the discipline. I think and that’s where author discretion and other stakeholders can have their view. But in a course like calculus or physics where there’s always the cliché, oh it hasn’t changed in 500 years. And yes, it has, but there doesn’t need to be revisions very frequently. But another discipline a lot of authors would say there probably would be.

I think Liz made very clear, maybe things that might come in and indicate that versus things that aren’t, that are evergreen. So, I think it’s really dependent on the discipline. And I do think in the OER community, we want to emphasize best practices and so on. And some updating that in the traditional publishing world has been effective and is helpful but in other times we know that it’s artificial and doesn’t need to be done.

So, I think we have to think about that, even if it’s for the best reasons, the perception of that and the reasons doing it now. It’s open and it’s in many cases free, there really should be no accusation of trying to make more money off it, or anything. But we have to think about that response and perception as well.

Zoe: I think, too, that’s where building in communications and community around a book is really important, too. Because if you have even if it’s just a spreadsheet somewhere of people who have adopted the book, then if you’re feeling like maybe it’s starting to, it’s going to need attention, whether you’re the author or you’re responsible for maintaining it otherwise.

That’s a place to start, to actually ask is the reason you haven’t had feedback because everybody’s happy? If so, great, but you can kind of confirm that if you have that kind of communication happening around a book and you know who’s involved and invested in it. And Josie, you talked about this, too, of you’re not in this alone. It is about all the people who are using the book and invested in it in the long run.

So, that can be one way to gauge whether your sense of there being no feedback is because everything’s all right. Or is it just that it’s gone quiet and a little bit of spark of action will get things moving again and you’ll find what’s actually needed and if there does need to be more revisions or updates.

Karen: Right, and Clare made, I think, a similar point to Anthony in terms of like what are people’s perceptions if it hasn’t been updated in a while? Will they think like gosh, this is out of date? And these are good considerations. Josie, I have a question for you for BCcampus publications. And if you could talk a little bit about working with authors and how that goes.

You mentioned that you do bring them feedback for revisions or errata or work with them on updates. And can you talk a little bit about how you communicate with them? And if you ever have resistance or if people are always at the ready to make any changes?

Josie: So far, it’s been learning as I go. I haven’t taken on any major revisions of any of our books, yet. So, most of the stuff I’ve done is like, “Oh we’ve had this error reported here, can I make this change?” And it’s fine. I have had some problems, where the changes required some re-writing and this was re-writing that I wasn’t in a place to do, even if I could verify. I could verify that there were mistakes, but I wasn’t in a place to do the re-writing myself.

And having problems getting the author to actually send me what I need to replace in the textbook. So, there’s been differing levels of response with that.

Karen: And so, I wonder if that relates to an earlier question from Clare about budgeting and whether or not we consider putting some of the open textbook publishing or creation monies into a sort of revision pot for later, to inspire or motivate authors to revisit their work? Is anyone familiar with that idea?

Josie: I think it’s something that BCcampus has definitely been talking about, right now, most of our funding does still go into adaptation and creation. And we haven’t taken on any revisions of any of the books we’ve published. But it is something that I think we’d like to do and something that is needed, we do get reviews that say, “Okay, this chapter needs some reworking because it is out of date, or it doesn’t really address the audience in the right way.” So, that is something that we’re thinking about, but we haven’t tackled yet.

Karen: Thanks, Josie. Other questions for our guests or other people in the call? We’re rounding at the hour.

Zoe: I might jump in with one for Josie, if I may? And this is Apurva in the construction zone also communicating with me. We were wondering related to that thought of books being perceived as inactive or going out of date. Was that part of what prompted the review that you’re undertaking? Or what led to that substantial overall review that you’re going through?

Josie: The main motivation for that review is because when we first started our collection, we had a mandate to have 50 textbooks covering the most popular areas. So, that was something we were required to provide for our funding. And so, that meant that a lot of the books we added initially didn’t meet some of the requirements that we now have in our collection.

For example, they didn’t have editable files, or they didn’t have editable files, they didn’t have table of contents, they were hard to navigate, things like that. So, a big part of that review is going back to those books we posted initially, and making sure that if they’re not being used, if they still meet the requirements of our collection.

Zoe: Great, thanks for that. And I see a great question from Deb in the chat or comment rather, that CALI offers money for what you label substantial revisions, changes to context rather than adding a comma, which I think is one of those nice lines to draw, although it can be tricky. Deb, I will put you on the spot a little bit, do you want to chat a little bit more about your approach there? It’s fine if not.

Deb: Sure, you asked me to comment? Right, so I have found the way you get people’s attention, so I don’t run into the problem that Josie mentioned is to wave cash at people. And so, I put it into the contract, actually, with authors now, so there’s an expectation. I put in the second sentence basically reads: And if not you, someone else. And because our books are primarily written by solo authors, rather than community-based projects, people are very concerned with what their reputation and what their content is.

So, usually, if I’m patient and call and send enough happy emails, they will do something, maybe not on my timeline, which is usually yesterday I wanted it (laughs). But I’ll cut back on the coffee and then, go with their timeline.

Zoe: Excellent, thanks for that.

Karen: So, Apurva asked the same question that I had, which is Deb, do you have that contract language that you’d be willing to share about revisions?

Deb: Yeah, I have it, it’s not super handy, but I’ll find it and I’ll send it up to the Rebus people, if I may?

Karen: Super, thank you.

Deb: Excellent, thank you.

Zoe: Thank you.

Karen: All right, well things have slowed down in the chat, and there are periods of silence. So, I’m going to start the wrap up talk, unless anyone wants to come in?

Zoe: I might, just with another observation, if I may? (Laughs) From what Deb just mentioned there about who’s doing, who’s making the changes to content that someone else has created. And Liz you suggested this as well, I think that’s another place where I see that’s a little bit uncharted territory. And this introduction of what’s possible with open and open licensing means that it’s permitted.

But I think there’s also a lot of respect for creation and the people who’ve put the work in. And so, it’s balancing that, what you’re legally permitted to do and what is sometimes going to be necessary in terms of when you’re responsible for content, making it available and keeping it updated. And I think there are probably some kind of community norms that will need to develop around that. There are guidelines for attribution that do some of that work.

But it’s a bit of a new thing, as well, and I’m sure others of you have come across this, too, as when people are getting into adaptation and thinking about oh, I’m taking somebody else’s work and changing it and making it into something else. That’s a little bit uncomfortable sometimes, and as I say, I think within this maintenance context, too that’s going to come up.

I don’t have a tidy bow to put on this, but I think there’s to come back to thinking about what is the purpose of this content? What was the intention when it was created? And with open educational materials that it is available, and it is available for re-mixing and reuse. And so, making sure that you’re reflecting the gratitude to the people before, but also, in a practical sense, being able to move forward with that content.

Just another thought that occurred to me, as I say, came up with a couple of those there. And Liz, I don’t know if you want to talk to that at all, if you’ve figured out a way to handle that with your group of authors?

Liz: You know, I feel like I haven’t figured it out yet. But one thing I’ve thought about doing is before the next round of revision, maybe reaching out to them and just letting them know. “Hey, are there updates you’d like to make to your chapter? And we were thinking of making the following updates. Just note that your chapter will be updated.” And hopefully, give them the opportunity to be the person updating it, but if they don’t take that opportunity, at least they’ve been made aware that that might happen. Yeah.

Zoe: Yeah, that sounds like a good approach and similar to Deb’s as well. Just you know that it’s done transparently, which again looks back to what was said earlier. Do it transparently, give people that opportunity and then move forward as you need to.

Karen: Okay, Zoe. How are you feeling?

Zoe: I’m good, I think I’m done with my comments that are not questions, thank you. (Laughter)

Karen: Well, thank you, Zoe and Rebus Community, for another wonderful Office Hours. Thank you to our three guests, Liz, Anthony, and Josie for sharing your experience. Thanks to everyone who attended, and also sharing your experience and resources in the chat. As always, we enjoy getting together and talking about issues that we all share. It sounds like we are going to revisit this and continue the conversation and share some guidelines in the future.

I’m going to put the little link to our survey again in the chat, if you wouldn’t mind taking a minute or two to just let us know how Office Hours are working for you, future topics, we would appreciate it. And that is all for now from me. So, thank you again, Liz, Anthony, and Josie.

Zoe: Thank you so much, Karen, and thank you to our guests and everybody here today. This was a really wonderful and very practical conversation, I really get that sense from everybody this is a thing we’re all trying to do and figure out how to do. So, I’m excited to see more resources coming out that are existing and in the works for future as well. Thanks, everyone so much.


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