I can’t do it myself! Collaborating with colleagues around the world on OER

Christina Hendricks and Zoe Wake Hyde presented more on Rebus textbooks using the philosophy projects as an example. According to the schedule:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:
Explain how the Rebus Community can facilitate collaboration on OER
Evaluate potential benefits and challenges with this model, and offer possible ways to address the latter.

There are many people scattered across the globe with the skills needed to create excellent open educational resources; what many of us lack is the time to do it all ourselves. A number of ways to address this situation through collaborative creation of OER have emerged, including in-person and virtual sprints. The Rebus Community is facilitating another way: a kind of crowdsourcing model for students, faculty, staff, librarians, and others to get together online to create OER, with commitments ranging from a few minutes to a few months (or longer). One of these projects is a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy, which has nine planned volumes, each with a separate editor, and each with between 5 and 10 chapter authors. There are also others involved in the project, doing work from peer review to graphic design.

In this session Hugh McGuire from Rebus Community will speak about the collaborative open textbook building practice Rebus helps facilitate, and Christina Hendricks, lead editor for the Introduction to Philosophy series, will given an overview of how the project has evolved and some lessons learned. At least 10 minutes will be devoted to discussion: Participants will be asked to contribute their thoughts (possibly through an online platform such as Poll Everywhere) on potential challenges they can see with projects like this, and ideas on how to address them. We will also discuss together the potential for this kind of publishing model to address sustainability issues around OER.


My rambling notes:

This is an important model that needs a closer look. It seems like a great alternative to commercial partnerships and closed platforms.

  • Recruiting faculty through email lists
  • They are using Rebus Forums and a Rebus Projects Platform which has issues.
  • Workflows and guides: author guide, peer review guide, editor is chosen
  • Shared documents – Google Docs and Spreadsheets


  • Nine books – lots of volunteers: editors, authors, and reviewers
  • Processes and guides from Rebus
  • Great covers


  • Takes a long time
  • Organizing volunteers
  • Author Guide and style sheet – did not have one until January (Chicago Style)
  • Quality Control – had them peer reviewed
  • Communications – moved to email

Early Days:

  • This project not only increases OER but increases awareness and adoption.
  • In the early days they needed guinea pigs – learned by doing.
  • Huge initial response and community led
  • Documenting a publishing process that other people could use
    • Define and develop leadership structure
    • documentation
    • Guides

Evolution – participants not only created books but created the process.

Issues – mainly seem to be around communication – it seems to me that they need something like Slack or Basecamp – we need better open source communication/project management platforms.

Biggest lessons – Project managers are important but capacity is critical. Work needs to stay visible. Multiple voices in a project is as important as making sure it is a cohesive, useable doc for the students.

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