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Tools and Resources for OER: Textbooks & Documents

Digital Collections Repository

The Digital Collections Repository is a great place to share OERs that faculty create. Each item is assigned a permanent link that they can share out with their colleagues and students. Additionally, each item has viewable statistics so that they can see the impact of their OER - how many times the item is viewed and how many times the item is downloaded.

The majority of items in the Digital Collections Repository are text-based, but we can also support audio and video files if they include captioning or transcripts for accessibility. If an OER includes several different files (e.g., PDF, video, presentation, etc.), we can add each of those files to the record for folks to easily view and access them all at once. Any file format is fine (PDF, Word, PPT, Excel, etc.).

Most authors include the License (Creative Commons) on the work itself and we also include that in the metadata. It displays on the information page. Here is an example: https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/13069

Submitting work to the repository

Any current faculty can login to the Digital Collections Repository and self-submit their item(s) or email them to Laura Waugh (digitalcollections@txstate.edu). One other new feature is a Quick Submit form that any faculty can use to send the files.

From the Digital Collections homepage, on the left is the "Author's Corner" section that includes links to more information:

Accessibility for Text

Open Source and No-Cost Software

When creating or editing OER content, it is not necessary to use open software.

However, when use of the software is built into the OER, creators should find an open source option--for example, designing activities for an OER science module using open source simulation software.

Similarly, in open pedagogy, activities in which students interact with or create OER materials should be designed to incorporate open source software when possible to ensure equity of access. For example, if students are tasked to create an openly licensed infographic, instructors could help identify open source image editing software. 

More examples of open source software can be found on the OER and Library Resources by College LibGuide.

Open Source software
No-cost software

Canvas

Texas State's learning management system, Canvas, is open source. As a platform for OER content, Canvas has some strong points. There is no cost to access materials, and courses can be restricted to enrolled students or made public. The Canvas content editor allows for organization using modules, and there are multimedia capabilities. Content created in Canvas can be reused in different course sites and shared to Canvas Commons so others may also incorporate it in their courses.

When creating content in Canvas, it is possible to assign CC licenses to different parts of the course. 

No-cost options

bookdown is an open source project that creates longform articles and books using R Markdown. Completed books can be hosted by bookdown or uploaded to a website.

Using this tool requires some coding experience. Because it integrates well with coding languages and LaTeX equations, this tool is often used for books related to data science and programming.

Examples:

EdTech Books is a site that allows authors to design and publish open textbooks. It also links to books hosted elsewhere upon request in order to increase discoverability. Books on the site tend to fit into the categories of education or technology, but the website does not state that other topics are not accepted.

Information is provided on how to publish on the site, with more details listed in the user manual.

One unique feature of the site is a badging system for quality assurance. Books are assigned a badge if they meet the criteria for the following standards:

  • Expert Author - the author is determined by site administrators to be the holder of a terminal degree in the topic from an accredited educational institution.
  • High Quality - readers have given the book an average rating of 3.5 out of 5.
  • Original Research - the authors indicated upon submission that the work contains previously unpublished original research.
  • Peer Reviewed - site administrators verified that the content had been through a rigorous peer review process.
  • Trending - assigned to books that have the highest traffic on the site.

Examples:

Google Sites is a website builder tool that is part of the Google Workspace suite. Individuals can create Sites at no cost but with limited storage space.

Google Workspace is also available with an institutional membership, which Texas State does not have. Instead, as we are Office 365 users, Sway would be a possible alternative.

Examples:

Microsoft Sway is a presentation creator that can combine multimedia elements into an interactive format. It adapts well to different screens, including mobile. Sway produces a standalone presentation that can be accessed with a link, or the presentation can be embedded in another site, such as Canvas.

Sway is part of the Office 365 suite of tools, so it can be used by Texas State affiliated individuals at no cost. The content that is created can be shared publicly. 

Examples:

A PDF is a good option for most OER documents because it is a widely available, non-proprietary format. Documents can be created in a word processor or publishing software and exported in PDF format, and most software will allow the inclusion of hyperlinks and images. Some options for open source or no-cost software are listed in the Open Source and No-Cost Software box to the left.

Examples:

Paid or subscription options

Manifold is an open source publishing platform. It allows authors to enrich their text with multimedia inclusions and allows readers to annotate and discuss the text. 

Manifold works with publishing organizations rather than individual authors. As such, authors would need to be affiliated with a publishing organization to have their book hosted through Manifold. In this instance, "publishing organization" does not necessarily mean a traditional publishing company but instead any individual or institution that maintains a Manifold platform instance.

Because it is an open source platform, publishers can create their own instance of Manifold on a local server at no cost. Alternatively, publishers can pay a hosting fee to have their instance remotely managed. Texas State does not currently have an instance of Manifold.

Examples:

Pressbooks is probably the best known platform for creating and hosting online educational content, both OER and not. It allows authors to enrich their text with interactive multimedia elements and provides multiple download options. The Pressbooks Directory lists the content available on the platform.  

Pressbooks is a paid service that can be accessed in two ways. First, institutions can subscribe to Pressbooks and serve as the "publisher." Texas State does not currently subscribe to Pressbooks. Second, authors can work directly with Pressbooks to publish their content. The costs for this second option are listed on the website. 

Examples:

Other Authoring Tools