Open Resource Built on Pressbooks Wins Open Education Award

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students, built on Pressbooks, has been recognized by the Open Education Consortium. Other winners include the H5P plugin, now available on PressbookEDU.


A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students coverA Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students just won a 2018 Open Education Award for Excellence in the Open Textbook category, and it’s built on Pressbooks!

The awards are given by Open Education Consortium to recognize “distinctive open educational resources, open projects and initiatives.” The international selection committee includes educators and opken education advocates.

Elizabeth Mays (who some of you may know from Pressbooks) was the lead editor on this project for the Rebus Community.

The book includes major contributions from educators and students prominent in making open textbooks: Robin DeRosa, Rajiv Jhangiani, Timothy Robbins, David Squires, Julie Ward, Anna Andrzejewski, Samara Burns, Matthew Moore, Alice Barrett, Amanda Coolidge, Maxwell Nicholson, Steel Wagstaff, Gabriel Higginbotham, Zoe Wake Hyde, and Apurva Ashok.

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students contains:

  • An introduction to open pedagogy from experts Robin DeRosa, director of interdisciplinary studies at Plymouth State University, and Rajiv Jhangiani, University Teaching Fellow in Open Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Project ideas, case studies, interviews with and first-person accounts from faculty and students engaged in open textbook projects in the classroom
  • Three sample assignments for creating or updating open textbooks from faculty who have done such projects
  • Resources such as a guide to CC licensing, an MOU for students and faculty
  • And more!

“Building the book in Pressbooks, with its public webbook feature, allowed the resource to spread virally,” Elizabeth said. “More than 20 education-related sites had linked to the webbook at last check. Others have requested we send them copies of the book in print, which we canc easily have made from the Pressbooks PDF.”

The resource is one of 10 winners.

H5P plugin also wins a 2018 Open Education Award for Excellence

H5P, which is now available on PressbooksEDU enterprise networks, won the award for Free and Open source Software (FOSS) for Education.

This award category was for an “efficient software application proven to be an essential tool for professionals, trainers and teachers for building, and delivering OER.”

The plugin was developed by H5POrg in Tromsø, Norway, and is a popular tool for faculty and instructors building dynamic open textbooks on PressbooksEDU.

The full list of winners is available on the OEC website.

New Features Coming to Pressbooks EDU in Q2!

We’ve heard a lot lately from Pressbooks’ educational users about what they’d like to see in PressbooksEDU networks. And we’re responding at lightning speed!

So far in Q1, we’ve redesigned the look and feel of webbooks and introduced the new customizable network theme (Aldine). (This work was done with Ryerson University, funded through an eCampusOntario grant.)

We’ve also added two new book themes designed for academic use (McLuhan and Jacobs), added a new contributor management feature, support for chapter-level cloning from Pressbooks, and added graceful support for interactive elements (audio, video, phet, and more), as well as supporting the H5P plugin. (A big thanks to eCampusOntario for supporting these developments.)

With this first batch of work wrapping up, we’re now looking ahead to the next three months and will once again be ticking off many more of your requests. Keep reading for a preview of what’s to come.

In addition, we’ll be looking at popular enterprise integrations for Pressbooks, including LTI and various single sign-on (SSO) methods, with the goal of ensuring that Pressbooks better supports these integrations.

Also coming soon is an easier way to import content from OpenStax, one of the major creators of open textbooks, using BCcampus’ OpenStax Importer for Pressbooks plugin. This will make it easier for those on Pressbooks networks to adapt open textbooks in a range of subjects. We’ll also review options to support Common Cartridge import and export to ensure first-class support for this format.

Those creating or adapting mathematical texts will be pleased to hear that QuickLaTeX is also on the way, to improve the quality of formulae in PDF exports.

In addition, we plan to improve the functionality and display of our tables with the addition of the TablePress plugin.

In late February, we applied a new theme, Aldine, to networks, which includes a customizable home page and a standalone catalog page. That will continue to get refinements, as will the new webbook. This will also entail continued work to improve accessibility, with input from the Inclusive Design and Research Centre.

We’re also continuing the process of converting all of our themes to offer the same user-friendly theme options currently available in Clarke, Asimov, McLuhan, and Jacobs themes. Keep an eye out, as we’ll be releasing the converted themes regularly as they are completed.

But that’s not all! As part of a new approach to our development process, we will be doing research into future features that will make PressbooksEDU even better for educational use. These include:

  • Tracking adoptions of open textbooks
  • Book and network analytics
  • Mathematics support improvements across formats (beyond Quick LaTeX)
  • Network-level default book settings
  • A process for handling premium plugins and plugin feature requests
  • Improvements to media management and image uploading
  • Implementing a new markup for books, based on HTMLBook
  • Broken link checker tools
  • Support for the forthcoming WordPress Gutenberg editor

As part of our research we will likely be reaching out to existing EDU users to get on-the-ground input on what these features should look like and how they can best work for you. Any specifics you can offer will be helpful before we move forward with development; so keep an eye out for our email!

Have questions about any of these upcoming additions? Want to explore a PressbooksEDU network with these new enterprise features? Contact us!

Enhanced Interactivity (Video, Audio & More) Now Available in Pressbooks

We’re happy to announce some major improvements to interactivity in Pressbooks books.

Previously, if you wanted to include a video (or other embedded content) in Pressbooks, there were three ways to do it. The first was to include a link to the video, which worked well on the webbook, but not anywhere else. Uploading the video or multimedia file into Pressbooks had the same problem, and was not the best use of Pressbooks’ storage space. So as best practice, we recommended option three: including a screenshot and linking that to the resource hosted elsewhere on the web (YouTube, Vimeo, or the like).

But now, when you embed a regular link to multimedia content, not only will it work in the webbook, but that embedded content will also degrade gracefully in non-web formats, such as the PDF for print and the ebook formats. Note that Pressbooks still doesn’t support embedding of iFrames because they pose security risks.

We’ve worked hard to find a solution to the display and behaviour of these elements in the non-web outputs (thanks to eCampus Ontario for funding this development work). Now, you can embed video, audio, or interactive content into your book from select pre-approved hosting sites. Detailed instructions on how to do so can be found in our user guide.

In addition, if you include a video, audio, or other multimedia file in your book, Pressbooks will insert an appropriate visual placeholder for it in your non-web outputs, along with a link so that those readers can go to the resource on the Web. If available, Pressbooks will also insert a thumbnail of the element in the non-web outputs.

audio multimedia icon Pressbooks interactive-multimedia-icon-Pressbooks video multimedia icon Pressbooks

 

 

Placeholders for interactive content or media elements in non-web formats, to be accompanied with text and the URL of the element on the web.

Next to the placeholder, you’ll see a note for the reader: “An interactive or media element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here: URL OF CONTENT IN PRESSBOOKS.”

Want to give the new capability a whirl? You can find instructions for how to embed multimedia in our user guide.

H5P Interactive Content

Pressbooks EDU networks have even more capability than these standard features. By default, all Pressbooks EDU networks will include the H5P plugin, which has become popular among educational Pressbooks users to enable H5P interactive content. Learn more about using the H5P plugin on your Pressbooks EDU network in our user guide.

Is your university interested in a Pressbooks EDU network? Email us at sales@pressbooks.com to learn more.

Tim Craig’s Cool Japan Finds Success as Textbook

Author Tim Craig’s book Cool Japan is selling well, getting great reviews, and has even been adopted as a textbook.

Tim published the book Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries in September 2017. It contains 12 case studies on Japanese cultural industries, both pop and traditional, and has been recently updated to cover the recent sumo scandal.

Tim holds a Ph.D. in International Business and Business Strategy, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biology, English, East Asian Studies, and International Management. He has 20 years’ teaching and research experience in top business schools in Canada and Japan, and an extensive publication record, including three books and numerous articles in academic and popular outlets. He speaks and reads Japanese fluently. Now retired from teaching, he is the owner and chief editor of Bluesky Academic Publishing, which provides editing and publishing services.

“I’m retired from teaching,” Tim says, “so up until last year, Bluesky was something I’d been doing on the side, but now it’s everything.”

As a former business professor, the author is no stranger to the case study model used in business schools. In this model, students read about a company and a business dilemma, and come to class prepared to discuss the case study and what they think the company should do. In fact, he used Cool Japan in his own course, the Business of Japanese Pop Culture, for an international MBA program. Some of the chapters of the book actually began as student projects in which a student would write a teaching case and Tim would continue to develop and rewrite it. The book is not just for business classes, though. It’s also being adopted in Introduction to Japan and Japanese Culture courses as well as university courses on pop culture.

To market the book to potential adopters, Tim researched every university with Asian or Japan studies departments or Japan-related courses in the English-speaking world and reached out to the professors who teach relevant subjects by email.

His message went something like this:

Looking for a textbook to use in a course on Japanese pop culture? One that is broad in coverage, extensively researched, enjoyable to read, up-to-date, and reasonably priced for students? Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries may be just what you need.

Cool Japan covers Japan’s pop music industry, idols, AKB48, Johnny & Associates, video games, anime, kawaii and Hello Kitty, tea, sumo, the Japanese government’s “Cool Japan” strategy, and more. It also comes with teaching notes that make it possible, for example, to effectively and confidently teach a class on anime or video games even if you do not watch anime or play video games and are not an “expert” on these topics.

Here are some comments from university faculty who have adopted Cool Japan for their courses:

“Wide-ranging and in depth on each topic.”

“I have been searching for a main textbook for my Japanese Pop Culture class and I just found a perfect one, your recently published Cool Japan book.”

“A great fit for this course.”

“The teaching notes with detailed instructions are very helpful.”

Cool Japan is available on Amazon in Kindle or paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HJW61M

Please find attached to this email an inspection copy of the book in EPUB format (for reading on PCs, tablets, etc.). If you have any questions about using Cool Japan in a course or would like a copy of the Teaching Notes, please email [email redacted].

In addition to selling the book on Amazon, Tim has actually had some luck selling the individual case studies on their own. This is similar, he says, to the model used by Ivey Publishing at University of Western Ontario in Canada and Harvard Business Publishing. University departments pay a per-student fee to license the case study. With each classroom purchase, the instructor also gets a master with teaching notes.

Tim said Pressbooks was a perfect tool to format the book for sale in this way, since Pressbooks makes it easy to export just a chapter of the book on its own.

He has also been marketing the book to a more general audience, but notes that that was much harder than marketing the book as a textbook, which had such a clear target audience. For a general audience, he has marketed the book through reviews on Amazon, social media, word of mouth, sharing with friends and family, and other strategies.

“It’s so true what they say,” Tim says. “You can write a great book, but marketing, that’s where the real work is.”

Cool Japan is neither Tim’s first book nor his last. Currently, he’s working on his next book, Taking Care of Business, a business English textbook. For this book, he has been using the built-in features of Pressbooks to create visual elements such as multiple-choice questions.

No Compass Needed cover Tim also assists other authors. Recently, he helped Earl Cooper to publish the book No Compass Needed: Travel Tales from Asia and the Pacific. In No Compass Needed, Earl and friends take readers from the telescopes at the rim of the world atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea to a meeting with machete-packing aboriginal ladies on the wall around Cambodia’s Angkor Thom, and on adventures to many little-known places in between.

“It’s a very unique book,” Tim says. “Both the pictures and [the author’s] particular voice.”

Nikki Scott of South East Asian Backpacker calls No Compass Needed, “Wonderfully written, very entertaining and fun! I was smiling all the way through!”

Of note, this book contains 130 images, which Tim says were fairly simple to import using Pressbooks. He offers these tips:

“For the paperback, I found that what worked best was to choose large size (not full size) for any image where the original was bigger than large size, and full size for any image where the original was smaller than large size. One exception to the above for No Compass Needed were two or three much-taller-than-wide pictures where choosing large size caused the caption to move to the next page (instead of being under the pic). For these I slowly reduced the size till the caption got on the same page as the pic in the pdf.”

Also, even though below-300-dpi images will throw warnings when you go to print-on-demand, depending on the scenario, Tim found that, depending on the type of image and their context, smaller images often turn out just fine.

Tim has a long track record editing academic work, but he credits Pressbooks with helping him to take his work further as an author and a publisher.

“The publishing thing kind of happened accidentally,” Tim says. “I’m just happy I discovered Pressbooks,” Tim says. “That’s what led me into doing publishing.”

New Look for Pressbooks Web Books & Other Big Changes

We’ve made some big changes to Pressbooks that we hope will make your workflow easier. Here’s what’s new.

At Long Last, a Save Button

We heard your pleas for a clearer way to save your chapters. It’s here! (In the past, the “save” button was named Update, Publish, or other variations based on the status of your post.) Note that when you create a new chapter, front or back matter section, you will first see a “Create” button, but subsequent changes can be saved by clicking on the new “Save” button. It’s the little things…

New Look for the Webbook

If you’re using the webbook, you’ll be glad to hear that all books, existing and new, now have a new webbook theme, McLuhan. A wider book layout, better scrolling and navigation are just some of the enhancements that the new theme enables. (And it’s pretty.) A big thanks to Ryerson University for supporting the development of this new theme.

Contributor Management

We’ve added a centralized contributor management tool where you can add contributors who can then be reused throughout your book as authors, editors, translators, reviewers, illustrators, and generic contributors.

Organize Page Improvements

We’ve revamped the Organize page, improving the display on mobile devices, and improving accessibility for keyboard navigation and screen reader users.

Chapter Importing

Now, you can import individual chapters from public, openly licensed Pressbooks webbooks using the Import tool. All you need to drop is drop in the URL to a book, begin the import process, then select the chapters you wish to add to your book. (Content that is private, “All Rights Reserved” or that carries any of the Creative Commons No-Derivatives licenses cannot be imported.)

Import Files from URL

You can now import supported file formats hosted on remote (web based) sources via URL. If you have files hosted elsewhere (with the right permissions), you no longer need to download and upload files, but can import them directly with just the URL.

Content Visibility

We’ve made it more intuitive to manage the visibility of your content across web and exports. Now you can simply designate content visibility in web and exports on both the Organize page and the edit screen for individual front matter, chapters and back matter.

content-visibility-screencap-from-Pressbooks-interface

Ebook Start Point

We’ve moved the ebook start point setting to the ebook Theme Options page to ensure that only one front matter, chapter, or back matter can be set as the ebook start point. (Note that Pressbooks tries to enforce the ebook start point you select. However, ereader devices may still override the start point you designate.)

Language Support Changes

We’ve renamed the Language Support section in Theme Options to Language & Script Support to better reflect its functionality; we’ve also re-labelled Hindi support to Devanagari, to clarify that the Devanagari script supports Hindi, Sanskrit, and over 120 other languages.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or problems navigating the new features. You can contact us at support@pressbooks.com.

Pressbooks Major Release Scheduled Feb. 28

As we mentioned last month, we’ve been working hard on some improvements to Pressbooks. The major release is scheduled for later this month. Here’s a heads up of the changes that are on the way.

Most of the improvements are under the hood. However, there are a few big changes we would like to call to your attention.

First, a new look and feel is available for the network home page and catalog. The new theme is highly customizable, and you can add your own branding and colors. This branding will be applied to not just the network homepage and catalog, but to the book homepage and reading interface for all the books on the network! There is also a new standalone catalog page that is sortable and filterable, for improved discovery.

If you’d like to apply this new look to your network, please get in touch at support@pressbooks.com! We will arrange for it to be enabled on your network and help you set it up.

We’ve also given the webbook a much-needed makeover, with some added functionality. All books, existing and new, will receive a new webbook theme that has been crafted with academic reading in mind. A wider book layout and better navigation are just some of the enhancements that the new theme enables. And it’s pretty! A big thank you to Ryerson University for supporting the development of both this and the new network theme.

We are thoroughly testing the new webbook theme prior to its release and these improvements should not cause any issues with your existing books. But, if anything does come up, let us know right away at support@pressbooks.com.

NOTE ABOUT CUSTOM CSS THEME: The new webbook theme will roll out to all new and existing webbooks on release day. That means, as we mentioned in an email several weeks ago, custom changes entered using the old Custom CSS theme will no longer be applied to the webbook after Feb. 27. To retain any changes, you will need to migrate them to the new Custom Styles option before this date. Here’s how.

As a reminder, the Galbraith, Goodison, and Luther themes will be retiring on the same day as the new release (their retirement was originally slated for Jan 31st, but was postponed).

In their place, we’ll soon be releasing two new themes, McLuhan (which will be the new default theme for all new books) and Jacobs. These two themes both offer expanded theme options, and both are designed with textbooks in mind. Their development has been generously funded by eCampus Ontario.

Other changes include:

  • Save Button: We heard your pleas for a clearer way to save your chapters. It’s here! (In the past, the “save” button was named Update, Publish, or other variations based on the status of your post.) Note that when you create a new chapter, front or back matter section, you will first see a “Create” button, but subsequent changes can be saved by clicking on the new “Save” button.
  • Contributor Management: We’ve added a centralized contributor management tool where you can add contributors who can then be reused throughout your book as authors, editors, translators, reviewers, illustrators, and generic contributors.
  • Organize Page Improvements: We’ve revamped the Organize page, improving the display on mobile devices, and improving accessibility for keyboard navigation and screen reader users.
  • Chapter Importing: Now, you can import individual chapters from public, openly licensed Pressbooks webbooks using the Import tool. All you need to drop is drop in the URL to a book, begin the import process, then select the chapters you wish to add to your book. (Content that is private, All Rights Reserved or that carries any of the Creative Commons Non-Derivative licenses cannot be imported.)
  • Content Visibility: We’ve made it more intuitive to manage the visibility of your content across web and exports. Now you can simply designate content visibility in web and exports on both the Organize page and the edit screen for individual front matter, chapters and back matter.
  • Import Files from URL: You can now import supported file formats hosted on remote (web based) sources via URL. If you have files hosted elsewhere (with the right permissions), you no longer need to download and upload files, but can import them directly with just the URL.
  • Ebook Start Point: We’ve moved the ebook start point setting to the ebook Theme Options page to ensure that only one front matter, chapter, or back matter can be set as the ebook start point. (Note that Pressbooks tries to enforce the ebook start point you select. However, ereader devices may still override the start point you designate.)
  • Language Support Changes: We’ve renamed the Language Support section in Theme Options to Language & Script Support to better reflect its functionality; we’ve also re-labelled Hindi support to Devanagari, to clarify that the Devanagari script supports Hindi, Sanskrit, and over 120 other languages.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or problems navigating the new features. You can contact us at support@pressbooks.com

New Themes for Textbooks & More for Pressbooks EDU Enterprise Networks

NOTE: This post is specific to Pressbooks EDU enterprise networks. If you are interested in Pressbooks.com changes, you can find those in this post

Happy New Year! Here’s a sneak preview of some improvements coming to Pressbooks soon.

New Themes, Webbook, Home Page & Catalog Page

Later this month, we’ll be introducing two new themes specifically designed for textbooks: Jacobs & McLuhan. These new themes are part of work we are doing with eCampus Ontario, to improve Pressbooks for EDU users.

Around the same time, the web view of Pressbooks books will be getting a much-needed makeover. A refreshed network home page and more powerful catalog page will also be available to Pressbooks EDU networks that want the new look. This work was done as part of our work with Ryerson University, part of an eCampusOntario-funded project: Open Publishing Infrastructure for Ontario Post-Secondary Educators, Learners.

In addition, we continue to convert our themes to a new structure that supports much more customization (such as PDF page margins and font size). Currently Clarke and Asimov support this new structure, and more themes will have this capability soon.

In the meantime, we’ll be hiding a handful of less-used themes for new books so that we can concentrate on improving those that get the most use going forward. The retiring themes are:

  • Galbraith
  • Goodison
  • Luther

We will also be retiring Dillard, but leaving Dillard Plain. These themes are identical aside from a glyph in Dillard, which will be reintroduced as a theme option in future.

In saying goodbye to these themes, we will be welcoming three new additions, the first two of which already support the new theme options:

  • McLuhan (replacing Luther as the default theme for new books)
  • Jacobs
  • Lewis

Existing books with retiring themes will not be affected by the change. It will apply to new books only.

Note that if a user wants to apply a soon-to-retire theme on future books, they can still create new book shells and apply that theme to them between now and Jan. 31.

Theme lock

Once again, any existing book will retain its theme, even if it’s being retired, for as long as a user wants to keep it, until / unless they change their theme. And, as we move forward with converting our existing themes, we’ll be testing every step of the way to ensure that existing books are only improved by our changes, not disrupted.

However, we know that reprinting existing books can require sticking to a strict page count. Those concerned about this may want to apply the theme lock feature to their book, which “locks” the theme to the current version, meaning the theme options are restricted (until the theme is unlocked) and the theme won’t be updated when we roll out our improvements. It’s not necessary to apply theme lock to keep a retiring theme on your book, but you might want to apply this feature if you’re done with formatting and want to keep your book exactly as is.

To apply the theme lock feature, follow these steps:

Special note to users with Custom Webbook CSS

Custom changes entered using the old Custom CSS theme will no longer be applied to the webbook after Jan. 31. Instead, the web book will be displayed in the new McLuhan theme, without any customisations. To retain any changes, you will need to migrate them to the new Custom Styles option. Here’s how.

These are just a few of the improvements that are coming in January. Stay tuned! And please let us know at support@pressbooks.com if you have any questions.

Is Your University an Open Textbook Network Member? Now, You Can Save on PressbooksEDU

At Pressbooks, we want to do all we can to support the open textbook and OER ecosystem. That’s why we’re offering a special discount on PressbooksEDU networks to Open Textbook Network institutional members.

Open Textbook Network institutional members can now take 30 percent off the cost of PressbooksEDU Silver and Gold plans.

Pressbooks EDU Silver and Gold plans are private, standalone Pressbooks networks, which can be branded to your university. They come with premium support, and are optimized for academia with plugins and educational features not available at Pressbooks.com.

PressbooksEDU plans include Pressbooks’ popular new “cloning” feature, which enables users to clone any openly licensed, public book from another Pressbooks network. This means it’s now easier to modify an existing open textbook produced by faculty at another university. The plans also enable users to host their book downloads in multiple formats (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, XML and more) on a web book’s homepage, facilitating distribution and remixing.

The OTN discount is available through December 31, 2018.  Email sales@pressbooks.com to get started. Or, to learn more about PressbooksEDU, go to Pressbooks.Education.

About PressbooksEDU: PressbooksEDU is an online book/document formatting system that educators can use to create books that are accessible on all platforms: in print and digital, including all smartphones, tablets, ereader devices, and computers. It enables anyone (faculty, staff, students) to produce professional, platform-agnostic outputs of educational resources in multiple formats: PDF (print and digital) | WEB | EPUB | MOBI | ODT | XML | WXR | XHTML. Pressbooks is widely used to create open textbooks and OER, but it can also be used to create scholarly monographs, proceedings of symposia, grey publishing, course syllabi, dissertations, and more.

About the Open Textbook Network: The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community of higher education institutions working to advance open education, with members that now represent 15% of higher education institutions. It was created in response to the high cost of textbooks, which has a negative impact on student success. Collectively, the more than 600 institutions in the Open Textbook Network have now saved students more than $8.5 million. The community has achieved these savings by implementing open education engagement and training programs since 2014.

Profs Create New Open Textbook: Ancient Greek for Everyone

The new open textbook from Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy, “Ancient Greek for Everyone,” is built on Pressbooks and will teach the foundations of classical Greek.

Michael Laughy is an assistant professor of Classics at Washington and Lee University. Among other classes, he teaches first-year Greek.

Laughy said most Greek textbooks are daunting because they try to cover everything. Unlike some languages, Greek dialects vary widely from region to region. Most textbooks try to be comprehensive and cover all the dialects, but this becomes overwhelming.

“It ends up turning students away,” Laughy said.

What Laughy felt was needed was a text that would teach classical Greek linguistically–to teach basic skills and abilities, so that students would have a foundation to tackle other dialects later.

Using Pressbooks, he decided to create his own text, Ancient Greek for Everyone: Essential Morphology and Syntax for Beginning Greek with a co-author, Wilfred E. Major, from Louisiana State University.

Web book: Ancient Greek for Everyone open textbook Web book: Ancient Greek for Everyone

The book contains a study of the essential morphology and syntax of ancient Greek; vocabulary and exercises; and reading passages drawn from ancient sources.

Laughy chose Pressbooks after looking at a variety of software. He wanted a collaborative online tool where “the learning curve [for other professors wanting to use or adapt the book] would be manageable.” He also liked the adaptability and remixability that Pressbooks enables through easy copying of the book either through XML replication or one-click cloning.

Laughy hopes that as the book grows and evolves, multiple faculty authors will add materials and exercises to it, or replicate it and adapt new editions to suit how they teach the subject at their own campus instruction by adding exercises, lesson plans etc., as they see fit.

For Laughy, these capabilities change the way instructors engage with and use textbooks, and may have other pedagogical impacts. He said, “You’re no longer teaching against a textbook. You’re teaching with a textbook.”

He also liked the web book, PDF and ebook format availability, which helps the book suit a particular instructor or department’s needs. In his case, students are loaned free iPads, so he wanted something they could read on these devices even if they didn’t produce a printed version of the text.

Pressbooks also had the ability to write in both monotonic and polytonic Greek (though some themes handle the language better than others).

Laughy piloted the web version of the textbook in his Fall 2016 course. Students expressed appreciation for the book’s online formatting in their evaluations. Laughy liked how he was even able to make changes to the book live in class: “Someone would say ‘I don’t understand what you mean’ on a passage,” and he would say, “‘Is this better?’ I would go live into Pressbooks on my iPad while they’re watching. I would fix it, upload and refresh the web page.”

Two additional campuses, Louisiana State University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, are now using the book in Fall 2017 courses and nine more have expressed interest in using the book in the future.

Can you “clone” a Pressbooks book? You can now*!

Here at Pressbooks HQ we’ve been doing a whole lot more development work for the Open Textbook world, in our opinion the most exciting space in the world of publishing. For the uninitiated, an Open Textbook is an openly licensed (i.e. free) book that supports the “5Rs,” defined by David Wiley as the rights to: remix, revise, reuse, retain, and redistribute.

Open Textbooks are powerful not just because they are free for students, but also because teachers and profs (or even students) can easily improve them and modify them for the particular needs of their students.

Theory vs. Practice

In theory, at least.

In practice, all that 5R-y stuff can be difficult: How do you revise a PDF? How do you remix an EPUB? How do you redistribute a print book?

Clone me, please!

The new answer — at least for Open Textbooks built on Pressbooks as of now is: You clone them!

That is, you can now, with the click of a button, clone/copy a complete Pressbooks book (including all metadata, image and media, and content) from one Pressbooks account or instance to another, as long as the original book is:

  • Openly licensed (i.e. licensed with a Creative Commons license)
  • Publicly available on the web

And this means, once you’ve cloned that book, you can 5R it to your heart’s content!

Wait, does this mean anyone can just copy my book?

No. No. No! … No, cloning is only possible in the case that:

  • Your book is openly licensed (with a Creative Commons license)
  • You book privacy setting is: public on the web

So for any books that have standard copyright, or are not available on the web — this doesn’t apply.

Why would you clone a book?

This is, we think, a very exciting development for the Open Textbook ecosystem.

Here are just some of the ways we expect the new feature to be utilized:

  • A community college wants to make changes to the level of subject matter in an open textbook that was originally created for upper-division undergraduates.
  • A faculty member wants to adapt an open textbook to reflect the way they personally teach the subject matter.
  • A university department wants to copy the books contained in a catalogue at a similar department in another university.
  • An instructor wants to make a copy in order to have their class expand an existing open textbook as part of a classroom project.

Cloning ultimately allows books built in Pressbooks to become more modular and easily adaptable for more courses.

Pressbooks, Ryerson University & eCampus Ontario

Have you heard about the exciting Open Textbook work happening in Ontario?

This cloning feature was developed as part of a project Pressbooks is doing with Ryerson University, funded by a grant from eCampusOntario, developing infrastructure for Open Resource Publishing in Ontario.

Also under this project, Pressbooks is getting a full design refresh, including redesigns of the book home page, the webbook reading interface, and, for Pressbooks systems, updates to the landing page and Pressbooks’ built-in catalog page.

So, How Do I Start Cloning?

The bad news is: This feature is not available on Pressbooks.com. Cloning is an educational feature only available in standalone Pressbooks systems (Pressbooks EDU client systems and Pressbooks open source). (Contact us if you’re interested in us hosting a Pressbooks EDU system for you.)

Pressbooks.com also supports replicating books. However, the process of copying a book is more labour intensive, and requires users to reach out to original creators for the book’s XML files. This new cloning feature omits these steps for enterprise users, making duplication possible with only a few clicks of a button.

Learn more about how to use the new cloning feature.