UW-Madison PressbooksEDU Instance Supports 70+ Open Publishing Projects

University of Wisconsin-Madison has been using Pressbooks as a platform to facilitate open educational resources (OER) and open textbook publishing for years.

Steel Wagstaff, an instructional technology consultant at UW-Madison, piloted the use of Pressbooks at the university starting in 2015 to help faculty create open educational resources for the UW-Madison’s College of Letters & Science.

After demonstrating the platform’s success, Steel reached out to Unizin, a higher education consortium of which UW-Madison was a founding member, to request that they host an open source Pressbooks network with additional plugins for the university. Unizin’s self-hosted network was launched in August 2016.

Since then, UW-Madison faculty and staff have created nearly 250 book shells on the network. Though many of these shells are used as sandboxes for new users to test how the platform works, at least 70 are real projects in later stages of development.

UW-Madison, along with other Unizin schools, migrated their production network to a PressbooksEDU hosted network in June 2018.

When looking for early adopters, Steel initially approached faculty who he knew were committed to teaching, were particular in their choice of course materials, and already had produced teaching materials but lacked a good mechanism to deliver them to students. Many instructors have developed their own course materials, sometimes writing and maintaining their own textbook in a DIY fashion with desktop publishing or word processing tools like Microsoft Word, for instance. These instructors “had already written teaching materials, but were frustrated in how to deliver them.” In these cases, Steel emphasized how using Pressbooks to publish their content on the web could help them make their teaching material more interactive and broadly accessible to other interested learners.

Steel says Pressbooks has been particularly useful for four categories of projects, which he outlines in this presentation.

The first is course materials designed to supplement or replace existing texts. More than a dozen projects at UW-Madison fall into this category, the most high-profile of which is Global Regions: World Regional Geography for a Globalizing World from Geography professor Dr. Kris Olds.

A number of departments at UW-Madison, including Chemistry, Physics and Math, have been redesigning courses and curriculum for active learning. In some cases, they are using the opportunity to create open content. Some of these texts are new works; others are adoptions or remixes of existing open texts, like those published by OpenStax.

Language instruction, training, outreach, and distance learning are other subject areas where Steel advocates building materials in Pressbooks.

Steel says a variety of instructors of less commonly taught languages have found there is no suitable resource to use as a textbook, and for that reason they have already been creating their own materials.

Pressbooks is great for language practice texts, he says, because it allows you to include exercises in the book using the H5P plugin. Current texts in various stages of development on UW-Madison’s Pressbooks network cover Portuguese, Indonesian, Hindi, Tibetan, and African languages. Not all of these projects are full textbooks, but each includes a variety of teaching materials in the target language.

There are also some books that serve as teasers for full courses. One example is a continuing ed course on Wisconsin weather. Four chapters from the text are available free on the web, where those who stumble upon it can say, “Oh, here’s some cool course content. I like this. I’m interested. Maybe I want to take the course and talk to a professor and learn more about it.”

Another use case for Pressbooks at UW-Madison has been compilations – student- or professor-produced anthologies of public domain texts. Steel, who has a Ph.D. in English, says there are many pre-1923, public-domain texts on Project Gutenberg that could be used in this way. The Open Syllabus Project, he adds, tracks the most commonly assigned texts. He would love to see a clonable collection of all of these texts which are now in the public domain published using Pressbooks, he notes.

Over the years, there have also been a variety of projects in which faculty or students do research in the community and compile that into a student-authored, university-community partnership text. Among these, professor Anna Andrzejewski had her students document Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area. Later, she took students to North Dakota to do a similar project with farm buildings. A different class built a catalog for a historical exhibit at Mount Horeb’s Driftless Historium museum. The exhibit looked at ethnic identity through objects. Students did research and wrote pieces about the story behind each of the objects. Print copies were made, and the ebook version was on display on an iPad at the exhibit.

Some of the books are used privately, or they are public but not showcased in the main UW-Madison Pressbooks catalog yet.

Though Steel has occasionally done systematic project management for book projects, he primarily has provided Pressbooks training and resources while cultivating an OER community.

When faculty or instructors at UW-Madison express interest in using Pressbooks to make or adapt an open text, Steel and his graduate assistant, Naomi Salmon, conduct an hour-long training and provide resources, such as Naomi’s OER Activity Sourcebook and Pressbooks 101. They also conduct a monthly Pressbooks user group meeting (community of practice), which usually attracts 20-35 attendees. It includes a show-and-tell from faculty users and some how-to from him and Naomi, which is helpful for those new to Pressbooks.

“Hearing people talk about their ongoing projects is usually a highlight of these meetings, Steel says, “because they help everyone else expand their sense of the possible, get new ideas for the projects they’re working on, and work through common problems. The group almost always has better ideas for solving tricky issues than any one of us would singly.”

Steel and Naomi later make and send out a list of FAQs to answer questions that arise in the session for those who couldn’t attend in person.

Steel also demos Pressbooks to other instructional designers as well as central IT personnel, and they too become front-line trainers to faculty from different disciplines.

When it comes to teaching and learning, Steel says the Pressbooks platform supports UW-Madison’s needs better than any other tool he researched. That the software is open source is a major asset.

“The thing that I love most is that it’s open source,” Steel says.

That was particularly important, he says, because he was interested in trying things that currently weren’t available on hosted networks, and he was able to make those requests known to the Pressbooks developers through the open source community. The fact the software was open source allowed UW-Madison to hack solutions that would not have been possible on proprietary software.

“I feel like I’ve been able to be involved and been embraced by the Pressbooks development community,” he says.

He also appreciates that Pressbooks is web-based, but offers a range of other export formats (PDF for print-on-demand, EPUB and MOBI for ebookstores, open formats like HTML, XML, OpenDocument, and more).

“I’m thinking of this mainly as a web publishing tool,” Steel says, adding that he is “bullish” on the possibility of including in-line interaction, such as quizzes, in context.

He also likes the ability to collapse sections of text, a feature he says is particularly useful for language textbooks, where you might want to hide a translation at first, but let a learner expand it to check their understanding.

Steel says one great aspect of Pressbooks is the newly integrated H5P plugin, which lets users combine text and distributed quiz questions in the same container – something he notes that learning management systems still don’t do very well.

He has also been pushing the bounds with Hypothes.is, an annotation plugin available in Pressbooks. The tool allows for another layer of interaction and engagement with the material by making it possible for instructors to enable student comments and highlights on a webbook posted either publicly or within a private group.

“The annotation layer is just gravy,” he says. “What it allows us to do is to have a canonical main body of the text, and then various layers or flavors of non-canonical or participatory text.”

As a case in point, he cites one class in which students read Revolutionary War-era literature in the public domain and comment or reflect in a layer on Hypothes.is.

“You’re allowing various levels of authority to experiment at, participate in, become part of the textual experience,” he says. “Enabling truly social conversation about the object of study is terrific for teaching and learning.”

Steel also likes the fact Pressbooks can be integrated into a learning management system and have the content appear natively. He believes that helps to reduce cognitive load on students consuming the text.

“I love that [books on] Pressbooks can exist as a web object on the open web and be free for anyone who wants to learn anywhere in the world, independent of their university affiliation,” he says. “We also recognize that most of the people that are building these texts are planning to use them in college, [and] at least on our campus, they want to use them in their college class.”

Steel talks more about the reasons he chose Pressbooks and the due diligence he underwent in this Medium post.

Recently, Steel has begun to partner with Carrie Nelson, the UW-Madison libraries’ director of scholarly communications, with whom he hopes to build a group that is enthusiastic about OER.

Steel also hopes to promote more OER adaptations going forward.

“I would say what’s strange about our use case so far is that we’ve mainly focused on new creation,” he says, which seems impractical given the prevalence of open resources. “Why aren’t we adopting and adapting?”

When that happens, he says, Pressbooks’ cloning feature will become even more valuable.

“And increasingly, as people say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m interested in using an OER that I’ve reviewed,’ for example, through the Open Textbook Network, then cloning is going to be a killer feature.”

He notes that this won’t be fully useful until they can clone H5P and Hypothes.is annotations too.

But with their PressbooksEDU network newly hosted by Pressbooks through the Unizin consortium, Steel feels optimistic about the possibilities.

“Right now, we have a pretty experimental cobbling together of a bunch of custom homemade plugins and weird stuff,” he says. “Genericizing, standardizing, and making that feel stable and powerful is, for me, the way forward for us.”

Steel says the more the platform is standardized, the more useful it will be to other schools and institutions, who will also adopt it.

“Participating and coordinating our work with other institutions, like our fellow Unizin consortium members, helps me feel more secure, in that we no longer need to be the only ones out there at the very bleeding edge, doing this difficult, experimental thing.”

More Theme Improvements on the Way!

We’ve got a big series of changes to Pressbooks book themes coming up. Depending what stage your book is in, you may want to take action. Read on for details.

Why the changes?

The Pressbooks team has been working on developing better, standardized, more user-friendly book themes for almost a year now. If you’ve been using the McLuhan, Asimov, Clarke, or Jacobs themes, you may have noticed that there are more settings available in the Theme Options than you’re used to. These improvements are part of a major project to overhaul and enhance all the book themes on Pressbooks.

We’re now expanding the number of themes these options are available on. Starting on Aug. 22, we’ll be rolling out updates to a few more themes every two weeks. The updates will improve each theme’s baseline structure, allow us to issue continuous improvements, and make it easier for you to customize your book’s design without having to know CSS.

The changes improve each theme’s available design customization options. However, they also improve the standard, overarching design of the theme. While we have made every effort to maintain all of the design elements that make each theme unique, some elements of your book may be slightly altered after it undergoes the upgrade. However, you can lock your theme to prevent these changes from affecting your book.

If you don’t want updates to the base theme to affect the layout of your book, lock your theme before Aug. 21.

Do I have to lock my theme?

No, you don’t. Locking your theme means not receiving any future updates, including bug fixes.

You should only lock your book theme if:

  • You are happy with the way your book looks, AND
  • You need to preserve the current page count of your book (ex: you have already sent a copy to the printer, or you have manually created references to specific numbers)
  • OR You want all design elements of your book to stay exactly as is in every format, regardless of current potential bugs or quirks that may be resolved by future theme updates.

This is the only notification you will get about the upcoming theme changes. We will not send further reminders. If it is important to you to maintain your exact page count or layout, we encourage you to enable theme lock now by going to Settings > Export from the left-hand menu of your book’s dashboard and checking the Lock Theme box.

Have questions about the upcoming changes? Contact support@pressbooks.com.

The Ohio State University Has 60 Books in Development as Part of Textbook Affordability Initiative

At The Ohio State University, Pressbooks has become an integral platform for the university’s open textbook affordability initiative.

The university already has 18 published books on its Pressbooks network, a handful of private books being used in OSU classes, and almost 60 new books in development, says Michael Shiflet, Digital Publishing Coordinator, Affordability and Access, at The Ohio State University.

Among these are Environmental ScienceBites Volume 1 and Volume 2. The books are part of an open pedagogy project in which undergraduates in the Introduction to Environmental Science class at OSU produced content for the texts.

Writing for Strategic Communication Industries is another popular open textbook from the OSU collection. It was produced by lecturer Jasmine Roberts. The nature of a traditional publishing cycle made it hard to produce textbooks sufficiently up to date in her fast-changing field, Michael says. “She found authoring her own work was just a much more effective teaching strategy.”

Michael says single-author textbooks like Roberts’ are the bulk of what’s being produced on their network.
“We haven’t seen a lot of the “adopt and remix” kind of traditional Creative Commons open work. What we’re seeing is a lot more people authoring their own original material,” he says.

Michael says a lot of authors come to him to produce open textbooks because there is no text out there for what they want to teach.

This has led to some extra-specialized titles in the catalog, such as Atlas of Renal Lesions in Proteineuric Dogs, a book about dog kidneys intended for veterinary pathologists and nephrologists.

“It’s the only thing out there in this highly specialized field,” Michael says.

Other faculty may have books already in progress and need a tool to produce them with, or have an ebook that can be converted using Pressbooks.

Faculty come to the open textbook program through their grant program or learn of it through word of mouth. Sometimes they hear about it by being asked to contribute to another book, or from a faculty colleague in their department who participated.

As the digital publication coordinator, Michael provides project management – including weekly check-ins, a roadmap with milestones, and tech support – for all projects funded by the affordability initiative. He also provides tech support for OSU’s Pressbooks network to projects not funded by the initiative.

Michael runs a Pressbooks user group at the university, which meets virtually every two or three months to share updates, show and tell, and discuss best practices.

Michael says he used to encourage users to author outside of Pressbooks using something like Google Docs or Word, then bring their manuscript into Pressbooks when it was about 90 percent complete. But as Pressbooks has improved, he’s become less adamant about this workflow.

The revision history and editing capabilities of Pressbooks have undergone major improvements, Michael says. “I’m kind of less insistent that people do that these days. It’s a lot easier to recover things if you do make a mistake, [and] it’s easy to track.It’s really hard to lose something forever, so I’m more open to people finding a workflow that works for them.”

He thinks the new H5P plugin, which enables faculty to add quizzes in their books, will be a big selling point to instructors considering making open educational resources in Pressbooks.

The cloning tool has also proved useful, Michael says, enabling his team to clone great books they’ve seen elsewhere and then suggest those books to the subject matter librarians who can encourage adoption.

OSU originally came to Pressbooks in March 2016 when the program was piloted and presented as an option to them by Unizin, a consortium of which OSU is a member.

“We weren’t necessarily looking for something new,” Michael says, but they were unhappy with their current solution, which required editing code in an XML editor to create EPUBs.

When approached by Unizin, they did a landscape survey of five or six other options, including existing tools, but found that “Pressbooks was by far the best option.”

Michael says one solution they looked at required a regular dedicated server for every book. “We weren’t going to go around giving faculty members servers,” Michael says.

They had also tried iBooks, but the learning curve was problematic – they were spending two to three months of a six-month book development process getting people used to the tool. Plus, students who weren’t on Mac computers couldn’t access the books published in iBooks.

With Pressbooks, Michael says, “Now we’re down to a couple hours, if that, and most of that’s dealing with minutia, not necessarily related to the tool itself.”

One of the things that drew them in initially was the fact Pressbooks was built on WordPress and had a familiar interface.

“Most faculty have some familiarity with WordPress, and even if they don’t, it’s pretty intuitive,” he says.

Having multiple output formats was another selling point. In a research project conducted by OSU, it was discovered that 90 percent of users were reading the texts online, but that they still liked having the option to download other formats.

“The fact that now we can send it to a Nook or a Kindle or just a kid’s PC laptop [is an asset]”, Michael says.

He also likes having the responsive webbook version.

“A lot more students than we would care to admit are simply using their phones and not using anything larger than a tablet [to read the books],” he says.

In the future, Michael would like to see more of the books in progress become a reality, and going forward, he is focused on increasing the completion rate.

“I’d like to see more books get finalized and in the catalog,” Michael says.

We’re Partnering with Unizin to Host PressbooksEDU Networks at 14 Higher Education Institutions

At Pressbooks, we’re beyond excited to be partnering with Unizin, a nonprofit consortium of leading higher education institutions, to host PressbooksEDU networks at 14 U.S. universities.

The universities include:

  • Indiana University
  • Ohio State
  • Oregon State University
  • Penn State
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Florida
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • University of Nebraska – Omaha
  • University of Nebraska – Kearney
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison

Through this partnership, each of these member universities will get their own PressbooksEDU network, open-source book formatting software widely used in higher education to develop open textbooks and OER that are accessible in multiple formats: EPUB, MOBI, PDF, XML, HTML, OpenDocument, and others.

The new systems will be hosted by Pressbooks’ team of developers, experts in the nuances of Pressbooks. We will provide hosting, maintenance, backups, and regular updates and ensure the systems are always running the latest release of Pressbooks.

Each standalone PressbooksEDU network will be brandable to its institution, and include Pressbooks educational features: H5P, for adding quizzes and interactives to books; and cloning, which allows remixing and revising of open content built by others on Pressbooks.

The Unizin PressbooksEDU networks will also include new features, developed with input from the Unizin consortium, including LTI integration for the Canvas and Moodle learning management systems.

Collaborative publishing models are an important part of an evolving environment for educational resources. The Pressbooks implementations will make Open Educational Resources (OER) more accessible than ever to faculty and staff at Unizin institutions. OER is revolutionizing education by lowering students’ barriers to educational resources and allowing faculty and staff greater control over their curriculum. Openness and creation are two of Pressbooks’ core principles, and we’re proud to be part of Unizin’s innovative efforts to support new kinds of faculty- and student-driven publishing.

Etienne Pelaprat, director of product management at Unizin, speaks highly of our work at Pressbooks.

“Pressbooks offers products and services that enable our Universities to build and deliver media-rich, low-cost, and free content that drives learning experiences,” said Pelaprat. “They share our view of a content ecosystem where content is designed, published, discoverable, and adopted across institutions who collaborate in digital pedagogy. In Pressbooks, we feel we have strong partners who understand higher education’s need to create affordable, standards-aligned, and data-driven digital content at scale.”

Any Unizin member institution is eligible to buy PressbooksEDU (under special pricing arrangement) through Unizin. For more information, contact Brad Zurcher, Brad.Zurcher@unizin.org, at Unizin, or Liz Mays at Pressbooks at liz@pressbooks.com.

About Pressbooks

PressbookEDU is an open-source publishing platform used widely in higher education to develop open textbooks and OER that are accessible in multiple formats: EPUB, MOBI, PDF, XML, HTML, OpenDocument, and others. Our technology and our business are driven by a set of values aligned with educational institutions: openness, user control, accessibility, and the power of creation. To learn more, visit pressbooks.education. PressbooksEDU is built and maintained by Book Oven Inc., in Montreal, Canada.

About Unizin

Unizin, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit consortium of leading universities committed to improving teaching and learning through technology. The collaboration happening at Unizin empowers institutions to enhance, diversify, and evolve their unique learning environments. By supporting interoperability, open source, and standards-based solutions, Unizin saves their Members valuable resources they can use to provide extraordinary learning experiences that improve student outcomes.

Unizin Product/Service Information Contact:

Brad Zurcher

Brad.Zurcher@unizin.org

Unizin Media Contact:

Mariah Aguilar

mariah.aguilar@unizin.org

Pressbooks Contact:

Elizabeth Mays

liz@pressbooks.com

LTI and CAS Integrations Now Available on Pressbooks Networks

This week, we’re releasing two new features that will make Pressbooks systems even more powerful for use in education.

These include the V1 releases of our learning tools interoperability (LTI) and Central Authentication Service (CAS) secure sign-on plugins.

LTI V1

Over the past year or so, we’ve received numerous requests to integrate Pressbooks with universities’ learning management systems – the online classroom students log into to access the readings, assignments, discussion forums, etc. for each of their courses.

Without LTI integration, instructors can still easily link to any public book built on Pressbooks from within their LMS. However, a desire was shared among universities to make the textbooks accessible to students while they are inside the interface, reducing the cognitive load of clicking out of it.

Our new LTI feature will enable users to embed Pressbooks content  within the LMS interface in Canvas and Moodle and have it appear natively.

This feature is available on PressbooksEDU Gold, Titanium and Platinum plans, and on Pressbooks open-source networks. It is not available on PressbooksEDU Silver plans or Pressbooks.com.

Use these instructions to integrate Pressbooks with your LMS.

Integrated Information Systems, Rutgers University Libraries funded the development of this release.

SSO V1

CAS SSO integration (available for an additional charge on Gold systems and included free on Titanium systems) allows users on a PressbooksEDU network to bypass the Pressbooks login form and log in through their institution’s CAS SSO system, using their institutional NetID and associated password as login credentials.

Integrated Information Systems, Rutgers University Libraries funded the development of this feature.

Next, we are working on supporting other frequently requested SSO protocols, including Shibboleth. 

QuickLaTeX

In other updates, we recently added QuickLaTeX as an optional plugin for Pressbooks networks. This plugin offers many improvements over the existing PB LaTeX tool, such as the ability to compile mathematical graphs and the display of mathematical formulas in higher resolution, both on the Web and in exports. The plugin also allows users to write native LaTeX syntax directly into their books.

Please note that to use QuickLaTeX in your book, you must first enable the plugin on your book’s Plugins page. For instructions on how to enable and use QuickLaTeX, click here.

Cloning Comparison Tool

PressbooksEDU networks now come with a built-in comparison tool that lets you compare the current version of a cloned book with its source. This feature will only appear in cloned books, and can be found under Appearance > Theme Options > Web Options.

In Other Updates

In the last month, you may have noticed we released a host of updates. These include:

  • Updates to the Andrews, Asimov, Clarke, Jacobs, and McLuhan themes to now allow for collapsible subsections
  • Updates to the Andrews, Asimov, Clarke, Jacobs, and McLuhan themes to provide theme options for customizable textbox colors
  • The ability to add captions to your table without editing HTML code on any book

You can read more about these features here.

As always, drop us a line if you have questions about any of the new features!

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said Oauth is also already supported in EDU networks. That is incorrect. We regret the error. 

Pressbooks Q3 Roadmap Forecast

We’ve just completed our quarterly planning meeting. Here’s a review of our year so far and a glimpse of the features we’ll be working on in Q3.

We’ve introduced a TON of improvements in the past two quarters, as part of an array of custom development contracts.

In Q1, we:

  • redesigned the Pressbooks webbook
  • introduced the new customizable network theme (Aldine)
  • added two new themes designed for academic use
  • added a new contributor management feature
  • added support for chapter-level importing from Pressbooks
  • improved the accessibility of our Organize page
  • added support for interactive elements and the H5P plugin

As we close out Q2, we are finishing up the following improvements:  

  • LTI integration, via Common Cartridge, starting with Moodle and Canvas
  • CAS integration (one of several single sign-on methods we’ll be adding)
  • adding the QuickLatex plugin to improve math formula display
  • improving the functionality and display of our tables with the addition of the TablePress plugin
  • working on a process for handling premium plugins and plugin feature requests

Q3 is going to be about improvements to our overall infrastructure and processes, which will make it far easier to add features in the future.

On the horizon, we will be:

  • improving support for shortcodes, to make it easier to import content from Word files into Pressbooks.
  • adding Shibboleth as an SSO authentication method
  • doing R&D into analytics (If you’d like to fund the work that results from this, please reach out to sales@pressbooks.com)
  • converting seven more of our themes to enable the new, more user-friendly theme options
  • continuing to make improvements to how we handle spam on our networks
  • improving the LTI integration built in Q2
  • keeping our eye on WordPress’ Gutenberg update, as it may affect Pressbooks

Most important, we’ll be doing some general housekeeping, making improvements to our infrastructure, internal dev and management processes, testing and release cycle, and user experience.

Have questions about any of these upcoming additions or want to provide input about what you need from one of the features above? Or, would you like a hosted PressbooksEDU network with these new features? Get in touch!

New Admin Menus for PressbooksEDU Network Managers

In response to feedback from network managers, we’ve made some improvements to the user interface for admins on Pressbooks networks.

We’re adding two new tabs to the existing menu in the Pressbooks dashboard for network managers.

The first of these is a new “network admin” option. This takes network managers to the areas they’ll need to go to administer their Pressbooks network. Hovering on this menu, they will see various options:

  • Dashboard: This takes network managers to the network admin dashboard.
  • Books: This menu takes the manager to a place where they can see a list of all books on the network and administer (view, add, delete, deactivate, or archive) books as they wish.
  • Users: From this menu, managers can see a list of all network users, and add, edit, or delete users.

The new top menu also includes a tab to administer the content and appearance of the network homepage. Hover on the menu for your university network. Visit website will take you to the home page of your network. The dashboard option allows you to get to several important menus:

  • Appearance, from which you can activate and/or customize your network’s theme
  • Settings, which allows you to customize aspects of your network, for instance, the settings on Hypothes.is as it interacts with your book

network admin menu

Network admins will still see the My Catalog menu. However, its options have changed. Previously this menu included links to the network admin dashboard and network homepage. Now that these areas are accessible from the other additional menus, they have been removed under My Catalog. Now, the My Catalog menu only includes items related to books.

Network Manager Guide

Our Network Manager Guide is (finally!) out! Please note that this is a basic v.1 version that will be updated, improved and incremented on an ongoing basis.

We hope these new options improve the user experience for network managers on PressbooksEDU networks. If you have feedback, or run into challenges, let us know.

Updates and Bug Fixes to 5 Themes Coming Soon!

Note: This communication applies to PressbooksEDU and hosted client networks only, NOT to Pressbooks.com. Go here for the communication that applies to Pressbooks.com. (Note: There are a few exceptions–your network manager will have received an email if you are one of them.)

We’ll be releasing some improvements and bug fixes to five themes (McLuhan, Andrews, Asimov, Clarke, Jacobs, Rothbard) in early July.

If you are not using any of these themes on your book(s), you will not be affected.

The improvements and bug fixes include small formatting changes in some headings, changes to the default formatting of lists, or user-reported issues such as handling of images, padding between quotes and paragraphs, and issues where long running headers that would bump content to new pages.

These changes could impact page counts for print book files. If you wish to avoid these changes (and the bug fixes), you can apply the theme lock to your book(s) before July 5. You can find instructions on how to do this in this chapter of our user guide.

Note that once you remove the theme lock, you cannot return to your theme’s previous state.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions about this change!

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!