Open Textbooks are growing in popularity, and innovative production models must be developed to meet the coming demand. While traditional, author-commissioning models are producing quality textbooks through organisations such as OpenStax, production must be scaled up in order to sustain the momentum, which requires more paths to authorship and a new approach to the publishing process. The Rebus Community (Rebus Community 2016) is designed to address this need and enable the collaborative creation of many high-quality Open Textbooks in every subject, in every language, around the world..
Collaborative production models have emerged in tandem with digital and web-based technologies that enable large groups of intrinsically motivated volunteers to work together to create valuable, free resources (Benkler 2006). This model has most successfully been applied in the realm of Open Source software, where free, openly licensed software is now an essential part of the software ecosystem. The adoption of this model of collaborative production in the realm of Open Textbooks is a natural extension of the longstanding influence of the Open Source movement on Open Education, where both are committed to a “reorientation of power and knowledge” (Kelty 2008). This presentation will discuss the vision for the Rebus Community platform, with an emphasis on facilitating collaboration and the use of innovative tools. In line with Open Source community models, the platform focuses on open community, open licenses and open tools (Bacon 2009), offering mechanisms for individuals to connect and collaborate to produce and publish Open Textbooks. The initial design of the Rebus Community has been informed by conversations with active Open Textbook projects, and will continue to develop in response to community needs.
Successfully implemented, the Community will enable a wide group of participants who value the principles of Open Education to contribute to academic resources that can be used worldwide. Broad participation is a particular focus, and the platform is designed to allow and encourage contributions from those other than faculty and institutional professional staff. Both graduate and undergraduate student participation will be encouraged, in the form of student-led learning, gaining experience in editing, design or another skillset, building an academic CV and contributing to projects that benefit their peers worldwide. The Community also encourages contributions from outside of academia for tasks that do not require academic expertise (editing, image sourcing, formatting, design etc.), building connections and creating opportunities to demonstrate the value of Open Educational Resources in wider society.
The Rebus Community (2016). http://rebus.community.
Benkler, Yochai (2006). Wealth of Networks. Yale University Press.
Kelty, Christopher (2008). Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Duke University Press.
Bacon, Jono (2009). The Art of Community. O’Reilly Media.