Educators NZ - Academics to ‘hack’ an open textbook

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Academics to ‘hack’ an open textbook

This weekend, academics from New Zealand and Australia will collaboratively write – or hack - an open textbook.

Led by the University of Otago, the open textbook project will be an experiment in the production of open educational resources.

This textbook will be for undergraduate students in communication and media studies around Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

With contributions from academics across New Zealand and Australia, the textbook will be free of all technical and legal restrictions on access and reuse. This means that it will free for by anyone in the world to read, distribute and adapt.

Dr Erika Pearson, senior lecturer in the Department of Media, Film and Communication, says, textbooks currently available for New Zealand first year students are often produced overseas, usually the US, and can have a cripplingly high price tag.

“Open texts are not only more affordable for students, they also are more flexible for teachers, who can pull apart open textbooks to find the more relevant and useful materials for their classes.”

The open textbook will use a Creative Commons Attribution licence, enabling anyone to share, adapt and rewrite the textbook, as long as credit is given to the original creators. Creative Commons International is partially funding the project, through a grant to Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

Richard White, University of Otago copyright officer says that Creative Commons licensing is the perfect vehicle.

“It ensures our rights as creators are preserved while at the same time enabling others to share our work as widely as possible.”

The team was inspired by a group of Finnish mathematicians who successfully wrote an open mathematics textbook in a weekend.

The team hopes that their project will inspire other open textbooks in the region.

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