Adopting an Open Textbook

This summer I adopted an open textbook for my course – LIS 4223/5223, Information Technology Management.  This is an elective course for graduates and required for undergraduates in the School of Library and Information Studies at OU.  I have taught this course many times before, and it was designed to be delivered online.  This summer the course was a 7 week online offering.

In the past I have used Managing Information Technology by Carol Brown et al as a textbook – and felt it was a very good book for the course, I especially liked the built in case studies.  I supplement this content with links to websites and videos to build on the content from my lectures and the textbook content.  When preparing for the class this past spring, I looked at the book again with an eye to value for the price (an average of $200) – was the book worth this cost – were students keeping the book past the class, where students missing out on course content because of the price?

So I started the search for an alternative that would meet the objectives of the course, allow me to create a custom content package for students, and be more affordable.

I started my search at the Open Textbook Library  hosted at the University of Minnesota, and looked at

both great books, but more focused on the technology side – and were better suited for the LIS 4063/5063 Information and Communication Technology class – so I passed those onto a fellow faculty member.  I didn’t find anything additional at the Saylor Academy Bookshelf or CollegeOpenTextbooks, but a search of Merlot brought a couple of candidates from the Global Textbook Project at the University of Georgia.
Here I looked at 2 possibilities,

  • Business Processes and Information Technology by Ulric Gelinas, Steve Sutton, Jane Fedorowicz
  • Information Systems edited by Richard T Watson.

Again, I thought the Watson text was better for the ITC course, though had really good content.  I really liked the Gelinas book, it matched well to my course structure and content – so I had the book for my class!!  I am very grateful to the authors for making the book available with a CC license.  The content is very strong, with a business and management focus. The book was copyrighted in 2008, so some of the examples were a bit older, but I used my written lectures and additional content links for students to give some more recent examples.

I let my students know up front that I had intentionally selected an openly licensed textbook for the course.  I included a link to the complete PDF of the book in the syllabus and the course introduction (we use D2L at OU) and each week included a PDF of the assigned chapters in the weekly content areas.  At the end of the course, I asked for feedback from students and a majority of them liked the book very much.  Overall, they didn’t miss having a physical copy of the book, liked the content and appreciated having the chapters embedded in the weekly content in D2L.  Most students downloaded the chapters and then read them on the computer/electronic device of their choice.

Overall this was a great experience.  It was work and took some time, really it is about as much time as adopting any new textbook.  I was already searching for additional educational resources for my courses, so that was nothing new.  As with any new adoption, the most time consuming parts were writing new quiz questions, and reviewing lectures to make specific page number and reference call outs to the textbook.  I plan to teach this course again next summer, and plan to use the Gelinas book, and may further customize by adding some content from the Watson book.

If you have any questions – let me know.  Am happy to share any other resources I have.

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