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Open Textbooks: Using open textbooks

For those interested in using or creating open textbooks


Adopting an open textbook refers to the process in which an instructor designates a specific resource as a required or recommended resources for a course. 

  1. Locate a book or resource that fits your content, teaching style and students
  2. Plan how to use the resource in the course
  3. If needed, modify class materials
  4. Apply chosen license to the material

Open textbook adoption worksheet for faculty

Adopt Open Pedagogy


If you’re approaching a remix project for the first time, a good rule of thumb is to approach it incrementally. While it may be tempting to make a number of major changes at once, an open textbook is a living resource that can be revisited. These are the basic steps involved in adapting a textbook:

  1. Check the license
  2. Identify the format
  3. Assess editability
  4. Determine access
  5. Publish textbook

Modifying an open textbook: what you need to know by Cheryl Cuillier, Amy Hofer, Annie Johnson, Kathleen Labadorf, Karen Lauritsen, Peter Potter, Richard Saunders, Anita Walz, November 2016 is licensed with Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Creative commons by 4.0 license


Choosing your license

If you are going to use your chosen textbook with no alterations, you need only keep the license that it came with.

If you are going to alter, adapt, change or add the contents, you'll need to:

  1. Acknowledge the original textbook
  2. Add your own chosen license.

Choosing a creative commons license


Open textbooks are typically distributed online through a platform like Penn College's P.L.A.T.O., however they can also be produced in print format at low cost and made available through a college bookstore.