FROM CODEX TO BITS: Open Textbooks and their Implications for Knowledge Production, Distribution and Reuse
FROM CODEX TO BITS:
Open Textbooks and their
Implications for Knowledge
Production, Distribution and
Dept. of Information Studies
Outline of presentation
1. Being an open scholar
2. Aim of the project
3. Theoretical assumptions & framework
4. Research questions
6. Research timeline & progress
7. Preliminary findings
Being an open scholar: raising
“I think my favorite week was the week we talked about
open access and open science. As someone who works
in a bio lab and hopes to go to grad school, reading
about academic publishing and the price barriers that
prevent common people and researchers in developing
countries from accessing scientific knowledge has been
eye-opening. I am appalled at the inequalities the
publishing system perpetuates.”
Student in “IS10: Information and Power”, UCLA, Fall
Sources: Creative Commons/ Kwantlen Polytechnic
University/ College of the Canyons/ Marion Campus Library
A) to investigate how “openness” is interpreted across
different institutions (community colleges, R1
institutions etc.) and stakeholder groups (instructors,
administrators, librarians etc.) in California;
B) to provide a richer understanding of the various ways
in which “open textbooks” exist as digital objects,
and to assess the interoperability, accessibility and
durability of the different systems through which they
are constituted ;
C) to highlight the main institutional, economic and
technical barriers that inhibit the mainstreaming of
1. Social Construction of Technology (Bijker & Wieber,
1984; Bijker & Law, 1992)
2. Infrastructural approaches to the study of information
systems and artifacts (e.g. Bowker, 1994; Star &
3. Theories of materiality and material agency; new
materialisms (e.g. Sørensen, 2009; Boldén, 2015)
• RQ1. Vision and discourse: How is ‘openness’ interpreted and
understood across different types of institutions, markets and
stakeholder groups, and how do their goals for open textbooks
differ? How are these different goals and visions shaping how
open textbooks are implemented across contexts and
• RQ2. Openness and interoperability: How “open” are open
textbooks, technically, and in practice? How modular,
interoperable and customizable are their components? What
technical standards, if any, currently regulate the production of
open textbooks? And to what extend are users taking
advantage of open licenses to remix, adapt and redistribute
• RQ3. Labor and infrastructure: What does the current system
of open textbook production, distribution and upkeep look
like? What forms of labor are needed to do open textbooks and
how is that labor currently distributed among stakeholders?
1. Semi-structured interviews (40-45 interviews)
• Instructors (authors & adopters)
• Publishers (open & traditional)
• OER coordinators, librarians and other support staff
• High-level administrators & policy makers at the state level
2. Observations (80 hrs)
• Classroom observations at 2 California State University campuses
• OER training workshops, conferences and summits across the
3. System analysis
Data collection November 2016 May 2018
Data analysis and
February 2018 May 2019
Dissertation filling July 2019
• COMPLETED: observations, 35 interviews
• PENDING: 3-5 interviews with administrators,
bookstore managers & publishers; system analysis
of the two platforms
• CURRENTLY WORKING ON: interview
transcriptions; coding; chapters 1 & 2 (introduction
Both creation and adoption of open textbooks is highly
constrained by technical, economic and institutional barriers
that prioritize affordability and practicality over goals of content
sharing and remix;
Faculty involvement in open textbook creation is strongly
limited by technical parameters, e.g., copyright, accessibility,
and interoperability issues due to lack of technical standards;
Strong desire for “readymade” (non-modular) content,
especially at the community college level;
Paper still plays an important role in the implementation of open
textbooks; paper practices not dead.
Bijker, W. E., & Law, J. (1992). Shaping technology/building society: studies in sociotechnical change.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
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