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Open Education

Patrick Blessinger
TJ Bliss

9. Three Approaches to Open Textbook Development

Rajiv S. Jhangiani, Arthur G Green and John D. Belshaw


In this contribution, three open textbook authors outline the motivations and mechanics of three successful yet different approaches to writing open textbooks. These approaches include textbook creation and adaptation projects, individual and collaborative efforts, and traditional timeline and compressed “sprint” models. Following these cases, the authors discuss similarities and differences across approaches, along with broader issues concerning how particular disciplines and philosophies of teaching influence writing open textbooks.

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Three Approaches to Open Textbook Development

We believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information — not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it (Licklider and Taylor, 1968, p. 21).


In October 2012, the British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Advanced Education launched the Open Textbook Project (OTP) ( The project’s goal was to create sixty open textbooks in the forty highest-enrolled subject areas in post-secondary education in the province. As a provincial agency that supports teaching, learning and educational technology, BCcampus was chosen to lead the project. Four years later, BCcampus has surpassed their initial targets with over 150 open textbooks in th...


Social and personality psychologist who conducts research in political psychology, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and open education. He is an OER Research Fellow with the Open Education Group, a faculty workshop facilitator with the Open Textbook Network, and an Associate Editor of the journal Psychology Learning and Teaching. Rajiv has revised two open textbooks — for Research Methods ( and Social Psychology ( — and advocates for the adoption of open educational and science practices. His forthcoming book is entitled Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science.

Environmental geographer and a 2016 Faculty Fellow for the BCcampus Open Education Project. He is currently a professor at Okanagan College in British Columbia and a post-doctoral fellow working on OER and Geographic Information Science (GIS) at the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. In 2014, he co-authored an open textbook on regional geography. His present research examines best practices for integrating open pedagogy into the teaching of GIS and OER within geography and environmental studies.

Historian of Canada and British Columbia with special interests in demographic history, working-class communities, and twentieth century Vancouver. His three latest hard-copy books are Becoming British Columbia: A Population History; Vancouver Noir: 1930–1960 (with co-author Diane Purvey), and an edited collection of articles called Vancouver Confidential. In 2015 he completed the open textbook Canadian History: Pre-Confederation ( and followed that up in 2016 with Canadian History: Post-Confederation ( Belshaw has taught internationally and has been a face-to-face and online professor at Thompson Rivers University for nearly twenty years. He has also worked in various administrative capacities and consults with institutions eager to build community-based research capacities.

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