I chose open textbooks as the area for my focus. The primary reason for choosing this topic is that it has the most relevance for me in my current roles as director of distance learning and adjunct faculty member,. Our graduate school works with students primarily in Eurasia where incomes are limited. Open access articles and books are a welcomed source of content for their courses and research assignments, and are generally affordable even if there is a cost.
While researching my field (organizational leadership with a theological emphasis) I discovered the option of books and articles is somewhat limited. However, after persistently looking I found three resources which I can use in my classes and tell my fellow faculty members about. Not finding other resources told me that there are far too few resources in the field and most all of them were in English. Because many of our students do not speak or read English even the materials available in open access are not always useful for them.
The Directory of Open Access Journals is most helpful in looking for research articles which our faculty and students can use. Open Access Digital Theological Library is another resource specifically focusing on the theological research. There are many articles which our faculty and students can access. The third resource which assist most is OER Commons, which has some textbooks which can assist students and faculty in their research.
There is need for more people in my field to write and register their research as open access in order to assist students who want to further research topics within the field. There are simply not enough people making their research available through open access options. Because some of our faculty speak the Eurasian languages they will need to post in their heart language as well as English.
This process of exploring open access textbooks was good for me in two ways: 1) I found ways for my students to use open access materials for their course assignments; and 2) in my role as director of distance learning I can point these materials to our faculty and encourage them to not only use the materials, but to write and submit their work to open access resources.
My next steps will be to take what I have learned and incorporate links to these resources in my syllabi and encourage students to explore them. I will also encourage them to write for publication through open access to make their research available for others. As a next step these materials, and others as discovered, will be added to our Faculty Hub so faculty can use them in their classes and in their personal research and writing.