Day 4 of Open Education Week at UTS featured Associate Professor Amanda White (UTS Business School), who shared insights from her experiences in creating open educational resources. Amanda created the open textbook Accounting and Accountability, which “covers the basics of accounting without getting into the gritty details of debits and credits”.

Amanda’s presentation covered important points and provided valuable advice for others looking to embark on their own open content journey:

1. Good reasons for creating your own textbook

For Amanda, creating an open textbook addressed some of the issues she was facing in teaching up-to-date content. Existing textbooks did not adequately cover new curriculum, nor did they include diverse perspectives (particularly Indigenous perspectives). On top of this, Amanda saw the benefits of promoting social equity through making the resource open and improving the learning experience for students by removing access barriers.

2. Approaches for writing a textbook

Amanda pointed out that creating your own textbook from scratch is time consuming and resource intensive, suggesting adaptation of an existing textbook as a more achievable alternative. She decided to adapt a textbook from Openstax, and also creating her own content in a combined approach. She also researched the history of accounting for a wider range of cultural influences than is typically drawn upon.

3. Potential contributors and authors

Taking control of the authoring process means that there are more options for what kinds of voices can be included. While the teacher voice was prioritised for Accounting and Accountability, Amanda points out that more advanced classes might provide an opportunity for students to play a role as authors. Industry experts could also be invited to take part.

This also meant that when it came to including Indigenous perspectives in the textbook, Amanda was able to use content by Indigenous authors working in the field of business (importantly, she ensured that this work was licensed under CC BY ND – meaning that no derivatives are allowed under the license and the content cannot be changed).

4. Considerations for the UTS context

Amanda suggested some ways that usage of open textbooks might be useful for particular scenarios at UTS, particularly for OPM courses (which do not permit requirements for purchasing textbooks), and also as a way to distribute some of the content that many UTS academics have already written in the course of their work, for use within UTS and beyond.

Amanda also discussed managing the workload of writing a textbook alongside existing teaching and research workloads, recommending support systems such as requesting workload relief, partnering with another academic, and drawing on other support resources from the community for tasks like proofing and graphic design.

5. Platforms and technologies

Another aspect of the process you may want to plan ahead for is choosing a platform to host your open textbook once it’s finished, and which technologies you may need to use throughout the authoring and publishing of your content. Accounting and Accountability is hosted on Pressbooks, and Amanda also suggested Word Online and Google Docs as alternatives. Using digital platforms also opens up opportunities to include interactive elements in your book for a more engaging experience for the reader, which Amanda made use of with H5P activities.

6. The value of community

Writing an open textbook (or any book) can be an intimidating journey to begin, and Amanda emphasised the vital role that the learning and teaching community played throughout the process. UTS Library were especially important in the writing of Accounting and Accountability, from covering the open textbook platform cost, to providing formatting and graphic design support, providing advice on copyright and OER practices, and assistance with general peer review.

Amanda also touched on the importance of students, as they are the audience for these resources. As mentioned before, some textbooks may lend themselves to co-authorship with students, or as was the case for Accounting and Accountability, for peer review and feedback.

Watch the video

You can watch Amanda’s full presentation below, including the Q&A section.

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