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OpenTextbooks in Canadian History: Part I

John Belshaw

I had this ‘eureka’ moment in the barber’s chair.  Well, I thought, if a book is like a railway line, heading in one direction from west to east, then an e-book is more like a mine elevator, heading from the surface into the depths, from top to bottom or, perhaps, from north to south. If that’s the case, then an OpenTextbook is like a hive. It is living, fluid, with junctions that run up, down, outward in several horizons but also in three dimensions. It offers options rather than a singular pathway, complexity rather than guiderails, a little more risk but the possibility of greater rewards.

Moving from metaphor to practicality, the OpenTextbook is just plain different from conventional textbooks. For starters, it’s smart. It can evolve. Instead of waiting for the (inevitable) umpteenth edition, you (the prof) can refine and effectively create the newest edition. What if your textbook could be made to look more like something from Harry Potter, with moving images on the page? What if it could function differently?

What if it was available for free?