12 Designing a Textbook

When we think of a textbook we often think one of two things: the books we used during our own education, and the books we use for teaching our courses.

With an open textbook, we have the ability to create our ideal textbook, to look beyond the tradition of what a textbook has meant to us, and instead imagine what we wish it would be. An open textbook allows for a highly customized body of content and for a student centered delivery.

That said, a textbook is a familiar learning device. Students have a strong expectation of what a textbook should be. Just like with other instructional materials, the student experience should be carefully considered.

When looking to write a textbook, some general rules of design will be helpful.

  • Begin with the end in mind. What is it that you are trying to achieve? What is the scope of the book? What knowledge should a student have before and after they have used the book? What are the learning objectives?
  • Sketch out the general parameters of your book. What types of media do you want to incorporate to your book?
  • Make a plan for the future. Who will review your book? How often do you anticipate the content will need to be updated?



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