15 Teaching Guide: Expand an Open Textbook

Julie Ward; assistant professor of 20th; and 21st-century Latin American literature at University of Oklahoma

Below is a teaching guide from Dr. Julie Ward at University of Oklahoma for instructors wishing to expand an existing open textbook project in their classes. While this project is specific to Spanish literature, the advice is relevant to similar projects in other disciplines. 

Critical Edition Assignment Implementation Guide

Welcome to the Antología Abierta de Literatura Hispana (AALH) team! I (Julie Ward) am so thrilled that you and your students will be participating in this enriching learning experience and providing materials for other students around the world.

This guide is a week-by-week overview of how I implemented the critical edition in my third-year university Spanish course, Introduction to Hispanic Literature and Culture. Feel free to use what is helpful and ignore what isn’t. I do ask that if you plan to stray too far from the format here that you email me (wardjulie@ou.edu) so we can discuss how it will fit into the AALH.

You’ll see that I dedicated seven class periods over ten weeks to the critical edition group project. It’s an intensive research project that introduces many students to the concept of literary research for the first time, and I think you’ll be very impressed at students’ in-depth knowledge of their chosen texts and authors by the time they present their final products.

Good luck, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch: wardjulie@ou.edu

Week 1: Group Work, an overview

Time: 50 minutes
Objective: Discuss and reflect on group work; share best practices; create team expectations agreements.

Prior work for instructor:

  • Set up groups of 4-5 students each (I highly recommend using CATME if possible; either way, see the best practices laid out in Oakley et al. section II.C, pp. 12-13, including Getting to Know You Form pp. 24-25).
  • Make copies of “Coping with Hitchhikers and Couch Potatoes on Teams” (1/student, Oakley et al. pp. 33-34).
  • Make copies of “Normas y expectativas del equipo de trabajo” (1/group, Appendix A).

Prior work for students:

In Class:

  • Follow the script in Oakley et al., Section II.D-III.C, pp. 13-16.
  • Have students read “Coping with Hitchhikers and Couch Potatoes on Teams” in Oakley et al. pp. 33-34 in their groups and discuss the following questions:
    • What is your overall opinion of group work in classes?
    • What was the worst group-work experience you’ve ever had? What made it difficult?
    • What was the best group-work experience you’ve ever had? What was great about it?
  • Elicit responses from students as a group.
  • Acknowledge possible difficulties with group work and discuss the strategies you will implement to address them proactively.
  • Go over Team Policies (Oakley et al. p. 26 or see Appendix A for version in Spanish).
  • Have each group write its Team Expectations Agreement and turn in a copy, signed by all members, to you (Oakley et al. pp. 26-27 or see Appendix A for version in Spanish).
  • Announce dates for 1) reforming groups (optional); 2) team evaluations.
  • Explain how team evaluations will affect project grade for individuals.

Week 2: What is a Scholarly Edition?

Time: 50 minutes
Objective: Define scholarly edition; introduce assignment.

Prior work for instructor:

  • Bring several examples of critical editions of literary texts to class, at least one per student.
  • Make copies of “Exploración de ediciones críticas” (Appendix B) (1/student).
  • Bring copies (or project on screen) of Critical Edition Assignment Sheet and Ejemplo Formato Edición Crítica.

Prior work for students:

  • Read “MLA Statement on the Scholarly Edition in the Digital Age.”
  • Complete comprehension quiz “Ediciones críticas” over reading (sample here).

In Class:

  • Elicit preliminary definitions of a critical or scholarly edition.
  • Pass out one or two critical editions to each group along with “Exploración de ediciones críticas” worksheet.
  • Ask students to use the critical editions to answer the questions on the worksheet.
  • When students have completed worksheets, have each group share their responses, presenting their selected edition to the class.
  • If necessary, revise preliminary definitions of critical and scholarly editions.
  • Explain that each group will be creating a smaller-scale version of the critical editions they just examined, by choosing one text studied in class this semester and writing an introduction, providing annotations, and including relevant illustrations and bibliography.
  • Show students the Antología abierta de literatura hispana and explain that their completed, successful entries will form part of future editions of the AALH. Mention that students will license their entries CC-BY, to be discussed in Week 5.
  • Pass out critical edition assignment sheet (Appendix C) and “Ejemplo Formato Edición Crítica” (Appendix D) and present due dates and expectations, and answer questions.

Week 3: Determine Work

Each group should schedule a time to meet with the instructor and/or a TA during this week to choose a work for their critical edition. Students should be encouraged to look ahead at the syllabus and familiarize themselves with the options.

Any text chosen should be in the public domain or licensed CC-BY for inclusion in the AALH. There is a wish list of authors available here.

Only one group should work on a given text.

Schedule between 15-30 minutes per group.

Week 5: Team Work Analysis and Review Process / CC-BY Overview

Time: 50 minutes
Objectives: Analyze team progress and review selves and teammates; Discuss best practices for providing feedback; Learn about Creative Commons licensing and sign MOU.

Prior work for instructor:

  • Make copies of Oakley et al. pp. 28, 30 (1/student) and p. 29 (for each student, one per group member including themselves, i.e., 4-5/student).
  • Bring sealable envelopes (1/student).
  • Schedule Visit from on-campus specialist on Creative Commons Licensing, probably a digital resources librarian (if possible).
  • Make copies of MOU from Rebus Community (Appendix E).

In class:

  • “Hand out Evaluation of Progress toward Effective Team Functioning [(Oakley et al. p. 28) . . .] to get students to reflect on how their team is doing. Students are inclined to sweep problems under the rug until the problems become severe enough to cause explosions. Periodic reviews of what is going well and what needs work can get the problems on the table where they can be dealt with in a less emotional and more constructive manner. Again, other than handing out, collecting, and keeping the evaluations on file, the instructor normally would not comment or take action in response to them unless they suggest that an explosion is imminent (and perhaps not even then)” (Oakley et al. 16)
  • “Have the students fill out Team Member Evaluation forms (Oakley et al., p. 29) for each team member (including themselves) and discuss them with one another” (Oakley et al. 17).
  • “Have the students [. . .] summarize their verbal ratings on the Peer Rating of Team Members Form [Oakley et al. p. 30 . . .], and submit the latter form into the instructor. A good idea is to have the students submit the forms in sealed envelopes, with the student team names or numbers on the outside— this makes it easy to sort the forms for each group” (Oakley et al. 18).
  • Introduce librarian, who will explain public domain, what Creative Commons licensing is and what CC-BY licensing in particular is. Be sure to emphasize that students will be licensing their critical editions CC-BY and what the implications and motivations for this are. (For more information, see the Rebus Community Licensing FAQ.)
  • Pass out MOU and ask each student to sign it and return it to you.

After class:

  • “Use the autorating system [Oakley et al. p. 31 . . .] to convert the verbal ratings to numerical ones, calculate a weighting factor for each team member, and determine each student’s individual grade as the product of the team assignment grade and the weighting factor for that student. This system is not shared with the students unless an individual student asks (in our experience, they almost never do). [. . . I]nstructors should reserve the right to disregard any ratings that look suspicious after attempting to understand the dynamics that produced them.” (Oakley et al. 18) [NB: Decide how you want to incorporate peer ratings into your grading scheme.]

Week 7: Checklist

Time: 25 minutes
Objectives: Reality Check on progress vis a vis upcoming due date.

Prior work for instructor:

Prior work for students:

  • Each group should bring, in digital or paper form, the current version of their critical edition.

In class:

  • Give students a copy of the requirements checklist and ask them to fill it out according to their group’s progress on the critical edition.
  • Once students have assessed their progress, have them make a plan and delegate tasks for finishing by the due date.

Week 9: Peer Review

Time: 50 minutes
Objectives: Provide and receive feedback on critical edition for final revisions.

Prior work for instructor:

  • Print peer review sheet (1/student) (Appendix G).

Prior work for students:

  • Each group should bring 5-6 hard copies of their critical editions, one for the instructor and one for each member of the reviewing group.

In Class:

  • Hand out peer review worksheet and go over questions with students. Elicit examples of helpful feedback and not-so-helpful feedback.
  • Pair groups and have them exchange their critical editions. The peer review worksheet should be filled out individually by each group member.
  • Give students approximately 20-25 minute to fill out the form.
  • Have paired groups come together and give them 20 minutes (10 minutes/group) to share feedback with one another.
  • Remind students of next week’s due date/presentations.

Week 10: Presentations

The presentation of the scholarly editions may take the form of timed group presentations, or of a poster session where students take turns staying with a monitor showing their digital critical edition and explaining it to others and visiting other groups’ stations to see their work. You may find it helpful to pass out the evaluation form in Appendix H to guide students as they observe one another’s work.

Additionally, you may offer a “Premio Popular” for whichever group receives the highest evaluations from peers.

If any university offices or departments, such as the office of undergraduate research or the libraries, helped you to implement this assignment, this is an excellent occasion to allow students to demonstrate their new expertise and for campus contacts to see the fruit of their labor.

*Don’t forget to assign a final Peer and Self Evaluation (See Week 5 above) once the project is complete.


Please follow the links below to the appendices:

  1. Julie Ward, “Critical Edition Assignment Implementation Guide,” http://bit.ly/jwcriticaledgdoc.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.


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A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students Copyright © 2017 by Julie Ward; assistant professor of 20th; and 21st-century Latin American literature at University of Oklahoma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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