Where to start? Co-creating open textbooks

Hi open education global forum!

About one week ago I subscribed and since then have been reading and reading and getting lost in the forum and links and … well, I am super happy to see such an active forum on such an important topic.

Let me introduce myself for a moment. With regard to all of you, I know nothing about open education, … I am a simple math and physics teacher in Belgium (about 6 years). Since the beginning of my teaching I got annoyed by publishers, the cost of these books that kids can only use once, … but in the meantime I also think it is super hard to write a good course on your own and I think also this can be harmful for students. So I was always “why don’t we collaborate more?” but had no time to do something about it. Now I took a gap year, mainly went travelling, but could not leave teaching and this thought… so I took a dive into open education, talked to some colleagues in Belgium, …

My current dream is that we can make teachers in Belgium cooperate to make open textbooks. I feel we can find enough teachers to do this. Since I feel that this forum is very open(!) and welcoming, I dare to ask these questions as a newbie:

  • does anyone know of similar projects (they should exist I think) with people whom we can talk to?
  • which software would we need to use for this? To create it (the difficult part) and to publish it (the easier part I guess). I’m reading about for example pressbooks or Libretext to create it, but am very interested in your opinions, since I think it should have the following prerequisites:
  • It should be sustainable. We don’t want something that will possibly leave in 5 years.
  • It should not be too difficult for teachers to work with.
  • It should have version control.
  • The final product should be easily used and adapted by other teachers.

Many thanks for your input an help. I feel this might not be my last question.

Best wishes,

P.s. I will also contact some people from the Netherlands (like SURF), since they are doing amazing works. And well, we share the same language…


Maybe try Wiki Books https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page

Hello Sam and Welkom bij de gemeenschap! (Google translate did that, not me)

We are glad you found this place (yes, it is sprawling and I am a bit to blame for that) and found it welcoming to pose your excellent question. There are many here with more experience and wisdom than me, and I am counting on them to enter.

I would think that the software is not the first thing to look at, it’s more a question of getting a sense if this will be more of a grass roots effort (banding some like minded teachers together) or if there might be some supporting organization to support a Belgium-wide effort.

There are many, many examples out there, the two I jump to because of my location (Canada) are BCcampus which support many education efforts province wide, but as been a leader in open textbook publishing see https://open.bccampus.ca/create-open-textbooks/ and eCampusOntario with their open library resource.

If its more of a grassroots effort, you find find an interest in OER Commons (both for finding content but also their Open Author platform. Also look at Rebus Community which is just that but see especially their guides. Check out EdTechBooks too

Also for a quick course in OER see the OER Starter Kit and a companion one aimed at people who are organizing programs like you are considering.

These are just general links.

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Hello Sam,

You might look into the Encore+ Program (European Network for Catalysing Open Resources in Education) which is trying to (their words) transform learning through open education by supporting the uptake of OER in Europe. They are oriented to building OER infrastructure rather than OER content and they have Erasmus+ funding.

LibreTexts, which I am part of is content focussed and we have tools to make building books less of a travail than it might seem at first. LibreTexts can be written in any language for which there is unicode. We have recently enabled a system to machine translate any of our books and created Spanish and Ukrainian libraries. We also did about 50 books in French but nothing yet in Flemish or Dutch.

You could use these translations, French or Flemish OER and your own content to build LibreTexts. With the machine translations you would have to fiddle a bit, but they can be 95% accurate and improving daily. To get started you would need an account. Write to me if you are interested.

Josh Halpern

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Hello all

This is a truly fabulous forum with a wealth of information. I work at the University of Cape Town and I am the PI of a digital open textbooks for development initiative (http://www.dot4d.uct.ac.za/)

We have recently published an article on open textbook models and we are currently focused on co-creation of open textbooks with students.

Please do not hesitate to contact me (Glenda.cox@uct.ac.za).

I know there are others who can help you to.



Hi Sam and all,
In Italy there is a project called Bookinprogress. It’s a very interesting model of book self creation, also if the books are not open.
It started in Brindisi from a very innovative principal - Salvatore Giuliano - that wanted families saved money form textbooks to afford the cost of iPad and other technology. So, teachers of the schools started to write the books, printed them inside the school, and then sold to families. Now they are a national network with many schools and teachers collaborating: schools have to associate bookinprogress to cooperate in creating books, and then they could receive the books. I don’t know other similar experience. the website of Book In Progress

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Hello Sam, I think this is a fantastic question to ask this community!

I have been a series editor in a large project to co-create several open textbooks in philosophy. I worked through the Rebus Community (Alan already mentioned this above) which is a great way to connect with others and share information and advice about projects. Their guides are great, as Alan mentioned, and the forum is really helpful too! We published on Pressbooks, but writing and reviewing chapters happened outside that platform (we used Google Docs, but other options are of course possible!). Mostly it was me and the book editors who put everything in Pressbooks.

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about the process!


Dear Alan,

Many thanks.
I’m looking into the links. It seems that both BCCampus and eCampusOntario are using (partially) pressbooks.
When looking into the open authoring tool from OERcommons, it seemed to me this is not entirely what I want, but I’m in contact with Melinda Newfarmer to look into it.

At the same time that I am looking for the software, I am indeed also looking a bit for organizations in our outside Belgium. I currently think that it is starting more as a grassroots project and hopefully will grow. However, I think it should be a very good grassroots project which hence has the ability to grow. I also think I should already have some descent idea how to do this before I talk to organizations. So now I explore, talk with like-minded colleagues and test this. After a few months to one year we should then attach this to other organisations, ask funding, … or see how we can make this grow in Belgian education. At least that is my view, but all (more experienced) ideas are welcome.

Best wishes,

Hi Eleonora,

Sound very interesting and great to hear this got something in Italy. Unfortunately the website is only in Italian I think, so not useful for us.

Best wishes,

HI Glenda,

Could you share a link to your article?

Thanks Irene

Cox, G., Willmers, M., & Masuku B (2023). Sustainable open textbook models for social justice. In Ramirez-Montoya,.Soledad González González , C., Hernández Montoya, D., Omar Lopez-Caudana, E.,Rodríguez-Abitia, G. Open education for sustainable development: Contributions from emerging technologies and educational innovation. Lausanne: Frontiers Media SA. DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2022.881998

Masuku, B.,Trotter, H., Willmers, M &Cox, G (2021). UCT Open textbook journeys. UCT Open Access Monographs. DOI: UCT Open Textbook Journeys | UCT Libraries

I am loving the conversation here! It feels so nice to read this amazing thoughts and with compassion to serve.

Adding to the resource pool.

I work with storyweaver.org.in - an opensource digital library for children in their mother language. With features like translation, book creation and offline access. This makes storyweaver one of the biggest open source digital story library with more than 50k stories in 330+ languages across 150 countries.

I would love to connect with you all, I lead the local partnerships with govt and nonprofits. Looking forward.


I am so joyed to see that you are part of this community, Kundan! I discovered Storyweaver a while again from I believe a mention here by @sushumna It is easily one of the most valuable and impressive open resources that many have not heard about, for its mission, community, the availability of stories for reading and teaching in so many specific languages, the features that make it available offline.

Yes, I am very excited about it and more people should visit, make use of, and perhaps become part of the project

I will contact you Kundan, we would love to arrange a podcast or a OEG Live webcast to bring more awareness to Storyweaver.

Thank you again for being here with OEGlobal, from Alan


Happy to see you here @kundan storyweaver is an amazing site. Best part is not only we can create and share but all of them are open-licensed.

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Kundan, it is great to see someone from StoryWeaver here. My daughter is reading a story on StoryWeaver as I type this. It is an incredible resource and our family is really thankful for it. We have been using it for quite a while.

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Thanks for sharing Books in Progress, Eleonora, a fascinating example of cooperative creation.

Thank you so much for your kind reply @cogdog @sushumna and @54m33r. Sure lets connect and make this more accessible to children in need. Happy to be here!