All posts by msheaves

IMLS funded project will allow more faculty to create their own open textbooks.

Text on grey background reads: IMLS Funded. A National Platform for Authoring Open Textbooks. Logos are Open Textbook Network, Collaborative Knowledge Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services. Image on right is three people sitting around a table in discussion.


More faculty will be able to create their own open textbooks thanks to a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support a collaborative project led by the Open Textbook Network (OTN), in partnership with Coko.

“A National Platform for Authoring Open Textbooks” seeks to lower barriers to textbook publishing by offering a modern publishing solution that is freely available to all. The IMLS grant (LG-36-19-0035-19) will support this project in developing processes and tools to equip a broad community of authors to write and publish open textbooks.

The project will be informed by the OTN community and built on Coko’s Editoria software. Editoria is an open source, web-based, editing and production workflow tool. It will provide structural support to help authors delineate and apply consistent instructional design across all elements of a textbook. It will also provide collaboration functionality for faculty to work with authors, librarians, editors, peer reviewers, instructional designers, and other contributors who can help authors create quality textbooks. 

“Academic libraries are working hard to support their faculty who want to publish open textbooks,” said David Ernst, Executive Director of the OTN. “We’re excited that this grant gives us the opportunity to work with the OTN community and Coko to build solutions that will make publishing accessible to more institutions and more faculty.”

Adam Hyde, Coko Founder reinforced David’s thoughts. “I was very happy to work with David on this proposal and couldn’t be more pleased it has been successful,” said Hyde. “OTN have a similar DNA to Coko – we are both mission oriented organisations which value openness in all its forms. These are the right two organisations to work on this problem and I think we can all expect to see great results.”  


The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community of higher education institutions working to advance open education by supporting the use, publication, and distribution of openly licensed textbooks.These programs leverage Open Educational Resources (OER), which are created and licensed to be freely distributed, used and adapted. The resources can be downloaded for no cost, providing all students with free, continuous access to course materials. In addition, OER offer faculty the flexibility to customize the content to meet students’ learning needs. Since its inception in 2014, the network has grown to represent over 1,000 institutions. 


Coko facilitates creation of community-owned open infrastructure for research communication that fosters collaboration, increases transparency and enables the production and dissemination of knowledge at greater speed. 


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact: Mark Sheaves, Open Textbook Network Community Manager

OTNSI 2019 Breakout Sessions

OTNSI 2019 Breakout Sessions. Choose your adventure.

At the heart of the OTN is a commitment to share questions, insights, and experiences so together we can enhance and develop open education programs. In that spirit, we invited members of our community to facilitate breakout sessions at the OTN Summit on Friday, July 26th.

We received some fantastic proposals, and are happy to share these videos from the facilitators describing their sessions.

What does publishing mean?

Karen Lauritsen, Open Textbook Network

There are many ways to publish open textbooks, and, unsurprisingly, each way involves tradeoffs. It’s useful to determine which way will best meet local needs. At the same time, it’s worthwhile to consider how open textbooks published locally represent and reflect your faculty and institutional contributions in the broader higher ed landscape.

Connecting with OER allies across campus (and beyond)?

Jonathan Lashley, Boise State University

Supporting OER initiatives is difficult enough, never mind trying to do it alone. In turn, collaborating with others is so often necessary for scaling and sustaining our work in this area. Considering the competing priorities, workloads, and expectations of those we partner with, however, it should not surprise us when interest wanes among allies across campus. As leaders of open education initiatives at our respective institutions, we must find ways to both identify collaborators and keep them engaged in our efforts.

Developing discipline-specific and collaborative OER communities.

Anita Walz, Virginia Tech

Collaboration is a key feature of OER, but it requires a lot of coordination to develop discipline-specific communities to collaboratively author, create ancillaries, meet up to discuss practices that are working well. Are OTN folks interested in developing discipline-specific and collaborative OER communities, and if so, what have OTN people already done in this area and how could we build on it?

A lot of OER authors choose to “go it on their own” and end up burned out and with a book that is not as good as it could be if were working in a team (teams bring diverse perspectives, challenges to methods, different strengths, etc.). Solo authors also learn a lot less from peers and lose out on the encouragement of a team and the opportunity to learn/think through different ways of teaching their course. Those of us who are working with authors who want to publish are working to ensure rigor and high quality learning resources, and also see needs for talking about pedagogy in the development process. I think that the OTN could make substantive contributions in this area and would like to know about others’ thoughts and experiences on this topic… and if people want to work together.

Service models for supporting OER implementation.

Ariana Santiago, University of Houston

“What is your institution’s service model for supporting OER implementation?” by Ariana E. Santiago is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International License. Transcript available at:

You’ve engaged in successful outreach and have instructors on board to use OER – now what? How do you actually support them in implementing OER? In this discussion about OER service models, we’ll learn about a variety of approaches to supporting OER implementation and explore the following topics: OER services that your institution offers, as well as those that are not offered, and why; staff roles and responsibilities; change management; and local contexts that impact service model development.

What strategies can consortia employ to build support for open education?

Sarah Cohen, Open Textbook Network

With so many new consortia in the OTN, what does it mean to take a system view (rather than a campus view) of open education?

How to measure open textbook and OER progress without numbers?

Dragan Gill, Rhode Island College

While it is exciting to share the number of books or OERs created, students reached, courses flipped, dollars saved, our work to get to these results is often not described with numerical data. We are often engaging in political and strategic efforts to explain the value of open to our campuses. How do we tell this story – to the public, to our administrators and for ourselves to assess and evaluate our work?

Leveraging the OPEN movement to address equity and justice?

Dustin Fife, Western Colorado University

With Meg Brown-Sica, Colorado State University

OER is just one step in creating an actual equitable system. It needs to always be put in a larger framework of changes.

How do we validate research methods to help us collect and report OER program data for unique local contexts?

Amy Hofer, Open Oregon Educational Resources

The OER community is great at sharing information in order to help others not reinvent the wheel, but we also know that what works at one institution may be all wrong for another. There are many approaches to research that emphasize local context. I’m interested in how we can make a case for many valid data reporting methods by applying theories that prioritize local viewpoints.

How can we use Twitter to enhance our work in open education?

Mark Sheaves, Open Textbook Network

Twitter probably houses the biggest network of people working on open education in the world. But the open Twitter community can transcend some traditional barriers to collaborations including departments, institutions, membership organisations, closed networks, nations, and sectors. Twitter, then, offer us all opportunities to ask questions, share resources, hear new perspectives, celebrate wins, commiserate in challenges and build friendships and professional communities. Are we putting enough energy into leveraging its potential for our aims? How could we use the platform more strategically? And what are the concerns with putting our energy into a privately run platform?

How might we make revise and remix practices more inclusive?

Monica Brown, Boise State University

While open licenses have potential for creating more inclusive course materials, without direct concerted effort, OER will not make progress in a timely way. As such, I believe this question to be of vital importance to the open education community if we wish to integrate equity into our processes and practices holistically. By proposing this question, I hope to create avenues for ongoing conversations about what inclusive practices might look like as we assist faculty in revising and remixing resources for their courses.

How can OER impact continuing education and professional development after graduation?

Matt DeCarlo, Radford University

Across service professions, almost OER focus on in-school education, rather than continuing education and professional development. Practitioner-focused OER have the potential to disrupt current models and break down barriers between academia and practice realms.

Introducing the OTN’s new Director of Educational Programs : Tanya Grosz


I am THRILLED to be joining Dave, Sarah, Karen, Barry and Mark as Director of Educational Programs the Open Textbook Network! I’m transitioning from the role of Dean of Graduate, Online & Adult Learning at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, and it was in that role that I had the amazing opportunity to be among one of the eight founding institutions of the Open Textbook Network.

In this role, I will be working with OTN professional development and education programs, seeking supplemental grant funding, and representing the OTN at state, regional, and national levels. I’m also very excited about the possibility of K-12 outreach!  

Professionally, I began my career as a high school English teacher, transitioned to collegiate teaching when my husband and I started a family, and I pursued a Ph.D. in Education and Online Teaching and Learning after falling in love with online teaching. After hearing Cable Green keynote at the MN eLearning Summit in 2011, a new love for open education began, and with the OTN’s help, I spearheaded an open textbook initiative at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul which led to the creation of the first Z degree in the state of MN.

Tanya and her colleagues celebrate Open Ed. Week at Northwestern University – St. Paul

Personally, I recently celebrated my 25 year wedding anniversary to my husband, Tim, who is the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Northwestern. I have two teenage daughters, Olivia and Sophia, and a very spoiled rescue schnauzer named Ollie. I love reading and learning, time at my family’s cabin in Deerwood, MN, coffee, chocolate, and all things French. I survive MN winters and wish MN summers were longer!

A photo of Tanya Grosz’s family: daughters Olivia and Sophia, husband Tim and dog Ollie.

I’m passionate about increasing access to learning through open textbooks, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this incredible community of learners and leaders. 

Open Textbook Network and Coko join forces to enhance the future of open textbook production

The Open Textbook Network (OTN), an organization focused on improving higher education by supporting the use, publication, and distribution of openly licensed textbooks, and the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (Coko), an organization focused on transforming how knowledge is created, improved, and shared, announce their partnership to broaden the production and distribution of open textbooks.

The effort will begin with Coko co-founder Adam Hyde facilitating a workflow sprint with OTN leaders and open textbook authors. The workflow sprint is a methodology to rapidly identify and document optimal workflow for open textbook production. The Open Textbook Network is also exploring Editoria, Coko’s book production platform, as a possible pathway for creating open textbooks.

“The OTN community is well positioned to advance open textbook publishing, and we are thrilled to be a part of their important work,” said Kristen Ratan, Co-founder of Coko.

“The partnership with Coko is very exciting to us,” said David Ernst, Executive Director of the OTN. “We’ve long admired Adam’s work with collaborative production methodologies, and Kristen’s Open Access advocacy. The OTN community is looking for a variety of pathways to publish new open textbooks, and we hope to leverage Coko’s leading edge open source software, Editoria, to support new publishing methodologies. We are well matched for partnership!”

The OTN welcomes the inaugural cohort to the Certificate in OER Librarianship

The Open Textbook Network is excited to announce the inaugural cohort for the Certificate in OER Librarianship, the first program of its kind to offer professional development in open education and open education programming for librarians.

The first cohort brings together 31 librarians from a diverse range of private and public universities, community colleges, and state-wide consortia spanning 21  States. The program starts on February 25 and will include online and in-person content, mentor-led cohorts, and post-workshop program development and assessment. The in-person workshop will be held before the ACRL Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in March 2019. Read more about the Certificate in this press release.

The participants will develop comprehensive knowledge in open education and open education planning, and will be able to apply that knowledge within their own local context, culture, and goals. In addition, they will focus on the practices necessary to navigate the interpersonal and institutional challenges often encountered when building open education programs.

Upon completion of the program, the participants will receive a certificate in OER Librarianship. They will form the core of a supportive community dedicated to sharing ideas and resources as they develop lasting open education programs in their institutions, and pave the way for other institutions to develop similar programs in the future.

The “Certificate in Open Educational Resources (OER) Librarianship” is funded by a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-70-17-0073-17)

2018-19 OER Certificate in OER Librarianship Cohort

Meet the inaugural cohort to the OTN's Certificate in OER Librarianship. Image is a map of North America, with OTN logos marking the locations of the 31 participants.
  • Bryan James McGeary,  Information Literacy Librarian, Dickinson College
  • Caroline HallamOpen Educational Resources Librarian, NCLIVE
  • Christina Riehman-MurphyReference & Instruction Librarian, Penn State Abington
  • D’Arcy Hutchings, Instructional Design Librarian, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Doralyn RossmannHead of Digital Library Initiatives & Associate Professor, Montana State University
  • Dorinne BanksEducation Librarian, George Washington University
  • Emily Gattozzi, Coordinator Scholarly Publishing, Bowling Green State University
  • Eric Prosser, Campus Copyright Librarian, Fort Lewis College
  • Erin Barnthouse, Collection Development & Technical & Online Services Librarian, College of the Canyons
  • Heather White, Library Technical Services Coordinator,  Mt Hood Community College
  • Hillary Fox, Science Librarian & Collection Development Coordinator, University of West Florida
  • Irene McGarrityAssistant Professor, Digital Learning Librarian, Keene State College
  • Jen Hughes, Archives, New Media, and Educational Initiatives Librarian, Salt Lake Community College
  • Jessica DaiDiversity Resident Librarian, West Virginia University
  • Juliana Terciotti MagroOpen Educational Resources and Instructional Librarian, Touro College
  • Julie ReedE-Learning Librarian, Central Piedmont Community College
  • Jonas LambAssociate Professor, Public Services Librarian, University of Alaska Southeast
  • Lauren McKeenWeb Manager and Librarian for Communication Studies, Northwestern University Libraries
  • Lily TodorinovaUndergraduate Experience Librarian, Rutgers University
  • Lindsay Inge CarpenterPedagogy Librarian, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Maria C. BonetElectronic Resources Librarian, Prince George’s Community College
  • Marian HamptonLiaison Librarian, University of Pittsburgh
  • Melanie Medina, Collection Development & OER Librarian, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Monika Chavez, Librarian, Southwestern College
  • Nora RackleyLibrarian, Reference Instruction, Lake-Sumter State College
  • Patricia A Erwin-PloogAssistant Dean of Library Services, College Librarian, Senior Lecturer, Granite State College
  • Rachel DilleyOER Librarian, Columbus State Community College
  • Sheena M CampbellLibrarian for Research and Outreach, Holy Names University
  • Tonya FerrellOpen Educational Resources Coordinator, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Wendy WalkerDigital Initiatives Librarian, University of Montana-Missoula
  • Yang Wu, Open Resources Librarian, Clemson University.

Portland State University Library releases first book from a member of the OTN Publishing Co-op

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (02/06/2019) 

Portland State University Library, a founding member of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, has published Inferring and Explaining by Jeffery L. Johnson. This is the twentieth open textbook they’ve published through the PDXOpen Publishing Initiative Grant Program and the first textbook from a member of the Co-op!

Inferring and Explaining is a book in practical epistemology. It examines the notion of evidence and assumes that good evidence is the essence of rational thinking. Evidence is the cornerstone of the natural, social, and behavioral sciences. But it is equally central to almost all academic pursuits and, perhaps most importantly, to the basic need to live an intelligent and reflective life.

About the process: A conversation with Karen Bjork

Karen Bjork, head of digital initiatives at Portland State University Library, shared her experience with other Co-op members during Tea Time, a monthly member support call.

Text: “Working with the Co-op has been amazing. The community support and opportunity to learn in a shared environment has been incredibly rewarding. The Co-op, not only provided me with the opportunity to build publishing expertise, but it has also allowed me to offer a complete suite of publishing services to my PSU’s open textbook authors.”Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives,  Portland State University Library.

In the video below, Karen answers the following questions:

  • How did you identify and come to support this project?
  • What was your role?
  • How did you ensure it was a textbook, not a monograph?
  • How did you select which editorial, design, and production services to provide? 
  • What was the book budget and actual costs?
  • What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone in this process?

Time stamps highlighting section of the discussion available here.

The author’s perspective with Jeffery L. Johnson

Jeffery L. Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Oregon University, shares his experience working on his first open textbook below 

“I have just completed one of the most interesting and satisfying experiences of my professional life.”

With the help of some generous financial and editorial assistance I was able to write and publish a short textbook for use in my critical thinking and introduction to philosophy courses. I have nothing but the highest praise for the open access textbook initiative in general and the support and personnel at the Portland State University Library in particular.

The textbook that I would have assigned in my critical thinking course costs $70, and my discipline is one of the least expensive in the textbook market. But besides [savings,] students are guaranteed that their instructor is fully engaged with everything he or she is teaching and certainly is in a position to authoritatively answer any questions about the assigned reading. Finally, students, at least some, seem to enjoy participating in the creative process.

“From an instructor’s perspective, at least this instructor’s perspective, the creative experience was strictly a joy.”

Now, it is a lot of work to be sure. Good writing is hard and requires a good deal of time and energy. But the personal and professional payback is enormous. As much as I enjoy professional research and writing for my peers, it was only in this little text that I truly discovered my voice as a writer. I believe that by nature I am a pedagogue in all of my professional writing, but the chance to write for an audience with little or no background in the material I was discussing was liberating. I often found myself looking forward to spending a few more hours at the computer. I would also like to think that my teaching improved as a direct byproduct of the writing experience. It goes without saying that I was exceptionally prepared when I taught the material in the text. But, in addition, the need to always be cognizant of one’s audience spilled over nicely in other courses I was teaching. I am hoping to write additional open access textbooks in the future.

Making structured open textbooks

More on the OTN Publishing Cooperative

Press release announcing the OTN’s Publishing Cooperative. 

Introducing the OTN’s New Community Manager: Mark Sheaves

Image on the right: Profile picture of Mark Sheaves taken outside.
Text: Mark Sheaves. Community Manager. 
Logo text: Open Textbook Network.

Oh, hey, Open Textbook Network Community!

Mark Sheaves here, the OTN’s new community manager. And to say that I am thrilled to be here would be an understatement. 

Wow, what an absolute privilege it is to join this vibrant community and support all of your fantastic work advancing open textbooks.

I’ve watched the work of the OTN with admiration from afar, but having worked closely with Sarah, Karen, Dave and Barry these past few weeks it is clear just how impressive and important the achievements of this dynamic community really are.

And how much more work there is to be done to support access and equality in education. 

Principally, I’ll be helping with a website redesign, managing social media, developing a library of materials for OTN members, and working on processes to support on-boarding, coordinate campus visits and OTNSI.

Text: Mark Sheaves. Community Manager. To-do list:
Support the OTN Community! 
Website redesign
Member portal 
Manage social media
Develop library of materials for OTN members
Enhance processes to support on-boarding, coordinate campus visits and OTNSI.
Tell your OER success stories.

And, one area I am extremely excited about is working with you all to  highlight the extraordinary OER success stories from your campuses. I know you have a wealth of stories to tell, and I can’t wait to touch base with you.

A little about me:

I am from Oxford, England where I grew up on a healthy diet of listening to hometown band Radiohead, dreaming of becoming a bohemian novelist – I am always happy to chat about the pages gathering dust in my draw from this period of life – and following Chelsea football club. 

Image of Mark Sheaves wearing red and black plaid shirt and grey baker-boy hat posing next to the bridge of sighs in Oxford, England.

I now live in Lawrence, Kansas with my wife Hannah, a cat named Gus and two dogs: a basador called Ivy and a labradoodle called Charlie.

Image left: Charlie, a cream colored labradoodle looks at the camera. 
Image right: Ivy, a black basset hound-labrador mix rests her head on the arm rest of a patio chair.

I studied history to ABD status at UT Austin with a focus on the little-known scientists, thinkers and travelers of the early modern Atlantic world. Here’s a link to a chapter I researched and wrote in a book that I am very proud to have been involved in.

My professional journey started in 2007, when I took my first role in higher education brimming with energy to improve the experiences of all students. I was fresh out of university, and still had a lot to learn about how the higher education sector worked and where I could best contribute.

Eleven years later, and with higher education experience as a project manager, event coordinator, social media strategist and communications manager, I have been exposed to the many challenges faced by higher education. But none has felt as pressing as the need for freely available, high-quality academic resources in an age of spiraling costs. The desire to support and enhance access to education for all students is why I am so thrilled to be the OTN’s Community Manager.

Truly, I am so excited to work with you all to support and enhance access to education for all students and to help tell the story of your great work through a range of strategic communications.

Onwards, together!


Mark Sheaves