Hello @june21-cohort! Thanks for a great session this week. Here’s our Week 10 chat transcript. I know we’ve reached that point in the summer where folks have a lot of other competing demands to attend to, so don’t get too discouraged if you feel like you’re not making a lot of progress on your projects at the moment. Your updates have shown that even though you might think you haven’t made progress, you’re still accomplishing things that will move you forward toward your goals. I was happy to hear that some of you are already thinking about what you’ll need to do to keep up your/your team’s momentum once we transition to monthly sessions in a couple of weeks. These are good conversations to have, especially as the demands of the school start to pile up in the coming week and months. As I mentioned in one of our earlier sessions, try to remember your motivations for this work so that you can maintain your enthusiasm (and encourage your colleagues).
The formatting and release preparation phase is one where your project really begins to take shape as a whole, usable resource. Start by setting a target release date, if you haven’t already, taking into account when and how you want the resource to be used. Try to announce the resource a few weeks prior to this date, so potential adopters have time to evaluate and review the resource before assigning it for their own courses. Spend some time to plot out remaining tasks before you are ready to release. This way, you get a picture of what’s left to do, how long it might take, and what areas are more flexible. The date you select is not set in stone; so keep revisiting and reconfirming the target release date at each major milestone, rejigging your schedule and timeline as needed.
Once your content has been reviewed and revised, you can get going on formatting and laying out the book. Since an OER is not just a resource with an open or Creative Commons license, it should be available in a wide variety of formats. At minimum, we suggest your OER be available in a web, editable, and offline format (this is easy to do using Pressbooks or other publishing platforms). For consistency’s sake, you can prepare an inventory of the different elements you want to include and a corresponding “style guide” for each — perhaps as a sample chapter in your book. If challenges do crop up as you are formatting the body content, reach out to the rest of your team and community for help.
Once you’re through formatting the main body content, you’ll want to consider preparing or adding a few additional items, or as we like to call them, final touches to help the book feel like a well-curated and professionally created resource. Adding information like a review statement, accessibility statement, book metadata, and adoption form can provide readers with more information about the quality and efficacy of your resource, and also provide pathways for others to find the book and report their use. Frontmatter and backmatter can help your resource feel more rounded and professionally created, as can a well-designed cover (look to the slides for what to include in a book cover). Don’t forget to conduct a final set of checks on the different formats of your book.
It can sometimes be difficult to draw the line with final tweaks and touches on the book, so work with your team to reach a point where you are all happy. But when you hit this point, you can prepare the promotional assets to communicate the Big Release! The goal with your announcements should be to let others know what the resource is, where it can be accessed, what sets it apart, and what others think of it so far. You can build off of this initial buzz and momentum around the book as you continue to promote it. But, most importantly savor the moment — this is the milestone you’ve been working towards, and it’s finally here! Pause and celebrate with your team.
I know that a lot of the topics we covered this week might seem a bit far off in the future at this point for many of you, but I was glad to hear from our updates and discussion this week that you’re starting to think about these things. Here are a few resources that were shared during the session:
On that last point, we had several great questions around print-on-demand and how to approach elements that won’t easily translate from digital to print. These are really important considerations in terms of accessibility and inclusivity. There’s a fine balance to strike between incorporating the kinds of engaging interactive materials and media that we’ve talked about in previous sessions while also making sure that learners who aren’t using web-based or digital versions of your resources will have an experience that isn’t “less than” that of the learners who are using the digital version. These are important conversations to have with your teams, and if possible, a good thing to ask your learners about in order to get a better sense of what’s important to them. As you get further into your projects, questions might crop up about these issues, so I would encourage you to bring those questions to our sessions or pose them in our discussion space.
There was also a question about where to reach out for help with things like accessibility and instructional design if those aren’t available to you “in house.” One resource I’d recommend is to solicit help via the SPARC LibOER Email Discussion List. It’s a great place to ask questions, find collaborators, and share out about the release of your finished resource (a topic we’ll get into with next week’s session). As I said this week, don’t work in isolation. If you need help, reach out! It’s what we tell students, so we should take our own advice and model that good behavior too.