Subject: Soil and Water Conservation
Disciplines: Soil Science, Agronomy, Agriculture
Feedback-a-thon Time: 3:00 PM eastern
How did you decide to make this textbook?
I teach an upper-level undergraduate/lower level graduate course called Soil and Water Conservation. The textbook for the course was last printed in 2001, and at that time all three authors were emeritus. It isn’t particularly expensive (~$40), but I wanted something up-to-date. I also didn’t have time to write an entire textbook. In addition, in my field there are lots of extension materials produced by extension agents from Land Grant institutions, such as mine (Kansas State University). These are credible sources of information that are usually brief and to the point. However, they are generally copyrighted, yet still freely available online. I decided to create an annotated bibliography that organizes such sources of information into a traditional textbook format (chapters, sections, etc.) that links out to these resources.
What are you trying to achieve with this textbook?
One goal is to familiarize students with credible sources of information in their field so that they can be better able to use trustworthy information sources once they are out of college.
I also wanted to create an approachable text that facilitates the type of interactions I want in my classroom. I want to be able to assign a short reading to the students, have them actually read it, and then use most of the class period in a discussion about that reading. This is more or less a flipped classroom approach.
Lastly, I wanted this text to serve as a useful source of information for practitioners in the real world.
What have you done so far?
I started with an author and style guide, which I’ll try to attach. I have a detailed outline that is complete. I am in the process of adding citations to all parts of the detailed outline so that I can use my citation manager (Zotero) to create the bibliography. The bibliography entries will be organized into the outline by section, and then alphabetized within sections. Each bibliography entry will then be annotated (one short paragraph, ~100 words). Last fall I had students in the class contribute to the textbook by finding sources and writing annotations for the topic of their choosing. I did this based on the Rebus book “Guide to Writing Open Textbooks With Students”. I plan to complete the outlined bibliography by May. I also plan to put out requests for volunteers to write annotations for the project soon. I should note that I received a $3500 grant from K-State’s Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative to support this project, and I have an established relationship with K-State’s open textbook publisher, New Prairie Press. New Prairie Press published another open textbook of mine, and have stated they plan to publish this project once it’s complete.
Who is on your team?
I have the following people on my team:
- A technical editor for hire
- Most of the grant money will pay for her services
- Students in the Soil and Water Conservation Class
- See what have you done section above
- Instructors of similar courses who plan to adopt this textbook once it’s complete
- There are about 6 total that have heard of my project through word of mouth alone
- I plan to ask them for help with writing annotations
- New Prairie Press, and the librarians with the K-State Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship
Please share a maximum of three questions. These questions can be specific to your project or address broader open textbook themes.
- How should I go about trying to recruit volunteers to contribute annotations for the bibliography?
- One I have contributors lined up, what platform do you recommend to allow them to make edits? I am planning on creating it in Google Docs, then later moving the content into a Pressbooks project for final formatting.
- I figured the final textbook/annotated bibliography would be released in several formats, including a website and a PDF with hyperlinks. For this project that needs to allow people to clink links to access each of the different resources, are these the two best formats, or is there something else I should consider. Also, should the website be HTML5, or something else?