29 Adoption Summary

Having your book adopted by an instructor for use in a given course is a vote of confidence about its overall quality and value to learners.

Whether or not adoption is the explicit goal you’ve been working towards, the open license on your book is nonetheless an indicator that you recognize that others can benefit from your book. It’s therefore worth putting in some effort to encourage and track adoptions.

  Underlying principles
Recognize the implications of the open license. The openness of OER means a lot for students and instructors, including access and use with few or no barriers. At the same time, openness can make it hard to keep track of who’s using the book.Be transparent and consensual about the data you’re collecting. State explicitly what information you’re asking for and how it may be used. Follow the guidelines in your region, so that adopters are comfortable and informed when submitting their details.

Spread the word far and wide. The larger the group of people who know about your book, the greater the likelihood of adoptions and reported adoptions.

Be responsive to grow the community of practice. Act on adopter and student feedback, and put adopters in touch with each other and the rest of the project team. Remain attentive to ways in which adopters can help expand and update the text.

Be flexible! Adopters might not follow your preferred methods of reporting, but it’s still a win if they’re using the book and letting you know!

  Who’s Involved?

The community around your book will grow with time, but to start it includes:

  • Project manager: sets up Adoption Forms, submits reports about the book’s impact, communicates with the group of adopters
  • Authors: connect with potential adopters, can be adopters themselves, revise content based on feedback from adopters and students
  • Editors: connect with potential adopters, can be adopters themselves, review feedback from adopters and students, decide which changes are immediate and which should wait for newer versions or editions of the book
  • Reviewers: connect with potential adopters, can be adopters themselves
  • Students: provide feedback about the book after using it in their classroom
  • New Adopters: use the book in their classroom, join the community around the book, participate in revising or expanding the book
  Key Tactics

While there are technical challenges in tracking how many people are using your book and in getting them to join your community, you can start with the following:

  • Create a clear and simple Adoption Form that also explains why the information is being collected, how it may be used, and by whom.
  • Ensure there are clear ways for adopters to find the form and communicate with the team.
  • Keep a master spreadsheet of adopters.
  • Poll all the existing team members to find out if they are going to use the book.
  • Follow up regularly about the effect of the book on withdrawal and retention rates in classrooms.
  • Introduce adopters to one another, and conduct conference calls during the semester about book usage.
  • Get permission from adopters to use their names and affiliations, and any praise for the book, in promotional materials.
  • Ask adopters to share their experience of using the book at conferences, in presentations, in their writing, on listservs, and elsewhere.
  • Share ancillary materials with adopters and brainstorm with them about what else is needed to improve the book.

Not everyone who uses the book will want to engage with you and its community, including reporting their adoption. Not knowing the exact number of adopters may be a bit disappointing, so it’s important to focus on the limitless use of the book you’ve enabled with its license and formats!

Read on to learn more about the whys and hows of adoption.


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The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) Copyright © 2019 by Apurva Ashok and Zoe Wake Hyde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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