Adrienne Watt: 5 questions on how to adapt a textbook

Just in time for the fall term, BCcampus’ first adaption of an Open Textbook is available on Project Management. As with all our Open Textbooks, our Project Management textbook is this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Adrienne Watt_1

Adrienne Watt, an instructor at Douglas College and Northwest Community College, and Open Textbook advocate, is the adaptor of our Project Management textbook. Adrienne compares the effort involved to the amount of time instructors spend revising their course material to supplement a traditional text that doesn’t cover everything. Adrienne tells us that adapting an open text makes it easier to manage the course as a whole.

BCcampus caught up with Adrienne to ask her about her experience and recommendations for other instructors considering doing the same.

1. Why did you decide to do an adaptation of Project Management?

There are a lot of books on Project Management, but very few that cover projects outside of software development. Plus, the books that appear to be available didn’t cover all the knowledge areas.

2. What adaptations did you make to the textbook?

Though there are still more than can be done (e.g. case studies), instructor material such as PowerPoint slides, audio recording and chapter questions. This adaptation also includes Canadianized content.

3. What are some interesting features that you would like to highlight about this new textbook version?

The audio version of the book: Many people find textbooks boring, so I thought that listening to the material would be an advantage. I have previously taught courses where I recorded my lectures and the chapters in the book. My students were very receptive and appreciative of those recordings. It turns out listening to textbook content while driving is a popular way to get through the material.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your experience of adapting a textbook? 

I found it to be fairly straightforward. I didn’t have to change what was already there. My adaptation allowed me to customize my content exactly the way I wanted it. However, changing anything that others have written can be very detailed oriented work.

5. What recommendations do you have for others who are interested in adapting an open textbook?

Make sure you know what’s currently in the book and decide what you’d like to modify.  Work on the overall structure first and when the bulk of the work is done, start working on the small details.

Notable Quotes

The ability to take a book and make it your own is pretty big. Instead of fitting your course to the book, you fit the book to what you want to teach. ~ Adrienne Watt

Through the Open Textbook project we’re able to promote information sharing and collaborate with faculty members all over the country. We have the opportunity to create really robust textbooks that fit classroom needs and provide quality textbooks for our students. ~ Adrienne Watt

In addition to providing free textbooks to our students, open textbooks allow us as instructors to customize our course content exactly the way we want it.  ~Adrienne Watt

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