Revising the Textbook(s): Open Access, Open Pedagogy, Open Communities

Philip Rusche, UNLV

Digital approaches to humanities have helped researchers re-examine and re-articulate our pedagogical goals and classroom practices, especially in higher education. As our world becomes immersed in the digital, educators in the humanities must take opportunities to rethink our learning environments and reshape our learning communities by breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms.

Humanities programs have often taken a laissez-faire approach to course development within a major. Even when multiple courses have similar goals or programmatic concerns, they are too often designed individually and inconsistently. Each course develops its own curriculum, selects a textbook, and contributes to the major in isolation and without understanding a larger shared content, potentially missing out on integrative and innovative curricular opportunities that can help students develop as writers, readers, thinkers, and makers in a more coherent way.

This presentation describes the development of a community-built and community-authored textbook at UNLV that will serve the needs of multiple faculty, staff and students within, and potentially outside of, the English major. Using a Domain of One’s Own initiative as an initial platform, we are revising and integrating several disparate collections of online materials into a flexible and comprehensive open-access digital resource. Modules from this resource will serve multiple courses, allowing for students and faculty to create connections between courses leading to a more programmatic and coherent layout for the major. This new, digital textbook can then serve as an extensible framework for future development of the major and as a model for other departments.