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Textbook Alternatives at Drake: Evaluating Textbooks

The purpose of this site is to inform Drake instructors on various alternatives to "traditional" textbooks


Suggested Criteria for Evaluating Open Textbooks

From the Open Textbook project at OER Commons and the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative.

  1. Quality of content, literary merit and format
  2. Timeliness
  3. Favorable reviews
  4. Permanence/lasting value
  5. Authority: author
  6. Scope
  7. Physical quality
  8. Format: print, CD-ROM, online, etc.
  9. Content should be as interoperable on as many platforms as possible (computer, eReaders, print, mobile, Windows, Mac etc.)
  10. Clarity of course materials
  11. Absence of content errors
  12. Appropriateness of course materials
  13. Interface
  14. Content usefulness
  15. Consistency of course materials
  16. Suggested changes
  17. Clearly stated rights, including copyright, Creative Commons etc.
  18. Exemplary features
  19. Cultural relevance
  20. Reading level
  21. Readability in terms of logic and flow
  22. Accuracy
  23. Modularity (or the ability to take apart, mash up and remix the content)
  24. Universal accessibility (thus permitting all populations - no matter the physical constraint - to access content)
  25. Color printing and graphics as an available option, in all print materials
  26. Meets as many specific course articulation requirements as possible
  27. Ability to transport content to modalities other than print (cell phones, and other portable devices, for example)
  28. How does this open textbook compare with the best commercial textbook available in my discipline, and/or the commercially published textbook that I am using for my course?

Here's an alternative suggested by Joy Zhao at
1.      Accuracy;
2.      Comprehensiveness;
3.      Depth;
4.      Clarity;
5.      Timeliness;
6.      Cultural relevance: Appealing to a diverse audience; lasting value
7.      Applicability to more than one academic discipline

8.      Logical sequencing;
9.      Flexible structure / Easiness of modification

10.     Compatibility to a wide range of web platforms (e.g., Window, e-Readers) and physical tools (e.g., printer, cell phone, Ipod or other hand-held devices)

Evaluating: A Sample Path

On, there are reviews linked to titles have been submitted by educators and professionals in the field. "They are the opinions of the individual authors and do not represent an endorsement of any textbook by the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative"

EXAMPLE: Go to the Psychology and Sociology section. A few titles: Introduction to Sociology (2009),  Psychology: A Student-Friendly Approach (2004),  Psychology in the 21st Century and Starting with Psychology.

Clicking on the reviews for this subject area, you'll see that Psychology in the 21st Century was given good ratings. It is from the OpenLearn website at  However, it turns out that the printable material there is for a single unit taken from the introductory chapter to the course DSE212 Exploring Psychology. That might be useful, but it is not a complete textbook.

Another example: Try the link for Psychology: A Student Friendly Approach which was also favorably reviewed. That leads to a page that allows the download of 19 pdf files for a "complete" textbook by T.L. Brink, Ph.D., MBA.

Important Criteria

Which of these criteria (taken from the longer list at the left) do you think would be your most important criteria in choosing an open textbook for use in your teaching? ONE VOTE

Important Criteria
Quality of content; timeliness;accuracy: 0 votes (0%)
Peer reviews: 0 votes (0%)
Interoperbaility;platforms;interface: 0 votes (0%)
Readabilty: 0 votes (0%)
Comparison to traditional (commercial) texts: 0 votes (0%)
Modularity (can be taken apart & remixed): 1 votes (100%)
Cost (free or much lower than traditional texts): 0 votes (0%)
Accessibilty for all users: 0 votes (0%)
Rights (copyright etc.): 0 votes (0%)
OTHER (please comment): 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1