The open textbook movement is all about inclusive access to education, which is why it’s essential open textbooks:
Taking these steps will ensure students can identify with and relate to your textbook and don’t feel alienated or excluded by the content or design.
A recent study into whether open textbooks could improve the educational experiences and outcomes of under-represented students in Australian higher education found:
Some strategies for making your textbook more diverse and inclusive:
You may also want to ask students for input or feedback on the inclusivity of your textbook.
Above all, remember to present other cultures accurately, not according to stereotypes or perceptions based on the standards of your own culture.
If you’re not sure how or where to include examples relevant to other cultures, that doesn’t mean your textbook will never include these perspectives. Publishing your textbook with an open licence means instructors from other countries, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds can modify it to suit their course’s needs. You can also revisit your textbook or work with others to add more diverse examples later on.
When trying to make your content inclusive, watch out for ‘Othering’. Some best practices for avoiding othering:
If you chose to develop the content yourself, rather than consult colleagues or recruit co-authors, consider including a disclaimer acknowledging your background wherever applicable – for example at the end of chapters addressing issues related to gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, culture or religion. This will show that you’re:
‘I [Name], the author of this work, am a [description of gender identity/sexuality/race/religion/gender, etc. – e.g. cisgender white woman] from [country]. I have not experienced the types of bias that affect those from marginalised backgrounds related to race, cultural background and sexual orientation. I have tried to keep this chapter simple and to link out to external resources whenever applicable, however, there may be cases where my writing betrays my lack of experience with these topics.
If there is any part of this book you find to be one-sided or dismissive of any aspect of your identity, please contact me at [email address]. I welcome any comments or feedback that might improve my work and help inform my own understanding of this topic. Thank you.’
Lambert, S., & Fadel, H. (2022). Open textbooks and social justice: A national scoping study. Curtin University. https://www.ncsehe.edu.au/publications/open-textbooks-social-justice/