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Textbook & Syllabus Mapping

Textbook & Syllabus Mapping

Simply put, textbook & syllabus mapping is the process of breaking down a textbook, syllabus, or course into discrete content areas, and focusing on finding affordable content for those content areas. It could also be called affordability mapping. 

This guide provides some resources for finding affordable content, and provides a step by step process for doing the 'mapping'. This kind of a project can either be done by faculty trying to select their own texts for an affordable class, or by librarians, instructional designers, or other affordability advocates as a sort of 'minimum viable textbook' to present to faculty teaching courses your institution or organization is targeting for affordability initiatives. 

1. Break your textbook, syllabus, or course goals into specific content areas that you would like to have a text resource for.

2. Describe the content you are looking for. Is there a specific coverage or perspective you need represented in the content you will be using?

3. Find affordable content using Open Educational Resources, library licensed-content, or free, stable internet resources.

4. Document how you can use each resource. Can it be packaged in a LMS, printed, reused in your own course text, or otherwise reproduced? Or do normal copyright restrictions apply? 

This work can also be split up! A faculty member could work on the first and second steps, and then an instructional designer or librarian could work on finding content and documenting how it would be used. 

Resources for finding affordable content

Open Education Resources - these works are published with Creative Commons licenses or are in the public domain. You can reproduce them and, depending on the license, can remix them as well. 

  • Open Textbook Library - large repository of open textbooks used in higher education. Descriptions include table of contents and user reviews.
  • OpenStax - 'commercial grade' textbooks in high enrollment content areas. Includes teacher materials and ancillaries.
  • OER Commons - 'Meta' hub of OER collections. Not limited to textbooks. Several faceted searching options. 
  • Teaching Commons - Institutional repositories from schools build on the Digital Commons platform. Organized by subject. Not limited to textbooks.
  • Merlot - Huge number of resources, not limited to textbooks. Faceted searching by various criteria. review system is present. 

Licensed materials - These items should be treated like normal items protected under copyright; even though your institution pays for them, you do not own them. Consider permalinking to the items. 

  • Articles and primary sources - Use your institution's research databases to find primary sources, periodical articles, research articles and other content that may be another way to deliver information. 
  • eBooks - Search in your library's catalog for ebooks or ebook chapters. You may also be able to search the full text of ebooks using specific ebook collections. Be wary of ebook licenses. Consider that your institution may be able to purchase a more open license or a new title.
  • Video and audio content - Is text the best way to deliver this content to your students? You may be able to find video or audio content to use in place of text. Your institution may have streaming services available.

Free and stable internet resources - Of course, you are not limited to formal textbooks or even traditional 'static' works licensed through the library. Consider the breadth of resources that might be available in your discipline that could serve as a substitute for a textbook chapter or module.